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Split Decision by David Perlmutter

Split Decision

by David Perlmutter
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Page 1

I.

Jody Ryder wiped the beads of perspiration that had gathered on top of her pelt, sighed, and tried to prepare herself for the next round of the latest athletic contest she had become embroiled in. As the star athlete of Hudson High School—and a heroic, super—powered, teenage canine robot to boot—such things were not uncommon to her. Most often, she was able to walk away from them, bloodied but unbowed, due to her remarkable power, manifested in her swift and agile physique and intelligent yet artificial positronic brain. Today would be no exception.

What was an exception was that she was not playing one of the sports where her combination of speed, agility and strength would have been of greatest assistance to her—football, rugby, field and ice hockey or gymnastics (all of which she lettered in, by the way), but a slightly more genteel sport also requiring these abilities for success. Tennis.

Her opponent, a green skinned alien being resembling a humanized pterodactyl (as much as Jody and the majority of the audience resembled—and were—humanized dogs), had tested Jody to her limits that day. Each of them had won one set, and the games had been fierce enough to tear the covers off most of the balls on the court—necessitating a rain-delay type halt in the middle of the match to fetch another full case. Jody, who in her robot hero guise could lift thousands of pounds of Earth’s green land with her paws, was the main cause of this, although her opponent was certainly no pushover in the power department. She, as an exchange student at Hudson’s great rival for athletic supremacy in the city of Hugopolis—Clinton—had torn up the courts as much as Jody had, and had made their inevitable clash in the finals here and now something to be anticipated. Despite this, but very much in synch with the genteel behavior of the sport, there had been no McEnroe-style trash talking or temper tantrums aimed at the ref. Jody, in particular, was too good a sport to resort to such things. If the athletes felt any sense of intimidation or rivalry with each other, it was something they had deliberately chosen to keep to themselves.

It had been, as already noted above, a vicious and tightly fought match nonetheless, but the tooth and claw fight was coming to an end. In this final set, Jody had taken control early, and blazed her way across it. Now, she needed only one more game to secure victory, and a paralyzing hush had come across the velodrome where the game was being played, as everyone was anticipating Jody’s next move. She had, after all, control of the ball, and the game could not proceed until she chose to act.

Jody acted.

Having wiped the artificially produced sweat off her orange and white pelt, adjusted her red headband beneath her large, overly canine ears, and smoothed out the dress whites she was wearing, she raised her racquet with the ball against it upright.

“Service!” she said softly, so her opponent would be aware that the game was commencing again, and promptly fired the ball powerfully at her.

For the next few minutes, they knocked the ball around with athletic grace, lob backed by smash, smash backed by lob, until Jody’s opponent grazed the net and caused the ball to bounce back onto her side of the court. The audience applauded politely, and Jody, knowing victory was now in sight, let down her guard slightly.

That was a mistake.

Her opponent, seemingly sensing the change in approach, blasted the ball back at Jody three successive times, causing her to win the game. Jody looked at the scoreboard—and loudly gasped. Her opponent was only one game away from tying her—and another from taking the set and defeating her!

Knowing this, Jody tightened up. In the last possible game of the set, when the ball came back at her, she struck back. With a powerful stroke of musculature reminiscent much more of DiMaggio or Mantle than King or Navratilova, she struck the ball so hard that it flew out of the velodrome and directly into Earth’s orbit, leaving both her opponent and the audience stunned and Jody mortifyingly embarrassed. Even she could be embarrassed about how strong she was, especially since she, unlike them, was fully aware of how enhanced abilities were as much a deficit as an asset in gaining and keeping friends.


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About the Author

David Perlmutter

David Perlmutter is a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Story Discussion

Stories by David Perlmutter

Split Decision by David Perlmutter

Split Decision

He was a male dog like Sam himself, but there the similarities between them ended. The stranger’s fur was white, as opposed to Sam’s light gray, and he was both taller and more powerfully built than the Hudson High cheerleader. This meant that Sam would likely lose if he chose to fight him—though Sam was not much of a fighting guy, anyway. But what was most odd to Sam was the stranger’s dress—a cape, speedo and boots, all red, with a white “R” insignia prominently displayed on all of them. At first, Sam wondered if his reputation had preceded him, and that this was a member of his “tribe” (as Jody had called them) who was after the particular brand of “loving” only he could conceivably supply. But that idea quickly passed—Sam knew full well that his “kind” didn’t advertize themselves that flamboyantly in public. Only beings who mocked them publicly, in the subtle racist fashion of the times, did that. So Sam decidedly to deal with this fellow purely based on what he clearly was: an invader of his personal sanctity.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “And how did you get into my house? I have a deadbolt!”

“I expected that from the likes of you,” answered the stranger curtly. Then, in mocking stereotypical “gay” tones, he added: “Even though you’ve likely seen some royalty in your time, huh? Just not me, sugar—not ‘til now!”

“And you are?” Sam prompted angrily.

“Remus The Twenty-Third,” came the reply, as the stranger switched back to his normal, commanding heterosexual tone of voice. “I’m the King—KING, mind you—of a little plot of land way out there in the farthest regions of space. Some place that you could only dream of visiting!”

Sam, calling on his speed in place of his limited strength, tried to rush past Remus and escape him, but Remus caught him mid—sprint, and, with a powerful thrust, threw him backwards into a conveniently placed chair, from which the seemingly invincible monarch continued to pontificate down towards the secret agent/cheerleader, whom he clearly regarded as a very inferior being.

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