[Mock-Fiction] II - Memento Mori

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

The sequel to 'Requiescat in Pace'

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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5. Three - Brutal and Ancient

Death is a deep sleep from which one is not woken from.”

~ J.K. Panesar

 

 

“Oh, come on,” said Maximus, for the last time, “You’ve been caught out for a countless number of murders! All they’re going to throw at you are a bunch o’ starved puppies and other slaves!”

Liam crawled up to his master and tore at the clothes at his knees, crying like a little kid, “But I swear, I didn’t commit any of those murders! I don’t even belong in this country! In this era! Please, please, I’ll serve you for the rest of my life. Clean out your stables. Shine your shoes. Whatever you need. Anything. Don’t send me out there!”

Maximus looked around nervously. The other slaves and masters were staring at the spectacle, mouths agape.

 

“Look, little man, you’re embarrassing me. So quit whining, stand up, put a little dignity in that small chest, and explain yourself. What do you mean you didn’t murder nobody? There’re tons of people who saw you.”

“Look, sir,” said Liam, rising, “I was sent here from another time and –”

“Oh, come on, not this again,” said Maximus, slapping Liam across his face, “You can’t expect a bloomin’ dog to believe that story.”

“But it’s true.”

“No, it ain’t,” said Maximus, folding his arms across his chest, “Now go pick up a gladius and a decent shield, and helmet if you want, and win. I got my money on you, though it’s against my better judgment, so you’d better win. If you lose, you’d better start praying that the crowd doesn’t pity you,” Maximus snarled at Liam as he backed up and did as he was told.

 

There were eight slaves in total that were going to fight in the arena. It was one of those small arenas, the kind you’d go on the weekend with your kids to see the speeches, the clowns, possibly a play, and also a brutal gladiatorial fight to the death. The winner gets a golden wreath and freedom. The loser: dies [whichever way you looked at it in Liam’s case]. He knew the slaves. They were wiry and underfed, like Liam, but they had most likely been trained for years in gladiator schools, unlike Liam. He cursed at his foolishness.

I should have saved all the begging for the Brotherhood, rather than take this stupid test!

 

There was about ten more minutes, and he’d be sent in to face whatever opponent they’d give him. Then he remembered: what if they make me face an animal?

A tiger? A lion? A starved wolf? A tusked warthog?

He shivered again, but he could hear the master of ceremonies announcing in his parade-ground voice.

 

Liam’s name. Liam’s crime. Liam’s heroic master.

Liam’s opponent’s name. Liam’s opponent’s origin.

 

Tiresias. Greek. Gladiator school-boy.

 

Liam felt hot tears run down his face, and warm liquid run down his legs. And Rogue’s voice still found its way through his head. How he wished she’d call him a fool now. He’d agree and beg her to take him back to the present day, where she could shove her Damascus through his brain and end it all. But that was far from happening.

Liam groaned and said: “Liam you’re a bloody idiot for not listening to a woman without a face.”

There was no turning back. Trumpets sounded from somewhere and the wooden doors in front of him opened slowly [but too quick for Liam].

 

The crowd wasn’t big, like they’d show it in the movies. It was a small arena and they all cheered as he stepped onto the fresh sand. The fresh, clean sand that he knew was only there to cover up some unfortunate’s blood. It was there to drain in his blood too. The doors opposite opened and there was more cheering as Tiresias appeared. He was tanned, and not very tall – but, goodness, he was Hench! As Tiresias charged at him, Liam dropped his weapon and shield, and ran for it, around the arena, begging for mercy all over again. He could hear his master’s displeasure from somewhere in the audience, but he didn’t care – as long as Tiresias didn’t kill him for the moment.

 

There was booing and hissing from the crowd, and the master of ceremonies looked sheepishly around. This wasn’t a gory fight to the death. This was a comedy. The people had had their share of laughs already with the clowns. He gave a few more orders and second later, two more doors opened.

 

Liam yelped in fright. Tiresias looked at the two new opponents with an equal amount of fear. One was a rabid wolf [much bigger than they are in the movies] and the other a chained tiger, with a number of scars riddling its body. Both were frothing at the mouth hungrily.

Why does everything that wants to kill me have blue eyes? Liam wondered.

The wolf growled and leapt at Tiresias [as he had more meat on his bones], and the gladiator smashed the dog’s face with his somewhat inadequate shield. The wolf spat out blood and barked at Tiresias, but then his gaze fell on Liam.

 

The skinny white one doesn’t have a sting, it thought.

 

He left Tiresias for the tiger, and bounded in Liam’s direction. He screamed and ducked, as the wolf leapt over him and rolled over in the dust, getting up quickly and snapping its muzzle in fury. The wolf shook the sand off of its body, it’s grey fur rippling in the sunshine, and then leapt at Liam again. He screamed and ran, and then stopped and screamed again. The chained tiger snapped its powerful jaws before Liam, and tried to claw at him as the mechanism controlling the chains held the beast back. Liam ducked out of the way, as the wolf jumped straight at the tiger and the two beasts became tangled in their own fight.

 

Liam spun around quickly, looking from one place to the next. Where was Tiresias? Something sharp entered Liam’s body that made him straighten immediately, and he looked down slowly. A blade was sticking out of his belly. He watching in fascination as the sharp piece of metal cut downwards and his sliced organs fell out one by one. Blood spilled out onto the sand, where it was quickly absorbed, and it sparkled in the sunlight.

 

It really does look like ketchup, he thought.

 

He should have been terrified, but he felt light-headed and he wanted to laugh for a reason he couldn’t quite understand. He was amused. He probably had the most ridiculously stupid smile on his face. He was dying and he was smiling. The blade removed itself and Liam felt a pair of powerful paws pound down onto his back – he didn’t know if it was the wolf or the tiger… probably the tiger, it was heavier – and then, as his body fell onto the blood-splattered sand, sharp teeth [four of them, to be specific] pierced into his skull. A sharp, but dull crack sounded in his dying ears.

 

Liam saw no white light, and he saw no tunnel. The world around him just went black and quiet.

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