Author : Andrew Bale

I should have just slept with her, in retrospect. She had been attractive and suggestive, but there had been something about her that smelled like trouble, and sure enough, she had come back to the hotel bar with her arm wrapped around six feet of good old-fashioned trouble. Maybe I was supposed to be revenge on him for something he had done, but now she was going to use him to punish my rejection.

She pointed me out to him and he started striding towards me with blood in his eye. I stood up and stepped away from the bar. I should have just left, but I was at that stage of drunk where I wasn’t thinking straight but thought that I was. Besides, I was a little pissed at myself for turning down an easy score and at her for her betrayal.

As Trouble got near, the world started to slow down. The implant sensed my fight-or-flight response and responded by pumping me full of chemicals that made adrenaline feel like roofies. The artificial nerves switched from the setting that let me talk to people to the setting that let me count the beats of a hummingbird’s wing. No normal man could possibly defeat me.

Unfortunately, Trouble had that look too. Rather than rushing in like the angry fool he had seemed, he had slowed his approach and come into a fighting stance. He was an augment like me. Damn.

Science had not yet found a reliable way to replace muscles or change the speed with which they contracted, and that made a fight between augments a curious thing to watch. Fast thoughts, slow muscles. Make a wrong move and your opponent will see it, find the right counter, and launch his own attack, all faster than Bruce Lee at his finest.

I saw Trouble tense for a left jab, so I started to bring my arms up for a parry and cross. His left relaxed and his right dropped for a body blow, I began to bring my parrying hand up for a strike at his face, forcing him to pull ever so slightly back. Two attacks, two responses, and to those watching we might as well have been statues.

It went on like that for what seemed like hours, punches, kicks, shoves, slaps, all scarcely started before they were abandoned as futile. In the minutes we actually fought neither of us made a move more dramatic than a step, more obviously aggressive than a shrug.

Thankfully, I don’t stay in fancy hotels where the bars have nice clean floors, and the eternity it would have taken for him to look where he was stepping would have given me ample time to drop him. He didn’t see the wet spot until he started to slip, and an instant later the fight was effectively over. My left hand started to reach out, to help push him down while my right hand cocked slightly for a knockout punch on the floor. He had no way to counter, and it showed in his eyes. Along with a reflection of her face.

Bitch hit me with a barstool.

Despite our modifications, he couldn’t watch the floor and I couldn’t watch my back. They got in a few good kicks, then ran for it. I woke up a few minutes later, bruised but okay, and waited for the police. No one saw anything, not even the bartender, and the cameras were out so nothing came of it. I guess it helps to be a local. Fucking Pittsburgh.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows