Hellbound
A journey through the bowels of Hell
with The Devil as your guide.

Three

This is a preview to the chapter Three from the book Hellbound by Tim Hawken.
Please note this text is copyright protected.

Sweat beaded lightly on my bare chest. I was only just getting started with this bum. Dancing around him on my toes, I sized him up. My muscles were full of energy, the thrill of the fight coursing through my veins. He looked tired already and we were only a minute in. He had a trickle of blood leaking out of the corner of his mouth, where I’d just clipped him with a quick left jab. A tight ring of jeering spectators stood around us, jostling to get a view of the action. They’d paid good money to watch us battle it out with bare fists.
The fight was in a dusty, disused warehouse on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The high roof absorbed the sounds of our shuffling feet. It was a blustery night outside, the wind rattling the tin walls of the structure with each howling gust. Large, fluorescent lights buzzed above us, sending harsh light through the interior. The warehouse was void of furniture except for a makeshift grandstand for the V.I.P.s in the center and a single table shoved in the far corner where the punters could place their bets. It was a lo-fi set up. It was also completely illegal, but that just added to the excitement. Plus the money was better.
My opponent moved in and popped me in the ribs with a lightning-fast right rip. I wheezed as the air went out of my lungs, but managed to jump back before he could capitalize on his hit. A roar went up from the crowd at the burst of action. Maybe he’s not such a bum after all, I thought. We danced around a bit more, playing with each other. It’s best to give these blood thirsty dogs their money’s worth, that way I’d get paid better next time. Create a demand to see me. “He’s hungry,” they’d say, “a bit green, but he’s got the look of the devil in his eye.”
Stepping back to avoid a straight right, I surged in and unleashed four, quick jabs into his stomach. I leapt back out of range. Wear him down, make him hurt.
There were no rounds with this fight, no bells to be saved by. Just one long, punishing bout. I liked to pace myself when fighting like this. Tire the other guy out. “A tired opponent is a slow target,” I kept telling myself as I circled him. We traded some light hits, nothing major. The crowd enjoyed it though, egging us on. “Kill him! Get him!” A fat businessman drooled from the front row, clutching a bundle of betting stubs in his right hand.
My opponent moved in, feinting to his right to put me off. I saw it coming. Stepping to the side, I thundered a heavy left hook right into the high part of his cheekbone. I could feel the bones crack under the weight of my fist. Blood poured from his nose but he didn’t go down, he just stumbled back into the crowd. They held him up and then pushed him back, lurching into the ring. “Get back in there,” they yelled. “Finish him!” I heard someone cry from the side of me.
I watched as he rocked on his feet, eyes clouded with splattered blood from his nose. I took my chance, swinging hard and crushing my fist into his nose again. He dropped back, limp. The sound of flesh slapping on the concrete was drowned out by yells from the crowd, some of triumph and others of desperate loss. Hard earned money had been dropped on a dog that had ‘only lasted five minutes’. In reality, that was a fairly long fight. I’d been in some that lasted seconds.
Trainers rushed in to pick their fighter off the floor. I raised my fist, but wasn’t smiling. The excitement was over for me. I felt a stab of guilt from causing a fighter unnecessary pain by hitting him in an open wound. I could have just pushed the guy over and he would have been out for the count. Oh well, I thought, he’ll recover. I’ve earned my money and he earned his.
I walked over to my corner where my coach slapped me on the back and threw a towel at me.
“Good work, son.” I felt a surge of pride from making him happy. He was the only father I’d known.
I wiped myself down as Coach soaked my swollen hands in a bucket of icy water. I thought about the first time I’d ever met him. He had pulled me off the streets and taken me into his home when I was just sixteen. I’d been living in and out of shelters most of my young life. My parents had abandoned me at an orphanage run by the Catholic Church when I was just a baby. I’d lived there until I thought I was old enough to go out on my own. Coach had been passing by as I was brawling with another homeless teen in an alley over some food. He had just stood back and watched as I got beaten to the ground.
“You’ve got heart, kid,” he had said, when he picked me out of the dirt and dusted me off, wiping the blood from my face. “You’ve got skills too. You just need to learn not to pull back on the killing blow. When you show mercy you show weakness. Only the strong survive.”
When he trained me, he’d yell it out in between sit-ups. “Only the strong survive. Pain is weakness leaving your body.”
He made me continue my studies from the orphanage as well, constantly making me read books like The Art of War and The Alchemist. “No use in having a strong body if you have a weak mind,” he said. He was full of sayings.
I sat down on a stool and started to unlace my boots, watching as the other fighter’s trainer called out for a doctor. Something was wrong. I got to my feet and ran over.
“Hey,” coach yelled from behind me, but I barely heard. By now a crowd had formed around the fighter’s body, which still lay limp on the ground where I’d knocked him down. I squeezed through just in time to see the Doctor look up at me.
“He’s dead,” he said.-, “You’d better get out of here.”
Dead? I thought, as my whole body went numb. I had killed him. It wasn’t meant to happen like that. I was bundled out of the building and into a car. Dead bodies weren’t a good thing at illegal boxing matches. Guilt overcame me. I started to cry. I felt sick. I needed air. Coach opened a window. I leaned my head outside, letting the icy night wind numb my face.
“Forget it, kid,” Coach said from the back seat. “He knew what he was getting into. He knew the risks.”
I wasn’t listening. All I could think of were my opponent’s blurring eyes, just before I had murdered him. I vomited down the side of the car as the wind buffeted my sagging head.
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"Hellbound is one of the most enthralling and energetic books that I've ever read. On a whim, I bought this..."

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