How we think the fight will go
She could be anywhere—streaming through the hot arterial streets of New Delhi; blanked out in a hotel room in Memphis; dead-alive on the operating table in Chiba City; under the television sky of the Sprawl. That it is Suvudu Stadium—whatever, wherever it is—and not a sweatbox basement in Camden Town or a blood-warm back alley in Bangkok, means nothing to Molly Millions.
Because it is the same everywhere—outside, the white noise, raw-edged and patternless, of human voices, human presences; inside, only the silicon-smooth silence of the blades tensing beneath her burgundy nails.
And the crowd is there and not there, too. Even those physically present are dim and dispersed, floating in the Matrix like spirits in the Aether, watching through flipcams, burbling into the datastream. The rest of the audience is an absent presence, an invisible, unblinking Argos watching the fight through omnipresent screen eyes.
Only Gollum, on his knees in the mud, so frightened he cannot breathe, is completely present, body and soul. Only he feels and sees and senses everything keenly, the heat of the sun on his back; the fetid stench of the crowd’s anticipation; the endless emptiness of her black jacket. Because he knows he is facing Death in a form even more fearsome than the Crack of Doom: a beautiful woman in black leather and mirrored eyes that reflect his terrified face back at him.
And when he looks up at the crowd, he sees a million eyes, each as pitiless as the Eye of Sauron: They do not care whether he lives or dies. They only want to see blood.
So when Gollum cries out, “Please, please don’t kill us…We loves you always, we promises…” the sound is a shock.
It hurts. Not only because it is a high-pitched shriek. It is small and fragile and cracked with tears. The crowd gasps as one.
He turns to face the audience. “Don’t let her hurt me. We are small and loving and sweet.”
He bats his eyelashes; his eyes are rheumy and gummy. He smiles to reveal six teeth, wet with slime. “We don’t wants to die. We have been so good!” He falls to the ground, exposing a doughy, distended, all-too-vulnerable tummy. “please…please…please…”
The crowd puts down their phones and their cameras; it is both impossible to look away, and painful to watch. They aren’t going to get a thrilling fight, with zero-gravity leaps, bullet-time kills, blasts of gorgeous magic; this will just be a quick, banal, back-alley murder.
It is all too real.
Gollum is actually crawling now, and has his arms wrapped around Molly’s black leather boots. “You are as pretty as Galadriel…” he weeps. “As pretty as my Precious…please…please…”
And now the audience, in the stadium, in the comments thread, has fallen silent, waiting for Molly’s reaction. She has been perfectly still, perfectly silent, the mirrorshade eyes revealing nothing.
Revealing to no one but Molly that she is crying, that the tears, with their bitter, unfamiliar tang, are streaming into her mouth. Revealing to no one the images flashing in her mind behind the shades—the faces of everyone else she has ever killed. Everything she has ever done to survive. Everything that kept her alive in the Sprawl.
They only see her retract the blades. And take out the Flechette pistol from the nylon holster, and quickly, efficiently, with a single shot, put the beast out of its misery.
And then spit out her tears onto the bloodstained ground.
Predicted Winner: Molly Millions
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 10TH, 2011, AT 5 PM, ET
Gollum image courtesy of Nicolas Boyer. Molly Millions image courtesy of *deadinsane.
Tricia Pasternak contributed to this Cage Match