Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ladies and Savages

The circus is a tradition of Western culture which has been lost mainly due to tightening laws and labor unions. It isn't respected in modern days to hunt exotic animals for pay or for sport, to steal from mothers their young and profit on the pitiful, lonesome beasts. It isn't appreciated to scour the land in search of fools and freaks who'll sign their lives away in exchange for a little food and water. No, these things are not tolerated. Not by the law, and not by the law-abiding. But in the underworld the trade is lively.

Spotlights shone, blinding Brrda. Iron cuffs carved at the swollen rings on his ankles and wrists. Salty trails stained his face, but there were no tears left to shed. Bruises and sores covered his body from head to toe. His lip was still split from the day prior. Sweat poured off his naked flesh, pooling on the concrete floor below. It splattered loudly, but the sound was drowned out by the screaming above and all around.

Though he'd lived in the jungle and eaten the raw meat of many beasts, Brrda found himself to be in the presence of savages. They cheered and called, pelted him with small, burned seeds and spat on his cheek if they could. They stank of rotten fruit and soiled cloth on one side of the stadium, and a painfully sweet aroma that made Brrda cough on the other. Their eyes were sharp and bright, like those of snakes spotting a mouse.

Brrda grinded his teeth. These people were not like him. And for that he was glad.

At last the man all dressed in red and black and wearing the extremely tall hat appeared from behind his curtains. A light fell upon him as he crossed the arena, holding the strange wired device to his lips. He spoke as he had several nights before, but Brrda still understood little. What the man's audience heard, though, were these words:

"Ladies and gentleman, I'm glad that you're here. Tonight is a special night. Tonight marks the end of the first week for our newest member. Just who is that, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you. He's stronger than any normal man; able to break stones in the palm of his hand. He has no restraints, besides the chains which bind him, and if we let him loose, well... none of you would get out alive. Ladies and gentlemen, presented before you is the brutal, the ruthless, the savage Ape-Man!"

They cheer. "Ape-Man! Ape-Man!" They cheer, like a pack of angry chimps.

"Tonight is a special treat for you all, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight we will match the savage might of the Ape-Man against the unstoppable, the mightiest man this side of Mexico, able to withstand even the toughest of bullets, the Ox-Man!"

Something wasn't right. The man had gone on for longer than usual. Brrda looked about warily. Where was the man who brought lash to Retsis? It was time for he to appear, to make the Secland Tiger leap through flaming loops. Where—?

At once there was coolness to soothe his sore wrists. The floor came up, but he greeted it happily. Concrete and dirt, grit beneath his fingers and between his toes. His eyes flicked to the man in the hat. Was this release? Was he free? His eyes flicked to the audience. They were cheering, jumping like rabid wolves. More excited than they'd ever been. My release would not excite these beasts, Brrda thought.

Too right, was he. The grit danced beneath his fingers. Something large was approaching—approaching from behind. At once Brrda leapt, tumbling away from his post and its chains. Just in time as a beastly shaped barreled past. It was a man, but not one like the others. He was large, much larger than even Brrda. And large by all accounts. He was clad in black and silver and roared like an animal, stringing bile off his lips. He charged again, rushing for Brrda with fury in his step.

The Savage Savior braced himself for the impact, but it wasn't enough. Pain rocked him as he soared away. The back of his head met something hard, a rainbow of colors splashed before his eyes. He was in the air before the nausea subdued, held high by the meaty fist of the Ox-Man. And then through the air again, skidding across the ground. The dirt tore at his lips. The corner of his mouth split. Grains tore at his eyes.

"Enough!" Brrda shouted, but all the people heard was a roar. He lept to his feet, tried to focus his sight. Splotches of red formed on the floor. The Ox-Man charged. He charged stupidly, head-first like a horned beast. Only he had no horn, and he was but a large man.

Brrda let loose with a fierce punch. He felt bones crack beneath his knuckles, but he did not care. The Ox-Man began to topple, his whole body dragged from the head by the force of Brrda's fist. But that was not all Brrda had in store for this monster. He lashed out with his left, stopping the man's descent and forcing him the other way. Then out with the right again, back towards the left. Right, left, pow, crack. The man's jaw had almost certainly become dust. A blow to the forehead, driving the Ox-Man back. His feet left the ground, he toppled down with a crack. Brrda's fists were sore and bloody, but it was mostly not his own.

The audience exploded for a minute, but became silent when Brrda glared their way. He bellowed a terrible, furious roar and dashed on all fours for the arena wall. The people shouted as he hopped up to meet them, narrowly avoiding the ropes of the clowns which had rushed out from backstage. He could have crushed them easily, by these beastly bystanders were not his prey.

He dashed atop the wall, circling the arena, eyes narrowed hard on the man in the hat. Brrda took the man in. He knew that the keys to Retsis' cage were looped on his pants, and he knew that the man carried no whip. All the weapon he had was but a large maroon stick, and Brrda would make short work of that.

The Savage Savior leapt from the wall, falling towards his foe. He raised his arms high, puffed his chest out. One swift blow was all it would take to crush the man's skull. But it never landed.

First there was the thud of the stick pushing the air from his lungs, but Brrda was ready for that. Next, though, came the fire. Or it was something like fire. Pain coursed through him, his hair and skin burned. He was blinded by white light. His body twitched and his muscles spasmed. He let out a roar, but this one of pain. A tingling feeling overcame him, starting in his fingers and toes. Then he was on the ground, the dirt and gravel scraping his burned flesh.

In her cage. somewhere out of sight, Retsis began to cry. She had heard the scream and smelled the flesh, and was sure that Brrda would die.

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