I pick up my tooth like you’d pick up a penny, with no surprise, just because it’s there. 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. Can’t see any of them anyway, but it’s got to strike again. They’ve been beating the shit out of me for a good 20 minutes, why stop now!? Sneaky fucks, one bash and they’re gone I swing and kick in thin air. Back on earth that would be called unfair to vanish like that. Haven’t seen earth in decades either.
I’m fight high now, I sense the place like I’m seeing it from a distance, see myself in it. There. I smell a breath and hear a shuffle. Got you. I make a fist around that tooth and uppercut the shit out of whatever it is I can smell 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 that body mass. I should feel bones cracking... might be it’s got none?! What an anticlimax. But it lumps down on the floor all the same, as they all do. Lying there with that chameleon like skin now a bit more in contrast, I can see he’s not big, hope he’s not some sort of kid. Or dead. Shit happens.
Horn sounds, fight’s over. Some guy bet I’d give up before I can place a single punch. Really? Supposed to be impossible to fight one of those, they’re quick and see through. Well renown assassins race blah blah blah he says. I hold up three fingers to his face for an answer and shut him up. He’s not sure if I was being rude or what the fuck. Athan voices it for me "how about three at once?". That jacked up the odds real good.
I’m hurting. I spit a mouthful of blood. Wasn’t aiming at his face more than that, just looking at him, lost in my thoughts. Had to spit somewhere. And he’s 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. And he’s got me on his side if he ever were. It’s him I seek in the crowd. One look at his body language and I am able to tell if now 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 hotel for fighters.
Athan and I. that’s story right there. 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 silent. 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 one. Anyway We didn’t really belong, 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
Athan is the first person I put on his ass. It was the first day of spring, first day ever at school, first morning break of my life, First running for the outside with the others. I guess we were playing tag or something, my sheltered life so far hadn’t prepared me for that.
They all start tagging me, the whole bunch, what feels like a hundred. I’m stuck, I scream out, grab Athan’s face for it is the closest and throw him to the ground. Standing over him, kids screaming and scrambling in every direction, I had never experienced rage before.
Too busy being overwhelmed I didn’t see his big brother’s 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 wakes me, the pounding to the side of my skull. People standing over me, I am not afraid but I want to go back floating. My body feels clumsy, my head’s heavy, people don’t understand what I am saying. soothing me with there shh shh.
Turns out I am speech impaired since then. I couldn’t explain what I had seen, how it felt. People ought to know, what a shame! And I want to go back! A nurse smiles briefly at me with a hand on my chest. I’m in an hospital bed.
Everybody is so grave around me they could do with a bit of what I saw! I’m trying to speak but it feels my mouth or tongue won’t collaborate with my brain. More shh shh.
There is those two administrative figures over there, talking with a doctor. I would learn to recognize them from miles away.
The doctor broke the news to me. How my parents have 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 that same scream coming up my throat but getting stuck there drowning me in rage all over again, let go of me, what is going to be OK??? and what the fuck is it you “understand”??? They all refuse to shut up and listen and I can’t speak I can only cry and frantically wave them off. Boom that’s a bleeding nose for the doctor who staggers away from me. I’m in a fit and they sedate me. By the time I wake up again I am another orphan kid in the system, the two administrative figures will pick me up and drive me away soon.
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 these days, what would they call them? We ride it to and from “the teaching center” everyday aka the retard school. They should either say retards school or retarded school. Morons. It drives by my old school too. And I feel the sting on the side of my face too.
The special bus broke down today, so the speech teacher is walking a 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. Only some sign language gestures turn a few heads 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 was holding back the tears but it was only a matter of time.
I walked over. The one that sees me coming I kick right in the balls. Out of the equation. Another one backs away that leaves the big brother. Both him and Athan are looking at me oddly. I smile a flirtatious smile that says remember me? That doesn’t seem to add up, they remain frozen.
Nothing like a good punch in the stomach to break the ice. Big brother double bend over. Athan is mesmerized. The big brother straightens up, I can see he is pissed off. I am cool and collected, the High coming slowly over me. He’s at me with a wide throw I had all the time to dodge. I simply decide not to. That feels so good but I don’t let it take me away that time, I ride it instead. What I a rush, I missed it. 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 realize. He keeps coming, I dodge it all and aim for the one ear. Again and again and again. On the third hit he puts his hand over it wincing.
Here’s a tip: Never close your eyes in a fist fight. Even better, just never close your eyes. I leap charge him, he topples over and the punches are raining down. I would still be blending his face in with the pavement to this day hadn’t the teacher rushed over when he realized what was going on. It was over in seconds really but the big boy was bruised and in tears, another was sobbing cupping his balls and the third one remembered that he had nothing to do with the whole thing. Athan was transfixed his eyes never left me. Ever since.
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 shut them up good. I got away scot free. The incident got me in the psychologist office on a regular basis. After a large amount of irrelevant drawing and pointing and guessing shapes he asked. What do you want? I crossed my arm in front of me with a slow circular motion. Sign language for fight. He looked quizzical so I stood up and started shadow boxing like a moron. More quizzical looks but at least he knew what I meant.
Athan came to my school the next day to hand me out his lunch. With a massive grin. It was pretty much an deity offering I later came to realize. He sat there next to me smiling. He said nothing, asked nothing. After a while he got up waved and walked away the big smile never left his face. It was so very soothing. He came every single day after that.
Later he joined a sign language class I joined a boxing club. My kind of sign language.
In that year I became obsessed with fighting arts, I was boxing, I joined the dojo to begin the pursuit of Aikido and Judo.
School was a breeze too, anatomy, biology and mechanics were my thing, I was officially wanting to become a chiropractor. I would sit there on my free time figuring ways of locking joints, snapping bones, dislocating shoulders and breaching tissues. Honing my blows accordingly. Only Athan knew of this. Knowing the mechanics of the body helps a lot and you routinely come across surgeon and chiropractors in martial arts clubs. Visualizing a strike or counter strike or even a block has better chances if you understand what the body natural reaction will be. But people usually don’t write bare hand killing manuals on their free time. One could say all was well.
But they would not let me fight. Under aged they said, you’ll get hurt, it’s against the law, would you really want to hurt people?
It would be too long to explain, I just want to feel it again, be transported, engulfed in the that 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 nerve system. 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 (haha. At least i’m funny), so I think a lot. That mud bath is nice, really regenerates you I feel. I’ll be back in shape in no time. I look at my tooth, bottom left #19. Again. got to work on some paring there. Must have some sort of natural weakness, maybe a gum deformity. It’s almost grown back already anyway 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. Bring a finger to my mouth, lick it. Mother fuckers. Yep it’s mostly blood. Damn 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. Yes it works wonders for recovery but fuck, give me a break. Tastes familiar too, I’m pretty sure I’ve killed some of the creatures in that bath. Or some of their relatives.
As I jump out of the bath an army of small quadruped no bigger than a hand, well a human hand, jump all over 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.
I must say 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 hotel staff one squeeze at a time without a sound or a scream for help. Must have seemed somewhat methodical. 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 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 otherwise your body keeps regenerating, producing too many cells. Very much like cancer. Which is by the way non existent in these parts. And if you get 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 fighting movies and we would re enact these all the time too. Then he would come watch me train.
Gifted school boy he’d read over his homework at best and get top marks. That gifted mind of his for statistics, numbers and what not allowed him a lot of free time. He got to learn a lot about the fighting too since he was also my interpret and that’s how he later became my agent I suppose, without us even noticing. He will confine in me later that I am the arch in his life, that I unlocked his potential by keeping the bullies at bay, kept him sheltered from the hurt and fear and allowed him to bloom so he’d become the most cunning book keeper and be his own man. He would turn the world upside down for me.
As a teen I told him 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 he wasn’t the glamorous kind of teenager. He figured, if I can’t make friends maybe I can make enemies. Right he was. He started to smart ass comment all he could and he could outwit any kid. And a lot of 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. I was over the moon. I would have kissed him if I had known about that sort of things. He said I 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 me. The fight was set to take place that afternoon in the park. Meanwhile the word had spread and Athan had set the bets. Lunch money.
There was a bunch of kids. I came out of behind the edge. Very dramatic, a kung-fu movie classic. I think most of them didn’t expect a 13 years old 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", his friends laughed. 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 fell on my ass as he walks over to Athan. I didn’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 his punches. One, two, and boom slaps him hard on the cheek with a smack. Everybody gasp, they kind of do if you delay the first direct hit to the face and make it more of a statement than a blow.
The slap is great for winding boys up. Works at all ages. 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, could hear a pin drop. All I hear is blood rush in my hears. Apart from my hand print on his face there’ll be no obvious marks. 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 announces anybody talking too much would be taken care of too.
Somebody spilled the beans though. "Police is coming" "after school you go to jail!". That was the word in everybody’s mouth that morning. Blessing in disguise really because 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. We’d be separated. No way. The escape plan came naturally. Somewhat of a trademark 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, don’t know how he does it. He walks in after a minute or so, sit on the bed