To The Last Count
The world went black for a minute before my eyes registered the white of the mat. I turned my head sideways, my jaw radiating pain and the coppery taste of blood pooling in my mouth. I sluggishly forced one hand down and pushed myself partially up. I spit out a glob of blood, bright read on a field of white, and reached down for my mouth guard. I craned my head to the side, sound still not registering over the ringing in my ears and saw the blurry white and black stripes of the referee's shirt. He was counting, his hands raised high and I forced myself up, stumbling until I made it to the ropes and steadied myself.
The ref came over to me as I jammed my mouth guard in, asking me a series of questions. I couldn't tell what he words he was saying but I'd been playing at the fighting game a long time. I knew the questions he was gonna ask so I made the appropriate nods and mumbled that I didn't want to stop. I snapped my gloved hands together and shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs. I couldn't quit, not yet.
I squared up my vision and found the man who had knocked me down. He was smiling through his own mouthpiece, his brown body rippling with muscles, his arms covered in sleeves of tattooed fire and webbing. His black hair was slick with sweat as I swallowed another mouthful of my own blood. I could see the ref gesture for us to start fighting and tried to keep my defense up.
I've had a lot of fights over the years, in my youth I use to rely on my strength and stamina to outlast my opponets. Now I had to rely on my defense. I could feel his blows rain down on my arms and ribs as I tried to keep him away. I threw out a few half hearted punches, but the man was to big, to fast to do more than concentrate on keeping my guard up.
I didn't realize the bell had even rung ending the round until I stopped feeling his punches. I groggily turned and lurched back to the stool my trainer had put out. I spat out my guard and washed the blood from my mouth in the spit bucket. Coach was telling me advice while I took a whiff of smelling salts and felt part of the world slam back into my brain. The roar of the crowd came back behind coach's words but I just looked for the ring girl. I found her as she walked around the ring, holding the placard marking the round. It was the start of the sixth round. I'd made it this far.
Coach was still yelling instructions so I repeated what I did with the ref, nodding my agreements and saying yes until I heard teh bell ring. felt my mouth guard get slid back in as I puled myself up. I tapped gloves with my opponet and pulled my guard up. Far to slow. I felt the crunch in my jaw before I even heard teh sound. Pain radiated across my face as my head whipped to the side. My guard arched over the ring ropes as I collapsed against the ropes. I spit again and noticed a small kernal of white in the blood. The bastard had knocked out one of my teeth.
I had used the ropes to hold myself up but he was on me immediately. I felt another clubbing blow across the back of my head as I stumbled forward. He stalked me across the ring as I pinwheeled around. I launched myself into a flurry of punches, not much muscle behind most of them, just an effort to keep him away. He seemed caught off guard at first, but only for a moment. The first sound other than the bell that I registered was him laughing. He actually dropped his guard as I glanced two blows off his jaw. His face was like iron though, my blows hammering uselessly on him. He cinched me into a hug to stave off my inneffectual punches and until the ref eased us apart. I could hear him taunting me without ever really registering the words. I came out swinging again but he brushed my punches to the side and landed a punishing blow to my ribs.
I felt the wind rush from my lungs and my eyes went wide with pain. On the second punch I heard something break and I dropped to my knees, clutching my side. I didn't have to much time to think about the pain in my ribs before another crushing fist exploded across my temple and the world went red and starry. What little sound I had been hearing suddenly went mute and everything seemed to slow down. Time inching into stillness.
My brain seemed to belong to a different body, knowing that it needed to force my muscles into working and getting up, but nothing seemed to respond. My arms were like rubber, as I tried to gain some kind of purchase. I managed to roll over and find the faded smudge that I assumed was the ref again. Counting... always counting. I kicked with my feet, sliding across the mat to the corner of the ring. My brain forcing my limbs into a semblance of order. my entire body cried in protest and I could feel something wrong inside me. I forced all that down, forced the pain and the hurt and the regret away, the only thought in my mind being her. My little girl.
I pulled myself up just before the ref counted ten. I could see my nemesis prancing across the ring and I willed myself to stay upright. He seemed even bigger as my world grew even smaller. He came at me immediately and I braced for another punch, one I knew I wasn't getting up from. it was only the ring of the bell that saved me. A distant chime that seemed to come from somewhere else. He turned his back to me and dropped to the mat, this time for good.
I could feel people around me, the ref, coach, the ring doctor, but the fuzzy haze of the world had lost sound completely and faded to black. The last thing I remember seeing was my little girl. She deserved so much better than a bum like me.
I went six rounds with the champ. I covered the spread before my last ten count. I did it baby.
End of Line.