Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Knockout-2: Update by Max Lagno and Dan Sugralinov

Level Up: Knockout, book 2
by Max Lagno and Dan Sugralinov

Release - December 9, 2019

Chapter 1


Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems.
Sergey Brin

            Mike Björnstad Hagen was standing before a mirror in one of the sports complex’s gyms. The crowd was roaring outside. The ring announcer was shouting something, and the music blared, interfered by advertising jingles.
            Mike touched his face with a hand covered in elastic bandages.
            “What could have happened?” he thought. “Was it me or was it not?”
            There were other fighters in the locker room, toosome of them applying bags of ice to injured knees; others taking selfies. There was even a video blogger scurrying around, followed by a cameraman. He would approach the athletes out of the blueanyone who was freeand ask silly questions in a clownish manner. The nosy guy refrained from approaching Hagen, thoughLuke Lucas, the producer, had warned him that if he’d bother anyone preparing for battle, he would lose his backstage pass for good.

            And yet Hagen needed no bloggers to ask himself silly questions.
            Why did he feel like he’d been swapped for another person since the very morning? Or, perhaps, it felt as if he had lost something. But what could it possibly be? Confidence? Wasn’t he the one who had fought in every battle and made it to the top? He couldn’t have made it without confidence.
            Could this mood be the result of his recurring dreams of fighting monsters on some other planet? Hagen even went to see an analyst about it, who had only reassured him by saying, “Everything’s perfectly simple, Mr. Hagen. Your unconscious shows you scenarios in a metaphoric language in your sleep. However, in your case, we don’t even need any metaphorsyou fight monsters asleep and awake.”
            “Why did I even go to see him in the first place?” Hagen thought. “Mom would also take me to all sorts of analysts who would always come up with the same kind of incomprehensible gobbledygook.”
            And yet, now, as he was about to enter his decisive battle, Mike wished to hear the calm and confident voice of the psychologist. Those people could really calm one down, after all.
            “Hey, bro, how our you doing?” Gonzalo asked him.
            Mike’s friend of old, Gonzalo Herrera, was the very person who had once seen Mike’s potential and brought him into the world of sparring for cold hard cash. He was living in Las Vegas at that point, too, and was in the business of recruiting fighters who showed promise.
            “OK, I guess.”
            “Hey, won’t you take a look at this!”
            The screens hanging on the walls of the locker room showed a transmission from the ring. The camera paused on the famous Khabib who was about to enter the VIP section.
            “He’s really interested in your fight! Do you have any idea what it means, bro?”
            “I sure do. I’m his most likely opponent in the nearest future.”
            “Yup. Either you or Molimo. Whoever of you becomes the next rising star is decided today. If you’re interested in the betting odds . . .
            Hagen looked behind Gonzalo’s shoulder as if to see something unusual there. Ever since the morning he’d been noticing that he had kept looking at some point above his interlocutors’ heads. The hotel administrator’s bald patch, the turban on the Uber driver’s head, Gonzalo’s cap… Why would that be? The shrink would definitely know, and if he didn’t, he’d still explain it to him and calm him down.
            “All right, I’ll go see my other fighters,” Gonzalo said, having noticed that Hagen wasn’t listening.
            The video blogger and his operator deliberately stood in such a way they could get Hagen in the camera. Mike turned around and headed toward the exit.
            It was time to win.


            Hagen saw lots of locker rooms over the last couple of years. He had walked the way between the doors and the ring many times. He shook the hands reaching for him a thousand times, and seen his face on enormous screens and billboards a thousand times more. He would even sign his pictures, decorating his autographs with a bear’s paw symbol. It was Gonzalo’s idea, who had told him, “Bro, you’ve got to be original even when you sign your photographs.”
            Occasionally, Mike would fail to believe his own near-stardom. He was saddled with several fans who had created a dedicated social network profile. Strangers started to get really intrusive in what concerned his personal life. They would somehow get hold of his phone number and would either message him to congratulate him on his victory or asked him to “fight like him.” Former convicts would write him about their experiences inside, while young gang members asked him for advice on how to behave if they get locked up.
            Hagen would change his number, but the fans kept pestering him incessantly—either them, or outright psychos. This level of public exposure obviously affected Mike’s behavior in the ring greatly. His attentive fans followed Mike’s every move and interpret everything in their own way.
            For instance, Hagen developed a new habit—after each victory, he would hastily whisper a few words, pressing his fingers to his lips. Some thought he was praying, whether others insisted he was reading spells of the sort that would help him win. And yet, Hagen was only saying, “Look at what I’ve become, mom! Thank you!”
            He was already past the period when he had been accusing his mother of his every misfortune. She was just doing anything she could to protect him, and it was never her intent to cause him such harm by caring excessively.
            However, something was different now. Hagen no longer felt the protection of the invisible power that had gotten him through training, street fights, sparring in the ring, the conviction, the jail, more sparring . . . How could he have managed to get through it all?
            As he was approaching the octagonal UFC ring, he felt the long-forgotten fear—not the usual caution that any fighter would feel preparing to face the opponent. This was all-consuming fear, just like back in the day when Goretsky would shout at him and wave his fists around, or when other children had bullied him in his childhood.
            He suddenly felt indignation, thinking, “What the hell is going on with me?”
            “Let’s fight!” Hagen shouted, throwing punches at the air and running through the last couple of feet to the ring.
            This antic helped him get out of his strange state of stupor. It would all be OK.
            His opponent entered the ring at the same time.


            Molimo “Hip” Foster, a Native American from South Dakota, was a favorite of the qualifying fights, just like Hagen. They shared more than weight—many facts of their respective biographies corresponded as well.
            Likewise Hagen, Molimo had never been much of an athlete—all he would do was sit in his father’s shop and sell “authentic Native American souvenirs” (actually manufactured in China) to gullible tourists. But then he suddenly got interested in martial arts, and made a stellar career over a very short timefrom small local amateur contests to statewide championships. This is how he had gotten into the qualifying matches after having been seen by one of the recruiters.
            But that wasn’t the only thing they had in common. The word “molimo” stood for “a bear who creeps in the shadows” in the Miwok language. One of the sports commentators even quipped about there never having been any nickname in the entire history of sport that would be so at odds with the athlete’s appearance.
            For instance, the only thing that resembled a bear in Mike “Björn” Hagen was his tattoo, whereas Molimo looked more like a mongoose, agile, fast, and precise.
            Both fighters were lean and nimble; both had a good technique. They both preferred hitting the opponent to grappling or foot sweeps.
            Eventually, journalists started calling Mike and Molimo “The M&Ms.” They were two fighters who had appeared out of nowhere and became the most fascinating fighting duo at the UFC qualification fights.
            “Are you OK?”
            The referee’s question caught Hagen unawares. Was it so obvious that something weird was going on that even others could see it? Mike took a look at the audience.
            There was Uncle Peter, beaming proudly at his nephew. He had a t-shirt with Björn’s portrait on. Hagen was not yet a celebrity enough for his face to be printed on garments, but Gonzalo went out of his way to make a copy for everybody.
            Another person shifting from foot to foot was Wei Ming, another friend from Mike’s earlier years—they used to work together at the repair shop back in the day; then he moved to Chuck’s bar to work as a bouncer. Wei Ming’s impenetrable face did not betray any anxiety, but he was also proud of Mike. They faced each other in the ring last week. It was a tough fight, but Mike still managed to win.
            And yet . . . Why were the details of the battle so hazy? How exactly did he win? What moves did he use? What were those strange combos? Hagen shook his head—no matter how hard he’d try, he could not figure out how he had managed that series of brilliant punches and kicks that had knocked out his friend.
            “So? Are you OK?” The referee became tensed. “Why aren’t you answering?”
            Hagen looked at the referee and nodded.
            “Yes, sir . . . Let’s fight.”
            “OK, then”
            Hagen decided against requesting for the match to be postponed due to health issues. He felt OK. Too much depended on this battle for it to be postponed indefinitely.

            The judge showed the fighters to their corners. The door of the cage closed, and the audience went even wilder.
            Hagen took a last look at Olga, a judo fighter from Ukraine. He met her after his fight with Wei Ming. She was sitting next to his uncle, and wore the t-shirt with Hagen’s face in the most fetching manner.
            It felt weird.
            “Why can I remember every second I spent with Olga and everything we did in that hotel room, but cannot for the life of me recollect any of the details of my fight with Wei Ming?”
            The referee clapped his hands, which brought Hagen out of his reverie. The world disappeared as it always did in such cases, with nothing left but Hagen and his opponent. It became a habit with him to become absolutely focused, only leaving the state once the round was over.
            However, his concentration was marred by irrelevant reflecting yet again.
            “So . . . I should at least remember what I had planned to defeat him. I did have a plan, after all . . . I’d been intending to use some move—and a cunning one, at that.”
            The agile Molimo was already approaching him, preparing for attack. He was taller and had wider shoulders, and his kicks defied the statistics of efficiency, knocking out many opponents.
            “A quick attack at the legs and taking the whole battle to the ground level? Was that how I planned to surprise Molimo? No . . . It was something else. What was that move called, anyway? Strategic delay? Not really . . . Tactical pause? It must have been that . . . But what kind of a pause? And what am I doing trying to recollect its name, anyway?”
            Molimo moved in a relaxed manner, holding his hands low. A real mongoose ready to pounce. And yet . . . His behavior looked weird, too. He also seemed uncertain of his actions.
            Hagen’s body jerked automatically, reacting to his opponent’s feint. He felt himself lucky to have escaped it.
            The audience booed disappointedly. They have all noted the strange behavior of the fighters—it was as if it were their first time in the ring.
            “Who the hell fights like that?” a face from the front row shouted. “Even my grandma could dodge a punch like that.”
            Hagen saw the coach who had been hired by Luke Lucas stare at him in bewilderment. Gonzalo stood right next to him and looked at the ring with equal amazement. Khabib must have been watching the debacle from the VIP section above.
            It was time to counterattack. Hagen threw his signature punch. He could clearly hear the loud sound of the audience going “Aww.” This would normally happen when he would make a particularly strong and precise attack. However, instead of the euphoria of victory, he felt something else—an endless sound of the gong in his head.
            Hagen’s back slammed into the walls of the cage. The floor with the enormous U on it suddenly became a lot closer, and he fell into it as if it was a bottomless pit.
            “It’s a knockout!” was the last thing he heard.
“I think . . . this should be my second knockout,” he thought before falling into the void of the gigantic letter U.

Chapter 2


In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

            Hagen already knew he was lying on a hospital bed a minute before coming to his senses. However, his consciousness was reluctant to return to reality from the world of his dreams.
            His head was aching, and he could see the spinning UFC logo in his mind’s eyethe very one he saw just before hitting the floor. The letters weren’t standing in one place; they kept spinning and changing places. When they turned into FUC, Hagen open his eyes and sighed loudly.
            “Oh, fuck . . .”
            “Yeah, you can say that again, bro.”
            Gonzalo was sitting on a chair near the wall, fidgeting with his mobile phone.
            Hagen rose  in his bed.
            “Did they hit me so hard I ended up at the hospital?”
            “You got hit hard enough.” Gonzalo paused for a moment and added, “I wouldn’t say you got hit all that hard. Molimo could have struck you way harder.”
            Gonzalo halted for a moment, which made Hagen realize that he had stopped himself short of saying that Hagen himself could have fought better, too.
            “That’s not why you’re in hospital, bro.”
            “What’s the matter with me?”
            Gonzalo rose from his chair, approached Hagen, and asked quietly,
            “Bro, just don’t you lie to me . . . Do you use?”
            “Drugs?” Hagen asked in indignation. “Never! You know well enough I don’t even like painkillers.”
            Gonzalo turned on his phone and showed Mike the YouTube video of their fight.
            Molimo might have seemed a formidable opponent to Hagen in the ring, but when he took a good look at him, he could clearly see that the Native American walked like a chicken, throwing his fists about as if they were chicken wings. Not that Hagen was any better. He ducked to dodge an attack, frightened, and then got a random hit in the jaw with his opponent’s knee.
            As Hagen fell face-first onto the letter U, Molimo grabbed his legs and walked back towards the ropes, limping.
            The video blogger from the locker room provided the commentary.
            “Well . . . There’s nothing one can really say. Who are these sacks of shit? Could this be the unsinkable and incredibly fast Mike Hagen? Could this be the nimble Molimo? They look like parodies of themselves. These are no bearsthese are teddies at best, still crashing after their last party. My opinion, ladies and gentlemen, is that we have witnessed a swindle of some sort. Characteristically enough, no producer would provide a reply to any of my questions. These two dark horses have turned into two dirty corrupt secrets.”
            Afterwards, the video cut to a scene with Khabib’s reaction to the short and pathetic fight. The Russian fighter laughed and said he hadn’t had as much fun in a long time. Then he grew serious and said that drugs had destroyed many talented athletes, finally wishing Hagen and Molimo to get over their problems and get back into the ring.
            “So that’s how it goes, bro,” Gonzalo said as he put his phone away. “All right, let me call the doctor—he has a lot to explain to you.”
            Gonzalo exited the ward. Uncle Peter’s worried face appeared from behind the open door, but the doctor, who was just coming in, asked him not to come in.
            So, now even Hagen’s uncle would consider his nephew an addict.


            The doctor showed Hagen his clipboard with X-rays and tables of some sort.
            “I should tell you some good news right away—you’re an amazingly clean athlete. No traces of any narcotics have been found in your blood. You haven’t even been taking any of the legal ones.
            “Why do you think I took any drugs in the first place? We were checked before entering the ring, after all.”
            “Nobody knows what may have happened, or why both fighters could have changed so much. There were versions implying sabotage—it has been allege that someone might have poisoned you or added tranquilizers to your drinking water . . . None of the versions cut the mustard.”
            “So, did you find one that did?”
            The doctor opened a table on his clipboard.
            “What happened was an unprecedented degradation of your physical condition. I don’t know how to explain it, but take a look at your statistics for today and for two days ago. Your muscle mass has been reduced almost by half. In fact, it is incredible, but you have even grown shorter. There is no existing medical explanation. I wouldn’t have believed it, but I took those measurements myself.”
            Once Hagen tried to read the statistics in the table, he got a headache. He put away the clipboard.
            “Doc, could you give me a painkiller, please?”
            “Mike, you are the only fighter I know that has strictly forbidden me from giving you painkillers. And I’ve seen you often enough after fights with horrendous bruises and even broken ribs. But you could take it, and everything would heal incredibly fast every time. As for now . . .”
            “Doc, my head is killing me!” Mike howled out.
            While the medic was rummaging around in a drawer, Hagen once again looked towards some spot above the doctor’s Isaac Hayes-like head, with just a fringe of grey hair around it. Did he expect to see a hint of some sort there?
            The doctor gave him an injection, and the pain went away. Hagen fell down onto his pillow. Once the agony abated, he asked,
            “What’s happening to me, doctor?”
            “I have no idea!” the doctor said in an unexpectedly mirthful voice. “It’s absolutely out of the ordinary, Mike! I have seen your medical chart, and if we don’t consider your physical condition’s sudden degradation, you’re absolutely healthy. Well, as healthy as a year ago, that is. A little concussion after the knockout has got nothing to do with it.”
            “Does that mean I can get back to fighting, then?” Mike was overcome by a rush of inexplicable optimism once his head hurt no more.
            “Uh . . . You might have, had they let you.”
            “But . . .”
            “Just get healthy first, and then you’ll decide if you want back. Do you remember how the fight ended? If I were you, I’d have a rest—go to a beach, or a casino, maybe. Forget about fighting for a while, at least.
            The doctor let Hagen know they would say no more about that, but didn’t leave the ward.
            “There’s another thing, Mike. I’m sorry to tell you this, but Luke Lucas refused to pay your hospital bills, so you’re the one who’ll pay them.”
            “Come again? Why?”
            “Sorry, but I have nothing to do with that. I just wanted to inform you of it.”
            The doctor gave Hagen a cheerful smile as he departed.


            Physical anguish became replaced by the anguish of the soul. It would be about money, wouldn’t it? Damn, he had staked nearly everything he had on his victory! And Gonzalo has made his bets, too, likewise Wei Ming and Uncle Peter. Fuck. Uncle Peter even convinced his vet friends to take part in the affair—Mike remembered vaguely that even Chuck Morrison was convinced to place a bet.
            Nevertheless, the invincible Mike “Björn” lost in the most mysterious and preposterous manner, but lose he did. All his career became rendered to a short video that went viral on YouTube. When Gonzalo showed him his phone, he saw that the number of views had six digits in it.
            His plan had been to become a great fighter. He became an object of great ridicule instead.
            The fact that Molimo didn’t fight well, either, was hardly any consolation—at least, the Mative American had managed to win. On the other hand, it was odd why Molimo himself fought like a newbie.
            The painkiller’s effects set in, and Hagen got lost in a convoluted trail of thought resembling a daydream. He felt as though he were on an unknown planet himself.
            However, this time there was no fighting and no monsters—just an empty field and the ruins of some futuristic construction lik by an enormous crimson ball of an alien sun about to disappear behind the horizon.
            Hagen instantly recalled the analyst’s words. Could it be that he no longer had to fight when there were no monsters anymore? Could sunset be the symbol of Hagen losing to his own unrecognized monsters?
            The thoughts of the analyst eventually brought Hagen to thoughts about money. They weren’t happy thoughtshe had none. He did indeed receive some money from Mr. Riggs, an old cop working as a security officer at the same shop as Mike and Wei Ming. That time, Riggs managed to get Mike compensated for thirty grand representing his interests for emotional distress. However, Mike had bet all the remaining funds on his own victory.
            The motel and the gym were paid for by Luke Lucas, who had considered him a fighter with a future who would eventually return the investment. Well, he didn’t.
            His painkiller-addled mind went through the sequence of all the months spent in Las Vegas training, fighting, and training again. He kept on winning. He would sometimes lose, but he would win more often. And it was Hagen’s big head that caused him to convince his friends to bet as much as they could on him.
            Gonzalo didn’t have to be asked twice—he was always ready to take a chance. Wei Ming objected, though. He kept telling Mike he didn’t believe in gambling.
            Mike’s arrogant reply the last time was, “Do you believe in me?”
            Wei Ming didn’t deny it. “I kinda do,” he said.
            “Then pay it no attention and wager it all! I’m sure of my victory!” Mike exclaimed, patting his friend on the shoulder.
            Given that Mike would most often win, Wei Ming eventually allowed Mike to convince him and agreed reluctantly.
            So what could have happened?


            Hagen woke up. Uncle Peter stood in front of his bed, with Wei Ming behind him, and Gonzalo not far behind. The morning light filled the hospital ward.
            “Mikey, could you please explain what happened?” his uncle asked again. “The doctor said you were dying.”
            Since Hagen was yawning at the time, he froze just like that, with his jaw dropped.
            “Uncle, I’m nowhere near dead. I’ve just had my physical parameters decline.”
            “Is that any better?”
            Hagen wanted to reply. He looked at all of his friends. The first time in a long time he was close to tears. Imagine letting everybody down like that.
            His friends must have read his feelings loud and clear, since everybody started to reassure him and say money was their least concern.
            “I’ll earn a lot more. You can make money out of thin air in Las Vegas. I have found two new fighters, and I am about to expand my business,” Gonzalo claimed.
            “I can find a part-time job at a Chinese restaurant,” Wei Ming said curtly. “Also, Gonzalo offered me to join his team.”
            Hagen’s uncle just waved his hand and patted him on the head the way he did when his nephew was little. And this was considering that he must have lost the most, having re-mortgaged a house he had paid full mortgage for.
            Hagen had plenty of words of kindness and gratitude to say to everyone, but he could only manage a few simple words of politeness.
            “Thank you . . . Is there any chance of spending some time on my own?”
            Wei Ming simply nodded and exited.
            “Hey, bro, were you thinking we’d spend the rest of the day babysitting you?” Gonzalo said with contrived joviality. “We’re all busy men here.”
            He dropped a mobile phone and a set of keys on Hagen’s bed.
            “I have brought your phone and driven your car over.”
            Before exiting, Gonzalo told Mike,
            “Olga was saying hi.”
            “Where is she?”
            “She has gone back to Russia or wherever; her competition is over.”
            “Ukraine, not Russia.”
            “Same difference.”
            Gonzalo went out, while Hagen’s uncle moved to a chair, saying,
            “As for me, I’m not going anywhere.”
            Hagen sat down upon the bed.
            “Uncle. Do you remember the time you returned from Iraq?”
            “When would that be? I served their twice, and came back both times, har har. The first time was in nineteen ninety . . .”
            “When I was little,” Mike interrupted impatiently.
            “You’ve always been little. To me, you’re still a young lad.”
            “That’s not what I’m talking about. Will you please listen? Do you remember the family dinner in celebration of your return? The time you stood up and walked out?”
            Hagen’s uncle frowned.
            “But how does this relate to . . .”
            “Look, I want to stay on my own now, too. Can you understand it? Just the way you did that time.”
            Uncle Peter stood up, looking offended, walked out, and shut the door behind him without saying a single word.

Once Mike unblocked his phone, he found a bunch of unread messages and letters. Some of them needed to be answered immediately. He opened his messenger and found the message from his promoter, which he mulled over a few times.
            Lucky Luke:
            I don’t know what underhanded game you might be playing, son, but you have gone too far. They used to kill people for less back in my day. I advise you to stay out of my sight. I don’t need your bullshit excuses; everything’s clear. Just remember one thing: you won’t ever fight again for as long as I’m alive, and I’ll stay alive for a long, long time—much longer than a bastard like you.
            Another thing: any business relationship that we may have had is over. My attorney will take care of reclaiming everything I’ve spent on your ungrateful ass. Have a bad day.
            This was followed by the app’s notification saying this user had blocked Hagen and that no reply would be possible.
            Mike nearly let the phone slip out of his hands. What the hell was that? What had he done? He had only lost a single battle. It was bad, sure, but considering how many times he had won before, it would fall into the category of statistical error. Could that be the reason for so much animosity?
            He spent a few hours trying to reach Lucas via third parties, sending a dozen of messages to whoever he could reach. However, the only thing he managed to learn was that he’d managed to piss off nearly the entire clique of promoters and not just Lucas.
            Hagen opened his fighter’s profile at some unofficial site, feeling desperate.

Mike Björnstad Hagen
Nickname: Björnstad
Style: boxing, kickboxing, punching, resilience
Victories/Defeats/Draws: 12/1/0.
Age: 30
Height: 5.5 ft.
Weight: 152 lbs.
Arm span: 6 ft.
Leg span: 3.3 ft.

            Obviously, the statistics only involved Hagen’s fights in the preliminary contest.
            He shuddered as he recalled the fights in the wooden ring back in the prison. Compared to those, mixed martial arts had a very strict code. How could he have survived it all? He’d been very lucky that Blinky Palermo who had run that prison and intended to destroy Mike in the wooden ring fell prey to a heart attack—otherwise, he would never have left the prison. Fortune was on his side sometimes, after all. Yet he had no wish to revisit the experience.
            Hagen checked the data from the doctor and came to the conclusion that, odd at is might seem, his body had reverted to roughly the same shape it had before he had started on martial arts.
            He rose from the bed, assumed the standard boxing stance in front of the mirror, and looked at his reflection in the mirror skeptically, hospital attire and all—it seemed that the positions of his arms and legs were OK. Mike suddenly remembered how Ochoa, his old coach, used to teach him to “breathe” with his hands. Nothing has changed since.
            Hagen threw a few punches, but he instantly became sweaty, his limbs leaden. Could he have gotten tired so quickly? His heart throbbed so hard it felt it could leave his chest any second, but he wouldn’t need any opponents now, anyway.
            He heard the door open. The doctor entered the ward. He gave a throat cough as he saw his patient in a battle stance.
            “Impatient, eh? Never mind, you’ll be out in a few hours. But I strongly advise against sports. You can jog a little, or do some yoga. But forget about anything along the lines of boxing or karate.”
            Hagen sat down on his bed.
            “Have you found out about what could have happened to me?”
            The doctor moved his chair closer to the bed and sat down opposite his patient.
            “Mr. Hagen . . . Uh, Mike . . . I have to confess that nothing like this has ever happened in my practice before.”
            “Anybody else’s practice, then?”
            “Perhaps, and perhaps not. That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.”
            The doctor proceeded to offer Hagen to participate in a special clinical program offering free checkups and treatment for patience with cases unknown to science.
            “I don’t get it,” Hagen looked surprised. “How are you going to treat me if you don’t have a diagnosis?”
            “We shall experiment, collect data, and look for approaches . . .” the doctor went on monotonously.
            “Does that mean I’ll become your guinea pig?” Mike interrupted him.
            “You don’t have to put it in that way . . .” The doctor looked embarrassed for a moment. “Although you could put it that way. However, you receive compensation for your participation in the program.”
            Mike didn’t think long. The experimental program wouldn’t cover all his medical expenses, but he would at least owe less. Hagen signed the contract without thinking too long.
            Once the doctor was out, Hagen grabbed his phone and took another look at his boxer’s stats at the site. Weight, skills, victories and the like resembled the stats of a video game. But there was something else. What else could it be?
            He couldn’t remember.

Release - December 9, 2019

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