10 August 2010

'Lie to Me' Tuesdays: Short Fiction

Gumbo Fun Fact: The following is a revised version of a story I posted to another fiction/prose blog, back in January 2009.  it was for a writing challenge for short, short fiction.  I can't recall which blog, but I rediscovered the original in my archived material, and thought it worth another pass.  Originally titled "The Death of Gordianus", I made a few edits and present it for your reading pleasure:

Full summer in Rome and the white-hot disc of the sun was just past the zenith. Gordianus blinked rapidly in a futile attempt to rid his eyes of sand. The buzzing of flies was thunder in his ears, almost drowning out the roar of the crowd. Gordianus could feel the infernal insects crawling over his chest and belly, their tiny feet like feathers on his blood-streaked skin. He thought it would have tickled if he hadn’t been in such agony.

Gordianus corrected himself: only part of him was in agony. He glanced down to what was left of his belly. The tiger had fought hard. The evidence lay in the sand, bloody and clotted underneath lumps of flesh. Gordianus could not feel his legs. He made to stand and the legs moved not at all. His back was broken. A wheezing sob escaped his throat, which spasmed as he sucked in a lungful of gritty air that scoured his raw windpipe. The fallen gladiator coughed weakly and spat into the sand under his right cheek. Wet and hot, he could see four fat beads of blood. The drops congealed on the sand, hard and bright as the eyes of a tarantula.

Gordianus felt a wave of dizziness wash over him. Cold crept in as the blood leaked out of his ruined abdomen. He wanted to wipe his face, but found his shield arm was pinned, trapped under something large and furred. Swiveling his head, he turned to find his face mere inches away from the enormous fangs of the dead tiger. The mouth was gaping open slightly, a thin foam of bloody spittle trailing out onto the sand. Gordianus could smell the remains of its breath, a fetid combination of wet iron and rotting meat. A huge paw rested on the sand between them. He resisted the urge to reach out and shake it. The eyes of the tiger were half closed as if awakening from a nap. Just beyond the thickly muscled shoulders, the blade of a heavy sword jutted out from between two ribs, the iron cross of its hilt stark against the sky. Gordianus realized his last blow had been lucky. He must have hit the lungs even as the tiger was ripping into Gordianus’ belly. “My friend”, he thought, “If only we had been sleeping, lying on the plains of my homeland. I am sorry we have come to such a shameful end.”

The gladiator’s eyes began to dim, and he knew he was dying. He lolled his head back, seeking one more glimpse of the Colosseum that had become his second home. He waved his sword hand feebly in goodbye; the approaching slaves thought Gordianus was trying to send them away. They hesitated, in awe of the fighter. His mouth twitched up in a small smile, shuddering as the final breaths left his lungs. As his vision went black, he mouthed a prayer, beseeching the gods to rest his soul with the others trapped among the stones of the arena.

The tiger said nothing, mute and unseeing, Gordianus’ hand resting on its massive paw.


  1. I think we should bring back the coliseum. I think it would be a good for investment bankers and reality show contestants.

  2. I feel sorry for the two warriors. Neither wanting to fight. LOL on the Captain's comment above. I would add crooked politicians to the mix as well.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...