Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Lion Among Men

[It's long. I apologize. You don't have to read it, but I need to store it somewhere.]
As thunder rolled around the pitch black sky, a beast stalked the streets of Rome, dragging his mangled paw behind him and squinting through the deserted streets with half-lidded yellow eyes. His gigantic head slowly swiveled from side to side, searching the darkened alleys for signs of life. Ahead of him loomed an arena, majestically lit with torches, a shining beacon in the night. The beast walked with a limping shuffle, but under his matted, bloodstained golden coat rippled powerful muscles. As he neared the arena, the beast gave a low growl, his bitten ears flattening against his head. He bared his long, pointed teeth and stopped, surveying the huge building through his bloodshot golden eyes. The streets were devoid of life, but everyone locked inside their houses felt a shiver of fear shudder through their body as the beast growled, and those safe in their beds drew their blankets closer.
                After a couple of moments the beast ceased growling and resumed his shuddering walk towards the arena entrance, barely visible through the gloom. A steady rain began to fall, but the water could not cleanse the memory of blood from the beast’s back, though he was soaked to the bone. He slipped inside the archway to the arena. To his right was a set of marble stairs, draped in red velvet and covered with flowers. Past winners of the gladiatorial games had their names carved into a slab of marble hung on the wall, and the beast faced this plaque. Leonidas. That was the name he was looking for. The beast growled again before gliding silently up the stairs.
                Echoes of celebrations bounced around the hall, emanating from behind a wooden door at the end of the hallway. The beast padded down the long hall, purring with anticipation. His long nails snagged on the expensive Persian carpet, and he stopped, kneading the carpet and tearing apart the hand-sewn pattern. The shouting had stopped, and men started to filter out of the great room at the end. The beast disappeared into a shadowy alcove, watching with vengeful cat’s eyes until he spotted his prey.
                “Okay, okay, Andreus. We’ll continue this card game tomorrow!” Leonidas laughed, his handsome face lighting up with the glow of celebration and a little too much wine. He threw open the heavy wooden door, marveling again at his considerable strength. His chestnut hair gleamed in the torchlight, and his dark eyes sparkled with jollity. Feeling invincible, he decided to head out for a walk in the stormy night, too full of adrenaline and laughter to sleep. The lion followed behind him silently as he exited the arena.
                “It’s been a great day,” he said to himself as he ambled down the street, sticking to the sides of shops and houses to escape the falling rain. He started to whistle, though the slightly off-key melody was lost in the roll and rumble of the thunder. Flashes of lightning began in the distance, and he watched them with a detached interest. Nothing could hurt him now, he was a god, and he’d earned it.
                The game was a great one. His favorites were always the animal fights- it returned him to a simpler time, where actions were fueled simply by adrenaline and instinct. And today his opponent was a lion- how ironic, indeed, was it to fight the very animal you were named after? Leonidas relieved the glory in his mind.  The lion was led into the arena, shrinking back from the crowds’ jeers and catcalls. His proud golden eyes held fury, and his teeth were bared in anger. Leonidas held the lion’s gaze confidently and assertively, as he always did. He would not back down from this fight.
                He remembered with a rush of joy the feeling of plunging his short sword through the beast’s neck, feeling his arm covered with its warm blood. He’d looked down to find the beasts’ teeth inches from his own throat- he’d caught it mid-pounce.  The crowd went wild- it was a picture-perfect victory. Leonidas stood, panting and waving at the crowd, feeling their adoration. Maybe some gladiators were forced into the fight, but he always went with honor. He lived for the thrill of the kill.
                As he reminisced, the lion slipped from shadow to shadow, growling softly. When he was close enough to Leonidas to scent the wine he had consumed, he roared.
                “What the-!” Leonidas whirled around. Catching sight of the beast in front of him, his dark brown eyes widened in shock. “It can’t be…” he whispered, his heart pounding. The lion smelled his fear and grinned a toothy animal smile. Leonidas tried to scream, but the lion pounced. Finally, he felt sweet revenge at his teeth, and he paused so Leonidas could feel the fear that he’d felt in his last moments of life. Then he ripped his throat.
                That night, every citizen of Rome heard a terrifying roar echo through the streets.

No comments:

Post a Comment