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Authors: Kurt Bartling

Balance

BOOK: Balance
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BALANCE

BALANCE
Series – Book
1

by

Kurt
Bartling

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction.  All names, characters, places, entities and events are the work of the author’s imagination and are fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, entities, events or locations are purely and entirely coincidental.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photo-reproduction, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the author.

 

Copyright.
© 2012 Kurt Bartling
.

All Right
s
Reserved

ISBN:
978-1-300-19064-6

 

Published
201
4
, Lulu Press.

 

This book written, edited and designed by Kurt Bartling

 

Thanks to: Jill, Ali, Add
ie
and Andrew
, John K., Jay F., Cassie
B.
, Mat
J.
, Chris
B.,
Barb H
,
Michelle B
, Jeff P.
and Marie
.

 

For mom, who always loved to read … and read everything.

1.
     
Survival
, 2050

Although
t
he crowds
this evening
are
light
er than normal
,
the excitement level
bo
rders on
electric
.
S
tadium
seats
ris
e
from the
floor
,
form
ing
a bowl around
the
central
cage
.
 
M
inimal lighting illuminates a smoky haze filling the expanse, with much of it focus
ed
on
the
epicenter. 
The old colis
eum arena surges with activity as
s
pectators mov
e
like waves
through
the stands
,
gather
ing
information on
the
fighters, boasting accomplishments, negotiating odds and surveying the talent.
Here in the
Hustle
, t
he fights are big business
.
 
Any
money
that
does
exist
will
run th
rough the
cages
at some point.

The
‘Hustle’
,
what used to be the general
population of the United States.
S
i
nce the global market evolution
and the ‘
S
ecession’
,
it’
s now
where
any
one
not Elite
;
survive
.

Th
e fights are a means
,
in or out of the cage.

 

Michael c
a
me
tonight
to
make
a little money
,
to get
through
the next couple
of
week
s
.
 
He
’s new to the cages, having
just
started fighting i
n the last year.
 
Although a
llowed
when he came of age, he
held out
two-
years, until his body matured.
He

d
see
n
enough
young
talent
,
battered and broken
,
never able to fight again,
before the
y
ever had an opportunity to reach their potential, to make a
ny real money
.
 
For everyone,
existence
in the
Hustle
is a
precarious
proposition
.

S
ign
ing
up for
a lower level
bout
,
he
just
need
s
enough money to make it through
the next few weeks,
to the next
venue

Y
oung and relatively
new
,
draw
ing
little
attention to himself
, few have seen him fight
.
 
Here in the
cages
, too much notoriety can be a bad thing. 
Michael
knows
winning
against better
opponents
could
limit opportunities
over the long run
.

The
cages
are not about ego, but
endurance

y
ou
win
,
and you
live
a few more
week
s
.

Michael enters
the fenced in boxing ring
wearing
jeans and a tee shirt. 
D
one this enough
, he understands
presentation drives the odds

Looking too
comfortable
or capable
can swing the
m in his favor
, costing him money. 
The worse
his
odds, the
better the
return
on his wager
, assuming
he wins
.
  What little money he has, he
always
puts on himself to win.

Looking around the arena, h
e notices
her again
.
The
dark red hair and light olive skin make her hard to miss

A
ttractive, yet
she
projects
an air of confidence that also seems
remarkably
approachable.  It surprises
him
;
read
ing
s
o much
in
just a distant
glance
.

 

P
lanning this night
for some time,
Rena has
followed
several fighter
s
for the last half year.  This one, the smart
young one
,
he’
s good,
b
etter than most here tonight realize.  H
e
fights
infrequently, likely
only
when he need
s
to
,
always
mov
ing
fro
m
one
cage
to another
,
never twice at the same venue, maintaining his
anonym
ity
.

Rena
suspected he’
d show up
here
at some point

She j
ust had to make sure she and
her
guest were on hand
.
Having
a conversation with the
promoter
earlier
,
just
in
case
he
di
d show
up,
she
need
s
his exhibition to be memorable.

C
oncerned h
is age could work against him,
al
t
hough close to hers, the guest might
find him to
o young. 
Rena hopes h
is
handsome
,
healthy appearance considered
valuable,
recognizing
more potential
opportunities
.
  Ultimately,
his skills
should
prove too enticing
, offsetting any concerns
.

 

I
n the cage, there

s only three ways to win,
kill, incapacitate or tap out.  To tap out
,
is
a death sentence.  The
fights have an unwritten rule;
a fighter cannot
return to a cage
after a tap out.

 

A monster of a man
climb
s into the cage
, a large black man,
over
six-and-a-half feet tall,
thick,
and muscular.

Waiting inside, t
he
draw
surprise
s
Michael
.

O
ne of the top tier
fighters,
t
his monster
has been fighting for a
while and
hasn’t
lost in a long time.
Michael gives up six-inches in height and
at least
sixty pounds. 
Th
e
promoter normally
uses th
is
beast
to weed out the chaff, to e
liminate the mid-level fighters over-reaching their
skills
,
willing to take a shot
at a top tier fighter for the big
payout
.

Miss-matched fights do
n’
t make
the promoter enough
profit
, the outcome
,
to
o
predictable
.
  This fight should not be a
moneymaker
.  Fortunately, for the promoter,
the
financial
difference
covered
in advance.

Th
e
monster is
v
icious, long arms and very strong.  He
uses
his size
as
an advantage,
employing
his
strength
and
reach
to
stun
his opponent from a distance.  Once
dazed
, he’ll wrap up
and
end the fight
.
  He’s
an equal opportunity animal, kill or maim matters not. 

 

Recognizing
Michael
, a
few spectators
rush to
place bet
s on him
,
m
uch t
o the amuse
ment of the promoter.  W
agering
closes
with
Michael 10:1 to win.

 

Rena watches with keen interest, hoping the young man pulls off the upset she expects.

 

The monster
approaches Michael sporting an
ominous grin
,
revealing several missing teeth. 
N
ot one to
entertain the crowd, i
n the cage,
the monster is
all
business.

Michael circles, keeping his distance, moving
purposefully
, constantly
shifting his
center of
gravity
,
allow
ing
for
an
instantaneous change of direction
when the m
onster makes his move.
 
W
a
tching
the man closely,
Michael scans
from
shoulders to waist, looking
for the first indication of an
opening foray.

It happens, like a wave on water, the monster plants
h
is feet, waist squares,
muscle
s in his right shoulder flex …
instinctively, Michael knows
a
powerful right is on the way.

He
moves instantly
, naturally
,
without thought
at
the first tell of
the
monster’s
feet.  His right hand rises
u
p level wit
h
the
huge man’s
eyes
, hips rotate left and down
,
his
left
arm
dropping
down and into his body
.

Like a battering ram, t
he monster’s right arm extend
s
to contact where
his opponent’s
face had just been.

BOOK: Balance
4.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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