A Transient Visitors Very Tiny Tale by David O’Boyle
Barnes marched five paces out from the boxcar lodged against the subway tunnel wall, then he dropped his duffel bag packed with steaks and bent down to unsheathe the nearest railroad spike from its ballast hole. As the carved teeth in the bottom portion of the steel indicated upon its exit from a sleeve in the ground, this was no longer a railroad spike.
It was a key.
Barnes jigged the key into the boxcar keyhole until it unlocked. The door, now ajar, opened into a corridor that led underneath the current level of tunnels. Barnes followed the corridor to a large room with dimensions like a school gymnasium. The only lights inside hung from the central ceiling beams, the result being a spotlight effect on the gravel ring taking up the middle of the room.
Everywhere else was darkness.
“Barnes, out of the way,” George yelled from the cab enclosure of his forklift. The frantic tone of the maintenance man was caused by what he was carrying. A large hairy hominid, twice the bulk of a guerilla and double the height of a standing grizzly bear, paced in a cage above the carriage, anticipating his exit into the ring. Meet Mucho. Reigning champ.
After George lowered Mucho’s cage to the ground and released his forks from its cargo, he passed Barnes again, this time to pick up Gus, the challenger.
Gus was another subspecies of sasquatch, smaller than Mucho, but blessed with an exceptional tapetum lucidum, an eye feature that enhanced his night-vision. Given this feature, Gus saw Barnes sitting alone in the darkest perimeter of the quasi-gymnasium, ass-out on an old loose railroad tie, when nobody else did. Barnes seemed to know the squatch was watching him, for he made some manual body articulations back in Gus’s direction.
Gus watched Barnes in his peripheral until the bell sounded and the cage doors swung open, sending Mucho charging.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
One heavy blow after another hit Gus like cannon fire, sending the undersized squatch out of the ring and into the darkness. His pride kept him coming back for another pounding, sometimes from Mucho’s fist, other times from kicks, elbows, or knees. Yet the repetition bored the champion. Mucho grew frustrated. Tired of waiting for Gus to come to him, he went to Gus in the darkness.
Thankfully, the champion’s pursuit of the challenger in darkness did not impact the visual experience of the spectators. The drone following the fighters and live-streaming the event worldwide had night vision capabilities. On camera, the light to dark transition was barely noticeable.
The same couldn’t be said for Mucho.
The giant hominid, becoming more bold and more reckless with every step away from the gravel ring, started to see very little. Soon his only reference point, his only guiding light, came from the ring, which was fast becoming a fading star. Beginning to get desperate, Mucho started swinging his massive arms around like a peasant cutting grass with a scythe, hoping more with every second that his huge fists would clip Gus one too many times and end the match by knockout.
It didn’t work out that way.
Eventually, Mucho did find Gus. When he did, the challenger easily ducked and barrel-rolled away from the punches upon him, grabbed a railroad spike, and jammed it into the champion’s foot. While Mucho struggled to spring loose, Gus reached for something bigger. Leaning against the wall was a steel rail, double the size of a baseball bat. Gus picked it up and whacked Mucho’s head like a ball on a tea. Two swings later, the undefeated champion’s brains were soup in a bowl of gravel.
Shock struck the digital world. Gus was the new champion of the “No Disqualifications, Gladiatorial Rules” division of the “Big Foot Fight to the Death League” (BFFTDL).
Winning didn’t make the sasquatch happy. No large hominids care for fighting. A gentle race, they do the deed because they are forced to, because they have no choice. Barnes, who also hated the BFFTDL, felt the same way about his own position as head veterinarian of the league. In vet school, he believed the foremost expert on sasquatches had options beyond being a glorified cut man for the BFFTDL. How naïve.
“You feeling okay?” Barnes signed to Gus as he brought over the first round of steaks from his duffle bag. Such signing was done in an encrypted sign language that Barnes developed and only the two of them knew.
“I’ll be better when I’m studding,” Gus signed back in their subtle encrypted language.
“Point taken. I’ll go talk to management,” Barnes signed back as he turned to walk away.
Gus grunted, making Barnes face the new champion once more.
“Thanks for the spike,” Gus signed. “And the rail.”