Cockatrice

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Over the summer, I took a trip to India and saw some very bizarre things. One such thing was a very large bird that resembled a chicken that I saw in a schoolyard. Yes, I found a cockatrice surrounded by schoolchildren.

At first, I only saw a dark blur of feathers. On closer inspection, I saw its long, lanky legs as it lurched around in the dirt. They were scaly: almost reptilian in appearance. Colossal daggers stretched out from its slender toes. Its tail feathers flowed behind it like an elegant, royal cloak. Then I found my attention drawn to its face of dark crimson. A crown of scaled flesh adorned the top of its head. This creature was a good two and a half feet tall. A small cluster of normal chickens, dwarfed by its ungodly stature, surrounded the majestic beast.

The truth behind this bird is not as romantic as I had first thought. I asked an English-speaking Indian what this beast was. It turns out that it was actually a fighter cock: a rooster bread for combat against other fighter cocks. This was not something you would normally see in America, especially not in a schoolyard. It made me think of the difference between so-called “civilized” parts of the world and those less “advanced.”

These people had no problems sending two roosters to fight to the bloody death with their sharp talons, but we have had similarly brutal spectator sports in “modern” society for centuries. In Rome, they pitted gladiators against one another in fights to the death. They also threw Christians into an arena with a not-so-cuddly lion as company.

Nowadays, while we don’t actively watch deadly sports, we still watch men who devote their lives to training their fists to smash others’ faces, to fight until the other can’t get up. We may have moved on from blood sport, but our insatiable bloodlust has not been satisfied.

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