The fights begin. Mixer after mixer climbs into the ring. Blood flies with every punch. We feel its splatter across our cheeks, taste the iron on our lips. Manos and monas alike fall, beaten to a pulp, faces swollen and bruised like fucked up avocados. Blood streams from everywhere. There is no camaraderie. Only taunting and brutality. After a while, the mop boy at the octagon just gives up, because, really, why bother and the rest of the contestants slip and slide to their way to bloody victories or defeats. We relish every second of it. Our excitement builds. Our lust for blood, for the adrenaline, for the fix, for each other soars. We crave only more and more and more.
Even the losers this night are heroes. If they survive, they will go back to their hoods, basking in their thirty seconds of fame, and for the first few days they will receive smiles and congratulations. They fuckin' made it. They were on TV in front of millions. Win or Lose, they shined. Until the cloud of instant celebrity fades and they find themselves in the same shit-hole they were before.
But who gives a fuck about the losers. Its the winners here that matter. There are no corpies in the octagon, except for the ones up in the balconies. Safe beside their bodyguards and shields and bulletproof glass. Those the are the corps making flash off of mixer's blood, off of this event. I catch one's eye for a moment and leer, but his gaze is stoic, unflinching. I thought he was looking at me, but i was wrong. I'm invisible to him. No. Wrong. Worse. I don't even exist. The only thing he sees is the flash piling up in his account. I look away and let the warmth and the energy of the octagon fill me again. But it isn't enough this time. Fuck him. I depart from my group and shoulder my way out onto the cold streets to disappear again.
Up top, corpies gather in all the usual corp spots. Clinking glasses, cheering for their homme du jour, splashing the bars with lost bets and insults and, like us, relishing in the carnage. In this, we are alike. We have no respect for life, because life's shown us none. The live coverage at the KMB fills the club with an energy that can't quite be captured -except- on a night like this. The combination of sex in the club and the violence on T.V. lowers the inhibitions of even the most stoic suits. The place is in near riotous condition. Sweat pours as people dance out the drugs and the booze, their euphoria peaking as the mixers pummel each other to bloody pulps for their amusement on the tv's.
This night gets better, however. I walk past Olga's on the way back from the Octagon and join a group of huddled bums by the window staring at one of the t.v. tower displays, trying not to draw attention to myself. Lou grabs the mike, a bikini clad girl hanging on his arm, and smiles out to the crowd. In an awe inspiring voice he booms that there will be a special treat! Before he can finish, a big brutish hulk of a man bursts into the ring and the crowd erupts. He's dark as mocha and stacked like a tank. Its OUR champion. The Mixer's champion. Undefeated. Untouched. Our Winner by KO. He bounds around the ring. Arms flailing, taunts rising into the smoky mist above.This is His night. His turf. His ring. His fuckin' Mix. The whole place shouts K-O, K-O, K-O and our champion devours the praise and attention with a hearty roar.
Lou doesn't even bother announcing the opponent. He's nameless. A cyborg escorted by a full patrol of well armed corpsec. He may be less intimidating in size, maybe, but his chrome alone leaves most in the octagon speechless. The shouting and the cheering dies down a little until one brave mixer chucks an empty can and shouts "Fuck you, corpie!" before it tags the cyborg in the head. The cyborg doesn't miss a beat. He glances a the mixer and smiles, the shutter in his eye flashing briefly, no doubt remembering that face for later.
Our champion doesn't give two fucks. He just wants to tear off limbs. He doesn't care if they're metal or flesh, but he never gets the chance. When Lou gives the go our champion lunges and the cyborg pivots. Just slightly. He moves faster than any man has a right to. He is stronger than any man has a right to be as he catches our champion's shoulder and twists his hulking body to the canvas. The cyborg flashes that smile again and our champion roars.Then the corpsec cyborg tenderizes our champion's face with his cyberarm. It only takes three good punches before the pulp of his face is unrecognizable. One more and his skull shatters across the canvas, bits of hairy, bloody skull bone sent flying with the impact. One more, and our champion's head disappears completely and his blood pours from the stem of his neck like some grotesque fleshy ewer.
Why? Why would they kill our champion? Because fuck him. And fuck us. We didn't deserve a champion. We needed to learn our place. This wasn't about us. This wasn't -for- us. We were just part of the show and as our faces dropped and our cheers turned to whispers. KMB raged even harder. The cheers were heard up on Grunen's in Green. Corpsec was the champion of the UMC. No mixer can fuck with the corps. Not now. Not ever.
I backed out of the little huddle of bums, suddenly needing to empty my stomach and rushed off down the street. My friends hadn't noticed i'd left. If they had they didn't care. I didn't care either. Turning the corner, i disappeared into the neon night.