Note: This is posted “as is”, no editing or proof reading involved, as part of the 30 Shorts In 30 Days project. During April I will be attempting to write and post a new short story everyday.
The crowd in the amphitheatre cheered with a deafening roar as the Christens were ripped to pieces by the lions. The bloodthirsty howls of enjoyment showed the true nature of the crowd, braying for blood.
“That, is a quick death. A death with purpose,” the Roman general said to the bound man kneeling in front of him. “Yours will be slow, the lions are now fed and will be slow to kill to eat.” The general turned to the soldiers guarding the prisoner. “Through him into the lion’s den, let his death be slow. Unless, of course, his god wants to save him.”
The soldiers picked the bound man up with a hand under each of his armpits and dragged him away, through lengths of corridors and down flights of stairs until they came to a heavy wooden door. It opened without a creak and the prisoner was thrown inside to face his death.
Looking around in the dark, the man spotted a shape laying in the corner watching him carefully. For a few minutes they sat facing one another, neither moving.
“I think he’s gone now,” the shape in the corner said. “They never really hang around, I think the killing’s finally got to them.”
“I was beginning to wonder,” the man replied. “So, I guess they expect you to eat me?”
“Afraid it’s usually the case, it’s the only food we get. Normally I’d stay away from human, repeats something chronic on me, but one’s got to eat to survive you know.”
“I can understand, I’ve not had anything to eat myself for a few days.”
“That’s exactly the problem with these Romans,” the shape explained. “They think their captive animals survive on the bare minimum of food, and then are surprised when they’re too tired to move, or worse still drop down dead.”
The man sat down with his back to the door and sighed deeply.
“So what do we do know then?” The man asked.
“Now? Now we sleep. I’ve been out there running around all afternoon, I could do with a rest.”
“And then?” The man asked but to no reply. Soon the sounds of gentle snoring was coming from the darkened corner.
“Wake up, they’ll be coming round to check on you soon. What is your name anyway?”
“It’s Daniel,” the man replied stirring from his slumber.
“Nice to meet you Daniel, now get ready to fight when they answer the door.”
Daniel stood up and started to stretch his muscles, limbering up after sleeping on the cold stone floor.
“Tell me, why are you still here?” Daniel asked.
“Couldn’t get out before. Got caught like this, and if I started to change I’d be full of those sharp swords before I got finished. And if I did it overnight, they’d think me a witch and set fire to the cell with me still in it.”
“And now?” Daniel asked.
“Now? Now the guard is coming, and he’ll open the door to check on you. And while I couldn’t get out on my own, I very much doubt there’s anything they can do to stop two manticore escaping.”