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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Sunday, June 05, 2005  

The plague had taken eight more overnight.

Using what remained of my withered and atrophied frame, I slowly raised myself to a sit. As my pain centers rebelled against this first movement in more than a fortnight, I squinted and focused my eyes across the darkened room, counting the empty beds I had heard being discussed this morning.

Flexing the fingers of my right hand, I spoke out loud what I knew to be true and had been denying: "My bed will be empty soon enough."

It had been no more than six weeks ago when the sores began appearing on the citizenry. No one knew what they were, what caused them, or how they infected us; all that was known was that our best and brightest were at wit's end, and we had begun to die.

The paranoid among us began to talk of treachery. Surely, they believed, those who hate us are responsible for this abomination. They wish us all an early grave, man, woman, and child alike. But then the spies began to report that the sores had begun to appear in the lands of our enemies. It was as if the life drained from those who were still well. Had it been treachery, an offensive could have been mounted to search for whatever cure they might have kept.

I began to wonder, as I the pain was replaced by a serene calm, what form my death would take. A skeleton with a scythe? An angel in white, emitting pure, holy light, giving wings to my soul? I secretly hoped not. For I had lived my life as a warrior, and I wished for nothing less than a warrior's death. That was the most grievous bit of dealing with the rotting sores; I was wasting away, the death of the feeble and infirm.

It was at that moment that I felt a change in my body, a sensation that had been missing for weeks. My heart began to beat, as if rediscovering it's own purpose,and I slipped off the bed and onto my own two feet, the shock of the cold flooring energizing me.

The door at the end of the hall opened.

She was impossibly beautiful. Sharp eyes that pierced my heart, ebony hair flowing willfully around her emotionless face, her stride one of command and authority. Her visage was perfection, one that you would wish to wake up to each morning for the rest of one's life, even though you knew she would almost never smile.

Her steps ended a few feet in front of me. I took in her presence. She was clad in black garments as well, a goddess of darkness. And with that realization, I knew.

I knew.

She gestured towards the door. A crushing sound cascaded from beyond, and the entry exploded with the arrival of four warriors garbed in iron, wielding steel that had surely tasted the blood of thousands. My will began to rise beneath my breath.

My breath.

Her gesture moved to my direction, as if directing the warriors to me. But I was mistaken. For her gesture was a much simpler one: it was a warrior's boon.

My greying flesh took on color once more. Muscle and sinew sang with renewal. My posture became straight and proud. My good right hand felt cold, with no explanantion, until I looked down upon it and saw my sword, tight within my grip.

For the first time in many a moon, I smiled. I bowed to my benefactor, and she gracefully moved aside, offering that smile I was not sure existed. Raising my sword, I took the first of my last steps, the thunder of the gods coursing through my veins.

copyright Marc Mason 2005

9:15 PM

That was so friggin lame dude!
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