A Howl at Roman History

Hello all.

I just wanted to share another short work of fiction with you because…well, because I can.  This one was a winner for a small writing contest on writing.com called the Daily Slice.

And just for your information, I happen love Roman History.


My resolve is weakening.


I have killed too many for the entertainment of the Roman Empire.  I have silenced the screams of so many other slaves that have felt immeasurable pain at my hands.  It matters not that I have done the bidding of the Emperor and saluted him at the beginning of every match.  It is meaningless that I have won each and every crowd with public acts of violence.  Each fight I pray that my time will finally come, hoping that my journey to Elysium will begin at the feet of a warrior greater than myself. 


I was never a man of the people.  I grew up the son of a Senator, and my only job as a son was to receive the education befitting my father’s stature in Rome.  In truth I was a mess.  I was raised going to prestigious academies for gifted youth, and it was in one of those academies that it became apparent to me that I was different.  I made the other children afraid. 


“Something in his eyes,” they always said.  “He isn’t a real boy.  He isn’t human.”


I was not sure what they meant.


My father called me to his study one night and examined my face closely.  He peered into my eyes and his own widened.  His breath made my nostrils burn, but I did not dare breathe as he motioned for one of his personal guards to escort me into the courtyard in back of our home.  The guard had always been cruel and bullying, and this time was no exception.  I was thrown roughly to the ground and beaten savagely for “bringing my father’s reputation into disrepute.”  When I began to cough up blood, the guard simply laughed before delivering a quick blow to my head that would knock me unconscious.


I was sent away to live with a distant uncle, and I carried on with my education as best I could.  I would discover that my hearing was unusually sharp, and I possessed a strength and a speed unnatural to boys my age.  Being bullied was no longer an issue.


As an adult, I did manage to obtain gainful employment as a guard, ironically enough, to a high ranking soldier’s family.  I met and fell in love with a woman from that family.  My luck would prove to be cruel in more ways than one when our secret love was discovered.  I was terminated from my employment and sent forth from the home with nowhere else to go.


The Emperor himself issued a decree to end the plague of unemployment in all of Rome, and this would be the event that brought me to this wretched state.  The unemployed and the homeless were either forced into employment or slavery.  City guards apprehended me one afternoon attempting to steal food from a local merchant.  It was determined that my tendency to thievery would make me a liability to another employer. A member of the guard then laughingly suggested that I be made a gladiator for the sport of the crowd at the Coliseum.


Now I am here, and I am a more formidable warrior than any could have imagined.   But the crowd does not shout “proud warrior,” as I shatter the ribcages of my fellow combatants.  They do not know me as “the homeless wonder” as I tear into the flesh of my enemies with increasingly long and tough fingernails turned claws. 


They call me dog with no master, monster, devil.  They call me Lupus, and they cheer as I growl and gnash my canines at my victims.


I am determined not to feed into the infamy of my victories.  I am determined not to become a drooling, snarling beast. I want to die as a man in battle, and not as part of some heinous exhibit for all to come and marvel at. I will not be the captured animal with a human’s heart.


Yet each fight is a nightmare from which I cannot wake. I am losing my resolve.  I am losing the battle with my inner beast.


Tonight’s combat at the coliseum is the worst yet.  I am in a state of dreaming but not sleeping.  A large man with a metal helmet and a giant spiked ball at the end of a chain comes out to the adulation of the crowd.  I have already been introduced.  “Lupus, Lupus, LUPUS!” the crowd begins to shout in unison.  I am no longer of a mind to salute the Emperor. I want to die tonight under the moonlight.


But the man is painfully slow and my animal instinct takes over, sending adrenaline to my muscles. I snarl as he charges me and misses with his weapon.  I barely pant as I jump feet above his head and he fails to judge where I will land.  I take his feet out from under him and listen as his large body makes the ground shake with his fall.  I move quickly, pinning the man into submission.  He cries out and signals for mercy,  and I look to the Emperor for his verdict.  The crowd is in a frenzy, and I see without surprise that the Emperor’s thumb is turned downwards.


Without hesitation, I lunge for my downed opponent’s neck with my clawed hands and tear through his flesh as though it were paper.  Crimson blood immediately spurts from his slashed throat.  Each heartbeat makes red fluid gush from his wound, and I begin so salivate, drooling on my own chest. But I no longer care.  I lunge my head at my latest victim’s neck and bite hard, feeling the gushing of fluid in my mouth, feeling bones snap in my powerful jaws.  I chew greedily before I lift my powerful head and howl at the moon!


My howling is drowned by a thunderous cheer from the crowd.


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