DREAMS (PUZZLE #1)

Chapter 8
The sparring match

Rio’s POV
Nothing was wrong. No one was looking at me strangely. I was normal. I was just being nervous. I laughed sarcastically. who was I kidding? I was scared, hell scared. I didn’t want to become a monster. Most importantly I didn’t want to hide. I didn’t want to sit in the corner of a room locked up. That’s what people did to monsters, right? I meant in the movies they show it like that. Bad people kept the monsters locked up in some underground cell and threatened the good people or the good people kept them for some crazy scientist who wanted to dissect and experiment them and the monsters….. they just plain old killed everyone. That’s the reason I was in my most favorite place in the world ‘THE UNDERGROUND’ , trying to act normal and mingling with humans just like every other day till this whole monster thing made my world upside down. Wait! I was already talking about humans as they and monsters as us. What was wrong with me? I am a human…… A HUMAN. Can that thing mess with my brain? Oh! I am just going crazy, there were no monsters nor the power that I felt inside me every now and then nor the tingling of chillness and electricity  when I am with some people. Those were just my imagination. Yes! My imagination. I wanted to shout and scream. I wanted to violently hurl the knife which was at the table across the room. I tried to imagine the shattering sound it would  make when it would  crash into the wall, leaving a dent in the drywall.  My line of thoughts broke when Charlie burst into the green room.
‘Rio! Are you ready? The match will begin in five minutes.’
‘Yeah’
‘Nervous?’
‘What?’ He was staring at my hands and only then I realized I was shaking. I tried to calm myself.
‘Do you know whom am I sparring against?’ I asked instead.
‘Your opponent is Jim. I have never seen him before so I can’t tell you about his style. I have heard he is not from around here and that he has never lost a match. He is dangerous. Don’t stay in the ring for too long. Go there and try to finish it in the first round itself.’
‘Well, then I will be sorry. Jim is going to lose his first match today’ I put on my best confident smile.
‘Ummmm…. Rio.’
‘yeah’
‘Our relationship had nothing to do with Kim. Can we still be friends? I would love to hang out with you’ Charlie asks me.
‘You mean you want me to become your spy and tell you everything that is going on in Kim’s life till you are ready to apologize and beg her for forgiveness’ I smirked.
‘Yes and no. I mean I loved Kim, I still do but I’d hate to lose you, too.’
When Charlie and Kim were dating, we had become close friends. When they broke up I was really disappointed. I thought they were happy and good for each other.  Kim cried for days. I was angry , I went to his place to find him in even worse condition. The room was a stinking mess. Broken piece of glasses, bottles of alcohol, remains of pizzas, dirty clothes and what not laid on the floor with him. He was sitting near the bed listening to some loud music. He looked like he didn’t change his clothes for days. When he saw me, he started crying. ‘I messed up. I really messed up this time didn’t I? She will never forgive me. I am going to die.’ This was two months ago. I thought Charlie will never come around. He has never tried to contact her so I lost hope and was helping Kim to move on. But I don’t think that was working. Ronald is a bastard so it was better I helped Charlie. 
‘We should definetly hang out and we need to talk after the match’ I replied giving a small pat at his shoulders. I never understood why they broke up but apparently they still love each other. 
‘Thank you’ He sighed in releif. 
Then he gave me some more pointers about my opponent.

The fighter sized me up. ‘Quit when you still can. Inside the ring I won’t give you any chance.’ He smirked. This happenes every time and I was used to it. They think they can defeat me because I was a girl. Well, I proved them wrong everytime and Jim was no different. Within minutes, I stood in the ring across from him. He was a touch taller than me, and his muscles were bulkier and more defined. I knew his fighting style involved the use of his legs as he stretched them. I rolled my head and shoulders, shaking my arms out. I bounced on the balls of my feet, warming my muscles. When I stepped in the arena I was greeted with familiar cheer of the people. Some for me and others for my opponent. I have learnt to ignore them by now. The referee called us toward the center and went over the rules: No gouging, biting, breaking of bones, hits to the groin, head-butting, or fighting after the bell. Jim and I nodded at one another and took one or two steps back from the center. The referee left the ring and took a position not far away. He rang the bell. The man opposite me was not eager. Despite the smirk and overconfidence he displayed, he took the time to circle the ring and gauge my strengths. I did the same.

It erupted quickly. I was caught off guard when he simply rushed me with the full force of his body, for all I was expecting was some powerful kicks from his legs. Don’t ask me how but I was able to avoid it. My body moved to the left automatically at the last moment. However he was also not a fool. He shot out his left hand and lifted me and threw my back into the corner. A knee came up and landed on my ribs. My breath left me in a rush.

My hands free, I joined them together and hit him in the junction between neck and shoulder. He took a step back and I landed another blow in the same spot before I had enough room to lift my right leg and push him back. I noticed my reflexes were faster than before. I felt the power inside me ready to take control of my action. However there was also a feeling that if I depend too much on my power I would lose my rational mind.

I came at him with a series of kicks that he met easily enough. I came at him with so many kicks he diverted his attention from my hands and I made my move. I punched him in the side of the neck with my left, stepped in, and sent an elbow to his temple with my right. He lost enough of his balance I was able to hook one of his legs and push him to the mat. He quickly rolled, catching me with his powerful legs and flinging me to the mat.

On the mat, we grappled, each of us avoiding an arm around the neck or an arm grab that would undoubtedly lead to a painful submission hold. The bell rang before either of us was willing to surrender our position.

“Separate!” called the referee.

We stared at one another and heaved for breath. 
I can’t find his weakness. There has to be something. Maybe that is the reason he has never lost a match. He is too good at hiding his weakness. Did I reveal mine? Was I able to hide it like him? Well I can’t trust this powers however I will go with my instinct.

The referee rang the bell again.

Jim rushed again, but I was ready this time. I waited until he was within arm‘s reach and used his momentum against him. I stepped to the side, caught his neck with my arm and jumped on his back. We went down with a loud thud as I rode Jim to the ground. Jim rolled, knocking me to the side, and delivered a backward kick that landed between my shoulder blades. I cried out, two more kicks landed on my back and I saw spots.
Jim scrambled to get on my back, his arms trying to wind their way around my neck. I kept my arm up to protect my windpipe.I gritted my teeth and pushed with all my strength on the arm attempting to circle my neck. Jim’s arm trembled and eventually he was forced to readjust his position on my back.

The bell rang and the referee yelled for us to separate.

This was the second time I was saved by the bell. Till now I was playing defensive I have to attack to end this match and I will not be able to hold him to submission. He is stronger than me. This will be the end.

The bell rang again.

I didn’t waste any time. I balled my hand into a fist and aimed for his nose. He blocked my attack with his left hand. I went for a straight punch in his stomach then spinned around quickly with one fist outstretched, using the momentum generated from the spin to put force and hit his face. Then with my right hand I gripped his neck but I was not fast enough. He caught me by my hip lifted me and threw me to the ground. I rolled and stood up. He came at me again , and a split second prior to his foot hitting the mat, I took it out from under them. He fell to the ground in a loud thump. I encircled my left arm around his neck and gave him a rear naked choke. Jim lay unconcious for just ten seconds but it was enough to declare the winner.

Annie

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