[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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4. Two - The Payne Family

Death is the end of a chapter, but not the end of a story.”

~ Lia The Cookie

 

 

Vesp brought his open hand before Liam first. The prisoner saw a jumbled mix of the pills – some glowing a blood red, the others a calm blue. He thought a while. Which would be the harder test? You could have anything in a fantasy – from fire-breathing dragons to horse-sized spiders – but how much could one be tested in a reality? Perhaps the Red Pill would be the easier option. He picked the Red from Vesp’s hand, and swallowed it quickly. The members of the Brotherhood gasped as the Apple’s light caused Liam to fade away.

 

“Right,” said Vesp, “How do we test Liam Payne? Are there any suggestions?”

 

Many people shouted some ideas, but none seemed right. Rogue remained silent, again pensively staring out of the window; but standing in the opposite corner was another pensive figure. The Figure hated the fact that Liam shared her surname. She hated the thought of them being even remotely related. He had to be destroyed. Permanently. She stepped forward.

The character had waist-length blonde hair tied back in a pony-tail, and cold blue eyes. She wore a white shirt, a black tie, and matching skirt – all very business-like on the face of it. But a red steak ran down her left leg – a Chinese inscription scrawled neatly within it – and an unmatched pair of socks covering the lower-half of her calves and brown gladiator sandals, with six inch heels, covering her feet. A sheathed stiletto hung from her belt. On a coarse rope tied around her neck, three letters hung to read: Lia.

 

Lia was the Brotherhood’s top inventor; and she had an idea in mind.

 

In the pandemonium and excitement of the debate, Jess said, “It should be something brutal, and ancient. Perhaps have him handed over to the Incas and then they can sacrifice him to whichever horrible god they have.”

“I’ll give you brutal and ancient,” said Lia. Everyone silenced. Louis and Justin looked at each other and shivered. Lia described her idea, and Vesp widened his eyes at the suggestion.

He nodded grimly, “All in favor of Lia’s idea?”

There was a chorus of “Aye”. Rogue still remained silent.

It took her a moment to realize that they all wanted her consent, “Don’t look at me,” she said evenly, “Just pretend I’m not here. You lot have your fun.”

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Liam was in a strange place. It was place that was completely white.

A good sign? he thought hopefully.

Then a number appeared before him. The number changed systematically. He stared at it. It spun and spun, realizing the numbers were becoming less and less. It finally stopped.

135.

And then next to the number ‘BC’ appeared. The whiteness disappeared in an instant, and Liam thought he’d fallen unconscious.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Liam heard voices all around him. He opened his eyes, and what a sight met them! There were people bustling around everywhere. Liam sat up and wrinkled his nose at the smell of sweat and the slightly more familiar stench of soiled hay. He was sitting in a moving cell with jagged wooden bars, and people of varying races and sizes were looking at him funny. The moving cell must have hit a pothole, because Liam jerked and flew through the cell air before he hit the flabby man opposite him. The man cursed in a language Liam never thought he knew, and mumbled his apologies in the same language.

 

Liam raised his eyebrows in shock. Latin. He scrambled back to his original seat, petrified and panting furiously. Where am I? He was in the year 135 BC, that much he knew, but where? Liam noticed the only thing he was wearing was a loin-cloth.

Loin-cloth? Do people even say that anymore?

Still breathing furiously and running his fingers through his sweat-damp hair and self-consciously aware of his frail skinniness; he looked around outside the cell. People were milling around everywhere, and a burst of words that he never thought he knew ran through his head like bullets:

 

Agora. Toga. Senator. Legionaries. Stola. Praetorian. Stylus.

Praetorian? What the hell was that?

Oh, I remember: Caesar’s personal guards... Caesar’s personal guards!? Where the hell am I?

 

Rogue’s warning ran through his mind again, but gulped and realized it was too late to remember that now. He had new memories. A new surrounding. A new language for goodness sake! He wondered what Dr. When and the others were going to do to him, prayed to all the Roman gods [they were the only ones he seemed to know] that the test would be easy. But the constant insistence of the masked woman’s warning running through his head made him want to cry. In English! Regardless of the fact that the language probably didn’t even exist and regardless of the fact that everyone in and around his cell would look at him funny [although, they were kind of already doing that anyway].

 

Liam wrapped his arms around is knees and buried his face in them, listening for a moment at all the wares the merchants were selling. The heat was intense. One man was demanding more wine, another angrily voicing his displeasure at a chipped pot he’d bought minutes ago, and from somewhere someone was either moaning in pleasure or in agony. Liam sighed.

At least they didn’t send me in here as a bloody illiterate. At least I can understand stuff. Will the judges let me off the hook?

Liam sat up in his seat, eyes wide.

Judges? What judges? Oh, crap, what did I do?

It was too late to search for the memory, as the moving cell ground to a halt, and the man behind Liam clicked his tongue and reigned in the beasts that were pulling the cell.

 

A legionary, raised his arm at the man shouted a greeting. The legionary was a tall, broad-shouldered man with a shining gold chest plate and an impressive plumed helmet.

“Which one did ‘e want again?” said the old driver, his toothless mouth speaking painfully.

The legionary pointed and said tersely, “The skinny white one,” a few of the soldier’s accomplices opened the cells door and dragged a very confused Liam out. The legionary paid the old driver a handful of gold coins, and the old man clicked his tongue once again, and pulled the cell away. Without another word, Liam was dragged away by the legionary and his guards. Presumably, to the Forum.

 

Once Liam had quit begging for mercy and pleading innocent [for a crime he still couldn’t quite remember], he sucked up the situation and followed the more powerful, armed men’s lead. Liam reckoned once the judges understood his unfortunate plight, they’d let him off the hook. Perhaps that was the test. He could still pass.

A smile had just formed on ‘the skinny white one’s face, when the legionary [his name was Maximus] grabbed him by the scuff of his neck and [quite literally] threw him in front of a panel of people sitting on quite comfortable-looking chairs. Well, more comfortable than the blistering sand that Liam was kneeling, raising his hands and begging on.

 

A man in the center raised a hand, and the sternness of his face made Liam shut up immediately. He had olive skin, a huge aquiline nose and thin, unsmiling lips. His eyes were an unnerving cold blue. His white toga glowed with power and a thirst for something Liam couldn’t guess. He paused a moment and Liam noticed that the sounds of the bustling agora were drowned out by the man’s silence. Then, as the man began speaking, his shrill nasal voice filled Liam’s ears:

“Liam Payne, you have been charged with several accounts of murder and heresy. You have no right to vouch for yourself, there are several witnesses for the atrocities you have committed.”

 

Oh, crap, crap, crap! thought Liam.

 

He took a deep breath and wore his most winning smile, when he said, “But, sir, I can explain –”

“Didn’t you hear me?” snapped the judge, “You cannot vouch for yourself. You are a criminal. You are here today so that we may decide your punishment!”

Liam soldiered on. He begged and begged, and explained his affair with the Brotherhood and the effects of the Red Pill and every other straw he could possibly clutch at.

 

But Liam was a drowning man.

 

After a moment, surreptitious confusion passing the judge’s face, he said, “So, along with heresy and countless murder, you also plead guilty to treason and witchcraft?! Your crimes are inexcusable! You shall be –”

 

“I’ll buy him,” said Maximus all of a sudden.

 

“You, what?!” snapped the judge.

“I’ll buy him,” the legionary said again, “As my slave, and he’ll serve me. How much do you reckon he’s worth? 100 bits? 200? 500? I’ve got money to burn. I’ll pay anything you want.”

A price was agreed, but Liam didn’t hear anything more. He was astonished that a rough soldier would buy him out of his current state. Maximus dragged Liam away, but there wasn’t much cause to. Liam tarried after the man’s long strides quickly, happier than he’d ever remembered being in his normal life.

“Thank you, master,” he said, genuinely grateful, “Thank you, thank you so much.”

 

Maximus spun around and looked at Liam with mild curiosity. Then he straightened, bending back his head and let out a hearty guffaw, “You really are dumb. Don’t you know who I am?”

The blood drained from Liam’s face, “No,” he whispered.

Maximus laughed again, and the same cold blue eyes stared at him, “Well, you won’t be thanking me for much longer.”

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