I pick up my tooth like you’d pick up a penny, with no surprise, just because it’s fallen off. I haven’t seen a penny in decades I wonder, down on one knee, my mind is loosing focus like a day dream as the blood is pounding, blurring my vision, the tug of pain slowly loosing its grip on me.
Can’t see any of them, but it will strike again. They’ve beaten the shit out of me for a good little while, why stop now!? Sneaky though, one bash and they’re gone, I don’t even bother taking a swing. Back on earth that would be called unfair to vanish like that. Haven’t seen earth in decades either. There’s an air movement, a heavy hit on my lower back sends me down further, the crowd cheers. Those are the similar idiots through all places we’ve been. Imbecility as a constant.
I’m getting fight high now, I sense the place like I’m seeing it from a distance, see myself in it. There. I smell a breath I sense a shift in the air. Holy shit do I have you now. I make a fist around that tooth and uppercut from the ground up the shit out of whatever is in front of me. I connect. The sweet release, the sharp pain through my joints. Oh the infinitesimal stillness of the impact torn apart by the transfer of energy into body mass. I should feel bones cracking...? What an anticlimax. Maybe it’s got no bones I ponder. But it lumps down on the floor all the same, they all do. Horn sounds, fight’s over. Lying there, chameleon like skin now a bit more in contrast, I can see he’s not big at all, hope he’s not some sort of kid. Or dead. It happened. Never liked it.
Some guy bet I’d give up before I can place a single punch. Really? Supposed to be impossible to fight one of those, being quick and see through an Ancient assassins breed blah blah blah I hold up three fingers to his face for to shut him up. He’s not sure if he’s being insulted. Athan voices it for me "how about three at once?". That jacked up the odds real good.
Pain is back getting the usual piggyback and the lizzard is taken away by his two semi transparent companions while I’m invited to exit via the other door.
The crowd, a dull affair today, has no more eyes for the arena. Now it’s all about getting paid or getting away without paying. It’s the way it goes on every planet, system or space stations. I smile to myself. These stations are a bucket of fun, fucking crazy scientists. a silent chuckle for me. Come to think of it I tell myself, the irony really... how gambling was always deemed a human vice when humanity is merely a product of gambling. Foolish youth.
Athan is not so foolish for a human. It’s him I seek in the crowd. One look at his body language and I can tell if we fight, rest or run. "All is good" his round shoulders tell me, I’ll just go drop in a bath then. Or on a bench or on some warm sentient being with a pulse. They are accommodating is this kind of joint. Think of it as a luxury venue for fighters.
Athan and I. We complete one another. We enable each other. Nowadays he organizes the fights I take care of the handy work. The rest of the time we mostly keep quiet. He’s the one that found the "intergalactic connect" as we call it. When things got out of hands back on earth, we jumped ship. Or on a ship. Away from earth. from the underworld to the above world? I can probably come up with a catchier idea. Anyway We never really belonged, living life seem more normal out here and the fighting is good. My oh my. It’s all very real, very raw and all very unruly. A punch junky’s dream.
The Punch Junky
First day of spring, first day ever at school, first morning break of my life, Running for the outside with the others. I guess a game of tag was on or something, my home schooling hadn’t prepared me for that.
They all start tagging me, the whole bunch, what feels like hundreds. I’m stuck, I scream out, grab the face that is closest and throw it to the ground. I’m standing over him, kids screaming and scrambling in every direction, I had never experienced rage before.
Overwhelmed, I didn’t see that fist coming to my head. To this day I often relive that moment. I recall every single knuckle digging into my ear and temple one by one, the deafening silence that came with it and how I spiraled out of consciousness for eternity before I hit the ground, the millions of bright lights I saw and the peace that carried me away, weightlessly.
I was hooked on my first hit.
Pain woke me with the promise to never leave me, like a shadow, a needy brat always tugging on your clothes, a cruel over seer. The pounding to the side of my skull, the humming. People standing over me, I want to go back floating into the flood lights. My body feels clumsy, my head’s heavy, people don’t understand what I am saying. everything is humming.
Turns out I am speech impaired since then. It’s not a phase, it’s Aphasia. commonly known as mute. I have been the mute, the mutant, the mutt, I’m sure you can think of a couple yourself. All good examples of how dumb and satisfied with dim wits most people are.
Everybody is so grave and blurry. I’m trying to speak but it feels my brain and tongue won’t collaborate.
Shifting in and out concsiouness for an eternity my vision coming back into focus I can see I recognize no one as if I had woke in a different universe. That’s what it is like when the world has come down around you.
The doctor explained it to me. How my parents died in a car crash on their way down to the hospital. I can’t say no. I can’t ask why, I can’t say I don’t understand, I can’t tell them they are wrong and they’ll be here soon. I can feel a scream coming stuck in my throat drowning me in rage. He refuses to shut up and listen and I can’t speak, I can only cry and frantically clumsely move. By the time I wake up again I am another orphan kid in the system. I’m told I’ll be fine, I’ll be looked after. Did he think that? I’ll encounter many sorts of liars along the way, the worst kind is the sane delusional one.
It’s spring again, aboard the special bus. That’s the least offensive nickname it got, you should see the folks I hang out with now, what would they call them? It drives by my old school too. And I feel the tingling sting on the side of my face too.
We broke down today, so the teacher is walking the bunch of us to my old school to get a bus from there, it’s only a block away. We blend in just fine when out of the special bus, we just look like kids I realize. sign language here and but it looks like a game anyway.
That’s when I saw them, Athan with his big brother slapping him at the back of the head with his friends. Simple game, one smacks him he turns around, one grabs him by the school bag and your mate smacks him and so on. Seems easy enough. Bullies aren’t the bright kind. Athan is holding back the tears, I never knew but he was a broken boy then.
I walk over, the one that sees me coming I kick right in the balls. Out of the equation. Another one backs away in surprise that leaves the big brother. Both him and Athan are looking at me oddly. I smile a flirtatious smile that says remember me? I remember you. That doesn’t seem to add up, they remain frozen.
Nothing like a good punch in the stomach to break the ice. Big brother staggers in surprise. Athan is mesmerized. The big brother is pissed off. I am cool and collected, the High slowly coming over me. He’s at me with a wide throw, such a rudimentary punch, I have all the time to dodge.
I simply decide not to. I see my head tilt back, it’s beautiful and feels so good, my neck crunches softly. But I don’t let it take me away this time, I ride the rush instead. How I missed you.
One side step to catch my balance, my shoulder rotates naturally as my small fist travels to his rib cage. He’s too big for me to cause any serious damage with a body shot I see. He keeps coming, I dodge and slap him square on the one ear with the flat of my palm. He puts his hand over it wincing.
Now here’s a tip: Never close your eyes in a fist fight. Or just never close your eyes. I leap charge him, he topples over and the mad punches are raining down. I target the throat, the eyes, the mouth. I would be blending his face into the pavement right now hadn’t a teacher rushed over when they realized what was going on. It was over in seconds really but the big boy was sore and scared - I know it now - another was sobbing cupping his balls and the third one remembered that he had nothing to do with the whole thing to start with. Athan was mesmerized, his eyes never left me. Ever since. I had killed a Goliath and saved him.
It was a bit of a rumble with the schools staff and stuff. When Athan explained that I came to his help things started to look up for me and when I wrote as an apology “I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I can’t talk” that made it awkward enough to make them forget it. I got away scot free. The incident got me in the psychologist office on a regular basis though. After an eternity of irrelevant drawing and pointing and guessing shapes he asked. What do you want? I crossed my arm in front of me in a slow circular motion. Sign language for fight. He looked quizzical so I stood up and started shadow boxing like a idiot. More quizzical looks but at least he knew what I meant.
Athan came to my school the some day to hand me out his lunch box. With a massive grin and humility. It was pretty much an deity offering I later came to realize. He sat there next to me smiling. He said nothing, asked nothing. Wonderful. After a while he got up waved and walked away the big smile never left his face. It was so very soothing. We hardly ever missed a meal together even when it was only memories of food.
Later on he joined a sign language class while I joined a boxing class. My kind of sign language I suppose.
In that year I became obsessed with fighting arts, I was boxing, I joined the dojo to begin the pursuit of Aikido and Judo. I watched as much fighting as possible.
Education came in handy too, anatomy, biology, physics. So many ways to ply and pry and brake solids and fluids. Pressure, kinetic energy, I would sit there on my free time devising ways of locking joints, snapping bones, dislocating shoulders and breaching tissues. Thinking my blows through accordingly. Some would say I was an odd child. Mute with a broken zigomatics freezing my face in a rethorical smirk and obsessive goulish interest? Well it does get weirder believe me.
Only Athan knew of this, he helped. Since one routinely comes across surgeon and chiropractors in martial arts clubs he suggested I made it my cover, I want to be a doctor! Only praise came after that. One could say all was well.
But they would not let me fight. No violence allowed, you’re convalescent, you’re Under aged, you’ll get hurt - I am hurting. All of the time - it’s against the law, would you really want to hurt people? I didn’t answer.
It would be too long to explain, I just want to feel it again, be transported, engulfed in that bright universe beyond physical pain, when the adrenaline kicks in, get the massive endorphin’s high, the lactic acid burn in your muscle and the electric messages jolting the synapses, seeing the world from above. I was going to get my share soon, what’s mine.
I often dwell on the past like that after a fight as the rush slowly escapes my body. I’m not very talkative but at least I’m funny, I think a lot. That mud bath is nice, really regenerative. I’ll be back in shape in no time. I look at that tooth, bottom left #19. Again. Got to work on some paring there maybe. Must have some sort weakness since all these years ago, maybe a gum deformity. Anyway It’s almost grown back already. I’ll add that one to the collection, not quite a full set yet and too many bottom left #19.
Really intrigued with the mud bath now, I feel too pumped up. Mother fuckers. Yep it tastes like blood, it’s mostly blood. Damn it I hate when they don’t let you know beforehand. Bathing in blood is just not my thing, there are some excellent mud blends out there. It’s like mixing work and leisure, not cool guys. It works wonders for recovery but fuck, give me a break. Tastes familiar too, I’m pretty sure I’ve bled some of the creatures in that bath. Or some of their relatives.
As I jump out of the bath I glimpse a tiny army of tiny quadrupeds, no bigger than a hand, well a human hand, They all jump at me with wide open mouth.
And begin to lick me clean with their huge tongues. Now that is quality service, I’m starting to forgive them for the blood bath. That bunch is really thorough, not a drop left. it’s over in the blink of an eye and they leap off hiding in the shadows again waiting for the next patron to service.
I must admit a few of these died at my hand the first time, to the horror of the other patrons. I must have looked a proper maniac on crack killing the staff one squeeze at a time without a sound or a scream for help. Must have seemed somewhat methodical too. I had won a big fight and the incident was wiped under the carpet. The second time I warned Athan none of these licking fucks! He passed on the message “no licking” which was received with bewildered looks. After the bath I wondered around in search of a shower which I never found. I just wiped off the mud eventually. Only to wake up later to severe deformities on my arms as I noticed first and all over my body. What the fuck? I had to dip In another bath and then get licked clean.
You see, they have this chemical in their saliva that neutralizes the muds on which they feed after it blends with your cells otherwise your body keeps regenerating, producing too many cells. Much like cancer. Which is by the way non existent in these parts. And with access to the good muds well you don’t age much either. We’ll keep that for when we retire Athan and I, grow old. Yeah Fuck that.
Athan is always around. As kids, we’d be watching movies all the time, let them do the talking. Heaps of western and dumb fighting movies and we would re enact these all the time too. He would also come watch me train. also anything to keep him away from home.
He got to learn a lot about the fighting too since he was also my interpret without us even noticing. He did learn to read a good man and a crook and a liar and a gambler, lots of them gravitate around boxing gyms. He could play them too. He would turn the world upside down for me.
As teens he knew my frustration that nobody would let me fight. So logically he went on and organized a fight... He was a nerd I was a mute. yeah you can see we weren’t the glamorous kind of teenagers. He figured, if we can’t make friends maybe we can make enemies. Right he was. He started to smart ass all he could and he could outwit any kid, most adults too. When the bullies started to get drawn to the nerdy weirdo with a friend in special school it didn’t take long for him to be back in trouble. The first one to take the bite had 3 years on me he was 16 and I was over the moon. I would have kissed him if I had known about that sort of things. He said "his friend" would kick his ass if he bullied him. The boy laughed grabbed him by the shirt and promised he was second after he’d be done with the friend. following pop culture tradtions The fight was set to take place that afternoon in the park.
There was a little bunch of kids. I came out of behind the edge. Very dramatic, we had rehearsed. I think most of them didn’t expect a 13 years old scrawny girl to walk in front of that boy and raise her hands in a boxing stance. I would get that often over the years.
He looked down at me and sneered, "I’m not fighting a retard girl", everybody laughs. I pushed him and spat at his face. He was not robbing me of my first organized fight. The friends laughed harder and his face turned red in shame. He pushed me with both hands.
I fall on my ass and he’s walking over to Athan. I don’t want it to end too quick. I kick his shin, he kicks back, I lock his ankle in my arm pit, elbow the inside of his other knee he lands on his back. I get up and so does he, now he’s ready to dance. I dodge the punches. One, two, and boom.
Slaps him hard on the cheek with a dry smack. Everybody gasps. They do if you hold back the first direct hit to the face and make it more of a statement than a blow.
Slaps are great for winding boys up. Works at all ages. All cultures. He comes back with a punch. That is my cue, here comes the rehearsed combination. Wrist lock, twist him side ways, kick to the sternum , kick to the stomach , elbow between the shoulder blades and he’s flat on his face. He can’t cry cause he can’t breath. My prevents that. Everyone is silent. All I hear is blood rushing in my ears. Apart from my hand print on his face there’ll be no obvious marks I think. it should be just fine. I hold his arm in an unnatural angle and my knee between his shoulders while Athan collects the money. He advises everyone to keep quiet.
Somebody spilled the beans though. "you’re in trouble weirdos" "Police is coming", "after school you go to jail!". That was the word in everybody’s mouth that morning. Blessing in disguise really because instead of lunch that day we ran away. I had no family but him, no need but to fight. He had no one but me, his dad would not let a stunt like that go unpunished, and he punished hard, he punished often. We’d be separated. No way. The escape plan came naturally. Somewhat of a trademark of ours nowadays. We jumped on a train even before lunch break. Never looked back. Maybe it wasn’t even true! Joke’s on them. Good enough for us. We slept most of the ride.
I woke out of a nightmare, uneasy. Licking over my growing tooth, it’s almost back I thought. I knock on the wall to signal Athan I’m awake. Guy never sleeps anyway, don’t know how he does it. He walks in after a minute or so, sit on the bed