Travis Shioda is a young man in a near future world where a new drug as revolutionised mankind. However, the more things change the more they stay the same, Travis enjoys nothing more than sex, violence, and drug abuse, but what consequences will this lifestyle have?
It’s pretty common knowledge that human beings don’t generally use their brains to maximum capacity. It’s not as extreme as the “humans only use ten percent of their minds” myth which was disproved and dismissed as popular garbage some decades ago now, but it’s true that a human being has a considerable amount of brainpower that’s not accessible on an everyday basis. At least, that’s how it was before some whizz-kids from Tokyo invented HEAT. Actually, some students from Harvard are saying they made the same discovery beforehand, but I don’t buy that. They just want the money that the Japanese kids are making. But I digress, HEAT revolutionised the neuroscience world, and the world in general for that matter. It stands for Heightened Emission Accelerated neuroTransmitter, yes I know the abbreviation is hideously contrived but it’s way more catchy as HEAT than HEAN right? There I go digressing again. In any case, HEAT is, as you might have guessed, a drug that opens up access to those previously untapped reserves of power in your brain and, as you can imagine, had resoundingly positive consequences all over the world. Naturally the science industries benefitted, academic institutions exploded onto a new level which made old doctorates pretty much obsolete, essentially everything got better. Then everything got worse too. Suddenly cheap HEAT substitutes were appearing complete with neurochemical side effects, gang wars were breaking out over the ownership of marketing rights, transport, shipping, distribution, pirates started hijacking shipments left right and centre and selling it to God knows who, not to mention the activists… In short, the world’s a lot better and a lot worse for it.
All this time I’ve not said a word about myself. Sorry, my name’s Travis Shioda, half American, half Japanese, mid-twenties, hold an average company job regulating HEAT import into the USA. My salary is good, I have weekends off and my ration of free HEAT is significantly more than the general public are allowed access to, life is good. Oh, and I guess there’s one more thing about me that’s interesting. I’m a member of the illegal HEAT combat sport circles. See, the unconscious part of the brain not only limits your mental abilities, but instinctively regulates the power of your muscles too. On HEAT you can run about twice as fast as you can without, your reactions increase as your nerves fire faster, your coordination increases, your agility, strength, and speed all enter a heightened state for as long as the drug is in effect. Pretty cool right? The first time you realise how much more physically powerful you are as well as mentally powerful you feel utterly invincible. They call that HEAT-high. It’s like being drunk and on speed at the same time. HEAT literally makes you feel invincible, at least before you build up tolerance to it. This also led to a great rise in petty crime induced by HEAT-high, where kids taking their first hit started thinking like they’d picked up a videogame power-up and that was a licence to do anything they wanted. Pretty soon they realised that when you’re on HEAT you’re anything but invincible. The increased nerve signals also cause a far more intense, acute, and focussed transmission of pain receptors. You put all these things together, the extra muscle power, the instant combat high, the heightened pain and fighting suddenly becomes the most exhilarating and thrilling experience in the world.
So that’s why I’m here, in the cage, in a warehouse, surrounded by the cameras streaming live to itube, (Apple reinvented Youtube a few years back), the crowd baying for blood, facing a six foot three Mexican with bloodshot eyes, skull tattoos and a jaw that looks like it’s cast in iron. He spat casually and crossed himself, smearing beads of sweat across the back of his gloves under the glaring lights. I heard the announcer calling my name, “Travis “The Predator” Shioda!” The crowd roared. I tapped my gloved fists together, feeling the leather and plastic moulded to my skin, flexed my shoulders, my stomach, my legs, bounced on my toes, the slightly springy matting responding to my weight, my toes remembering the texture and grip of the ring’s surface. “Five five minute rounds! One shot per round, competitors, take your first shot now!” My trainer stabbed a needle into my neck, low concentration HEAT, enough to last me a round, a formula for quick blood absorption, I felt it swoop through my body like lightning on wings. My bones suddenly lighter, the world suddenly much sharper. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply through my nostrils, I could smell the Mexican’s musky scent from across the ring, the announcer’s expensive cologne, the dense perfume of the woman in the front row behind me, the sterile scent of the cut-man’s surgical gear. I opened my eyes as I exhaled and fixed my opponent in my gaze. He stuck his own needle in his neck, and rolled his shoulders as he glared back at me. I picked out three shades of brown in his irises, discolouration of the skin under his right eye where he’d received injury and treatment in a previous fight, a small asymmetry in his jaw where it had been broken before and a gap in his defence just above the floating rib on his left side. I knew he’d be ticking over similar thoughts about my stance, guard, and weaknesses as we faced each other off. Thinking becomes very instinctive when you’re on HEAT.
The ring girl walked by me, winking as she went. Her black hair was natural, as was her Latino tan and her pert, barely concealed breasts. Her slender legs carried her effortlessly from the ring, and my eyes weren’t the only ones following her as she stepped down. Then she was gone and it was just the fight, just me and him, ready for battle.
We closed up to the centre of the cage. “Fighters ready!” We touched gloves and took our guards. “Round 1, Fight!” We were away.
This is where HEAT fighting becomes truly different to regular fighting. As he came forward with his first jab, I could see each of his muscles cording out from the moment his body started moving and perceived his intent and attack before he’d even half completed his motion. I saw each hair stand up on his arm as it brushed past my face while I swayed to evade the blow. This sort of precision is only possible in the bullet-time like state that HEAT induces when combined with experience and total sensory focus. His nostrils flared and he bared his mouth-guarded teeth, his face contorting, wrinkling into a mask of violence, veins rising in his temples, a small pulse visible just under the skin from the arteries. He lunged forwards with his second punch, which I again swayed away from. He wasn’t yet in control of the HEAT in his body, it was increasing his aggression and making him reckless. Too much of a mistake, too early. He rotated on his hips and threw a round kick, his thighs torqueing the technique powerfully towards my head. I ducked and felt the breeze from his leg passing through my hair. In the split second of his imbalance after his kick I pushed forwards, my HEAT powered body firing a punch like a steel piston into his ribcage, left side floating rib. I heard the solid thud as my knuckles dug into his bones, as his rib cracked, heard the sharp hissing, wheezing noise as the air was forced out of his lungs and he gasped in pain as I knew spots of excruciating white would be bursting in his head from the accelerated synaptic response. If my first punch had been a steel piston, my second was a brick hammer uppercut which crunched into his jaw, sending shuddering shockwaves into his skull, flecks of sweat spraying off his head as it rocked back, spittle flying from his open mouth, casting tiny rainbows through the lights. His eyes rolled back in their sockets as he tried to refocus but it was already too late. I twisted hard, my body moving together in concerted unison, my right leg swinging around, I sank my hardest shin kick right into the same cracked floating rib and felt it snap and shatter on impact. He was lifted bodily from the ground by the force of the kick, chest heaving to try and suck air back into deflated lungs as he fell back to the mat, he gathered enough breath to scream and screamed. Then coughed and retched and passed out from the pain.
The crowd erupted with primal abandon. It was like being a champion of beasts having just slain their greatest feral foe. They screamed and howled and cheered til their lungs were fit to burst. I was tearing around the cage, roaring, arms in the air, hands clenched into fists of glory, saluting my baying hysterical fans. Here I was king, here I was emperor, here I was utterly invincible. The HEAT surged through my whole brain and body, I could feel it, and I did a backflip, the crowd yet again sent into a wild fervour to see their victor in jubilant celebration. I had no reason for doing the backflip, it just felt good because I could. And it felt good to have the fans screaming my name, it felt good to win, and it felt good to be the best undefeated fighter in the local underground fighting scene, period.
The formalities went quickly. My arm was raised in victory again, my opponent was stretchered off to an ambulance, I answered questions in a short interview, thanked my trainer, my support staff, my opponent for the match and his support team, then packed myself off to my changing room. By now the HEAT from the fight had worn off and I was feeling considerably more sluggish, but still pretty elated. I opened my locker and started to get my clothes out to change when I heard the door creak open and shut behind me.
The ring girl locked the door with a sharp snick that left the ringing silence afterwards full of electric tension. Carmelita, the badge pinned to her breast proclaimed.
“You’re very good in the ring.” She ran her hand over my chest and let it linger there, her big, dark eyes lapping me up like they wanted to devour me.
“It wasn’t the best fight I’ve ever had.” I answered without breaking eye contact. “It was over too quickly.”
“Well,” she said as she slid her hands into my trunks and pushed me back into the lockers. “I hope I’ll prove more of a challenge. But I wonder how long you’ll last against an opponent like me…”
“Oh, well we’ll just have to see won’t we?” I took a syringe of my own HEAT from the locker. High concentration, long lasting intense reaction. I gave her a shot in the neck and then dosed myself up as she kissed me. Her lips were soft and smooth and I could taste the faint sweetness of peppermint on her tongue. Her hands worked around me with experience, easing me slowly into a state of pulsating ecstasy. She knelt to pull my trunks off and draw her mouth around my penis. She’d definitely done this before, her tongue worked in a way that pushed me to the edge of sanity. I felt myself come in her mouth. She swallowed.
“You’re down already? You won’t last a round at this rate…”
“Oh, I’m not done yet, I’ll have you begging for submission by the final bell…”
I pushed her to the floor and tore off her top, out of which her breasts seemed to explode very willingly. She squirmed out of her pants and spread her legs on the floor, drenched with sweat. I pushed myself into her with more than a little considered force and she cried out and shuddered in delight. The HEAT was coursing through the both of us now and we gave up any pretence of being gentle with one another. I gripped her long, smooth thighs and plunged into her as hard as I could over and over again as she moaned aloud on the floor until we’d both come so much we thought neither of us had anything left inside of us.
Hours later in a hotel room, Carmelita and I parted for the last time. Her slender form, slick with water from the shower, swayed across the room in all its naked beauty. She leaned over me in the bed, her nipples pressing against me as she kissed me.
“Maybe we will meet again, fighter. I’ll look forward to seeing you again.”
She fastened her bra, pulled up her pants, put on a jacket and was gone, already calling a taxi to take her home.
I let out a low whistle after she’d gone and lay back in the bed, ready to drop straight to sleep. All the HEAT had gone out of me along with all my energy. Fighting then sex was always going to be a draining combination. I fell asleep dreaming of a Mexican’s broken ribcage and Carmelita’s blowjob.