The Champion

The Roman arena on display with the blood of humans and animals on a scorching August day…

we see a massive iron gate rise and out strides two gladiators in armor with killer eyes, ready to find out which one dies…

the blistering heat from the sandy arena floor shimmers on their swords as they walk through the gore and stand before the emperor, listening to the crowd’s roar…

“We who are about to die…” is drowned out by the crowd’s excited cries from spectators with blood in the eyes…

the emperor gives a slight nod and sat down, and the combatants turned around until they faced each other in the open ground, weapons held high, both hoping the other would die…

metal rang against metal in the raging heat, as each athlete refused to retreat so that blood covered each from head to feet while spectators passed out in the terrible heat…

finally one of the men clove open the other’s head, striking him instantly dead, leaving the victor the champion for the day, a title he’d be forced to defend again and again until his last day

****

The Returning Knight’s Story

(Editor’s note: I’m experimenting with a hybrid writing genre combining Flash Fiction/Poetry – let me know what you think. Does it work? Input appreciated – 326 words)

after years he returned from his duty as a crusader in a foreign land, riding a weary war horse in battered and bloody armor, the knight struggled not to think about the terrible things he saw in the Holy Land, where massacres of innocents were common and his soul shriveled watching and participating in…

the sun bore down mercilessly on his and his horse’s rusting armor, and his tortured brain, as he stared from behind unblinking eyes down the long dusty lane, where clusters of cobblestones laid by Roman engineers still existed after hundreds of years, reminded him of the rubble he left behind…

lurking behind his empty eyes was a shadow of recognition that he was once a husband and a father living peacefully in a green valley, where he and his bride were born so long ago, before the Catholic church came by and said he had to go, and defend Christianity for the sake of humanity, or be excommunicated by the church…

that man was just a memory as the knight rode down the road and considered what lay ahead with no emotion like he was dead, but instead he plowed ahead with no plan in mind, no speech to give about his harsh life when he thought about his young wife…

finally the day arrived and the familiar landscape of home rose like a blessing in green rows of trees surrounded by grassy knolls and a farm house at the bottom of the hill ahead, as the knight’s powerful horse picked up it’s gait unconsciously for his master to see his wife standing by a tree…

no Muslim warrior ever wounded the knight so badly

than after talking with her by the tree, when she said she thought he was dead and married again and was happy, with a tear in her eye that he could see, she turned and went back to her new family …

the knight got back on his horse, and rode into history.

***

The Awakening

after a century the first thing I could see

was a replica of me staring with curiosity

we looked at one another

trying to discover

the mystery

it didn’t take long

to understand what was wrong

when I blinked an eye

so did the other guy

and it became clear

I was looking up into a mirror

and there was no reason for fear

but when I stood up

I heard a hidden gear

instead of my heart

there was a moving part

instead of skin

I had something akin

that gleamed in the light

and gave me a fright

until I realized I was still alive

even if my body didn’t survive

The Survivors

-160 words

In the aftermath of the global nuclear war the earth wept toxic radiation, killing the remaining living things slowly and painfully.

Poisonous gases weakened the planet’s struggling species worldwide. Once lush forests were transformed into wastelands. Skyscrapers that once kissed the heavens now reduced to steel skeletons. Human shadows etched on concrete, gruesome portraits depicting their last moment of life.

The human race had finally fought it’s last world war. Chaos reigned as the last vestiges of civilizations turned to dust. History erased with no trace for space explorers from other worlds to see. No record of humanity.

No. The only survivors will not be able to talk with any celestial visitors. They’ll be flattened under surfaces of all kinds, scurrying around and scavenging in dark places unseen by prying eyes. Just like their ancestors for millenniums past. They were built to last. That’s why cockroaches survived man’s follies. They were the one species mankind could not drive into extinction.

My Bangkok Tour Guide

Essay – 246 words

While walking down a street in the Kingdom of Thailand where ex-pats from around the world land, blending seamlessly into the local 1970 economy, I met a young boy with a man’s eyes.

He was probably ten – going onto forty – with worldly knowledge far beyond his tender years. Anuia was a frail street waif with the wisdom of the local marketplace for sale. He promised the best place to stay, my drug of choice, and prostitutes with breathless beauty, if I hired him throughout my stay.

We toured a banana plantation, and a red light district called
Pattaya, with outrageous sex acts they were not even considered risqué in the day. Creedance Clearwater Revival rocked the bars with “Looking Out My Backdoor.” I smoked some of the best weed in my life, comparing it to the Vietnamese strain that made you forget your name.

We watched kick fighter’s knock each other out, only to get up afterwards and respectfully bow to one another. Anuia shared his best curse words to get quick results, and bargained over every transaction like it might be his last. He was shrewd and a survivor, with no parents or family.

The thing that impressed me the most was he was always smiling – except when he negotiated a deal. His smile seemed to defy the life he led. When my time was up, and I had to go, he shook my hand, then turned to greet another group of visitors deplaning nearby.

The Daily Life Run

200 words –

The life and death betting odds are officially released for today’s races:

Trainer’s Notes: Today’s contestants are from the North American continent and are all three-year veterans of the Life Run, which means none have ever lost a race.

Handicapping will be according to international game standards, factoring in weight, height, and skills with multiple weapons.

Announcer: “The first contestant is off! He’s carrying an automatic pistol and what appears to be a 17th samurai sword and has settled into a steady pace.

Just a refresher for any new viewers; there’s four contestants in each race. They take off from the four points of the life circle.

The goal is to get to the center of the circle first and take the antidote for the poison they were all given. As you can imagine, there’s some desperate fighting going on as contestants run into one another in the dark maze tunnels.

Note: Hopefully, future historians will understand why the daily life run is necessary after reading this. The long and the short of it, population control. The daily races are held throughout the planet. The races were agreed upon as a more human (and entertaining) way to cull the population.

Unsung Hero

450 words –

The dim glow of a quarter moon filtered through the curtains and cast shadows on the walls. Walter’s eyes struggled to make out the shifting shapes that pranced across them in a creepy parade.

Were they scenes from his past? Was waiting to die a way to suddenly come into contact with that mystical part of the brain scientists and poets write about? Do revelations reveal themselves before you’re executed?

The promise of a sure death was a blow to Walter’s soul and very being. He knew only hours separated him from the firing squad and eternity. This last night wasn’t for sleep. It was a time to pray. A time to accept one’s fate bravely. It was a time to fight the growing panic that comes when a body is not ready to die.

The idea of being tied to a stake and shot like a target didn’t register with his reality. How could this be? He wasn’t a deserter! They were wrong! The reason he was the only soldier left alive was because he never stopped fighting and the enemy drifted away after two days of fierce fighting. He didn’t run away, and come back to the fort after the battle was over like the tribunal claimed.

It was a case of universal injustice.

The rising sun went from blood red, to orange, to yellow, and finally burst into an azure blue. Not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful day to die.

When he heard gunfire coming from the walls he stopped pacing back and forth in the tiny room they locked him in next to the captain’s quarters. Screams of surprise and pain! A sustained rate of gunfire told him there was an all-out assault on the fort.

The battle lasted all day, finally slowing down at dusk. Walter looked out his shattered window and saw fires burning in some of the buildings across the courtyard. Bodies were everywhere. Legionnaires and Arabs. He could see the front gate were breeched.

He took a chance and climbed through the window. Taking a rifle from the dead legionnaire who was once his guard, he moved cautiously through the courtyard – rifle at the ready. After hours of searching he discovered he was the only survivor. Before disappearing into the desert the Arabs sacked the fort and spiked the two cannons. He scavenged bodies for rations.

Why no one looked in his room during the fighting was a mystery. It looked like his luck had changed.

Two days later a relief regiment arrived and discovered Walter. He told them his story. After a 25-minute trial the captain said “Arrest this deserter! We’ll make an example of him!”