Got another one-hour flash fiction for you folks. Again, this is another story I wrote in an hour based on a visual prompt. Many of these prompted one-hour stories go on to publication, and others, like this one, uh, don’t. So instead of letting the piece collect dust on my hard drive, I’m gonna inflict it on all of you. You’re welcome. 🙂
Here’s “Blood Sport.”
“Who am I fighting?” Hector said as Manuel worked the kinks out of his shoulders.
He felt Manuel shrug. “You know how these things go. We won’t know until you step into the ring.”
Hector shook his head. Since the UFC had banned him for steroid use, he took whatever fights he could get. Many times these were unsanctioned bouts in the filthy basement of a bar or an abandoned warehouse. They paid okay, and since he’d been a pro; the losers that fought him rarely stood a chance. Still, the promoters of these bouts promised to use UFC rules, but they rarely did, and the fights were little more than blood sport.
“I fucking hate this shit,” Hector said.
“Calm down,” Manuel replied. “You can’t get tense before a fight.”
“I am Hector Villanueva, goddamn it. I was the fucking UFC welterweight champion. Now look at me.”
“Yes, look at you,” Manuel said, and stepped around to stare at the man he’d been training to fight for twenty years. “You are still fighting. You are still making money. This fight will pay you twenty-five thousand dollars. Soon we will have enough to hire the attorneys you need to get back into the UFC.”
Hector drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I know but this feels so low. Beneath me.”
Manuel nodded. “Sometimes we have to dig ourselves out from the bottom to get to the top.”
A knock sounded at the door to the makeshift training room–the employee’s locker room in an old meat-packing warehouse. Manuel went to answer it. He opened the door, and one of the fight promoters stood. He was a weird looking guy: tall, shaved head, with squiggly tattoos on his skull. They might have been writing, but Hector couldn’t tell what language they were.
“Is your man ready,” the promotor said. His voice was low and flat, like a computer. It gave Hector the creeps.
“He’s ready,” Manuel said. “What about yours?”
“Nearly,” the fight promoter said. “I need one more thing before we begin.” The man pulled a short jagged knife from his pocket.
Hector hopped off the training table and slid into a classic Muay Thai stance. “What the fuck, man?”
The man stopped and smiled. “I mean you no harm,” he said. “I only need a drop of blood.”
“Fuck you,” Hector said. “I’m not giving you my blood.”
Manuel came up behind the man, ready to spring to Hector’s defense. Though nearly sixty, Manuel held a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu.
“I know this seems odd,” the man said. “But it is necessary.” He reached into his other pocket and pulled out a roll of hundred dollar bills. A fat roll. “I can offer you another five thousand up front.” He tossed the bills to Manuel.
“On top of what we’re already getting, right?” Manuel said, and looked back at Hector with a what-do-you-think expression on his face.
The man nodded.
“Not my hands,” Hector said. It was hard to turn down another five K. “Cut my arm or leg.”
The man smiled, showing a lot of straight white teeth. “Of course. We need you in top form tonight.”
The ring was in the middle of the abandoned meat-packing plant. It was sorry attempt at an octagon with chicken-wire fences and a dingy mat within. There was a small crowd, all dressed in black. Hector’s opponent stood inside the octagon, his face hidden by the hood of a black silk boxing robe.
“Jesus, this is weird,” Hector said to Miguel as the approached the octagon.
“No shit,” Manuel said. “Fuck this dude up and we’re out of here, thirty grand richer.”
Hector made his way to the gate where the fight promoter waited. The man opened the gate and allowed Hector inside, following after him.
Hector went to the other side of octagon, across from his opponent, and begin throwing punches into the air, shifting from foot to foot, anything to get the blood flowing.
His opponent stood still, arms at his side. He looked to be the same height as Hector and of similar build: muscular and lean.
Maybe this asshole will give me a real fight, Hector thought. It would be a first in these unsanctioned bouts where he usually won in the first round with a knockout or submission.
The fight promoter stepped to the center of the octagon and cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “This is what we have gathered for.” A soft murmur of appreciation rose form the small crowd. “A man comes to us to fight his demon.”
What the fuck is this? Hector thought and looked to Manuel standing outside the octagon. His trainer was staring at the fight promotor and listening.
Something was very wrong. “Manuel, what’s going on?”
His trainer smiled sadly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “They paid me a lot more than thirty grand to get you here.”
Movement from across the octagon drew Hector’s attention away from Manuel. His opponent had removed his hood, and Hector’s breath caught in his throat. The man he was fighting could be his identical twin save for the flat black eyes and shark-like teeth crowding his open mouth.
“We give thanks for this vessel,” the fight promoter said. “We honor you with this sacrifice, Abbadon, destroyer of men.” He exited the octagon, and the crowd pressed close, blocking the gate.
Hector’s doppelganger slid into a perfect Muay Thai stance, one with which Hector was intimately familiar.
As with many of these failed flash stories, I like the set-up and the characters, but the story doesn’t really go anywhere. It sets up what could be an interesting conflict but then just fizzles out because we don’t see that conflict resolved. If we were to see Hector fight for his life against the demon, change and grow because of it (even if he doesn’t survive), there might be something to this. As it stands, I think I have a solid premise and setup, but that’s about it. The ending is definitely rushed as I ran out of time and word count.
Want to see more failed flash? Check out the previous installments in the One-Hour Flash series.
Was really enjoying it until, like you said, it fizzles out at the end and we don’t see what happens. You worked so much character and a unique, interesting premise into the beginning though. Good job.
Thanks. Yeah, it is so hard to stick the landing on these things. Might be something worth returning to here, though.