Authors: Sophia Hampton
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Sucker Punch copyright @ 2015 by Sophia Hampton. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Part 2 of
The Submission Fighter
The ground is cold, gravelly, and wet. I think it’s raining. It’s
to be raining. I mean, why else would my hair be soaking wet, clinging to the rocks and shards of glass on the ground? I try to lift my head, to shake it out from the grime, but I cannot. I am pushed back down again. Or do I lay it back down? It’s hard to tell. Everything is so dark, so cold. I am surprised I can feel at all.
There’s a laugh in the distance. It’s so low that it shakes every bit of my body, echoing in my ears, vibrating my insides. In an instant, I’m aware of a hulking shadow over me, eyeing my ring with a look that tells me I am not getting away anytime soon. His eyes flame with lust. He falls on top of me, weighing down my hips with his thighs. He pushes my face further into the ground. I’m crying—or, at least, I’m
to cry, but every time I try to make a sound, I feel a sharp blow, followed by a rush of blood filling my mouth.
He pins my hand and yanks the ring from my finger. He smiles through yellowed teeth, breathing heavily on me, his breath stinking of cheap beer and stale cigarettes. There’s something else in his eyes—pity, remorse, regret—I don’t know—I might be imagining it.
He gets up and leaves me lying in the alley. I know this dream. I’ve had it a hundred times. He gets up, turns the corner, and runs off with my ring. Every time it’s the same thing, replaying like a Vine video—
—but tonight is different. Tonight, he doesn’t run off. Instead, another figure joins him—taller, slimmer, an imposing body sucking the light from the streetlamp behind him. This new figure slowly walks up to me. I try to sit up and look at him, but a pain in my side, probably a cracked rib, makes my arms weak, and I fall again into a puddle. The second man kneels before me and lifts my head with his gloved hand. My heart leaps. For the first time, I may have someone to save me. I may have hope yet.
He removes his hood, and I glimpse scars on his face and black tribal tattoos that line the curves of his neck. His brown eyes flicker red and gold as they stare me down. I press my head back down onto the ground, away from him. He’s not supposed to be here.
At this moment, all I want in the world is to get away from Micah.
Alice stretched her arms out wide and attempted to bring air back into her body. Her breath hitched, as she quickly sat up, grabbing at the edges of her pillows and kicking off the remains of her comforter and sheets. Her gray tank top was damp with sweat, her strawberry-blonde hair forming knots from the tossing and turning. She ran her fingers through the pieces as she contemplated just what she had finished dreaming. Micah’s unannounced presence was something completely new to the dream narrative she had become so familiar with. Yet, while she felt she should be soothed, there was something undeniably sinister to his appearance.
She looked out towards the yard. Orange and red fading sunlight lingered at the very edge of her windows. The white curtains lifted gently in the air as the wind whispered in. Alice turned over to face her the other wall, which was now covered in art work she had painted herself. The colors of her acrylics and watercolors were blending in with the dying sun, painting its own picture on her bedroom floor.
She grabbed for her cell phone. Two messages, both from Micah. She ignored them for the moment as she glanced at the time and her calendar list. Her schedule had become Micah’s: lists of her MMA fighter’s practices, tournaments, and exhibition fights. While the two weren’t official, Alice had already taken up the task of being his support system. His career, after all, meant the world to him.
Tonight was an exhibition fight. It meant nothing in the grand scheme of his fighting career. However, it was another opportunity for a win, another chance to gain a sponsor or two. Alice would go, taking her conspicuous place in the third row. She sighed and looked at her phone as she put it down. 6:45. That would be—
” she exclaimed, springing up out of the bed. “Shit, shit, shit!” She had overslept—the match was starting at 7:30. Panicked, she ran to her wardrobe and quickly tossed off her dewy lounge clothing onto the floor of her bedroom. She picked out her underwear from a pile in a dresser, then turned her attention to the closet where she ran her fingers over the closet full of new dresses. Most still had tags on them—all recent purchases courtesy of Micah’s credit cards, bought at his insistence.
With no time to really consider her options, she tossed on a black, backless dress and a pair of silver heels. The dress came with a simple rhinestone belt that glittered in the light making little traces of rainbows as she walked out into her living room. While most nights, she was tiptoeing out of her home in an effort to not alert her roommate Caroline of her coming and goings, this time she knew she was running so late that Caroline had already left for her evening shift at the diner where both of them worked.
Purse in hand, she locked her door and ran down the stairs, fixing her hair with a small comb. Little tangles still lingered in her hair from her bad dream. She pulled at the knots, as she directed the waiting cab driver to the stadium. Frustrated, she gave up, instead braiding the mess in a long weave that covered her neck and tickled her naked back.
The stadium in Steubenville was decked out for the night. Crowds of young and old men and women poured steadily in through the doors. A long line circled the ticket booths as ticket scalpers clamored to make deals at the entrances. Alice trotted past, weaving through the crowds as she struggled to find her seat.
As she passed quickly through the carpeted hallway, she saw posters for the match. Micah’s face dominated them all. The image of him unsmiling, arms folded sternly across his tattooed chest was a far cry from the man she had come to know. But she couldn’t help but give herself a pat on the back. The towering figure of a fighter was all hers for as long as he let her have him.
The first of the three fights had just gotten through the second round. Two women, both powerful and bruised, stood wavering in their ends of the octagon ring. A dark haired woman leaned on the metal cage for support, as men and women in the crowd shouted at her both words of encouragement and derision. The third round started without much fanfare as the dark woman’s competitor leapt almost instantly at her wounded prey. By the end of the five minute round, it was clear who the winner of the match was.
The second match was much of the same. Jack, one of Micah’s former competitors, had come back from the brink with a split decision win. The crowd went wild, feeding in to the drama of the final round, as a pool of photographers and the many sports reporters took their turns vetting and interviewing the men.
As the ring cleared and the staging crew set up for the next match, the crowd began to thicken for the main event. Alice listened with wide ears as the group sitting directly in front of her began talking about Micah. It was a far cry from just a month or so ago when he was the complete underdog with little chance of winning against a second rate fighter like Jack. Now, here she was, listening to these fans practically swoon over getting the opportunity to see him in the ring. Alice’s heart leapt just a bit every time they used his name.
To her side, a group of young women about five years younger than her giggled loudly as they chatted about their after-fight plans. A girl in a blue tube top and large fake diamond earrings bragged about how she had met Micah after a match once before. The girls listened intently as she mapped out her past route and how she had pushed in with the reporters just in time to meet him before he loaded on the bus.
“He was, like, um a total nothing then. I could have gotten anything from him if I wanted. He was such as sucker.” The girls laughed as the leader pointed to her perky breasts threatening to pop out of the dress. “I gave him my number when we were through. I bet he still has it.” She winked her long eyelashes suggestively.
Alice’s blood boiled. She had seen these groupies around before. They had come out of the woodwork more recently, but she tried not to be fazed. Micah had seemed totally uninterested, and she was secure in his passive feelings towards the flock of young women who waited like hawks outside the staging areas.
The lights of the stadium once again dimmed, as the announcer’s voice boomed. Micah’s opponent, James “The Ace” Cards was announced first. Micah was second, as his name drew a huge roar of the crowd. He raised his arms high, flexing the bulging muscles of his arms and chest. His scarred body painted an image of perfection under the hot lights of the octagon.
As he had in the last few months of matches, he circled the cage, looking through the crowds. He spotted Alice, shining through the faceless crowd. She leaned forward with her elbows in her lap, her black slinky dress moving with her. Taking the only second he could, he pointed in her general direction and flashed a wide, crooked grin. His black mouth guard turned his face into something playfully sinister. She nodded back at him, smirking with closed, painted lips, as if giving her gladiator permission to fight.
The bell rang, and the fight began. Micah took a backseat to the enthusiastic opponent. He ducked almost nonchalantly as the man in the electric green shorts attempted to strike at him first. After five or six attempts, Micah caught the frustration in the other’s eyes. He knew it was his move. He quickly dove in, landing a quick outside leg kick followed by another to the opposite shin.
The man stepped back, obviously in pain, as he all but stopped bouncing his weight back and forth. Micah approached again, and like a tiger reached out his long paw to deliver three fast jabs to the face. He could feel the man cower under the weight of his fists, but he was resilient. Without warning, Micah could feel his knee make contact to his chest, as he peeled forward instinctively catching the fists of the other. He lurched back up to his crouching stance, a little slower, but still determined.
The clock dwindled on the first round with Micah knowing he had to make a big move. He snapped, delivering a fury of jabs to the man’s face as he fell backwards against the cage. Micah quickly grabbed his leg by the knee and pulled him down to the ground. The man wiggled from under him, attempting to place his legs around Micah’s neck and hips while Micah moved his arm to pin his neck further into the ground.
The bell rang, and the two men separated and walked to their corners. Dean, Micah’s coach, stood on the plank in front of him, blocking his view of Alice. “That’s what you do!” Dean thundered, banging his hands on the side of the ring. “Keep pullin’ that sumbitch down! He’s a boxer, not a fighter. Take his ass down and keep him there!”
The minute break passed, as Alice nervously played with the hem of her dress. She had seen Micah being punched, kicked, pushed against wire, and taken down so many times now. But she still found herself flashing back to her own fight in the alley months prior. While Micah wasn’t fending off a hooded mugger, she could still feel every blow he took as if it was her in his place.
She heard the bell ring as her view once again opened up. Micah in his black trunks seemed much more secure. She knew little about the sport, only what her friends and Micah had time to explain, but she could sense that he was dominating. From the constant chatter of the crowds, she knew that Micah’s competitor had a lot of ground to make up.
And from the start, he attempted to do that. The man in green came out in a jolt, like a lightning bolt striking the ground around Micah. His first hit connected easily, and he followed it up with several kicks and knees which Micah had little ability to fend off.
But Alice knew that look on Micah’s face. It was pure determination. He was in his zone—where no one could take him. No one could move him. After letting his opponent get in cheap, small strikes and contacts for about two minutes, Micah powered back with a rage. His body took control, as he again took down his opponent, mounting him from the back. The man managed to slip out of his grasp and move on top of Micah. But Micah’s legs were fast, as they hooked on to him and flipped the man backwards. He drew himself on top once more, as he delivered hit after hit after hit.
It was wild and carnal. The fans in the stands ate it up as blood was drawn by Micah’s elbow striking the man’s forehead. The referee commanded Micah to a halt, as he checked on the man underneath him. Alice couldn’t believe anyone would survive what she just saw, but the referee gave the go-ahead to continue. The last minute passed, as Micah continued to press on despite the blood of the other covering his own chest.
The bell rang, and Alice took her first breath. Someone threw Micah a white towel as he washed the mess of flowing red from his shoulders and hands. He tossed the remains back and prepared for the final round to start. His coach continued to shout instructions at him like a drill sergeant lining his man up for battle.