Relapse (The Vs. Reality Series Book 2)

By: Blake Northcott

“I always felt that if I had super-power, I wouldn't immediately run out to the store and buy a costume.” – Stan Lee

Chapter One – Incite

New York City | June 7, 2012 | 11:45pm, Eastern Daylight Time

Donovan Cole fires a volley of blistering punches like rounds from a machine gun, so fast that his opponent is unable react. He continues his assault with a brutal knee to the abdomen, and a sharp elbow strike that opens a wide gash over his challenger’s eyebrow.

His opponent’s will is strong, but he’s battered and bloodied, unable to absorb any further punishment. Crumbling to the canvas he rolls to his side, gently tapping the mat three times as a sign of surrender.

The fight is over, and Cole thrusts his fists into the air.

Nearly five hundred people leap from their folding metal chairs, screaming and cheering. Gary’s Gym fills with a thunderous round of applause that rattles the ancient windows and shakes the rusted doors. If the building were any older you’d think the noise alone would cause the walls to collapse, bringing the entire dilapidated structure down into a pile of rubble. Luckily, at least for this evening, the building remains intact.

Gary climbs into the ring and embraces Cole, patting him on the back several times.

“How was that for a comeback fight?” says Cole with a beaming smile, wrapping his arm around Gary’s shoulder as the referee raises his other hand in victory. “Not bad for someone without a warrior’s spirit.”

“Your ground game has gone to hell,” Gary replies, his voice like gravel. “What was that bullshit with the arm bar? You can’t just let someone pop out from under you and get back to his feet. That type of crap might work when you’re fighting a guy on a losing streak, but in the big show you’d get eaten alive after a rookie mistake like that.”

Taking the criticism with a grain of salt, Cole remains buoyant. “Come on, Gary, I just won. Can’t you just let me enjoy the moment? You know, bask a little? It’s been a while since I’ve had a good bask – I think deserve one.”

“Basking is for bitches. I want you back here tomorrow morning at six o’clock sharp, and you’re gonna drill that arm bar submission five hundred times. And if you don’t have it down after that, you’re doing five hundred more.”

Basking is for bitches.



Gary Marciano.

Gary isn’t well known for his ineloquent and often profanity-laced pearls of wisdom; he’s renowned for his ability to smash things with his fists. Every fighter in New York City knows that if you want to learn the sweet science of pugilism, he’s the man to call. At one time a Golden Gloves champion, Gary was a serious boxing contender in the heavyweight division before a severe knee injury ended his career prematurely. Now, at the age of fifty-five, he spends his days working with rookie fighters to refine their technique, and helps develop their mental and physical toughness. Gary claims that he can turn a ninety-pound weakling into a human battering ram in less than six months, and he’s proven it on more than one occasion.

But to Cole, Gary isn’t just a trainer, manager, and dispenser of unwanted advice – he’s the closest thing to a father that he’s ever had.

With his arm still draped over Gary’s shoulder, Cole looks down and flashes a cocky grin. “Six? I was going to be here lifting weights at five tomorrow morning, but if you need the extra hour of beauty sleep then go right ahead, princess.”

“Don’t get cute with me, kid; I can still throw leather with the best of them. I might have to step into the ring with you for a couple rounds and beat that cocky smile off your face.”

As the audience continues to applaud, Cole gazes out into the crowd and notices a tiny spark towards the back row, as if someone was shining a laser pointer in his direction. He studies the pulsing light for a moment and quickly realizes that it’s not originating from a person: it’s coming from the wall at the back of the building. Several more bright red lights spark to life, melting a six-foot chunk of mortar into a sopping brown puddle.

A team of soldiers wearing black helmets and body armor storm into the building through the hole in the wall, fanning out among the crowd with military precision. Their movements are silent, being drowned out by the cheers and applause. They’re armed with long batons shaped like cattle prods, side arms, and rifles strapped to their backs.

A trooper surprises a man in the back row, jamming the end of his baton into the base of his neck. He activates the trigger, sending a powerful electrical shock into his victim. Before the man has a chance to scream his nervous system catches fire, causing a complete cellular collapse. His body melts like the wall of the building, reduced to a thick, gelatinous liquid that splashes into the floor.

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