Woes of the Gladiator

I remember when the Earth used to be beautiful. I remember when I had a family, a home, a job, and a loving wife. When the grass grew green and the flowers bloomed bountifully. Now as I look around, all I see is rot and decay. A desolate wasteland where all that remains of the previous life are fading memories. It almost brings a tear to my eye when I think back to before they invaded, but even those tears dissipate, for if your instincts and will to survive is halted by any other emotions you will surely die. Nothing survives in the flames that engulf this charred world. Nothing except for the battle.

Maybe I was lucky to survive this long, maybe I wasn’t. Whatever the case may be, I’ve lived too long to give up now. To be truthful I didn’t even know what I fight for anymore. Perhaps, I just wanted to unleash my wrath and hatred, but that wouldn’t change the past. The dust rose around the chariot I was carried in, the wooden wheels bumping along the dirt path. Perhaps, it would have bothered me before, but I’m not who I used to be. I saw the gate open before me, and within seconds the chariot was brought into a clearing. I looked up at the thousands of beings looking down upon me, their eyes filled with excitement. If it was a show they wanted, it would be a show they got.

There were two other men in the vehicle with me. Both of them were quite young and unscathed. This was most likely their first time. Based upon their general shape and form, it was my guess they were captured far later than the rest of us. They almost certainly wouldn’t get to see the end of the day. As the chariot came to a stop I hopped out and stood in the center of the arena. The crowd booed and hissed at me, perhaps mad that a measly human such as I had lived for as long as I had. The people aligning the rows in the stands weren’t exactly people. They were short and chubby with hair protruding from their greasy bodies, and their faces were cluttered with eyes, some larger than others. Their bodies were weak. There was no way they could take out the human species without their high-tech gadgets, which is why it wouldn’t be warriors from their race I was fighting. No, I was fighting their prisoners. Bottom of the barrel scum.

The two other men reluctantly got out of the chariot and looked around, witnessing the sight before them. They were clearly pressured by the sheer number of spectators, but I didn’t care. I didn’t know these men, and I would keep surviving with or without them. As warriors representing the human race, each of us was adorned with light metal plating and helmets. Such gear would survive only a few blows at best. We were also equipped with dull swords and small shields barely larger than our torso. I planted my feet into the dirt as the crowd grew louder than before. I knew what that meant.

On the other side of the arena, another gate opened. The two men beside me trembled in fear, but I held my ground. I watched as a beast emerged from the shadows and entered the light. It was something I had never seen before. The being before me walked on all fours, and as it emitted a deep roar from its gaping maw, it revealed rows and rows of human-like teeth. Its skin was pale, and it was slightly larger than I was. Appendages unfolded from its back and had what appeared to be spear-like tentacles on the end of them. Whether or not those were bio-engineered to the beast I did not know. At that point, my partners were visibly shaking, yet I stepped forward. The beast’s glowing blue eyes locked onto me and charged forward with great speed.

Just before it reached me, I jumped out of the way. The beast geared up to charge once more and then ran towards me again. Once again, I dodged the beast and held my sword out, swinging it slightly to keep the thing at bay. My teammates stood in the background of the battle, apparently frozen in front of such a frightening sight. Then, after biting his lip and gripping his sword tightly, one of the young men yelled into the filthy air and charged the beast, sword extended. The man was able to cut off one of its spears before it kicked the man with a powerful force, sending him backward. The beast was upon him before he could get back up and pressed its foot down on top of him. The other young man watched like a coward as his fellow partner was slashed in the chest. Using the hilt of his sword, the man struck the beast in the eye, causing it to lose leverage. He used that window of opportunity to get-up, clutching his chest with one hand.

I took advantage of this opening and rushed the beast while it was confused, stabbing my sword into its side. I watched, mouth agape, as the hole I had put into the monster repaired itself. I was barely able to dodge its spear through my shock, and I propelled myself backward. The young man who initially rushed the beast earlier found himself somewhat determined, and yet again he rushed towards it. I tried to warn him about its regeneration, but before I could open my mouth the man had plunged his sword into the beast’s flesh. The creature screamed in pain, and the man pulled out his sword and struck again and again. Blood and chunks of skin and muscle were flung into the air, and within moments the being was on the ground, completely still. At that instant, the man smiled and waved at me and the other man, proud of his mighty accomplishment. I grimaced, knowing well that it wasn’t the end of the battle yet.

Clenching my fist tightly, I watched the reanimated corpse of the beast rise, towering over the gladiator. His teammate yelled to him, but it was far too little too late. The damn fool’s fate had already been sealed, and the monster pounced upon him with incredible speed, sinking its teeth into the warrior’s neck. I saw his eyes roll back into his head as he collapsed to the ground. A feeling of remorse ran through me, but only for a second. He was brave but stupid, and he would have only slowed me down. At that moment, there were more important matters at hand.

The other gladiator within the arena was clearly shaken up by what had just occurred. His knees buckled as he fell to the ground, body twitching and trembling in fear. I had no clue how someone so weak had survived so long. The creature turned and faced him, approaching with slow, graceful steps. It crouched down, seemingly ready to pounce. The man looked up at the beast before him, tears welling in his eyes, and for a second, he looked at me. I saw him begging for my help, begging to be saved. He said nothing, but the expression on his face spoke to me more than enough.

I remained still and allowed it all to unfold. As expected, the alien predator lunged at the man and began tearing into his neck and chest cavity. I only heard a few grunts and gurgles before he fell silent. Perhaps, I’m heartless, but I wasn’t always this way. Seeing everyone you love and care for die in a helpless war that humanity had no chance of winning really does take a toll on your emotional state. And after the depression, anger, and eventual acceptance of such a fate, the only feeling left is numbness and a will to live for the sake of living.

I remember sipping my coffee that morning, positioned comfortably in my recliner chair and reading the newspaper. There was no warning that such a pleasant summer day would turn into a nightmare as the spacecraft descended from the atmosphere, seemingly appearing from nowhere. Nobody could prepare us as the creatures exited their ships and fired upon our armies and civilians, their weapons causing the skin and muscle within the human body to boil and explode internally.

Perhaps, more specifically, there was nothing in the world that could prepare me to see my wife, Elizabeth and daughter, Olivia murdered in front of me in cold blood. Practically all the women and children of Earth were killed, along with many of the men as well. Only those who were deemed fit enough to be thrown into slavery were kept alive. For such an advanced civilization, these creatures were barbaric in nature, more than happy to sit and watch what they considered lesser beings fight and be killed.

At first, they forced us to fight each other, probably to weed out the weaker warriors and find the strongest of us. Once they did that, they forced us to battle other alien species that they imprisoned as well. I did sympathize with those I had to kill at first, but the numbness I mentioned earlier soon took hold of me and caused me to do things I truly would have despised in the past. I am a man who has lost it all, and honestly, I’m not sure why I continue to fight, as mentioned previously. As I reflected for this moment within the arena, I wondered if maybe it was the look of horror within my little girl’s eyes as she pleaded with me to save her, only for the alien scum to restrain me and force me to watch her be brutally killed. Maybe that’s what keeps me going. Maybe I want to live just to spite those damn brutes. Just to show them that they haven’t completely broken me yet…

I looked ahead at the monster before me, its eyes staring into mine, clearly hungry for the kill. I circled it slowly, holding my sword in front of me. Suddenly, it switched to the offensive, releasing a loud and petrifying cry before charging at me, its spears lashing out. I evaded the spears I could and severed those I couldn’t, each slice causing the beast to roar in pain. I smirked as it regenerated, hands grasping the hilt of the sword even tighter. I dodged each and every one of the creature’s blows and retaliated with offensive strikes of my own, leaving a pool of blood surrounding my enemy. Then, with one swift and unexpected movement, I felt its sharp nails penetrate my arm and rip chunks of flesh out. While I was focused on the spears, I had neglected to pay attention to its other weapons. My assailant growled with glee at this, and I could smell its hot breath splash against my skin as hunger-fueled slobber encompassed its snout.

I clutched my arm and stumbled backward, watching as blood dripped down onto the dry sand below. The crowd erupted into a frenzy of cheering, eager to see me fall. I could almost hear each individual voice within the room, excited to see my death at the hands of this monstrous foe. As one of the last humans alive, they hated my strength. They hated my resilience, and I knew they had figured out long ago I only stayed alive to spite them. I knew it every time I stepped into the arena and saw the hatred within their eyes. Hatred directed at me. I clenched my teeth and fell to one knee, trying my best to hide my grin. I would not give them the satisfaction of seeing me die. Glancing at my wound, a plan quickly formed within my mind.

The beast rushed towards me as fast as it could, seeing me in my injured state as easy prey. How foolish it was… how foolish they all were. To think I was injured badly, when in truth I had suffered much worse before. Besides, no amount of physical pain could ever compare to the emotional scars which I had then realized motivated me to live. Directly before it reached me, I stood to my feet and dove to the side. I allowed the creature’s momentum to carry it forward, and I watched as its head crashed into the hard-concrete wall. It fell back, clearly dazed, and I took that chance to run towards the monster, sword in hand. Using my good arm, I plunged the blade into its neck. A soft gurgle could be heard as blood filled its throat, but I didn’t stop there. I hacked at its neck more and more, using all my strength and precision to slice through to meat and tissue. I felt a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while. Perhaps, it was fueled by the thousands of spectators chanting for my death, but whatever the case was, I could do little to stop the feeling that overcame me. It was pure hatred and anger.

All of the pain and suffering I had experienced overcame me as I decapitated the beast. I slashed my sword at its body, cutting off each tentacle before moving onto the torso, arms, and legs. I maimed and mutilated every appendage before severing it, allowing the blood to stain my gear. I sliced at each artery and vein I could see, and as I continued to do so; the crowd grew silent. I could tell I was no longer a human they wanted dead. I was an animal in their eyes now. I had never let loose so much as I had then, and it showed in the reactions of every single onlooker viewing my actions. Several minutes passed before I was done with my work, and I stepped back and looked at what I had done. I left the monster nothing left to regenerate.

I turned my attention to the spectators, quiet gasps and murmurs passing throughout the stands. Taking a deep breath, I raised my bloodied sword above my head, yelling out an animal-like cry at the top of my lungs. I took joy in watching those who had previously chanted for my demise wince at my very presence. These disgusting scumbags would never break me, for it was at that moment I knew more than ever I would not die at their hands. Judging by the blank expressions adorning their faces, they knew it too.

Whether it be for spite, for survival, or out of pure rage, I would never fall to these bastards.

  • Eakwing

    You are an amazing writer! I look forward to seeing your next posts, very good job!

  • Yara Hawkins

    Great job. Enjoyed your story telling ability. Weaving in details that never once became an unrelated tangent. Keep up the great work .

  • Bonnie Manz

    Wow that was awesome! Great job please continue writing you have definitely found your niche.

  • Emi2018

    I liked it