(published 30th July 2018)
Eyes closed and a high beats-per-minute synth-wave track. That was how Yana meditated before a cage fight. Slowly inhaling through her nose, she would hum along the song and crack her knuckles. As soon as she felt the beat drop, Yana would snap out of her trance and stand; ready to entertain the crowd in the Guseks Arena.
Step by step, Yana – the Borinian Snapper – moved closer to the main floor, tightly wrapping her hands in red bandages. They contrasted the blue of her spandex pants and white yet sponsored sports crop-top. Yana never cared for fashion, and when her clothes ended up bloody from a cage fight; the way she looked mattered even less. The crowd cheered and hollered; screaming her name alongside many of Borinia’s Gladiators. Some had already fought; but now it was time for the main event: Yana, the Borinian Snapper versus Fett, the Furious.
As soon as she passed the locker room hall threshold into the arena, the sound became almost overwhelming. The lights blinded her at first, but Yana’s eyes quickly adapted. She could make out posters along the stands: “Snap their bones, Snapper!”, “Get some, Fett!”, “SNAPPER SHIT FETT BEST” and her recurring favourite, “You’re all shit.”. It always made her laugh. Fett was already at the ring, pulling at the chain link fence, testing out the welding after the previous fight. Gotak had kicked Sook right through the cage; fans had gone ballistic. Yana had watched from the one of the screens in the break room, carbing up before her fight; she was just as impressed. The Snapper walked up the steps as the referee opened the cage door. She could barely make sense of what she was saying.
“Louder, Su,” frowned Yana.
“Fett. Won’t. Go. For. Clean. Fight.”
Yana smiled. Fett never went for clean. That’s why she enjoyed fighting him. They both unceremoniously bumped each other’s fist and rose them, pumping up the crowd. Yana’s eyes narrowed, fixed on her target. She skipped in place, building up momentum. With an excruciatingly loud ring, the fight began. Fett exploded towards Yana, charging right fist first. Yana swatted it away, slapping him across the face. A humiliating strike made worse by her laughing. Dimwitted brutes were her favourite opponents. He growled and pushed her, his palm hitting her chest. A quick strike that knocked some air from her lungs. A right jab came soon after, tagging Yana in the nose. Snot and blood filled her nostrils. A left jab sneaked up but was deflected. She blew her nostrils clear and kicked Fett’s left knee back. A two-three jab hit him in the jaw and temple. Her grunt preluded another combo. Knee strike to his stomach with her left leg; right ribs with her right. Her right elbow hit him in his ear. Fett punched her in the gut, giving him some much needed space.
The two fighters, mere meters away from each other locked eyes. If it were staged, Yana would take her share of the beating now; but if there was something her fights were known for, was how short she could make them. Fett straightened his back, raising his fists. Yana smiled and nodded, ready to continue. She moved towards him, right – left – right. Feinted left and hit right, hard. Fist connected with cheek bone. If not for the padded bandages, both her knuckles and his cheekbones would crack. She coiled her left arm around his right, wrenching it beneath her armpit. Yana pulled up and kneed him in the gut. Fett bent over. Yana could swear he shat himself. With the same leg, she laid it on the back of his head, tightening the grip. She jumped, forcing him down. His face hit the floor and he screamed – Yana had grabbed his captive arm with her right hand and pushed it as Fett came crashing unto the bloodied cage pane. The fight ended for Fett with dislocated shoulder and fractured forearm – and an improvement to his face.
Yana rose to her feet, soaking up the energy of the Arena. A celebrated gladiator of the people, the Borinian Snapper smiled and waved; unbeknownst that in less than two years her life would change dramatically. Fighting for survival, instead of cash.
Miguel Guerreiro Lourenço is a Portuguese writer, currently living and studying in the United Kingdom. A prolific world-builder, Miguel takes on influences of cultures and media around him, along with a passion for linguistics and literature to craft stories in universes that are as rich in detail, as they are in reflections of today’s society. With two webcomics published and a graphic novel in the works, Miguel aspires to entertain as much as inspire his readers.