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Friday, March 5, 2010

Spartacus

The man lay on the ground, his lifeblood draining into the earth. Through his eyes the world was surrounded with a red haze. All around him his friends had fallen and were falling. His beloved Tacita knelt over him, tears marking paths down her grime covered cheeks, wails howling through the air. She had torn her leggings and was pressing the fabric against the hole in his stomach. She clung tightly to him, begging him not to die. “Spartacus! Spartacus no! You can’t leave me!”

Someone broke through the crowd of ogling warriors and ran to them. It was his best friend Arrian. He tried talking to Tacita, but her cries overpowered his voice. He shook her roughly until she fell silent. “If we are going to save him we have to make our leave now. The Romans are about to overtake us. We must make our escape,” he explained in a gentle but firm voice. Spartacus closed his eyes and let the words wash over him. He would be gone from the world soon and their words were meaningless to him. A deep sigh escaped his lips as he let his troubles go.

Tacita became more hysterical than before. She tore away from Arrian’s hold and lay sobbing on Spartacus's chest. She wasn't listening to Arrian who was now screaming at her to control herself. But Spartacus was dying, and that was all that mattered to her. Arrian signaled to one of the warriors in the circle. The man stepped forward and ripped Tacita away from Spartacus. Her screams amplified as she was wrestled away from her husband. Over her screams, Arrian called to more warriors. A liter was hastily erected and Spartacus was lifted on. The group set off in the direction of the Bruttium mountains.

Spartacus opened his eyes to view the red, hazy world. A canopy of trees stretched over him. He could feel himself being moved. Why wouldn't these people let him rest? He had led the revolt tirelessly for over two years. Why couldn't they let him rest after all his hard work? Everything was silent, at least there was that. It was as if a bubble had encased him. Tacita was no longer by his side. It saddened him, he wanted to see her one last time.

Arrian appeared over him. His friends lips were moving but Spartacus could hear no sound. Tacita, he tried to say. He felt his jaw move but heard no sound. He tried again, Tacita, where is she? Arrian turned his head and looked at something a little ways off. Spartacus followed his gaze and saw a man carrying his struggling wife. Spartacus smiled, she had always had such spirit. Tacita, he called again. Tacita looked at him and saw him smiling at her. Her struggling became more frantic as she tried to escape her captor. Arrian signaled to the man who then released Tacita.

Tacita sprinted to Spartacus and shoved Arrian away from her husband. The warriors set the liter down and she brushed the hair out of his face, staring into his blue eyes. Her voice penetrated the bubble. “Spartacus, my husband, stay with me,” she begged him, her voice cracking. Tears were carving new tracks down her face.

He reached up and wiped the tears away. She caught his hand and kissed it, crying all the more. “I love you,” he croaked.

She started shaking her head vigorously. “No, no, no! Spartacus no!” She leaned down and kissed him again and again, as if that alone could save him.

Spartacus cupped her face in his hand and whispered, “Let me go.”

“Never,” she said glaring into his gentle face. Her eyes went big with fright from what she saw. She jerked back and screamed for Arrian. She looked back down at Spartacus her breath caught in her throat. She switched to her last resort. Tacita lifted his hand and placed it on her belly. “I'm pregnant Spartacus, I'm pregnant. You can't go, your child needs a father.”

A new pain flickered across his eyes, but he knew that there was nothing he could do to stop his death. And now he would never meet his child. He turned his head and saw Arrian watching them. Arrian stepped closer when Spartacus beckoned. “Will you take care of her, and the child?” he asked softly. Tacita started screaming and clung to him tightly. Spartacus kept eye contact with Arrian until he nodded. Spartacus turned his attention back to his wife. “Tell the child his daddy is very sorry he couldn't be there for him,” he took a deep breath, he was suddenly very tired. “I love you Tacita, always remember that. I'll be waiting for you in the heavens.”

Tacita couldn't find her voice to respond. Spartacus smiled up at her one last time before he closed his eyes and stopped breathing. Thus ended the days of the greatest gladiator that ever lived. Tacita just stared at him, too shocked to even cry. Arrian lifted her to her feet. A few of the warriors came over and lifted the body of Spartacus. Without a word, they carried him over to the fire. Tacita didn't remember them having built that. Arrian led her over to fire and she watched the body of her husband burn.

The following morning Tacita was still standing in the same place. The fire had long sense gone cold. Arrian walked over and knelt by the fire. He solemnly scooped the ashes into a jar. He looked back and saw that Tacita hadn't even noticed him. He stood and handed her the ashes of her husband. She clutched the jar tightly to her chest.

In minutes, there was no sign that the rebel gladiators had ever been there. Everyone started walking deeper into the mountains. Tacita turned away from the campsite and saw Arrian watching her. She walked towards him, and together they followed the rest of the group into the mountains. She didn't look back.