Author : James Hunter

Joe Miller stood silent in his dressing room. He was set to take the biggest stage of his life, yet he felt no nerves, no butterflies, he felt dead to the world.

Joe “Knuckles” Miller had wanted to be a pro fighter his entire life. He had done well on the regional circuit but once he received the call up to the big leagues, he had appeared to find his ceiling. After losing his first three fights Joe was faced with a do or die situation. Another loss, or even a close win, would end with his contract being terminated.

With an indignant end to his short career in sight, Joe began to get desperate. He was willing to do anything to start winning, even if it meant cheating.

One’s willingness to cheat however had little bearing on one’s ability to do so. The days of performance enhancing drugs had long since passed leaving little options other than to try and sneak in the occasional low blow or eye poke. It wasn’t until one night over a few drinks with his uncle that Joe found his easy out.

“I know it’s hard out there Joe, some of those guys are killers.” Uncle Tim said behind a sip of whiskey.

“I’m a killer! You should see me in the gym. I’m like a master painter or something but under the bright lights I can never put it together.”

Tim nodded and took another drink. “It’s all about having an edge over your opponent. They used to do it with drugs but now all the best fighters have cybernetics.”

“Huh?” Joe stared blankly with his mouth hanging open slightly.

“Implants, state of the art stuff. My company designs them. One in each eye and hand, then you’ll land every punch you throw.”

“But if I got caught…” Joe trailed off.

“Nothing they could do to you. This is that new, there aren’t even rules about it yet.” he said with a smile and a clumsy wink.

This was exactly what Joe had been hoping for. Within six months he had undergone three surgeries to complete the procedure. Now only two years since receiving the upgrades he was fighting for the title.

A cameraman entered the dressing room and immediately swooped down in front of Joe for a low angle.

“Throw some combos for me.” he said.

Joe shadowboxed for the camera and bounced around on his soft, spongy practice mat. He was moments away from his walkout and still he felt nothing but despair. He knew he could never truly realize his dream. Even if he left that night with his arm raised and a belt around his waist, he would never be a champion.