COLOSSEUM by David Graham
Aldo Porrinho made his way into the Colosseum. At the edge of the arena he paused with his hands in his pockets and gazed down into the ruins of the dungeons. When he turned to move on he collided with a group of schoolboys. In that instant he lost his balance, toppled backwards, fell, struck his head and lost consciousness.
He opened his eyes. Shadows. He rubbed his eyes. People in rags, standing, sitting, lying, on straw that smelt of piss and shit.
Wind rising, falling.
Tramping feet. ‘Moveo!’ Loud, strange voices. Metal screeching. Ragged people stumbling, moaning, groaning.
Grabbing hands. Strong, rough. ‘Moveo!’
Strike out! Defend!
Painful blow. Swimming blackness.
‘Moveo!’ Hands pulling, pushing, shoving.
Animal roaring, bellowing. Stench of piss and shit.
Blinding light. Intense heat.
Roaring wind, rising, falling.
People rising up, roaring.
Ragged people with swords.
Roman soldiers: iron and leather; shields and spears.
A sword in his hand ‘What d’hell?’
Roaring, shouting, screaming.
Someone ragged, rushing in, bulging eyes, sword high.
Aldo drops the sword, sidesteps, instinctive, left jab to the head: opponent down.
Another rushing in with a spear, sidestep, kidney punch: opponent down.
Another: sidestep, rabbit blow: opponent down.
Again and again they rush in. Again and again Aldo fells them with ramrod blows.
A sword slapped into his hand. Harsh command ‘Et percutite eos! Jabbing at felled opponents with a stabbing action.
He wants me to kill them! ‘No way pal!’ Aldo shouts throwing down the sword.
The soldier lunges. Stabs with his spear. ‘Et percutite eos!’
‘What d’hell!’ Aldo roars. Searing pain in his chest! Blood! Enraged, he lunges. Searing pain in his back. He whirls, lunges. Others move in: surrounding, jabbing ‘Et percutite eos!’ retreating, stabbing ‘Et percutite eos!’ retreating, stabbing ‘Et percutite eos!’
‘Neco! Neco! Neco!’ the crowd clapping, roaring, screaming, stamping.
Goaded beyond endurance, alive with pain, soaked in blood sweat and tears, Aldo crawls.
‘Neco! Neco! Neco!’ Clapping, roaring, screaming, stamping: seismic vibrations rise up through the stones, the sand, his knees, his bloodied body, his tormented mind. One by one he crawls to his opponents, places his hands either side of their head and breaks their neck.
‘Aldo. You’ve come back to us.’
‘Howie?’ What d’hell. Where am I?’
‘In hospital kid. You took a tumble in the Colosseum. Cracked your head. No damage. But d’fights off kiddo.’
‘What! The hell it is!’
‘To risky. We’ll reschedule.’
‘Howie. It’s the world heavyweight championship! You are not rescheduling!’
‘Ok! If you get the all clear. Then it goes ahead.’
‘I’ll get it.’
THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPIONSHIP
Aldo porrinho v the reigning champion Paul Wilder.
Wilder goes down in the fifth.
‘Aldo! Aldo! Aldo!’ Clapping, roaring, screaming, stamping. ‘Neco! Neco! Neco!’ Seismic vibrations rushing through the floor, rising through the canvas, entering Aldo’s legs, rising up through his sweat drenched body, entering his damaged mind. He drops to his knees, crawls crossed the ring, places his gloved hands either side of Paul Wilders head and breaks his neck.