Chapter V: A world of firsts, a world of fists
I think I was destined to get here, to this place; I was born to be in this circus because here is where I met ‘my person’. She’s amazing, beautiful and she doesn’t know it plus she doesn’t look scared of my scars. She actually kisses them from time to time. She has big, green eyes – if you look closer you can see brown lines that form some sort of crater towards the pupil – soft, pale skin, perfectly shaped, red lips, long chestnut hair and a figure that makes even the girls around here turn to look at her. But not that is what matters the most, what matters is how she makes me feel, how I act around her and what she thinks about me.
But now I have to focus on the fight so I told her it would be best we put everything on hold until after the fight and she agreed with tears in her beautiful eyes.
So the night of the big fight came – I’m still writing but that doesn’t mean I’m still alive, maybe someone else is writing for me these words, maybe someone wants to finish my story, maybe… - and I was ready to kill Dan, the psychopath.
But Dan didn’t show up with the excuse that he’d broken a rib during training. Radu –the eye patch guy –didn’t seem that brave this time bringing the news. I don’t know what changed but his eye didn’t show the same fearlessness and his words were small and apologizing. Still, I could barely hold my anger and Bill felt that because he stepped between Patchy and me, putting his hand on my chest.
“Now, hold on!” Bill said “What do you mean he’s not gonna be able to fight? So who is? Someone has to! You know the A.K. won’t accept a forfeit in the big fight night… He likes his fights; he likes even more new blood…”
“Yes, we know… that’s why…” he stopped and looked at my angry, resentful face. “That’s why he will be fighting Finn! So there’s still going to be a fight only not with…”
Bill looked at me and asked me with his eyes if that is ok with me. Then he leaned and told me Finn was one of the other guys, one of the trio. Now I knew their names: Dan, Radu and Finn. The ones on my kill list. I just nodded.
“Ok… so I guess I’ll see you there…” Radu continued reluctantly.
“You’re next!” I whispered menacingly.
So the fight night came and I was waiting there behind the red curtain. I could hear the hum of the crowd, which seemed surprisingly big and Bill’s voice amplified by the microphone. He introduced Finn first and people cheered for him then he went silent for a moment. The moment expanded so I took a peek from between the curtains and right there and then I saw the After King for the first time. I thought it was the A.K. because everybody was looking at him as he was trying to get to his seat that was in this specially made, a V.I.P. booth with the actual letter stuck to the front of the thing. He seemed very tall and mean or grumpy, all dressed in black, black lenses covering his eyes, he indeed inspire fear and respect from a distance. As soon as the After King sat and made a sign to continue, it was like the circus was un-paused, everyone came to life again, including Bill who introduced me for the first time to the arena and the people that were booing me.
As soon as I stepped in, Bill – being also the judge – told us the rules:
“Try not to kill yourselves. Usually he’s merciful so maybe you will both get to see the day after tomorrow…” He moved his hand in between us and it started. To be honest or without false modesty the fight didn’t last that much. He managed to hit me three times before I knocked him down and went on top of him, starting to pummel his face into a pulp. Bill appeared out of nowhere and stopped me from completing my one and only revenge. We then looked at the mighty A.K. He was sitting dressed in a purple suit – looking more like a clown, if you’d ask me – and with his right hand thumb he pointed up. I looked at Bill and his disappointed look meant that that sign signified sparing his life. That meant the fight was stopping, that meant he would live, that meant I wasn’t given my vengeance. I didn’t want that, I didn’t accept that so I managed to hit the poor fucker two more times before Bill wrestled me to the sand. But it was enough to put Finn out at least.
“I know you want revenge, kid but tonight’s not the night. Not with this crowd…” Bill whispered into my ear while he was holding me down. I got up and looked the A.K. dead in the eyes; even though he was far I could feel his eyes locking with mine – that was a tense moment, when everything seemed to fade and only him and me were actually still there, in this shitty, joke of a dying world.
It’s amazing how quickly people adapt to the edgiest of situations. I mean, here we are, few thousand people left, trying to survive, trying to just live another day, avoiding all the dangers that stalk us outside and we ‘entertain’ ourselves by stupid games, trying to find out how could we die/kill faster. If two people made up the world they wouldn’t last too long. They would kill themselves for the sake of privacy, originality and a fake, fleeing feeling of supremacy.
“I want to kill that son of a cunt and everyone that stands up for him! Everybody that did me wrong!” I shouted but nobody seemed to care; nobody but the After King who was still starring into my soul, getting a reading.
The night after the fight I went to him to tend to his wounds. I barely knew this man and I felt like I could spend the rest of my life with him – whatever that may mean.
When I came into his trailer – which was the one I grew up in, the one I’ve seen my mother bleed to death – he was half naked, trying to wash his bleeding eye.
“Come in, it’s ok.” He gently said while wiping his face. So I went in, took the wet cloth and started to clean his eye slowly. We were just standing there, looking at each other, barely breathing like there was a dandelion between us. He was still breathing heavily from exhaustion and wincing when I was putting the cloth on his broken eye socket.
“I wanted to finish him but that motherfucker…” he finally said and when he saw I froze he continued in a less angry tone. “Excuse my language, but…”
“It’s ok, don’t worry, I have the same mixed feelings about him… I hate him and I would like to kill him any chance I get but… there is something… sometimes… I know if he would know I came here he would be pissed and that… that is not good for anyone… he’s like this monster, this angry human from another planet, he’s someone who would kill you if he doesn’t like the way you said hello, he’s…”
“Yes, I know… but… It doesn’t seem fair…” he paused, taking my hands in his. “I mean, it’s bad enough the world is how it is, in this shitty state of decay… and to have a crazy, mean, hungry psychopath for a leader is… is the drop that fills the glass. My glass, anyway because I came here looking for something better and… it seems… or maybe I came here for a different reason, maybe…” he looked down for a moment then right back into my eyes. “But I found something good, in all this I found you. I guess you always find what you don’t expect and that’s the beauty of it, of life, I mean…” I smiled and as the moment demanded I swiftly kissed him. It was a long, slow, exciting kiss. But then he stopped holding my head between his harsh, trembling palms.
“I had a dream last night and I usually have interesting dreams but this one…” I wanted to stop him and say that even I had interesting dreams but he was way too dreamy, hypnotizing, I was too absorbed by his words. “This one was one of them that I keep in my memory bank. I was walking towards this waiting storm but I wasn’t moving my feet… I was… floating in its direction. I could see the lightning stabbing at the dunes, somewhere far away but somehow I knew it would soon stab me. But I was still floating forward and I was feeling fearless, brave and ready – don’t know for what; for whatever it may come, I guess. I turned and behind me, standing in the darkness of the night there was this perfect shape of a woman, this amazing forms, this… I… think it was you… But I still went forward… I blinked and then the storm was right in front of me and exactly before the lightning hit me I woke up and I immediately realized what I had to do. I had to kill that monster and everyone bad around him… It was like the storm had spoken with my subconscious self and I understood the message quicker than expected.
“You’re talking crazy now; it was just a dream…” I answered swiftly. “I think you received too many punches to the head and you’re confused…” I continued smiling.
“Don’t mock me, please!” he said with a trace of discomfort.
“I’m not mocking you…” I said innocently. “But do you know what you are saying? Killing the King? Killing… him? An untouchable, crazy man. So many people surround him that even in his most vulnerable and lonely position he’s still protected by his insanity. Tom, he’s not someone to mess around with, especially alone!”
“Maybe… I’ll build an army…” he said sounding all feisty, like a kid protecting his toys.
“No, Tom! He’s not called the After King for nothing… He might seem an easy prey but trust me, he isn’t. And… I don’t want you to get hurt more or… or… worse…”
“But… he won’t even know when, I’m gonna…”
“NO!” I shouted firmly! “Please, promise me you will not try anything stupid, it’s bad enough you have to fight every time like this.”
“But it would…”
“No! I want you with me, now that we found this, I don’t want to lose it…”
“Ok!” he smirked and leaned in to kiss me. I hesitated for a moment but immediately gave in to his warm, soft touch. We kissed for what seemed like an eternity and my body started to get hotter with every passing second, my cheeks flushed and my desire growing bigger with each move. I felt like nothing else mattered; we were moving in perfect harmony, doing the right things, touches, moves to each other. Then he started to undress me. He had some problem with my bra but that was sweet and innocent – although he got slightly frustrated.
“This is my first time, so be gentle…” I innocently lied to him because I didn’t want him to know that my first time was a rape with A.K. I didn’t want to consider that my first time. I didn’t want to consider that anything.
“Mine too!” he whispered softly.
After a perfect, gentile, warm night we woke up in each other’s arms.
“Be careful Tom, please! Because I think I like you, even like this, with a busted eye!” He smiled and responded in a child-like voice.
“Ok, my lady! I promise you I will take care!” we both laughed and hugged and kissed and talked more. I was falling hard, falling in love.
“When is you’re next fight?” I asked and my question pulled us out of our dreaming state.
“In a month… I hope I will finally fight the one I wanted from the first time, the one I had to fight with last night… I want to fucking kill that motherfucker and all of his little minions… And…” he huffed and puffed and I could see the anger burning red in his blue eyes, his cheeks turning scarlet and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach sending me love signs.
Now I have to go back to the ‘motherfucker’, the A.K. before he starts asking questions around. I don’t want to lose what I have with Tom because I feel like he could be the one for me. For the first time in my life I think that… I am truly, undeniably, deeply in love. And they say true love only comes once.
I must’ve found the reason why I’m doing all this because when I’m in her arms I feel like there is where I should be. I might be in love…
She came to my room the night after the fight and we made sweet, hot love and although I was a bit clumsy – being my first time and all – I didn’t hear her complaining. So it was perfect, we talked after and she managed to calm me down for the moment.
But now I have to focus on my next fight, on my training, especially now that I have another reason to fight for.
Days before the fight people already knew about Eva and me and soon enough it came by A.K.’s ears. That was bad for her, for me, for everyone. If the mighty, crazy After King was mad everyone had to suffer one way or another.
The night prior to the fight Eva came to my room crying and sobbing uncontrollably with a busted lip and a bloody nose. At that sight my heart started to jump of anger and my stomach was twitching and turning with fury.
“What happened to you?” I asked while trying to hide my anger. I knew what happened, I knew whose fault was this. How can you hit such a perfect little face? Only a monster would do that. She immediately started to cry and rushed into my arms. Between sobs she managed to tell me that ‘the animal we have to call the After King went crazy last night shouting at her and calling her a young slut, a stupid bitch and all sort of lovely nicknames.’ When she tried to speak, to defend herself from all this verbal assault, she got slapped by the back of his harsh hand so hard she tripped and hit her nose on the wooden chair behind her. I felt my indignation turn into a continuous irascibility as I was hugging her, trying to comfort her and calm her down – at the same time holding myself back, trying to stop myself to think about the ways I could get to him.
But I explained to her that everything is going to be good, that all I had to do is win all the fights and he will soon find someone else to have by his side and that she just have to distance herself as much as she can from him. She looked at me with those big, watery eyes and I felt like she was looking into my soul. It seemed that my love for her was growing and affecting me in all kinds of ways. I didn’t want my fight with Dan, one of my targets, to be disturbed by any factors. So I assured her that all will be better after the fight but I have to focus on that now; she kissed me affectionately, a long, hot, wet kiss, felt almost like a goodbye kiss. She wished me good luck and left me alone.
When I saw Dan in the opposite corner my blood started to boil and when I saw the After King sitting really close to the ring with a disgusting grin on his face, holding Eva’s hand, my chest felt like it’s going to explode.
We started the fight and in the first few minutes I knocked him down on his back and I went on him, carrying fists to his face like it’s my goal in life. Bill came between us and stopped me then we all looked at the King. His grin was replaced by a concerned look, moving his eyes between Dan, Bill, Eva and me, like he was looking for an answer in our eyes. Then he put his thumb up and that meant he wanted Dan spared, alive, he just wanted to take that away from because I took her away from him, although he wasn’t his to start with.
In that moment everything went black and like a bull I charged towards the A.K. jumping over the railing and landing with a fist in his jaw. That made him dizzy for a moment but just before I could hit him the second time two of his bodyguards slammed me to the floor. The crowd was going wild, there was so much commotion, so many voices, laughter and shouting but for me everything went silent when the A.K. pulled out his knife, grabbed Eva and without thinking, without blinking, just with a weird grin and a stinky wink he slit her throat right there in front of me. Her warm blood splattered my face and I felt like I was dying as well…