26 February 2012

Chapter 18

I covered my eyes, unable to watch as Josh fell victim to Mantra's punishment once more but I couldn't look away either and my hands fell from my eyes just as soon as they covered them.

Hanging upside down, with Mantra's rippling arms holding him out by the ankles, Josh bent up, jabbing Mantra in the stomach. Mantra released him and doubled over but Josh had hooked his arms around Manta's waist.  As Josh's legs hit the ground, he pulled Mantra forward and raised his knees. Mantra's stomach landed full force on the rising knees and he bounced off them to the ground, wounded and winded.

I rose from my seat and cheered with relief in unison with the roar of the watching crowd.  Mantra was down for the count but Josh wasn't taking any chances. He rolled Mantra onto his stomach and put a knee across his back, stretching one of Mantra's arms out behind him.  Holding Mantra by the wrist, Josh forced his fingers back until Mantra cried out.

Mantra slapped at his shoulder trying to sooth the pain. He didn't have enough reach to touch Josh and the body weight on him held him fast to the ground. He shook his head, refusing to quit but Josh tightened his grip. Mantra pounded the floor, fighting the urge to submit. I had to admire the hunk's stamina which much surely have rivalled that of Josh.

Josh knelt there patiently, neither tightening or loosening his grip. He knew there was no need and it wasn't in his nature to hurt Mantra any more than necessary for the win. Unless some miracle forced him off, Mantra wasn't going anywhere. It had become a waiting game and for the first time that day, the crowd fell silent, collectively holding their breath.

I was hanging onto the railing, not a second thought to the fact that Jacob had released my collar. Jacob stepped up beside me and put a hand across my shoulder, watching and waiting now like the rest of us.

Mantra's submission echoed off the walls in the giant hall, a cry so filled with dismay that it sent shivers down my spine.  Mantra screamed "I give!" like a wounded animal and his arm fell to the ground as Josh immediately released him.  Mantra lay on the ground, panting and agonising as Josh stepped to his side and reached down.

Mantra took the helping hand, rising to embrace Josh.  They shook hands and I could see there were no hard feelings from the backslapping the two gave each other as they left the ring to exploding cheers and another round of thumping distorted music. Josh looked up and waved to me as he exited, letting me know he was okay.

I was jumping for joy and instinctively turned around and hugged Jacob.  He squeezed me back, but said nothing except "Good fight". We returned to our seats but I kept babbling like an idiot, barely aware of the next fight being announced.

It was a double-header today for the House of Jacob with Tucker entering the pit as Ares, the God of War.  He sauntered in without any of the enthusiasm of Mantra, keeping a cool, menacing swagger as he ignored the crowd and walked to the centre of the ring. He was the undisputed champion and his sheer presence announced it. His smooth golden skin stretched over his powerful upper body and legs. He didn't need to flex to show how strong he was.

 His opponent was Hercules, a walking boulder of bearded Italian muscle, looking like he was straight out of a 1950s drive in movie.

With a lightly hairy chest, he swaggered in with so much muscle handing off him that his arms could barely touch his sides.

"Holy crap!" I gasped, comparing the size of the two men.

"They think they have a new champion," Jacob scoffed.

"I think they do!" I said, "I thought your guy was big, but he's enormous!"

Jacob smiled and looked into the arena, one hand on my knee. I was still overwhelmed by the emotions of Josh's fight and now it was compounded the battle that was about to begin. I clasped Jacob's hand and held tight.

Like Tucker, Hercules didn't acknowledge any of the onlookers. He walked straight up to Tucker and pressed his chest into him, staring him down. Tucker stood his ground, returning the gaze. His said something and Hercules immediately lifted him off the ground in a bare hug. 

Tucker's torso arced as Hercules crushed his lower back but as Hercules shifted his grip, Tucker head butted the giant sending him reeling back.  He grabbed Hercules by the arm and twisted it, locking it painfully out to the side.

Hercules pulled, his whole body yanking against Tucker's hold, and Tucker staggered into him, greeted by a fist to the stomach. As Tucker doubled over, Hercules forced both his arms behind his back.

Tucker's chest glistened with sweat as it thrust out. He kicked back on Hercules' knee, releasing himself and spinning to face the giant again. He launched himself in the air, landing both feet on Hercules' chest. The giant fell and Tucker scuttled over to him, applying a headlock. It was a stupid move because Hercules' arm swung over Tucker's head and pulled him backwards across his body. His legs swung up and scissored Tucker's free arm while the other stayed pinned under Hercules' head.

Exposed and defenceless, Tucker tried bucking out of the hold as Hercules landed blow after deadly blow to his gut. The crowd was loving the sight of the champion in trouble as his struggles got weaker under the assault.

With one final blow to subdue his opponent, Hercules released Tucker and rolled him off, springing to his feet while Tucker still lay on the ground.  He hauled Tucker to his feet only to receive a fist to the stomach.  As Hercules doubled over, Tucker grabbed him and landed a barrage of blows that sent Hercules to his knees. Tucker walked behind him and dropped with an elbow to the base of his neck.  Hercules was flattened, face down on the ground. 

Tucker sat on the giant and landed another fisted assault on Hercules back. The giant convulsed with each blow but was no longer responding. Finally realising his opponent was not fighting back, Tucker rose and raised a fist in the air to the crowd. They whistled and clapped loudly, but instead of taking his victory, Tucker hauled Hercules into his arms and dropped the semi-conscious man across his knee. Hercules bounced off and rolled onto the ground. Tucker flipped him onto his back and stomped on the man's stomach. The crowd cheered at the antics as Tucker now stood on Hercules' chest and rocked like a surfer.

Hercules raised a limp arm but couldn't force Tucker off. He was out for the count and at the man's mercy but it seemed no one was coming to end the senseless onslaught.

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