As the Romans Do


Written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-10. The prompt is to include a gladiator, along with this photo prompt by Kerri Lee Smith.

As the next combatant enters the arena, I am struck by our similarities. Gladiators both, outsiders to this society, condemned to fight tooth and claw for the spectators’ amusement.

This one is fresh meat: not already bruised and bloodied like the last one. Even as the crowd cheers this spectacle of Roman strength, I sigh with ennui. His trial by combat begins. I toy halfheartedly with this morsel of a man. He flees, I pounce.

Their whole society has become softer than the fuzz on a kitten’s belly. Soon this civilization will fall, the arena will crumble to dust. The pattern is timeless as the dragons of legend.

From the Imperial box seats, Caligula’s bizarre antics distract me momentarily. My opponent swings his gladius at me. I leap back and grin: kitty has claws! But I see desperation in his eyes. He knows the end is near.

Whether it’s bread and circuses, or Kardashians and cat pictures, civilizations grow decadent and rot like meat. I’ve seen it before, I’m seeing it now, I know I’ll see it again. Men fall into a dark age of superstition. They rush through their insignificant lives, afraid that dragons lurk in all the unseen places.

And we do.

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