“Come on Hunter! Jab, cross, kick! She’s vulnerable there!” Coach Andrew’s voice went in my one ear and out the other.
I was locked onto my opponent standing only a few feet away from me, while I took small steps forward trying to gage my distance to her.
I have already taken a few hard hits and I began doubting if I could penetrate her defense. Her arms were held up to her face like a mask ready to block any of my punches.
Sweat perspired down my cheeks as I tried keeping up with her movements. She was much more experienced then I was, but I was going to try my best to take her down.
The large woman paced to the side and I let out a jab, which she easily avoided by a quick flinch of her head.
Suddenly her glove came swinging in my direction, too fast for me to avoid. Her right hook felt like a bag of bricks against the side of my head causing me to fall to my knees.
Cheering erupted from the other side of the ring causing my frustration to grow exponentially. I felt so embarrassed, but I had to keep my mind focused on my opponent. I wasn’t going to back down this easy.
“Get up Hunter! Show her what you can do!” Coach Andrew was motivating me to get up.
I grunted as I got to my feet quickly, bringing my arms back up to cover my face. The cocky bitch in front of me was smirking, while she kept her arms completely lowered. She obviously wasn't scared, so I was going to use her cockiness to my advantage.
We circled each other waiting for one another to make a move. Her arms were still lowered and I knew this was my chance.
“Like I showed you Felicia!” Her coach yelled from the other side.
“Come Hunter do something!” Coach Andrew screamed louder.
“Come on little girl. What are you doing in this gym anyways?” Felicia sneered.
I lost my patience and my eyes focused in on her. I raised my foot to her chest while stepping forward as hard as I could. Her eyes widened as she stumbled backwards while she gasped for air.
“Nice push kick Hunter, keep going!” Coach Andrew yelled.
As Felicia tried regaining her balance I pounced forward and released a flurry of upper kicks. Her arms lowered to protect her body and I saw an opportunity to give her a hard jab, cross, uppercut combo.
“Protect your face!” Her coach was yelling and even some spectators were now shouting on the side of the ring. All eyes were on us. This wasn’t my gym, so I suppose seeing one of their fighters getting their ass kicked has sparked some attention.
Felecia’s attempts to block my punches were failed as I poked through her trembling arms. She was barely standing now and she tried backing up her corner. Blood droplets started accumulating on the floor by her feet, but she was too overwhelmed to wipe her face.
“What the hell are you doing? You are bringing shame to this gym!” Her coach yelled in her ear.
What an asshole. This was just a sparring match, not a championship.
I immediately stopped what I was doing and Felicia remained crouched down by her feet. This sparring match was obviously over and everyone knew it, so why should I continue?
I reached my hand down to help her up. She peeked her eyes over her arm and looked around, unsure if she should accept my help. The gym was silent and everyone was waiting to see what she would do.
“Good sparring match Felicia.” I reached out my hand to help her up.
“You too.” She said as she grabbed my hand bringing herself back to her feet.
“What the hell was that?” Her coach came onto the ring and started yelling. He was a small bald man with a big nose. Someone you wouldn't expect to be a fighting coach.
“It’s just a sparring match.” I furrowed my eyebrows giving him an evil glare. It didn’t phase him one bit, but actually made his pale face turn red.
“Watch who you’re talking to hot shot. You are nothing here, how about you fight some of the werewolf fighters eh? You think you’re strong enough for that human?!” Felicia's coach started yelling in my direction. I knew he was human, so why would he talk down like that about his own kind? Did he think the werewolves were superior? They are all assholes if you asked me.
“Now, now! That’s enough Coach Bezos!” Coach Andrew entered the ring and gave me a pat me on the back.
“Good job Hunter clean yourself up and I’ll see you outside in the parking lot.” He waved me off to try to de-escalate the situation.
"Yes Coach." I rolled my eyes and proceeded to head towards the changerooms. I heard them arguing in the corner as I left.
Probably most of the fighters who trained at this gym were were-wolves but that didn’t scare me. As I walked past the few spectators I confidently waved my hand as I slipped into the changeroom. I think I pissed off the whole gym and it felt amazing.
“What the hell was that Hunter?” I could practically see Coach Andrew's eyes beaming in the darkness as we walked back to his car.
“Why should he talk to her like that? This is just a sport.” I kicked a pebble on the ground watching it skip down into the sewer grate. It was cold as hell today and the sweat from training was already freezing on my skin. I placed my cold hands in my sweater to keep warm.
“You know sometimes it’s not just a sport. There’s big money in these fights and a lot at stake. Even the human fights have big payouts. You think Felicia has a choice? Do you have a choice?” He asked and paused, realizing he hit a soft spot.
“Yeah… I do have a choice. I could either keep living on the verge of eviction with a drug addicted brother or win this fight.” I daydreamed about what I would do with a hundred grand in my pocket. Some of the ladies I was suppose to fight have been training for years and I only started a few months ago. It was a long shot for me to win, but it was something worth trying.
“Hunter the day I met you at the Rogue I saw something in you, but you were so angry and timid. No offence.” Coach laughed.
“No offence taken coach.” I chuckled. He was right, I was mentally a wreck with pent up frustration before I met him. He taught me how to fight like the werewolf warriors fought and I finally felt like I belonged to something.
“Well, what was I saying… I see something in you. I see a warrior in you. I know you aren’t a wolf, but I know you have potential kid. You kicked a lot of ass that night at the Rogue and I just knew you had it in you to win this.” He smirked and patted me on the head like a dog. His large hand was as big as my head but he was a gentle giant. He was practically my only friend besides my brother who I rarely saw anymore.
“I don’t understand why the other wolves are not like you. You are too human to be a wolf… If that makes sense.” I teased and pushed my body against his large frame. I could feel the heat radiating off of his body as I brushed up against him. It must be nice to wear only a t-shirt in below zero temperatures.
“Don’t worry kid, I’m not like the others. I am only allied to these assholes to stay alive. Living a life as a rogue has its consequences...” He sighed.
We finally reached his little white Honda and it was quite comical to see such a large man climb into a tiny compact car.
“Whatever you say coach.” I smiled and walked towards the passenger door.
“Home?” He asked, placing his hands on the steering wheel.
“Yea, I’m wiped.” I replied as I leaned my head against the window.
As we drove through the brightly lit city I pondered the idea of moving away if I won. Where would I go? Did I really want to leave coach behind? I’m beginning to fall in love with training and working towards something. Would I be able to continue without Coach Andrew?
...twenty minutes later
“Look almost here.” Coach Andrew pointed to my rundown apartment building. I was dozing off in the passenger seat by the time we arrived.
“Thanks and yes still the same shit hole as always.” I groaned looking at the shambled exterior covered in graffiti.
“Wow, it looks worse than before Hunter. You should really consider-“I cut him off midsentence.
“I know, why do you think I’m doing this?” I said raising my eyebrows.
“I guess you have a point...- ok kid, tomorrow one pm before you go to work and at least we can get a few hours in. We only have a few weeks until the fight.” He said as I climbed out of his car.
"See you tomorrow Coach." I threw my bag over my shoulder and waved goodbye as he sped off down the road leaving me on the deserted street. The streetlights flickered and I could see the rats fighting for food by the nearby dumpster.
The area my brother and I lived in was riddled with peddlers and prostitutes, so it wasn't the best place to call home but it was better then being homeless. I always dreamed of living uptown in one of those fancy condos, but only the wealthy could afford anything on that side of the city.
“Wow this is a shithole.” I muttered under my breath.
I headed up the stairs into the front lobby of the apartment complex. It was an older building that was never kept up. The elevator didn't even work and I had to go up five flights of stairs to just get to my apartment.
It was a strangely quiet night and the usual cries and yelling down the hallways were silent. I thought it was weird but I wouldn't complain about the lack of noise.
I finally reached my apartment door and unlocked the hanging latch that still needed to be fixed by my lazy superintendent. The one screw that it was being held by was rusting and one day I knew it was going to fall off. It would be so easy to break in here, but at least there wasn't much to steal.
As I entered my apartment I knew someone was there but I couldn't see anything through the darkness. There was a shadowed figure sitting on the couch not moving, so I figured it was Troy.
"Troy?" I called out while throwing my gym bag on the ground.
I flicked the light switch on the wall but room remained pitched black.
Fuck, what else could go wrong in this place?
"Troy?" I called out again. What the hell was going on and why wasn't he answering me?
"Hunter." An unfamiliar spoke to me and I knew something was very wrong.