Hello everyone ,
I have been recently ( nicely ) reminded that i’m not that active on my blog… i would blame that one the first tome of the Tales Of Enycia I’m currently writing, but still.
I’ve recently won the first place of a contest for the Dark Futures e-zine and the website Writer’s Carnival ( which i strongly recommend if you like to write or read ) . The entry was to be about horror or Sci-Fi , up to 1.500 words and themed about a gathering of people. So without further introduction…here’s the winning piece !
A Man’s Motive
He did not want to fight.
But every man had a reason to fight in the Coliseum.
Tonight, it was Jake’s first fight in the Coliseum. He had watched the show before, once or twice, and always found it excessively violent and unnecessary cruel.
Now, he was there himself and his heart beat a fierce tempo in his chest at the idea of appearing live on TV all around earth and beyond.
He did not come here by choice, and even less out of blood-lust like some contestants. No, he came here only for her.
Jake could still picture her face from the last time he saw her. She looked pitifully emaciated, her golden hair unkempt and dirt-covered. Her eyes were already red and puffy from crying but still tears rolled down her cheeks. Her orange penitentiary suit was hanging loose around her skinny frame, and it pained him to see her like that.
She had killed. A woman and her daughter. Not on purpose, of course, but the alcohol present in her blood at the time of the crash made her guilty. And now, after two months of temporary incarceration she was sentenced to die.
“Help me” she had pleaded when he visited.
He nodded and made to leave, already aware of what he had to do. There was only one place where a man could win anything, from money to someone’s freedom.
And he was there now.
The cries of the public turned into a ground-shaking roar and thunderous applause echoed as his opponent entered. He was clad in a close-fitted black suit and his face was hidden behind a mask of a grinning skeleton. The commentator announced his opponent’s name.
Jake couldn’t help but smile. It was, after all still, a show. One did not pick his name in the Coliseum. When he first started, Grim Reaper was probably called something else. But twenty-five victories in a row will earn you a more fitting name.
Jake was Sergeant. Simple name, one the organizers quickly picked as they went through his military records and witnessed his thirteen years of service in the Luna wars. He wore his old uniform, the grey and white camouflaged suit looking out of place in the arena. They had told him it was good for the audience to look the part.
The fight was about to start, and Jake let his gaze wander as the crowd cheered some more. Both fighters were on opposite sides of a large, circle-shaped arena covered with sand. Above them, more than ninety thousands pair of eyes were riveted on the fighting zone. Jake had to admit it was exhilarating; he could hear his nickname shouted at several reprises. It was emboldening, but also terrifying. Thousands could see him win today or witness his death.
Way above their heads, one luminous globe flashed alive with a buzzing sound. Two more and it was time to kill, or be killed. Jake took out a small silver cross and kissed it, muttering her name. He put it away with care before priming his Sp-22 Varilis-pattern automatic rifle. In the Coliseum, there were no rules. An invisible force field protected the spectators, allowing the contestants to use anything from guns to explosives.
Another buzz resounded, another green light flashed.
Grim Reaper drew a Japanese sword from its scabbard in his back. Almost 3 feet long, the blade of the sword seemed to shimmer with unnatural light. Jake recognized the weapon immediately: It was a monofilament blade, a weapon virtually able to cut through anything.
The last light came on, and Jake raised his rifle and pressed the trigger without hesitation.
A Sp-22 can fire at a rate of thirteen rounds per second. In the first five seconds of the fight, no less than sixty-five armor-piercing slugs rained upon Grim Reaper.
Not one of them wounded him.
As Jake fired frenetically his opponent was swirling his sword by holding the chain just below the hilt. The sword turned at an impossible speed, effectively deflecting every single one of the bullets. Jake heard the charger click empty and immediately reached for extra ammo in one of his belt pouches. Seeing an opening, Reaper threw his sword forward, the chain uncoiling like an attacking snake. The Sergeant barely had time to sidestep as the sword flew straight towards him. The blade neatly slashed the rifle in two and went to embed itself deep in the wall behind, sliding into the wall like a knife into butter.
Reaper pulled on the chain and the katana came free, leaving behind a perfectly clean hole in the concrete wall. Determined not to share his gun’s fate, Jake pounced forward while drawing two short combat knives.
The blades of the knives were covered with micro-teeth made of an alloy of adamantium and diamond. As he brought the weapons down on Reaper, he triggered them live and both roared in unison as their chainsaw-like blades activated. His opponent raised the chain high, pulling it taut between his hands to shield himself. The knives met the chain in a shower of sparks, their teeth rapidly eating through the steel links. It finally gave way and both weapons slashed across Reaper’s torso with equal ease as he couldn’t back away in time.
Cries echoed in the arena as the champion stepped back, a hand on his bleeding breast. It was a shallow, but symbolic wound: Sergeant had drawn first blood.
The hint of a smile appeared on Jake’s face as he leapt on his adversary, unwilling to give him a chance to strike back. Reaper was unnaturally fast, his sword already back in his hands when Jake assaulted him.
The military rained down a flurry of blows on his opponent, each one expertly parried. The noises of the crowd went up with each blow, the audience now rooting for the unexpectedly talented Sergeant.
But Reaper was done playing, and finally struck back with preternatural speed. He swiped low with his weapon and Jake jumped at once, realizing his mistake only too late; His opponent had used the sheared end of the chain as a feint, the blade still in his other hand and ready to strike. In mid-air, Jake couldn’t do anything to avoid the next blow. The blade effortlessly sheared both his legs off, cutting through flesh and bone alike with equal ease.
Blood sprayed over the sand of the arena as Jake fell hard on the ground. A deep silence now reigned in the Coliseum as every observer held their breath, bemused at such a development. Grim Reaper stood still in the puddle of blood spreading under Jake’s maimed limbs as every member of the public stood up to acclaim the still undefeated warrior. Mirroring the ancient roman custom, every spectator lowered his thumb and mercilessly sealed Jake’s fate.
Death to the loser.
Grim Reaper stood above the Sergeant, the former’s feet pinning the latter’s hands down on the red sand. The tip of his blade rested a few inches from the Sergeant’s forehead, and Jake couldn’t help but weep as he realized all was over for him. And for her as well.
“Please,” he begged through teary eyes, “I must save my sister.”
The Reaper shook his head, his grinning skeleton’s face emotionless as he raised the blade to strike. Jake could have sworn he heard a faint “Sorry” before the blade went through his skull.
The man got out of the cab just in front of the hospital , and went straight to announce himself at the front desk.
“Who are you visiting, sir?”
He went up to the room, welcomed by the electronic noise of life-sustaining machinery. As he neared the bed, he couldn’t help but smile as he saw the little girl. She turned her eyes to him.
“Hello daddy” she said.
The girl was afflicted by what was called the “Stein virus”. It would slowly spread through one’s body, paralyzing the limbs and nerves first, then the organs before killing its victim. A cure existed but the operation was ridiculously expensive, and the father could not afford it.
“You’re going to be alright, darling. Daddy made sure of that.”
The girl would have smiled if she could,and only tears in her eyes betrayed her joy.
“I love you daddy” she said with barely moving lips.
“You should rest now. I love you too princess.”
The man rose, and went for the door. Before walking through the exit, he stopped in front of a trash can. His hand fumbled for something in his pocket, and he took out a grinning skeleton mask. Grim Reaper looked at the face he showed to so many people one last time before throwing it away.
He did not want to fight.
But every man had a reason to fight in the Coliseum.