My handler’s gruff hollering broke through my punch-drunk haze and everything came flooding back from there. My arms quivered. My body screamed. My legs cramped; I had been running circles away from my opponent and was exhausted, completely out of steam. My vision crept back and the blur gave way, I was flat on my back staring up into glaring orange. There came another command to get to my feet, this one motivating me enough to roll onto my compressed chest and force myself up and onto one knee.
I huffed and my hearing returned in full. My ears were ravaged by the cheering, the wailing and roaring, of thousands surrounding. I convulsed, succumbing to my poor state, and heaved while my lungs strained and I hacked up blood onto the hard arena floor.
I heard you, you bastard! Give me a goddamned second!
I would have yelled it had I the energy or could stop the fit I was enduring. Vertigo took me again and the crowds laudation faded to murmurs.
The Announcer’s raucous prattle emphasized my rapidly worsening condition. “And there she goes again –”
“And here you are, again.” The portent voice swirled in my mind. “Battered and beaten, again. Why not keep up the trends and just give up, hm?”
“I ain’t givin’ up.” I struggled with my voice.
“And yet you gave up on me.” A somber hiss in my ear.
I opened my eyes to a sea of subdued red and a single figure, a child, standing in contrast just behind me.
“I didn’t. I –“
“You ran! Like you always do. Always running!” It snapped and flared, teeth and fists clenched.
“I lost you,” I pled. “I searched. I’ve tried but –“
“It was too hard?” A second voice mocked and the plane shifted rapidly, a tall figure stood before me against a field of muddy brown. “And so, you gave up, because it’s so easy to be beaten down and bleed. Why fight it?” It grinned and reached an oozing hand to brush at my bruised face.
I snarled and viciously swiped the hand away. “You ain’t got a clue what I struggle with every day! Either of you!” I launched to my feet, tearing my glare between the two. “You don’t know nothin’ about me!”
The two figures slinked back, hissing and grumbling, breaking way for a calm. I wiped my forearm across my split lip, a thin line of red painting my pale skin.
“Not giving up then, hm?” The portent voice echoed and I offered no more than a curl of my lip. It sighed, “Well, I suppose there will always be next time. For now, you should move –”
“Move, ya git!”
All my senses stormed forward at once. The crowd groaned. My body screamed and my nose was battered by the thick scent of iron. I blinked and felt my heart catch in my throat at the sight of bruised and bloodied knuckles streaming toward my face. I forced my body to move, ignoring overwhelming paresthesia from head to toe. The haymaker grazed my cheek and threw me off balance. A thunderous cacophony of roaring and cheer erupted within the cavern and I could only imagine my handler’s dour relief.
“For a second there it looked like she was in a coma, but it looks like Peppers is back in action, folks!”
I stumbled to gain my footing and struggled against my aching body to hold a stance. My opponent turned to face me, he huffed and I beckoned.
Bait taken. I rolled underneath his rushing punch and threw a sharp knee into his gut. He folded and I stepped forward to wrench his neck into a choke hold. No sooner did I lock in the hold did he begin to thrash in my grasp. A moment passed before he threw his weight forward and sent me toppling backward, the impact causing dust to fly and my lumbar to cry.
A daze overcame me, yet I locked my ankles behind my opponents back and held him into place until his thrashing slowed and his body fell limp against my form.
“I can’t believe what I am seeing here today! Redacted is down after a gritty counter assault by Peppers! It appears to be a choke out, folks! There’s no answer on the other end! ”
Intertwined as we were, I could feel his heart pounding – his instincts battling against the inevitable. Yet, consciousness had left him. The Referee broke into our shared existence and forced us apart, me rising to my feet and my opponent falling limp on the arena floor.
An old piece I have been working on here and there. My main focus is creating technical combat that is not confusing to the reader. Let me know what you think. And if you have any suggestions for reads that accomplish this much better, I would love your suggestions.