1954 A.D., Than Hoa, French Indochina

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This passage is taken from a letter written by Jean Beart Lacoutour, a French businessman living in the former colony.The game is called “Devil Dance.” A living human is placed in a cage with one of these creatures. Our human has with him only a small blade, perhaps eight centimeters at most. . . . Will he survive his waltz with the living corpse? If not, how long will it last? Bets are taken for these and all other variables. . . . We keep a stable of them, these fetid gladiators. Most are turned from the victims of a failed match. Some we take from the street . . . we pay their families well. . . . God have mercy on me for this unimaginable sin.This letter, along with a sizable fortune, arrived in La Rochelle, France, three months after the fall of French Indochina to Ho Chi Minh’s Communist guerrillas. The fate of Lacoutour’s “Devil Dance” is unknown. No further information has been uncovered. One year later, Lacoutour’s body arrived in France, badly decomposed, with a bullet in the brain. The North Vietnamese coroner’s explanation was suicide. 

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