Hello and welcome back to another Monday One-Word Writing, the part of the week where I try to take one word and expand it into a whole story. This week, I had to throw it back to the old random word generator, which gave me the word “gates”. Which worked out just fine, considering the story that I wrote…
The iron gate slammed shut behind him, and Fabius found himself alone. Well, alone besides the thousands of people in the cheering crowd. They all watched with anticipation for what was about to come. The emperor, too, stared on in anticipation, but not for the thrill that the crowd would get. The emperor wished to see how his little game would play out.
Fabius looked at his options. Three wooden gates stood in front of him in a four walled room with no ceiling. This was the emperor’s new sport: a game of chance. Inspired by the Labyrinth of Crete, but wanting to put his own spin on it, he had transformed the Coliseum into a grand game of chance. Behind one of the door in front of Fabius was a new intersection; behind the other two, danger and certain death. One door would have some kind of scenario he might be able to defeat – the other would contain a trap that when sprung could not be stopped. And Fabius, confronted with death should he choose to turn back or stop, would have to hope to pick the right door.
The cheering of the crowd died down as Fabius stepped into the middle of the first intersection. Think, he thought. They wouldn’t put it right in front of you to start with, so it’s either left or right. He took a guess and pulled the lever next to the right gate.
The counterweights pulled the gate upwards, and Fabius feared for a second he might have sprung a trap. But it was safe, and he had been lucky. Beyond the newly opened portal was another intersection identical to the first. The crowd cheered as Fabius stepped into the middle of the new intersection and tried to think of some kind of logic behind the placement of the correct gates. He assumed the right gate would not hold the correct path again, and so he walked to the gate straight in front of him. As he reached for the lever, an audible gasp came from the crowd.
Of course, he thought. They can see what lies beyond this gate. Their ability to look down upon the entire maze might just save him. He walked away from the center gate and pulled the lever for the gate on the left.
Beyond it was another safe intersection. Fabius breathed a sigh of relief and entered. He continued to play the crowd at each intersection, making his way through by their reaction to his movements. They were generally reliable: once, a group of spiteful old men with front row seats led him to believe he was taking a safe path, and only after the blade narrowly missed him did he see the trap. But eventually Fabius reached the end, and the last gate opened to a pair of soldiers who brought him to the emperor’s balcony.
“I commend you for your luck,” the emperor told him. “But I fear you were not the only one opening those gates correctly. And so you make my decision difficult.” The emperor bowed his head and considered the situation for a moment before standing and waving to the crowd. After the noise had died down and a final crowd chanting “Life!” had calmed themselves, the emperor raised his fist and extended his thumb.
It pointed downwards. Some in the crowd cheered; others booed and hissed. Fabius made no sound, but let himself be escorted out by the soldiers. Such is the life of a Coliseum gladiator, he thought.
I hope you enjoyed it! If you think you have a great idea for a word for me to use next week, please leave a comment below! Seriously, getting these things from a computer isn’t as cool as getting them from a fan. So leave a comment, and I’ll see you next week for a new word and new story!