Press "Enter" to skip to content

Nov. 27 – Boxing and Bonding

Morning light filtered through the windows as Bookworm rose from the dining table, having eaten a light breakfast. She sensed the presence of Mac, one of her ghostly guards. “Beryl is coming this way,” he said softly, and she nodded, heading downstairs. Just as she reached the front door, she heard a scratching. She opened it, letting the cat inside, just as Mariah joined her in the front hallway.

Beryl looked up at Mariah with something of a frown. Mariah merely nodded and said politely, though a bit warily, “Good morning.”

“Hello… Mariah,” Beryl replied. “It’s been a while. I think the last time we spoke, things…” He broke off suddenly, and Mariah looked inquiringly at Bookworm. She shrugged, and led the way into the back hallway by the kitchen, where they’d have some room.

“I understand you need some training in boxing?” Mariah asked. When Beryl nodded, she continued, “Well, it’s not my strong suit, but I’ll–we’ll–do what we can. Tell us about this Dr. Dinosaur.”

“Well, I didn’t know him very well. He once tried to terrify the city with something called Doom Clocks. I wasn’t there when that happened, but a few years ago, he tried to build hypnotic devices, that set the entire city to kill the cat, it seemed. He also had mechanical raptors hunting me down. He pretty much ruined Arno–well, my summer. The memories still seem mine.”

Mariah glanced over at Bookworm, startled by the level of animosity displayed in that recitation. Bookworm nodded once, confirming what Beryl had said.

“I understand he is an actual… dinosaur?” Mariah half-asked, half-stated.

“He is. I can vouch that like me he prefers his talons and claws and teeth. Though he also had a tesla rifle, and his giant mechanical T-Rex he tried to step on me with.”

“So why go from that to a simple boxing match?”

“Well, for one, he’s trying to pretend he’s changed, that he’s now a business dinosaur, building clockworks for sale.” Beryl paused and shook his head. “I don’t really believe him.”

Bookworm smiled wryly. “Neither do I.”

“He said that he still hates me, and I hate him. He wants us to settle our animosity in the ring.”

“What is he like, physically? Height, weight, speed, reach…”

“He’s about four feet taller than me. Weighs about 150 pounds more. His reach is longer, and he has a clockwork hand. But I am easily faster.” He added that last to the rather depressing litany with only a slight hint of cheer.

“You certainly don’t believe in making things easy on yourself, do you?” Mariah’s tone was sardonic.

“I shouldn’t have agreed to this in the first place.” Beryl sighed. “I was angry and cornered.”

“Will there be any sort of referee?” asked Bookworm with concern.

“His self-proclaimed minion said she’d love to. I’m going to ask Tepic if he can instead.” He sighed again. “The problem is, I’ve never boxed. Fighting someone three to four times my size has never been a problem, but boxing has rules. And I don’t know them.”

“Does Dr. Dinosaur?” Mariah asked.

“No. And I doubt he intends to learn.”

“They why should you?”

“Because, unlike him, I have to now.”

“Have to?” Mariah raised her eyebrows inquiringly.

Beryl tilted his head. “Tell me, Mariah–did you try to stop Tepic from working at the workhouse by arguing the sense of how it should be and how he didn’t have to? Or did you see Bookworm attempt to?”

“Bookworm told me about that, yes.”

“I have to, just as Tepic did. It’s a challenge and a bet with rules. Until he cheats, I’ll need to follow them too.”

Mariah couldn’t help but look again at Bookworm, since that was a sentiment she’d’ve expected to hear from her. Bookworm answered the look with a crooked smile. Mariah rolled her eyes, but smiled reluctantly.

“Well, then, you can study this.” She handed Beryl a small pamphlet. “The Queensberry rules. It’s the code they use in England these days.”

The cat took the offered book and nodded, then looked up at Mariah. “Also, I need you to punch me in the head as hard as you can.” He stood up. “I have first hand experience with how hard you can hit.”

Mariah looked startled, and Bookworm hastened to add, “Go ahead, Mariah. We… need to know something.”

“All right, then.” Mariah cocked her fist and gave him a short, hard, bare-knuckle jab.

“Aaaaaaaarrrrrr!’ Beryl fell over, clutching his head front and back. Bookworm hissed and knelt down by his side, catching a towel tossed to her by Mariah and putting it under his head. She glanced back up at Mariah. “It’s the old bullet wound, I think.”

Breathing raggedly, Beryl squinted miserably. “Right,” he muttered. “Avoid blows to the head. The one thing he’ll definitely be able to aim for.” He sighed. “That’s going to make this harder than it has to be.”

“It always is,” said Bookworm wryly.

Mariah, though, was suddenly staring at Beryl. “Can you stand up?”

“Yes. The room has stopped spinning.” With Bookworm’s help, the cat got shakily to his feet. Mariah eyed him closely, muttering, “About four feet taller… if his proportions are…” Suddenly, she exclaimed, “Oh, damn.”


Mariah shook her head. “One of the rules, if you intend to follow them, is that there’s no hitting below the belt. Or, in Dr. Dinosaur’s case, waist, I’d guess. I don’t know that you’ll be able to reach that high.”

Beryl stared at her, agast. “Does it literally say belt, in the rules?” At Mariah’s nod, he said weakly, “Maybe he’ll have belts on his shoes? If not…” He clutched his head, groaning, “I didn’t know!” He sighed. “I’ll have to deal with it.”

“Can you jump well,” asked Mariah.

“I could probably jump to the second story from here.”

She nodded. “Well, then. I think you’ll have to rely on speed and jumping. Dash in, jump up, and hit. It won’t have much of an impact, since you won’t have any leverage, but that might get you by–until he cheats.”

“Should I guard my head with my wrists and arms?”

“Guard your head with your speed. Don’t give him the chance to make an impact. It’ll be an unconventional style, but not really against the rules.”

“I’ll have to practice it.”

“Then lets get started,” Mariah stated briskly, handing pairs of boxing gloves to Beryl and Bookworm. She actually started with the basic punches and blocks, teaching them to Beryl before having him use them in sparring against Bookworm. His confidence in using those moves grew, and by the end of the practice session, his superior speed and reflexes were definitely beginning to show, as he landed more and more hits on Bookworm.

Mariah finally called a halt to the practice, and the two stepped back, panting. “Good,” she said. “Now that you’re feeling more comfortable with the basics, we can start building your unique style on that. Would you like to stay for some lunch, and we can continue afterwards?”

Beryl blinked in apparent surprise at the offer, which he might have expected from Book, but not Mariah. He accepted, though, with a nod, “I would be happy to.”

Bookworm smiled a little as she led the way into the kitchen, hoping that, if nothing else, this experience would let Beryl and Mariah become a little more comfortable with each other. Given everything that happened in New Babbage, that would make things easier.

Spread the love

One Comment

  1. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin December 6, 2014

    “She gave him WHAT?!!” the boy exclaimed, “That daft twit Queensbury’s rules? That means he’ll have ter follow em….. so no horseshoe in the glove, not even a roll of pennys, no linament on the surface, bet he woun’t even scuff the leather a bit…. darn!”

    He paced up and down in front of his startled informant, then started giggling.

    “Gloves…. they’s gonna be wearing gloves…. an the lizard is HUGE! With the size of glove he’s gonna need, it’ll be like hittin Beryl with a cotton bale, not great, but…”

    He looked at his companions and came to a decision.

    “We needs to know what sized gloves the lizard needs, then we’s gonna get a special pair made up, just fer him, cus i’m bettin he’ll turn up without any an we’ll have a set all prepared!”

Leave a Reply