The glare of the lights.
Don’t look up!
The roar of the crowd.
Don’t lie! You can’t even hear it, it’s so loud.
Two men in the ring.
And the light glints off of them.
“Welcome gentles all! Welcome to the home of our mangled monsters, our silvery saints, our clanking killers, our most terrifying warriors!”
With all due respect to the boys in Her Majesty’s Navy.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Oil Pits!”
A wall of shrieking sound.
“Iiiin the right corner, standing at six feet five and weighing in at 303, the champion of Chaplecross, that monster of madness…. Terror Tenamen!”
Harvey Tenamen, father of five. Mother too, since she took off.
“He’s raring for a fight tonight, folks! They could hardly get the blood from Ol’ Pomphry washed off his hands and here he is, back in the ring! Look at those spikes, ladies and gents! Look at those teeth!”
Harvey worked in the coal mines when he was young. There’s a union down there, and they save every man they can. Harvey got out with a replacement back and a new lower jaw and neck. All metal. Metal and debts.
“Aaaand, in the left corner! Standing at five feet eleven and weighing in at 274, our paragon of justice, the king of the ring…. Siiiiir Decapolis!”
Sir Thomas Hawkwell, only we call him Tom. Actually a knight. Or so they say. You ask him about it, he’ll just shake his head.
“Straight from the crusades in the cities he takes his name from!”
Tommy’s never been to Jerusalem. Nowhere near there, either. But he has been to India. Sometimes, he dreams about it.
“His righteous fists of steel are here to seal the The Terror away!”
His fists are iron. Both of them. So are his arms, up to the shoulder. No wonder he dreams about it, yeah?
“Ladies! Gentlemen! Can we have a warm welcome for our contestants this evening?”
Cover your ears, ladies and gents! Cover your ears and scream!
“Aaaand there’s the bell! The Terror is right out of his corner, got those fists up! Polished his gauntlets this afternoon, see how they shine!”
They’ve got spikes on them, little bumps of ripping metal.
“Isn’t that lovely! Throws a left, throws a right!”
Harvey is always in a hurry. Big flaw there. If he gets you down in the first couple of seconds, you’re down. But he gets tired, fast.
“And Sir Decapolis is under and to the side! Decapolis under again as the Terror throws another! Sharp jab under, under, but Sir is backwards!”
He just steps out of the way, easy as that.
“And his first punch of the evening! Left, right, right, throwing right! Flashing like lightning, folks!”
No. Lightning doesn’t glow so brightly. Ever seen a kingfisher swoop? Flashing like that. “Terror takes them!”
Harvey doesn’t have time to dodge. Wouldn’t anyway.
“Hear that screeching! Metal on metal folks, and aren’t you glad they’re made of steel!”
They are not made of steel.
“Terror striking out! Full flying left, and Sir Decapolis takes it to the side! He’s tumbled up against the ropes!”
Do not forget. They are not made of steel.
“Terror is a full six inches and thirty pounds over him folks, should’a seen that coming! Sir is getting up, here comes Terror, throwing another one! Sir is under it! He’s under! And another jab from Sir to the jaw! They break from the ropes! Circling now! Sir Decapolis is really enjoying those jaw hits today! Having trouble breaking the habit, maybe.”
Maybe. Just watch.
“Of course they don’t do anything against The Terror, folks!”
Hallelujah, a pause!
The two men of flesh circle each other. Harvey’s already breathing heavy, deep and controlled, but heavy. Tom’s bleeding from the side, but he tumbled, and the damage… well, it won’t put him down. His eyes are brittle, and the light is caught in them. Like twin stars, dying.
“And Terror ducks in and swings! Sir is under again, taking advantage of that height difference! Jabs him in the stomach! Ohho! Did not see that coming, folks! The Terror didn’t either, he’s going backwards now! Sir gives it to him again, and the Terror ducks! Sir jabs out, left, right, right!…”
They’ll be at this for a while. Two minutes and fifty three seconds, all counted. Been fifty so far. Shall we skip ahead a bit?
“Swings again! And Terror is down! Shouldn’t have blocked his chin again, folks! Solid blow to the forehead there with Sir Decapolis’ fists of steel! And the ref has counted three! And the ref has counted four! I don’t think he’s getting up, folks, he went over backward like a log! Ref has counted six! Seven! Eight!…”
You get the point. But this is the bit you need to know:
“He’s knocked out folks, The Terror has been defeated! Sir Decapolis is the winner!”
Wanna know what they don’t say?
Here: “Don’t worry about the Terror folks, that man there is the medical staff! Yes, we’ve got a medical staff here in The Pits, and he’ll do fine! The Terror hasn’t opened his eyes yet and you know what that means! They’re rolled back in his head like marbles made of high quality beef. That’s his eldest son there, in the front row, slipping under the ropes. He’s a good boy. Got a taste for trouble coming. Hasn’t been wrong yet. The Terror’s still not waking up folks, and his breathing has gone wonky. The doctor is taking his pulse, and they’re taking the Terror into the back, no one wants to do resuscitation on the floor, and now the crowd is coming on to the ring, because we never have enough security in this rat-hole.”
One, two, three. Breathe. One, two, three. Breathe.
“It ain’t working, folks! Hear that crack, that’s the Doc breaking one of The Terror’s ribs. That little girl, next to The Terror’s oldest son? That’s his little daughter, and what the hell is she doing here? She’s got his hand pinned, but it isn’t moving. The Terror’s heart has stopped, folks. There’s the Doc, shaking his head.”
You said you wanted to know.
They told us later.