Pledges are led blindly into the woods for initiation....
Jax led the new blind-folded pledges deeper into the woods. Purposefully, he steered them into low-hanging branches, giggling to himself everytime he heard one of them get hit and cuss aloud.
“Not much further,” he said, almost ready to bust out laughing. “Hurry it up!”
Eventually, they came to a small clearing. Jax lined them up facing south. “Okay, you can take off your blindfolds.”
Quickly, the three young pledges removed the tight rags from their eyes. They knew they had been led into the woods, but none of them knew where.
“All right, listen up!” Jax yelled, looking at his compass. “You’re facing north.” Jax had to hide the grin on his face. “If you want to be a member in good standing with ‘I Phelta Thi’, then you’ll have to find your way through the forest and back to campus. Keep due North. If you can’t make it, just come back here and I’ll show you the way. Any questions?”
“Yeah, can we have your compass?” asked Robert, the smallest of the three. The others immediately agreed with him.
“That’s funny, Mr. Gonzalez. I see you’re a smartass. Smartasses don’t make good pledges. Maybe you should just quit right now, huh?” Jax gave him a hard-look. He did not want the Mexican to become a full-fledged member of the fraternity--people would talk. He'd done everything he could to discourage the kid, but he wouldn't quit. In fact, it had been Jax's idea to bring the pledges out into the dense woods. He rigged the whole ordeal--the forest, misdirection, even traps.
“I was raised in the mountains of Mexico,” said Robert with quiet dignity. “I’m not a quitter. I'll see you back at campus.” His dark eyes burned into Jax. They sparkled with an inner light.
“We’ll see,” Jax sneered. “All right then, you pukes, I’ve given you the direction. Take-off or you can forget about joining this faternity.” He glanced at his watch. “It’s almost midnight. If you’re not back on campus by daybreak, you’re out for good.” Sarcastically, he said, “Good luck, gentlemen.”
“What if we don’t believe you?” Robert asked. “What if you’re giving us the wrong direction?” The other two pledges nodded in agreement.
Jax’s mouth fell open. He couldn’t believe this was happening. They hadn’t even started yet and the damn Mexican was already causing trouble.
“What if we just turned around and went the other way?” Robert asked.
Jax steamed with anger. He was losing control of the group just because of one jerk. “Go ahead, smart-ass. The woods go on forever, can you?”
"I'm going this way. According to the stars this is north." He abruptly turned and started back the way they had come.
Jax had set his booby-traps in the other direction. In a last ditch effort he said, “Are you guys sure you want to follow that . . . that Mexican?”
The pledges stopped. Robert spun around on his heels. “Your actions give you away, Jax. What’s wrong? You got some stupid traps or something set up the other way?”
“Go to hell, Robert. No matter what you do, you’ll never get into this frat house.”
Robert turned to the other pledges, “You guys keep going that direction. I’m positive it’s the trail back to the road. Look, you can see the broken branches where we passed. Just keep straight on that line, you’ll make it.”
“What about you?” they asked.
“I’ve got some unfinished business here. Jax and I need to have a little talk.”
The other two shrugged and headed back toward the highway.
Robert approached Jax.
“So what duya think you’re gonna do, poor boy? I’ll smash you like a cockroach, you little twerp.”
Jax picked up a dead branch, he came at Robert swinging it like a baseball bat.
Robert stood still--smiled.
Jax’s eyes shone with glee as he swung the branch down on his unmoving opponent. With unnatural speed, Robert ducked out of the way, and moved in behind Jax.
Jax spun around, a startled look on his face. Robert stood as before, his arms folded across his chest. He made no attempt to defend himself.
Jax came at him again, faked a high side-swing, and then arched his blow low, hoping to catch Robert off guard.
With that strange speed, Robert easily moved out of the way.
“Hey, what gives, asshole?” He threw the branch at Robert, who easily caught it in mid-air with one hand and then dropped it casually to the ground.
“Do you know what a nagual is?” asked Robert.
“I only know that I’m gonna kick your ass!” screamed Jax.
Robert ignored him. “In Mexico, a nagual is a Mexican Indian sorcerer.”
“Yeah right--whatever.” Jax ran at him in an attempt to bowl the smaller boy down. But Robert wasn’t there and Jax ended up flat on his chest in the dirt.
He continued talking calmly. “The average man lacks the energy needed to deal with sorcery. Human beings are born with a finite amount of energy,” he went on, “an energy that is systematically deployed, beginning at the moment of birth, in order that it may be used most advantageously by the modality of time.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” asked Jax, struggling to his feet and wiping the dirt from his clothes.
“The modality of time is the precise bundle of energy fields being perceived,” he answered. “The actual time decides the mode; the time decides which precise bundle of energy fields are to be used.”
Jax ran at him again, but this time Robert had stood close to a tree and when he moved, Jax plowed into it like a savage bull. Small branches poked and tore at his eyes and face.
He screamed in agony cradling his head in his hands. "I can't see! I can't see!"
“This is what I mean when I say that the average man lacks the energy needed to deal with sorcery. If he uses only the energy he has, he can’t perceive the world as a sorcerer does. Sorcerers need to use a cluster of energy fields not ordinarily used. Think about it, it isn’t that I’ve learned to be a sorcerer; rather, I’ve learned to save energy.”
“Oh, God, help me! My eyes! My eyes! I’m blind!” Jax's face was bloodied and mangled; several sharp twigs jutted from his cheeks.
“Sorcerers use an indescribable force called intent. Everything that exists is attached to intent by a connecting link. Your link, your intent, was with that tree and the loss of your eyes--maybe even to your death. Good luck finding your way out, my stupid prejudiced friend.”
And with that, Robert walked away in perfect silence. He could still hear Jax’s screams echo through the woods as he stepped out onto the main highway and headed toward the campus.