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Light Throughout The Night Chapter 12: War Drums
Posted: 2023-03-18 At: 5:30 am:   

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Chapter 12: War Drums

Eventually, Glow was going to compete. She didn’t have many friends and she didn’t have anything else to do. She just spent the last two months sulking, without having been seen or heard from by anyone.

Walking into the locker room, Glow knew some of the competitors were haters. She knew they enjoyed watching her get knocked out. Glow entered stale faced, emotionless. Her nerves were tense. Most of the ladies stayed quiet. A few gave her a soft smile, welcoming her back. Others simply turned away.

Many were surprised she even showed up at the arena. They probably figured she went back to wherever it was she came from after the type of beating she took. Under almost any other circumstance, the haters would have been right.

The first couple weeks Glow dedicated to training. She trained harder and better than she ever trained before. She arrived at the gym early and stayed late.

Glow’s training was paying off. Two weeks later, she began competing. By the time she began competing, her ribs were completely healed. Competitively, Glow was at the same level she was at before her injuries. Within a month of her return, she reached the Final Battle.

Lady saw the emotional devastation Glow suffered through after losing to Venom. She knew Glow didn’t have any other friends in the area, and she knew when Glow enters the cubes, she doesn’t have anyone cheering for her. Now, after getting knocked out, many in the crowd would heckle Glow.

Lady couldn’t let that happen. She wasn’t going to let Glow enter the cube alone. Weeks before Glow reached the Final Battle, Lady gathered all her friends. Lady is much more social than Glow. She made plenty of friends at work, in the locker room and while playing team sports. She asked them to attend the next time Glow qualifies for a Final Battle.

Then, Lady waited. She waited until Glow qualified for her next Final Battle. When Glow did qualify for her next Final Battle, she filled the stands with all her friends. Almost fifty different people attended, surrounding Glows cube. The best part, Glow didn’t have any idea.

The night of the battle, Glow was standing outside the cube waiting to enter. Her music began playing. Her name was announced. That’s when Lady gave the single. All her friends started cheering.

Glow heard the cheers. She didn’t know what was happening. At first she didn’t realize they were cheering for her. The cheers were overwhelming, causing Glow to take a quick look into the stands.

She spotted Lady, surrounded by a crowd of people cheering wildly. She couldn’t prevent herself from smiling as she entered the cube.

The cheers gave Glow a sense of invincibility. Adrenalin jolted through her body like a bolt of lightning! Yet, she felt a sense of calm focus, unlike anything she ever felt.

There wasn’t any way she was going to let herself loose the bout.

Glow didn’t know anything about the chick she was battling. Much like she did during previous years, when something went wrong, she became withdrawn. After getting knocked out, Glow stopped watching the news and reading newspapers. She couldn’t handle reliving her battle with Venom through the media.

None of that mattered now. Her opponent was already in the cube.

Glow’s heart was pounding, deep, loud beats, like war drums beating throughout the night.

The bell rang.

Poised, Glow slid forward, stopping a few feet from her opponent. She quickly side stepped, while moving slightly closer.

Her opponent counters, adjusting her stance, resetting her gloves.

Glow sees an opening. She snaps a jab, stepping forward, extending her arm as far forward as possible, leaning her shoulder all the way forward. The punch landed cleanly, slipping through her foe’s gloves. The sound echoed throughout the cube. Her opponents neck snapped back.

She followed up with a series of rapid punches and kicks, taking a few in return. Those, she barely felt. Her energy level was at a peak. It stayed that way during the whole fight.

By the middle of the second round, Glow’s opponent slowed. Glow kept firing away until the final bell sounded, easily winning a unanimous decision. When all was said and done, Glow threw and landed four times as many punches and kicks as her opponent.

After the fight, Glow found out she defeated the fifth highest ranked competitor at her level, an incredible accomplishment considering over five thousand competitors compete at her level.

Lady was ecstatic with Glows performance. From her response, she might have been happier with the win than Glow.

“You were like a finely tuned machine. You were over here. Then over there. Then back over here and back over there.

You’d land a punch. You’d move, land another and another. Then you were over here and back over there.

You were ducking, weaving, side stepping, slipping punches, landing multi-punch and kick combinations from all angles, while changing levels.

Your bout was a thing of beauty. You were relentless. I’ve seen you move fast in the cube, but never that fast. I’ve seen you focused and on your game before, though, tonight you took things to a different level.”

After Glow’s last Final Battle, her confidence went through the roof. She qualified for the Final Battle eight of the next ten times she competed, winning six of eight.

Her only two losses were against two of the highest ranked fighters competing at her level. Those fighters would probably get bumped to the next highest skill level when they’re scheduled for reevaluation.

Both of Glow’s losses went the distance. Even though Glow lost the fights, she was still happy with her performances. During both losses, she put up a good fight.

During one of her losses, Glow took a lot of punishment. She battled a fighter named Peaches, a fighter who’s known for her grappling ability. Peaches previously worked as a stripper and was very flexible.

Glow was flexible as well, though, primarily skilled as a boxer, with some kickboxing knowledge. She was still learning grappling techniques.

Glow was taken down in the second round. Peaches secured side position, battering Glow with numerous knees and punches.

Glow tried to power out of the position. As she did, Peaches released her hold just long enough to let Glow start to stand.

As Glow stood, Peaches maneuvered to Glows back. Both fighters fell to the mat. Glow ended up in a partial sleeper hold.

At the last second Glow slid one of her arms under Peaches arms, giving herself just enough oxygen to temporally stay conscious. Glow grabbed hold of Peaches forearm with her other hand, attempting to pry herself loose.

The battle took place early in the morning, in a seldomly used section of the arena. The stands near Glow’s cube were almost empty. Only a few rowdy Borrachos were in the stands. They were yelling rude comments as Glow struggled to stay conscious.

Glow was in a lot of trouble. Peaches legs were tightly locked around Glow’s stomach and her forearm wasn’t budging.

Glow’s legs began loosely flailing. Her grip on Peaches forearm was loosening. Her eyes were slowly closing. Glow was losing consciousness. Yet, plenty of time still remained in the round.

At the sight of Glow getting put to sleep, a few of the Borracho’s yelled, “Finish Her! Finish Her!”

One yelled, “That’s the chick Venom laid out!”

Another responded, “Yah, it looks like she’s still unconscious! Put that broad out!”

There wasn’t anything Glow could do. Her awareness was fading.

The ref moved in, grabbing hold of Glow’s free arm, lifting it, checking to see if she had enough strength to keep fighting. She didn’t. Glow couldn’t resist the ref’s grip. Her arm was almost completely limp as the ref removed her hand from Peaches forearm.

The Borracho’s chants got louder. “FINISH HER!! FINISH HER!!”

Then, something happened. Something that never happened to Glow before at any time in her life. She got a break. It wasn’t a lucky break. It was a break of compassion, in a sport where compassion is a detriment.

Peaches slightly loosened her grip. Glow gasped, sucking in as much oxygen as possible.

Strength circulated through Glow’s body. She pulled her arm from the refs grip, placing her hand softly back on Peaches forearm.

Glow realized what Peaches did. She stopped trying to escape the hold, only lightly struggling until the final bell rang.

Peaches delt with enough jerks during her life. She wasn’t about to let the jerks in the stands get their way.

After the loss, Glow wasn’t upset. She’s been learning, in sports, and in life as well, sometimes people lose. The talent of a competitor doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter how hard they train. If a competitor competes enough, eventually, they’ll lose. Loosing is part of being human.

Glow fought a good fight. That’s what was important.

During the bout Glow gained a lot of respect for her opponent. Afterwards, the two ladies struck up a conversation in the locker room. Glow expressed her gratitude, at the same time she let Peaches know, “You should have put me out.”

Glow was intrigued by Peaches name and Peaches was equally intrigued by Glows name. The two gals decided to train together for the next couple days, each showing the other what they knew.

Peaches was well versed in many technical aspects of the sport. She was also very experienced. She didn’t withhold her knowledge.

Peaches taught Glow how to use the entire cube, showing her the opportunities presented. Fighters could wear down their opponents using elusive moves designed to draw out aggression. From there, use the latter round to batter a tired foe.

Peaches also taught Glow techniques designed to lure opponents into vulnerable positions.

When the two ladies finished training, they stayed friends. They had a lot in common. Both experienced tough upbringings. Many people treated Glow like a loca because she was living on the streets, and because she secluded herself from society. Peaches was treated the same way because of her career as a stripper.

From that day forward, when either wanted someone to talk with, one called the other for a cup of coffee. They talked for hours, about all types of things. Glow always left their conversations feeling much better. Peaches did as well.

For the first time in Glow’s life, after 27 years, she was succeeding in life. And she knew why. It wasn’t her. She wasn’t doing anything different. It was the people around her.

Glow now had people around her who were rooting for her. People offering advice. People who wanted to see her succeed. People who enjoyed her personality. People who were standing up for her, defending her and loving her. People who didn’t just care about her success, people who cared about her overall wellbeing.

First Lady, now Peaches. Both truly enjoy Glow’s company and enjoy seeing her enjoy life.

As poorly as Glow was treated throughout much of her life, she often felt she was the problem, blaming herself for many of the issues she encountered. Now, she’s realizing she wasn’t always the problem.

When the latest rankings were released, Glow’s ranking skyrocketed. She was ranked in the top 100, 98th overall at her level. She couldn’t help herself from feeling some vindication from her infamous loss. Moreover, she reached the top 100 after missing a couple months due to injury.

Regardless, as much as she tried to keep herself from looking, she desired to see where Venom was ranked. As good as things have been going, Glow still carried plenty of anger from the pounding she took. With a sense of worry, she scanned the list of competitors.

She began at the bottom, working her way up. After she got past her name, she was secretly hoping she wouldn’t see Venom’s.

She got to 88. The next name on the list was Venom. Glow’s face turned flush. Thoughts of her knockout overtook the gratification she felt from reaching the top 100. Remembering the screams of joy from the crowd cheering for her foe, battered her soul. She remembered the pain in her ribs. She still beats herself up over her loss to Venom.

After seeing the standings, Glow went back into a funk. She kept to herself. She spent more time at the gym and less time competing. She woke up early and went straight to the gym.

Before she left her apartment, she put on her headphones and kept them on the whole day. She stared straight ahead, without looking at anyone she passed or anyone else training.

The embarrassment and anguish losing to Venom caused Glow, far exceed the physical pain she felt. She couldn’t get past her loss to Venom. She couldn’t forget. The fact Glow lost wasn’t the issue. Glow could take defeat. It was the way she lost that infuriated her most. She didn’t put up a fight. She’s been fighting for survival her whole life.

As much as Glow yearned to vindicate herself, she was terrified at the thought of facing Venom again. She was terrified at the thought of another loss of the same magnitude.

Keeping to herself was a good idea. Venom’s face was plastered all over the city and arena. Vending machines sold Venom bobbleheads. Venom’s bobblehead was one of their hottest selling items.

Venom was featured in numerous newspaper articles. The headlines read, “Yesterday, A Small Town Waitress. Today, In The Top 100” and “A Brutal KO Launches Venom Into The Top 100”.

Another reads, “KO Changes The Rules Of The Sport”. Elbows and elbow pads eliminated from Final Battles.

Fighters wore specially designed elbow pads. They were thin, flexible and weren’t supposed to slide off of a fighters elbow during clinches or grappling.

Nevertheless, during a few Final Battles, the elbow pads slid off competitors elbows, causing interference. Shortly after Glow’s knockout, the sports commission decided to eliminate elbow pads and the option fighters were given to throw elbows.

Glow wasn’t against the rule change, yet, the last thing she wanted was to have caused the rule change. Now, any fighter who used their elbow as a go to move, would have extra motivation when battling Glow.

Essentially, after the rule change, the opposite effect occurred. Many competitors didn’t want to win via a lucky punch or elbow. And vice versa, competitors didn’t want to lose via a lucky punch or elbow.

The rule change gave battles the effect they were supposed to have from the beginning. The new rule gave the fighter with the most grit, determination and skill, the best chance to win.

Glow didn’t talk to reporters about her fight with Venom. Sometimes they tried to ask her questions. A few asked snide questions. The type of questions, regardless of the answer, portrayed an ill faded light. Their questions put Glow in no win scenarios.

“What did it feel like getting knocked out?”

“Did Venom break any of your bones?”

“Is there any type of training to help fighters take a punch better?”

How could a competitor answer those types of questions with tact? Glow couldn’t stand thinking about her bout with Venom, no less talking about the knockout publicly.

Sometimes, reporters tracked her down while she was shopping or entering the arena. Often, Glow got upset at the questions. A look of anger blanketed her face as she sternly gave her usual reply, “I don’t want to talk about that!” Then, walked away. Immediately thereafter, she looked for a place to be alone and sulk.

Some of the reporters didn’t take kindly to her lack of response. Their displeasure usually showed in the newspapers headlines and articles.

Glow was portrayed in a negative tone. She was portrayed as a fighter who didn’t have desire or determination. She was portrayed as a fighter who didn’t deserve to make the top 100.

The reporters didn’t know Glow’s story. They didn’t know she was living on the streets for many years of her life. They didn’t know the things she went through before making the top 100.

However, between Lady and Peaches, Glow was making friends. They saw through the articles. They got to know and appreciate Glow. And when they heard someone talking trash about the knockout, they defended her.

Nonetheless, as a result of the articles, many fans booed whenever Glow entered the cube. The boos added a lot of pressure to her Final Battles.

At the same time, all the publicity Venom received landed her the best trainers in the sport. While, most competitors trained by themselves or with friends, Venom was learning from experienced trainers.

Even with all of Glow’s anger, she often left much of her anger at the arena. Glow didn’t want Lady to see her with the type of anger she held within. She enjoyed Lady’s company to much to stay angry.

For the first time in Glow’s life, she had a family, even if only a family of two. She had a family, and that was more important than any bout.

Glow got over her funk. She kept competing and kept winning. Soon thereafter, she ran off another winning streak, winning four Final Battles in a row. After winning her fourth Final Battle, she couldn’t wait to tell Lady.

She rushed home, entering their apartment with a gleaming smile. Lady was walking out of her room at the same time.

Excited to share the news, Glow immediately begins talking. “Guess what? I just won a fourth Final Battle in a row!”

Lady was wearing short boxers and a skimpy shirt. Her hair was going in every which direction.

Lady walked out with a smile every bit as gleaming as Glow’s. She wasn’t alone either. A guy walked out of the room with her. Lady replies, “I think we had four wins last night as well.”

Glow responds, “Look at that glowing smile. Maybe we should call you Glow.”

Lady gives Glow a devious grin, “Maybe you could just call me the tramp.”

Glow smiles. Lady gives her new friend a kiss goodbye, before going into the living room to lounge on the couch.

Playfully teasing Lady, yet, with a sense of worry, Glow asks, “I’m not going to lose the only family I have, am I?”

Lady replies, “Nah, just needed some sexersize. Besides, like I said, whether I have a man or not, you’re family. You’ll always have a place with me.”

Glow makes herself a quick bite to eat as Lady slowly doses off on the couch. After eating, Glow curls up next to Lady, leaning her head on Lady’s thigh as the two gals fall asleep.

With Glow doing as good as she’s been doing in the Obstacle Cube Courses, she figured she’d eventually have to face Venom in a Final Battle. She didn’t think just preparing physically was enough. She wanted to understand Venom’s fighting style. As tough as it was, Glow began watching videos of Venom competing.

Over a year passed since Glow’s loss to Venom. Regardless, She still broke down in tears when she started watching the videos. Despite her emotions, she forced herself to watch them.

Venom didn’t make the list of top 100 fighters by chance or luck. She was very good, with a reputation among the ladies in the locker room as one of hardest hitting fighters at their level.

Subsequently, the more battles of Venom Glow watched, the more self-doubt she gained. At times, Venom looked unbeatable.

The look on the faces of her opponents when they get hit was terrifying. Undeterred, and unsuccessful, Glow kept trying to look for weaknesses in Venom’s fighting style.

One evening while Glow was watching the videos in her room, Lady walked in, “Whatchadoing?”

Glow replies, “I’m trying to prepare myself in case I get a rematch with Venom.” Glow paused for a few seconds. “I don’t think I want to fight her again.”

Hearing the worry in Glow’s voice, Lady sat with Glow, watching the videos with her.

Even Lady cringed at some of the blows Venom landed. Though, Lady was very perceptive. She told Glow what she saw.

“Venom gets into a rhythm, going from move to move. As long as she’s in a rhythm, she stays in control of the fight. Break her rhythm and you’ll give yourself the best chance to win.

Keep her guessing. As soon as you feel her getting into a rhythm, do something different. Try jabbing, throwing low kicks, slowing the pace of the fight or try tying her up. Keep changing the flow of the fight until you break her rhythm.”

Being social has many benefits. Even though Lady primarily competes in the team sport, some of her teammates and friends compete in the MMA style Final Battles. During conversations, she learnt different techniques competitors use to prepare for Final Battles.

Lady continues, sharing a preparation technique she learnt.

“Let’s try watching the videos in slow motion. Maybe we’ll see if Venom has any telltales before she throws a kick or punch. Even if they only give you an extra quarter of a second to react, the extra quarter of a second is the difference between avoiding a punch or kick or getting hit.”

As usual, after speaking with Lady, Glow felt better.

Nevertheless, Venom didn’t have many telltales to her arsenal of offense. The ones they did notice were minimal.

However, between the videos and Lady’s advice, Glow gained a better understanding of Venom’s fighting style.

Before Lady left the room, Glow gave Lady the tightest, longest, warmest hug she ever gave anyone in her life, thanking Lady for taking the time to watch the videos.

Keywords:  Light Throughout The Night, Chapter 12 War Drums, Glow, Training, Competing, Relentless, Compassion, Anguish, Preparation, MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, Vs, Versus, LTTN, Grappling, Flexible, Book, Fiction, Blog Post
Category:  Light Throughout The Night Book


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