The makeshift arena was made from rusted fencing and rope fishermen once used on the docks. The building housing the arena was a warehouse battered by bombs, and melted glass had solidified into pools inside the building. Murk filled the air both inside and outside the building, and the pollution blocking out the sun only heightened the gloom. There was no clean patron in the arena. Men and women came with their clothes caked in a layer of filth garnered from exposure to the outside. All the faces, regardless of race, were plastered with grey film. Only those who wore a mask sported a clear face.
The audience arranged themselves in neat rows of chairs with different heights and colors, and they were seated based on a simple rule: the strong sit in the front and the others ranked up behind them. Seats were constantly contended until the day of the fights and the rankings were respected until the arena fights were over. As such, burly men and women sat in the first row surrounding the arena. Conversations among the strength-based castes were boisterous and this was amplified by the presence of the facility’s home-brewed liquor.
Donna let the uproar wash over her, she had been in this situation many times over and was no stranger to fighting a man. She sat wrapping her hands with a thin layer of cloth and chanted to herself, “I seek refuge in the perfect words of God from the evil that which He has created.” It was a pre-fight mantra her mother passed onto her, and she, without know what God was, latched onto it. It had given her mom calm before she died, and, Donna realized, brought her serenity as well.
A middle aged man came into the bathroom where Donna was sitting. The man sported a mullet with the sides faded and he had one glass eye that never looked exactly in the right direction. “Donna, it’s time to fight.”