Alexus was sitting in a lotus position outside on the roof. The cool breeze of the morning air on a Saturday was a refreshing feeling. His eyes were closed, and his breath was steady, counting his heartbeat steadily. Sitting still for the past weeks wasn’t easy, especially sitting in a lotus position. His hands were placed on his lap with palms facing upwards. Even his back was unusually straight, which helped me breathe a lot deeper and stronger than he normally does.
Who knew that the change of breathing techniques and the way he sat changed the flow of air that entered his body, giving him a whole new rejuvenating feeling. At first, he was displeased at waking up so damn early, 4 am was way too early for his taste, but Zhang had specifically told them to get up.
In the beginning, everyone was reluctant to get up so early in the morning. Zhang would personally go to the command to blast a loud blaring sound that would wake every Ouroboros in the building. Everyone bolted up awake, cursing at being suddenly woken up so that they threw a fit. Even he cursed up a storm later on because he was frightened awake.
Jones and Timothy were the few that fell off the bed and smacked their head, while Alexus jumped up onto his feet, completely dazed. Marcus was the only one who had earplugs in his ears and was sleeping away like a baby. Then, out of spite, Timothy crawled his way over and pulled out the earplugs.
If the first blaring horn-like sound didn’t wake them up the first time, the second and third were spaced out in ten minutes, scaring the pants out of everyone. This went on for a week until everyone finally gave up, even trying to sleep through it. Then, they would slug their tired bodies over.
Zhang was always wearing his orange type of toga-like clothes with orange pants. In which case, supposedly, it’s his traditional clothes that he always seems to wear. Alexus doesn’t know how Zhang was exempt from wearing the ugly piece of gray clothes, but he somehow succeeded.
Right now, Zhang had one of his arms out on one side, showing off his nicely toned muscles and rippling pectorals. Even his bald head seems to sparkle underneath the light, making it distracting. His angular jaws, and slanted eyes with slight wrinkles, all pointed to his age being around his mid-thirties.
His posture was straight, peaceful, and almost inviting. It wasn’t proud like Marcus, but the power behind his walk and demeanor could be felt in his posture. He wasn’t someone to trifle with, and the majority of the people knew this; better yet, they felt it.
At first, the meditation in the morning was difficult; trying not to fall asleep sitting was difficult. Zheng would smack Alexus numerous times with a willow branch and shout at him with his broken English. If anyone got up and tried to punch the shit out of him, Zheng would flip them under three seconds and make whoever it looked like a complete fool. Nevertheless, it was worth watching, especially to see Timothy culled by Zheng’s amazing martial art skill that shut him up.
Alexus wasn’t stupid enough to go against Zheng when he taught, even though it was a bit spartan-like. They all knew that Zheng wasn’t someone to mess with, though he didn’t know if Marcus or Zheng was better. He hoped one day, he could see them both sparring against each other.
“Breathe in slowly. Keep your mind focused.” Zheng said in a short staccato-like voice. “Do not let your mind wander out too far. Breathe out.” Suddenly, a loud smack could be heard, followed by a yelp.
“Do not fall asleep.” His lesson reminded them that he was paying attention to their posture, breathing, and the whole flow of energy. “This is not nap time. You must dive into yourself to find a piece of yourself.”
Sometimes, his words were strange; Alexus wasn’t sure what he meant by finding a piece of
himself. Instead, all he had was the constant nagging thoughts that seemed to persist like an annoying parrot. But, if that is what he means by finding myself, he certainly succeeded.
“What kind of bullshit are you spouting? Finding a piece of our- ouch!” Timothy yelled out in pain; this was his second time getting whipped in one day.
“It’s for you to find out. Now, quiet your mind and sit up straight!”
“I’ll give you a piece of my mind,” grumbled Timothy. Another lightning strike to his shoulder could be heard. “Ow! What the hell, man!”
“Grumble less. Meditate more.”
Timothy threw in a couple more curses. The broken silence from Timothy was no more. Instead, the usual sound of the busy street life could be heard increasing in volume around them.
“Listen to the wind, the sound of city life. Listen and let your mind be empty.” Zheng’s voice was soothing, like a hypnotizing metronome. “The energy that flows in the world also flows in yourself. It is a feeling of emptiness and wholeness.”
Once again, a contradiction in himself confused Alexus. An energy that flows in the world and himself? Emptiness as a whole? Was Zhang talking about the gold energy he was unconsciously summoning up without his own free will? If that’s what he’s talking about, he might understand, but still….it was something he didn’t fully understand.
“Less thinking.” Zheng tapped Alexus on his shoulders. He flinched from the sudden tap, causing him to lose his train of thought. “It is better felt to understand.”
Once again, it didn’t make sense to Alexus. How come gurus make things sound so complicated? It’s like saying the sun is bright, but more in a scientific way, adding unnecessary detail that could be useful. Wouldn’t a simple answer be just as direct?
“As you listen to the world, bring back your focus to your body.” Zheng’s steps were barely audible so that he seemed more like he was floating on air. “Find the places in your muscles that are tight and relax them. Too much tension will deter your mind in unnecessary places. Breathe in. Breathe out.”
When he said that, it reminded Alexus of a yoga class he saw on the TV on the fitness channel. They were doing stretches and breath control, but it was slightly different compared to what they were doing.
“If a loud noise or someone hits you distracts you and breaks your concentration.” Zhang snapped his hand forward, smacking Timothy by the head.
“Ow!” Timothy yelled out in pain, covering his head to ease the pain.
“It means that you are meditating incorrectly,” Zheng replied with a frown. He tapped his stick in his hand. “Meditation can be done anywhere and everywhere. The loudest, busiest city can become the most tranquil and quietest place. If you can focus on yourself, quiet your mind, and become aware of your surroundings, you will have achieved the first level of meditation.”
Alexus felt a stinging pain on his shoulders, causing him to jump and yelp in complete surprise. He didn’t feel Zhang’s presence even walk up behind him to smack him so suddenly in one hit. This man seriously has a gait and presence like a cat. Coming one moment, striking, and skittering away back into the darkness.
Time flew by painfully slowly, the first hour, second hour, and eventually to the third until Alexus felt like he could zone around himself and around him. Slowly but surely, he enjoyed the light breeze, the beeping sound of the cars that were becoming less audible, and the gentle beating of his heart, keeping at a steady pace. What was even more surprising was that he felt a bit of Zheng’s presence, walking quietly like a cat in between a large number of students.
Alexus’ range of feeling wasn’t far, but he could sense a good distance away from him. He knew there were forty-five people up here at the same time, but he only could sense about ten around him. Every hour, he thought he could feel the proximity of what he could sense growing bigger. Even his hunger was strangely being quelled in the back of his mind.
He didn’t know how long it took, but he felt a soft stir in his belly button that he hadn’t noticed before. It was calming and gentle like the sunlight, the swirl of energy spiraled in a continuous motion as if a snake was eating itself in an infinite cycle.
It was then that Alexus felt as if an epiphany had struck him down. Was this what Zheng was talking about? A part of himself? He could feel the flow of energy slowly but surely creeping from the base of his stomach and going outwards. It was a warm creeping feeling that made his body feel warm and alive. He could even feel it at the tip of his fingers, starting to vibrate with energy that he had never felt before.
When the energy crept up into his neck and up into the top of his head. He felt a rush of tingling feeling that shot down his spine, causing him to shudder. What the heck was that? Then, without realizing it, he opened his eyes and gazed down at his hands. A soft glow of gold-covered each hand in blazing fire-like energy that swayed with vigor.
“Good,” Zheng spoke with a nod. “You have unlocked your first step.” He had the willow stick behind his back while looking down towards Alexus’ hand.
“I did?” Alexus knew it was a stupid question, but he was a bit confused. The worst thing was that the blaze of gold was starting to simmer out into paper-thin energy that barely flickered at all. He believed that the gold energy would disappear any minute now, and he didn’t want that.
“Yes. The color of energy tells you how far advanced you are into your advancement in your spiritual path.”
Alexus gazed back down at his hands, trying to will it back to their goldish fire, but for some reason, it wasn’t happening the way he wanted to. Instead, it was weird puffing, similar to the sparks that reminded him of cartoonish farting, making him scowl. Then it struck him that he said, “Wait, you can see energy too?”
“It’s normal,” Zhang replied, waving his hand as if it was not even a big deal.
Alexus cocked his head in complete surprise at what he said. How was seeing energy normal? Out of the first 98 Ouroboros, nobody could see energy except him, and now Zheng was saying he could as well.
“People can see energy when they become better.” Zheng tapped his finger on the willow stick.
“Remember this, there are over 88,000 chi points within the body. So you can say that chi is another word for energy. To simplify for beginners, seven basic ones go up and down the spine.”
Alexus suddenly felt a weird shiver that ran up and down his spine as if he got shocked by electricity. The feeling was strange, and he didn’t want to go through that again.
“The first is the root chi found at the base of your spine, or your spine, which is the color red. Red signifies the primal instinct and need of man. The area where man and woman conjoin to share the sacred energy to become one.” Zhang tapped at the base of Alexus’ spine, near his tailbone. Then the rod went up to his back. ”Second is the sacral chi found at your navel, which is the color orange. This area is where our vast energy is stored and transferred. The third is located at the solar plexus a couple inches above your second, which is yellow. The fourth is located at your heart, which is the color green.”
It was weird to be used as a reference for where each chi point was. Alexus felt like a dummy reference for the whole class, even though he was mostly talking to him.
“The fifth is located at your throat; the color is blue. Remember this, sound has color and energy. Using the energy, you can draw or push away the attention. The sixth is located at your third eye, between your eyes. This is why we can see the demon before us.” Zhang’s willow stick eventually rested up in between Alexus’ eyes.
Surprisingly, Zhang’s English was getting smoother and a lot easier to understand as he explained in more depth. Alexus believes Zheng was the guy who got better when explaining in long sentences than in short.
“Our third eye awakens to see the truth of this world. Normal and normal people do not have this area open. The final is the crown on top of your head; the color is indigo. This is where we receive our message from a higher being. With that being said, three distinct colors stand out among men. The first is the color white or the absence of color. When you see this color on a being, it would seem like a bright sunny light that dazzles around the being. In which case, you are meeting a pure, untainted soul. A child can have it and even an adult.”
Alexus was awed that an adult could have a pure soul, especially in this dark world called Earth.
“Black is the mixture between all the colors, for there is no true black. Tainted and corrupt from the mentality of humanity’s greed, hatred, jealousy, lust, and the basis of human emotions, mix these colors into what we see as black. We see demons also with the color red because of the carnal desires of one’s own wants and needs. Just as black can be purged of its colors and become white, so can the opposite be true.”
“Isn’t yellow and gold basically the same?” Alexus couldn’t help but ask.
“No. Did you not listen? Yellow chi is located around your solar area.”
“Yes, I did though I thought yellow and gold were usually the same color.”
Zheng sighed. “No, the color of gold is different, borderline between pure yellow and a metallic yellow. Gold represents a higher spiritual mind, rarely seen in normals. You are blessed; you will go far in your study of energies.”
Alexus thought over what he had said, it was quite a lot of information in his head, but he was starting to slowly understand why each person he had met had different colors of energy around them.
“You can say each person has their own personal energy signature that they are comfortable in; even nature has similar color traits and emotions as the chis.”
“Wait, chi has traits and emotions?”
Zheng’s lips curled upwards. “You’ll know later. Now back to meditation!” He snapped.
Alexus could sigh and focus back on the task at hand. This damn cryptical bald monk and his mysteriousness. Why can’t they just give a simple and straight answer? Was it hard to ask? His only thought was that Zheng just likes to give half-explained answers and leaves the rest for them to find out. He could moan, groan, bitch a little, and go back to meditating, trying to find the question answers.
Days quickly passed by the repetitive cycle of training, meditating, and resting until finally, the day had come. Like any other sunny day, Alexus was eating his usual Frosted Flakes Cereal in the morning, half-awake and slugging his tired and aching body up for his usual routine.
Timothy and Jones weren’t even looking as great; they weren’t morning people like Simon and Crystal, who seemed unusually chirpy. Alexus wonders how they do it. It’s really not for him to be fully awake so early in the morning.
“Rise and shine, ladies.” Marcus comes over and slams his hand on the table with a gleeful expression.
Alexus jumped from the sudden loud sound, jolting him half-awake. So a large frown plastered on his face at the sudden unexpected loud booming voice from Marcus that he couldn’t help but give him a glare. But, of course, Marcus didn’t even care that he glared and rubbed it off as if it wasn’t his problem.
“I got a treat for all of you today.”
“Oh god. Please no.” Timothy groaned. He had his head in between his hands with his eyes partially open. “Not today.” With a whine, he slouched even further.
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch; we have our first mission.”
“First mission?” Jones was stupefied by what he was hearing. “You were actually serious about demon hunting? I thought you were saying it as a joke. You know, hahaha?”
“Why would I joke about this?” Marcus asked, looking at Jones funny.
“He just doesn’t want to go demon hunting just as I do, right now. I want to go back to sleep.” Timothy droned. His head was prepped with one hand, ready to slip off any minute now.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, it’s ten in the morning. It’s not like we’re waking up at four like the other days.” Crystal rolled her eyes at the exaggeration that Timothy was giving. “Plus, it’s good to start your day early and refreshed.”
“I concur with that thought. Today is Sunday; this is my sleeping time. I don’t even know why I am still awake.” Timothy wasn’t pleased with Crystal’s words. “I was up all night finishing my project, and I only had four hours of rest. You dragged me out here so early in the morning for no reason.” His head slipped out of his hand and fell forward. His head slammed onto the table with a bang as he stayed down unmoving.
“It’s no time to rest. We have to leave in the next hour,” said Marcus.
“In the next hour? Where are we heading?” asked Simon. He had a sip of his morning coffee, listening in on Marcus with interest.
“We’ll be heading towards China Town.”
“Apparently, there is a demon infestation in one of the buildings.”
“It’s not rats, is it?” Jones asked with a frown. “I don’t want to get poisoned, you know.”
“No, it’s a cat problem.”
“Why don’t they just call animal control? I don’t like killing cats.”
Cats? Alexus didn’t think cats would be the next target for demon infestation. He honestly thought demons would stay away from cats from all that superstition about cats being able to see demons or spirits. Plus, seeing a cat being possessed didn’t sound too good to him. He actually liked cats, and thinking about going after them to hunt them down wasn’t something that he was thrilled to do.
Marcus drummed his fingers on the table, “No, I said it’s a demon infestation.”
“How do you know? It could just be a hoarder that collects multiple cats in their homes.”
Shaking his head, Marcus gave out a grunt. “The past owner wasn’t just a hoarder; she played with black magic and summoned a damn demon cat into existence because she wanted something exotic. As a result, there already have been over ten cases of mauled humans who have died around the vicinity.”
“So, you’re saying just because ten people died in one area, it’s all because of a cat demon? That doesn’t sound quite demon-like to me. It could be a serial killer, you know.”
“It’s not. Demon also leaves a trace of their energy behind when they kill, I have seen a bit of their work, and it’s not pretty. No human will kill their prey, as I have seen. Also, it seems the cats only like to target young males.”
“Why?” Simon asked with curiosity.
“Apparently, the owner cast a love spell that backfired on her. She died the next day, while the cat demon went around creating havoc by killing the man she supposedly had a secret obsession with. The cat’s target is around the early mid-twenties, brown-haired, fair skin Latino male around 5 feet 11 inches.”
They all glanced toward Timothy automatically without a second thought.
“What?” Timothy looked up from the table, half awake. “Why are you staring at me?”
Simon’s hand patted Timothy on his shoulders. “Thanks for being our bait.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He’s saying you’re our live bait.” Crystal had a mischievous smile plastered on her face.
“Alive bait? Me?” Timothy seems to become a bit straighter than before, looking at all of them confused.
“Yes, you. Who else?”
“I don’t understand where we are going with this.” Timothy was still half asleep, processing all this information.
“It’s really simple, really. You’re going to be our stand-in, so our cat demon friend could maul you alive.”
“What?!” Timothy bolted up awake. His eyes became wide while he gazed at Crystal and then towards Marcus, hoping that he didn’t hear things.
“She’s right. You’re our perfect stand-in.” Marcus shook his head in agreement.
Alexus suddenly felt bad for Timothy. Even though he was a douchebag at times, he wasn’t a bad guy.
“This is bullshit. Take someone else!” Timothy threw out his hand in annoyance at what he was being dragged into. “I’m not going!”
“You got to go. Higher up orders.” Marcus replied.
“Screw them. I’m not going to get myself mauled!”
“You’re going to have your toys revoked for five years.” Marcus countered, crossing his arm, not caring.
“What?! That’s not fair!”
“You were specifically mentioned to take part in this operation.”
“No buts. You’re going.” Marcus said sternly that he wouldn’t hear no for an answer.
Timothy scowled. “Then I get another new toy when this is all over.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“No. I get the latest technology that I have wanted to try, or the deal is off.” Timothy crossed his arm in front of him, pouting like a child.
“You have no say in this. Now let’s go and get ready.” Marcus got up and started to head out the doors.
“That’s not fair!”
“Life’s not fair.” Crystal replied. She, too, got up to follow.
Simon patted his back once again; Timothy frowned and grumbled. Then, they all got up to begin on the mission that they were all getting ready for. Alexus hoped and prayed that nothing would go wrong, but he knew that was just plain out the denial on his part.