Fictional Short Story ‘Recollections of a Gladiator’

I commit my body, my soul, my mind to the glory of this ludus and obey my master, Brutus, at all times. I vow to be burned, beaten, nailed to the wall or die by the sword for honor in the arena.

As I raise my sword over my head and change my grip, I see the blood of my opponent covering my blade and therefor no reflection of my own. I sliced open his right arm, his sword wielding arm. He’s bleeding and can barely hold his sword because his bicep has a huge cut. I can barely hear my own thoughts as the crowd goes absolutely crazy. My opponent is strong, but I am stronger, faster, smarter and better with a sword as I am trained for it. He holds his shield in front of him and starts charging. He tries to shield-bash me, but I am too fast. I evade to the right, hit his shield with mine to break down his defense and I stab my sword through his neck. It’s done. I can hear the gushing sounds of blood and air leaving his body as I pull my blade from his neck and kick him away from me, he collapses and exhales his final breath upon impact with the ground.

I leave the arena while the crowd chants my name. This was a fight till death, only one walks out alive. My opponent today was a criminal who was condemned to death by the Roman Empire, like many before him. They picked me to make a true spectacle of his death, so I gave them what they wanted to see. The Romans really love their blood sport, and I am one of their ‘sportsmen’.

Gladiators is what they call us. We fight till death upon the sands of the arena. To win a fight in the arena we must train hard everyday. We are being treated good upon victory. Gladiators are of high value to the Romans so they take good care of us outside the arena. After today’s fight I got examined by a medici and got some extra food and wine.

I wake up on the sandy floor in my room, I must have rolled off the thin mattress in the corner. I open the wooden door and walk straight onto the training grounds. I live within this training facility, the Romans call these places ‘Ludi Gladiatori’. I cannot leave the premises, if I do I’ll get punished beyond imagination. I remember the day someone tried to escape, he didn’t get far, got caught while trying to pick the side gate’s lock. They dragged him to the middle of our training grounds, where they would beat him to a pulp with a stick. When they were done beating him they nailed him to the wall, cut his balls off and stuffed them in his mouth. So I better do as told and stay in line, maybe one day I will be granted my freedom.

The sun sits right above our training grounds, the day is halfway done. We have been training our dying and fighting skills today. As a gladiator it is important that you know how to fight and how to make it look good for a big crowd, but you must also know how to die with grace and honor. We practice with wooden swords so we don’t injure each other, not too much. Wood still hurts on impact, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

It’s time again, the fight is now. As I stand in front of the gate, the arena entrance, I can hear the crowd go wild. They are loudly chanting my name because they know whats about to come next. They want a show and I am going to give it to them. The gate opens and I walk onto the arena battle grounds, 3 other gates opened on opposite sides from one other. The walls of the arena are covered with spikes and I have 3 opponents. two have chosen sword and shield (Murmillo), one has chosen a three-pointed trident and net (Retiarius). And I myself chose 2 swords (Dimachaerus). We all turn and face the ‘magistratus’, who is located above the ground on the highest ring. We raise our weapons towards him and salute him with honor “Ave, Magistratus, morituri te salutant.” The magistratus replies with “Aut neca aut necare” and the battle begins. Only one gladiator can walk away alive from this fight.

I turn around and see the retarius throwing his net towards one of the murmillones, the other murmillo attacks me. He slashes his sword but I block him with my right sword and hit him back with my left sword on the shield, I kick against his shield and he’s out of balance. As I kick his shield with my left foot, he turns his shoulder down to the other side because of the impact, his back is open and I stab both my swords in his shoulders and pull down alongside his back. He’s now lying with his face down on the ground, severely wounded, I drop down one knee, grab him by his hair and pull back his head, ready to slice his throat. I end his life with the approval of the roaring crowd. As I stand up and turn around I see the retarius lifting the other murmillo, with his three-pointed trident, up in the air. I run towards him, he quickly turns and throws his net. I evade his net, but stopped running. He pokes his trident, but I smack his trident down with my left sword and eviscerate towards him with right. He slightly jumps back, gently cutting open his stomach. He feels it, the little sting this small cut can produce. He swings his trident sideways in a rage, I manage to jump over the trident and roll towards him. I slice his hamstrings with both swords and he drops down on both knees. The crowd goes crazy, they want to see blood. I have the gladiator in front of me sitting with his back towards me, I let him keep his chin up so he can die with grace and honor. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t fight back, he has already lost and he knows it. This is what he is trained to do, and so am I. I slash both my swords sideways and decapitate him. The crowd in the arena chants my name even louder than before, they seem to love watching me fight in the arena.

I arrive at the ludus and directly get examined by a medicus, my lanista wants me healthy. After that I am reunited with my brothers, they salute and congratulate me on the victory as I walk into the recreation area. We laugh, drink and eat as we talk about the fight. But the fun is already over, our lanista is hosting a feast and needs us to be silent. Too much noise means punishment and none of us want that. We obey. The dark has covered the skies and is filled with beautiful bright shining stars. I walk back to my room with a flask filled with wine, open the door and lie down on my mattress. I drink the wine and think of the glorious victory as I doze off to sleep.

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