Flash Fiction: You Can’t Game Plan the Unknown

The bell rang, and the bald brute charged across the cage as if shot from a cannon.

Nick dodged the initial rush, but he was perplexed; this was not how his team visualized the opening round. Normally, this dude began fights at a snail’s pace. 

Turning an ear towards his corner for advice, Nick heard crickets. 

As the first five-minutes neared its conclusion, the onslaught slowed, and the remainder of the contest followed the planned upon blueprint.

Earning the victory, somehow, Nick learned a valuable lesson: expect the unexpected.

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Prompted from The Weekend Writing Prompt at: https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/weekend-writing-prompt-147-perplex/.

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Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/03/10/fowc-with-fandango-visualize/.

Flash Fiction: Home Is Where the Heart Is

For Christmas, Jim’s girlfriend bought him a year membership to the area’s leading MMA gym. 

Most of Jim’s training had taken place in the backyard, alone. After, somehow, stringing together three wins as an amateur, Jim wondered how much further coaching and a proper facility would take him.

When Jim removed two wads of what resembled beef jerky from his bag and noticed a guy staring at him as he put on his gloves, his self-confidence sunk. 

The next thing Jim knows, that same guy, who he perceived as snooty, was handing him a brand new pair of gloves.

Prompted from the MMA Storytime 100 Word Flash Fiction Challenge at: https://mmastorytime.com/2020/03/02/100-word-flash-fiction-8/.

Prompted from the Fandango One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/03/03/fowc-with-fandango-snooty/.

A Young Man’s Game

“MMA is a young man’s game.”

Jerry chucked an empty beer can across the room at the T.V. the moment the words left the commentator’s mouth. He was coherent enough to throw an empty can—this time—because it was the only working television in the apartment, and the last thing he needed was another cracked screen.

In Jerry’s drunken reality, neither of The Big Show’s commentators could have said anything right during the broadcast; one way or another, they were catching some tin across the chin. If I had been allowed in there, I could show them this old dog’s tricks

The chances of Jerry ever getting an opportunity in The Big Show had been locked away in a kennel, according to his Manager. Although Jerry’s Manager delivered The Big Show’s rejection over the years in creative ways, the news never hit him in the gut with any less power; the most recent denial, however, was the knockout blow.

Jerry dreamt about becoming a star in The Big Show, potentially a long-reigning champion, since beginning his trek through MMA nearly two decades ago. Just before Jerry turned thirty—the most promising point in his prizefighting career—a horrific car accident derailed his trajectory. A driver high on meth sent Jerry, for over three years, to the lowest point in his life: financial ruin, crippling depression, and a bum knee in need of multiple surgeries and countless rounds worth of rehabilitation. 

“Be straight with me, Doc. Am I going to fight again?”

The doctor dove within his infinite wisdom of mangled knees and said, “There’s a good chance you could.”

Those were the words that pulled Jerry from bed every morning like the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls; otherwise, he may never have left the safe haven of his sheets, stuffing his face, instead, with pizza and soda until surpassing the super heavyweight division.

Following several successful scraps opposite some of the sport’s bright hopefuls—thanks largely in part to his Manager’s creative matchmaking and promoting ability—Jerry, again, found himself as a blip onThe Big Show’s radar. 

“I just got word that The Big Show’s scouts will be on hand for your upcoming fight. Isn’t this great!” Jerry’s Manager was bursting with self-satisfaction.

It was great then, and it was still great as Jerry made his way toward the cage. The crowd’s wail of disdain for Jerry, the outisder, muffled when he noted The Big Show’s scouts seated in the second row. They came for a show, and they’re not leaving without one.

After the entirety of three grueling rounds, Jerry and Stevie “Sledgehammer” Cortez wore their effort in one another’s blood as well as bruising and swelling from head to toe. Who in their right minds would doubt either of their desire?

Jerry’s Manager approached the marred martial artist while being attended to by the physician backstage. He didn’t beat around the bush, “They passed. Sorry, man.”

“Did they say why?”

His Manager shook his head; the crow’s feet in Jerry’s eyes appeared as he forced a smile onto his weathered face, aware his age was a deciding factor.

Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/01/06/fowc-with-fandango-creative/.

Also prompted from the Word of the Day Challenge at: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2020/01/06/wisdom/.

Cheaters Never Prosper

Jim Johns opened his Looky-Here app, eager to promote his upcoming fight for the Punisher Series Middleweight Championship, and found a message from his opponent, Grant Fletchling. 

It said: “You’re a fucking cheater, and you know it. You better not try any of that dirty shit with me.”

As early as Jim could remember, he competed by the motto: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. Whether slinking around after being “frozen” in a game of freeze tag during recess, syphoning money from the till while acting as the banker in Monopoly, or slugging it out in a cage with men of equal weight, winning was at all costs.

Pundits online—Jim called them keyboard warriors—noted the repeated barrage fouls early on, which he brushed off as haters. The tone was much different when, eventually, those within his community—other fighters, fans, and even some teammates—scrutinized his sporting etiquette.

Several of Jim’s previous dance partners had their careers stalled, or even ruined, because of Jim’s antics, playing fast and loose with a set of guidelines that are minimal to begin with. 

Hector Villanueva, a veteran journeyman with a swarming fanbase in every corner of California, suffered the most tragic fate at the hands—or more specifically: finger—of Jim; he was forced to retire when an extended digit stabbed him in the eye, detaching the retina—only thirty percent of his vision would return. 

Another unfortunate victim of Jim’s masquerade as a martial artist was Trent “Do Something” Dixon. While the round’s end alerts those in the cage to disengage, the advice, recycled since MMA’s inception, never let your guard down is there for a reason. Dixon recalled hearing the horn and wondering what advice his coach would have for him. As Dixon turned toward his corner, Jim launched a concussive right hand into his temple. Jim was disqualified—rightfully so—and Dixon, sadly, has still yet to be medically cleared for any level of physical contact. All seven of Jim’s bouts have involved an eye poke—though none as consequential as Villanueva’s—a fence grab or two, and countless warnings with multiple deductions of points. 

A nasty reputation on the regional circuit began surrounding Jim, and few would roll the dice against someone who made the already dangerous sport an even riskier proposition. The only reason Grant Fletchling accepted the bout to face Jim was because he was nearing an exit from the local scene and onto the global stage; he needed this.

Before the hum of the opening bell disappeared into space, Jim’s fingers swung like flesh swords at Fletchling’s eyes. The ref, keen to how Jim played the game, dished out a stern warning to close his fist. Fletchling spent the remaining two-minutes and twenty-seconds using Jim’s face as target practice with pristine boxing; the round finished without any further fishy-business. 

Midway through the second frame, Fletchling, as instructed by his corner, attempted a takedown. He stapled Jim to the fence, shooting for his midsection as a linebacker making a tackle in the open field. With an explosive twist of his hips, the two would topple to the canvas, where Fletchling would land in side control and deliver some brain-bashing elbows. In a transition so seamless it, at first glance, seemed legal, Jim drew the advantage. By interlocking his toes into the cage and wrenching for a takedown of his own, the maneuver granted Jim the necessary leverage, knocking Fletchling off balance and bringing him to his back. 

Some heavy ground-and-pound, a stoppage soon thereafter, and nobody questioned whether or not it was an honest win. In fact, proceeded along: Jim filled the winner’s circle, surrounded with love and admiration—instead of question marks, and Fletchling was sent back to the drawing board, though the unrealistic strength of Jim’s takedown gnawed at his craw incessantly. 

Fletchling and his team reviewed the tape—over and over and over again. Finally, the son of Fletchling’s Jiu-Jitsu Coach, Anthony, was able to zoom in and slow down the footage for a more detailed analysis. Sure enough, there it was—plain as day; Jim’s toes cinching hold of the steel exterior. An appeal to the California State Athletic Commission was filed immediately.

Following an arduous process, Fletchling’s loss was overturned. Consequently, when the end of the year arrived and it was time for Jim to renew his professional fighting license, CSAC denied the renewal based on the layers of problems proving he was a liability.

Prompted from the Word of the Day Challenge at: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/renewal/.

Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/01/01/fowc-with-fandango-honest/.

Returning From the Dead

Darren couldn’t have smelled his favorite food if it were placed beneath his nose; his nasal cavity was clogged with shattered bits of bone and cartilage.

Coach’s voice could be heard in the distance, but, as the seconds moved along, Darren felt less less and less like the self he had sharpened for the past six-weeks. A dreamlike sequence—where the victor collected all the spoils—awoke into a prizefighter’s worst nightmare. Coach’s word’s were impossible to discern through all the banging on Darren’s eardrums. 

Darren detached from the possibility of being stuck in a state of slumber when his extremities, which were much heavier than he ever remembered, began coinciding with his consciousness. Coach instructed Darren to stay down. Darren would have obliged—he always listened to Coach—but the words didn’t completely register; therefore, he strained to get closer to Coach to better understand. A hand covered in latex pressed against Darren’s chest and guided him flat against the canvas.

As lucky as Darren was to have Coach in his life, he, at the moment, searched his memory’s archive of Coach telling him he had a twin; the pair hovered over him with looks of grave concern painted on their weathered faces. The lights surrounding Darren blurred into a blinding array, reminding him of the nights he’d driven home following a full shift at the lumber yard and an exhaustive sparring session in the gym—all while cutting weight for an upcoming title fight. The more things pixelated into view, the less Darren liked the picture.

When Darren attempted to ask What happened?, he realized: the sweetness of victory had soured into a thick mouthful of copper behind loosened teeth. A mixture of coughing blood and a slow return to his vocabulary bank made Darren’s speech an incoherent babble. At the onset of trying to form words, Coach and the cage side physicians were pleased that more signs of recovery were present.

Finally, Darren, sitting upright on a stool, asked—for what he believed to be the fifth or sixth time—“What happened?”

“You got caught with a head kick,” Coach responded.

Prompted from Dee Kelly’s Word of the Day Challenge: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/babble/.