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The Arena

02/17/2013

His eyes squinted open, blinded by the piercing rays of sunlight that shone around the arena.

Wait…..arena?  What arena?  The last Waldo knew, he was leaving work and crossing the street, anxious to get home and enjoy a delectable pork chop with applesauce dinner his wife was making.

When did he go to an arena?  Why did every single person in the seats around him look exactly like him?  Why in the blue hell were they all dressed in Roman classic costumes?  He was struggling to breathe properly; his nose did not like the air, or at least something in it.  It smelled like he was close to a huge rendering factory and they had recently finished the weeks supply of meat.

Clanking sounds and grunts that sounded almost primal drew Waldo’s attention to the center of the arena.  He could not believe that he was looking at an actual gladiator fight, he tried counting the men in the battle but he lost track after ten, they were constantly in motion.  His face gleamed out from every helmet, staring intently at their opponents, and he wondered again why everyone looked like him.  Had he fallen asleep on the bus ride, and landed inside some narcissistic dream where he was the only inhabitant of a weird Greek world?

Voices were starting to carry up to where Waldo was seated; he could hear one of the men running his mouth in a never-ending stream of humorous patter.  Another would not stop cursing, the vulgarity leaking from his lips as if he were a fountain in front of a bank.  Each of the gladiators were talking, and each was very different from the others, but they also were almost indistinguishable from one another.  Waldo got the feeling that he was watching a big scrum of blood and guts involving multiples of the same person, even though that couldn’t be true, at least not in reality.

Maybe he was dreaming, and he’d wake up at his stop and see his lovely wife waiting for him, pork chops in hand.  Mmmm, he could almost smell the sizzling meat and dripping applesauce, could almost taste the gristle in between his teeth as it squished and popped its juices down his throat.  A hard blow to his right shoulder brought him back to the battle events.

A very vivid burning sensation in his shoulder, and the feel of gravel under his barely covered feet made him realize that he was no longer seated high above the combat; he was in the middle of it now.  Blood was streaming from a wound on his arm, and he had dropped a sword when he’d been hit.  He bent over and scrabbled hard trying to pick it up before anyone else came at him when a foot slammed down on his hand.

Waldo cried out in agony, but his cries were cut short as the man standing on his hand sent a sharp blade slicing through the weak flesh of Waldo’s neck, separating his head from his body.

Waldo opened his eyes and prepared to scream out in pain when he realized that now he was the one holding the sword watching a head drop to the ground.  He knew he had to be in some kind of weird acid trip of a dream now, but he didn’t want to die again.  Deciding to fight, he turned and waded into the battle, completely headstrong and ready to destroy all in his path.  He barely had the time to think about where this brashness had come from, his arm was a whip, whizzing back and forth, inflicting damage on all who came near.  Waldo was growing to enjoy this new power and desire to be on top, he was tired of being the one who always agreed with someone else because he didn’t want an opinion of his own.  He wanted to be in charge, take what he wanted, and he would start by winning this huge battle.

He cut down opponent after opponent, beheading some, others just jabbing through the chest, but killing all.  Then there was only one other, and from the steady stream of idiocy coming from the man’s mouth, Waldo knew him to be the funny man he’d heard earlier.  He was still running his mouth, telling jokes to the crowd, trying to get a response out of Waldo.

Standing still, head slightly down, Waldo watched this buffoon go through a routine.  He waited for the man to turn away, and then he rushed at the man’s exposed back, driving his sword deep into the soft flesh, grasping the man around his neck and telling him to die quietly with honor instead of joking like a fool.

After Waldo was left alone, he raised his arms and bellowed out to the crowd, screeching in rage and triumph.  All of the spectators had vanished, and the light was getting brighter.  The sun was descending from the sky, and engulfing Waldo and he shouted at God why would he let him win such a fight only to then destroy him.

Waldo listened to the beeps before opening his eyes to take in the hospital room.  His wife was standing at the foot of the bed talking to a nurse.  After a few moments, the nurse looked his way, and they both reacted to him being awake.

He asked for a drink of water, and his wife hurried off to get it for him.  The nurse checked his vitals and turned to leave.  Waldo smacked her on the butt, “Thanks hon, be seeing you later.”

He winked at her and she left in a rush.  He was happy he’d won the battle in his dream, it had given him a newfound power over his mind and who he thought he was.

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