Harrison pressed the buzzer at the night dry cleaners and a voice came over the intercom, “Pick-up or drop-off?”
“Number of items and how many pair of pants?”
“17 and 7”
A buzzer sounded and Harrison entered the small shop. The disembodied voice over the intercom belonged to a small, wrinkled, bald man who said, “Bets are hot tonight.” The small man pushed a button under the counter. A click was heard on the door to the right. Harrison stepped through it.
It was like stepping into another world. The only feeling similar to it was when Harrison was preparing to repel off of a helicopter in his old war days. It was loud, lots of voices, and clumps of bodies in motion.
Harrison followed the railing along the sunken “battlefield” while a referee below, wearing a black-and-white striped shirt and a whistle in his mouth gesticulated wildly. He found a gap along the crowded railing and leaned in to see the action.
The combatants were resting, held in their small wooden cages by their “managers,” the men who stood to win or lose a fortune in a night based upon their actions.
The referee yelled, “Next match: Kaiju vs. Kraken!”
The two managers stepped into the arena on opposite sides and gave each other their tough confident look as they bent down to put the cages facing each other, six feet apart. When the referee blew the whistle, each man lifted the five-inch wooden slat door of the cage that contained the tiny gladiators. Trained since fresh from their larval metamorphosis to move at the sound of the whistle, the rhinoceros beetles marched forward to kill or be killed.