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The Village This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The looming structures rose above me casting an endless shadow across to the other side of the wide street and creeping up the opposite set of houses. These houses were arranged into tall and ominous towers by stacking them on top of each other. By no means were they following a pattern, thus the roofs looked like teeth. Similar structures surrounded me on either side. They looked as if they would collapse on me at any second. However, that would be a much nicer death than the one I’ve been cursed with.

Massive trunks, both in width and height, stood in the middle of the street. Gnarled branches and bodies rose up to the sky sprouting leaves at the end. These created a dense canopy that looked down upon me and engulfing everything in darkness only leaving a hopeless glow for me to see my path across the set of stairs that led upward. I could not see the details of the houses, only the contorted images of what I thought I saw caused by the poor lighting and the dark color of the houses themselves. As for the people, they were nowhere to be spotted.

As my vision was diminished my other senses flared and came to life. The smell of rain and dirt was present mixed with the scent of meat and a variety of spices. The weather is neither hot nor cold to the extremes but my cloak provided warmth from the constant presence of the cool wind that made its way along the long, wide streets. Despite the cluttered appearance of the village there was a minimal amount of sounds, only my shuffled steps could be heard which added to the solitude I felt as I walked up these steps.

Suddenly without warning the stairs began to shift colors and refract light. The canopy of trees above let the light through and with this the area drowned in a blinding light. The detail and graceful decoration of the stairs became evident and despite my situation I could still admire its intricate beauty. But how wrong could I have been about the houses as vibrant colors of red, green, and different shades of pearl appeared in this new light.

I turn to look behind me and admire the street behind me only to realize that the stairs became reflective making a parallel world below my feet. I found myself looking down and my eyes fell upon my face and met each other. The bewildered and excited expression became apparent as I looked at myself. However, only my eyes showed this but my facial expression was unchanged – always serious and somehow giving the hint of sorrow and rage.

The desolate and peaceful vicinity abruptly ended with the appearance of a slow walking dog. It made not a sound but tension built in the air and my ears began to ring. Each slow and painful step it took served only to feed my growing anxiety. It stopped in the middle of the street. It looked up with blackened eyes. Searching. It set its menacing gaze upon me and stood up and began to walk on two legs. Its feet shuffled as if still getting used to the switch from walking on all fours. The ground –which was no longer solid took the properties of water and with each step that the dog took the water created ripples that extended and collided against the walls of the houses. I would have expected it to fall through the water and drown but its paws seemed to barely touch the surface with the most delicate care. Then its pace quickly changed, its muscles tightened and it began to move faster. A trot and then a full charge heading straight towards me.

Its voice between a bark and a yell came out of its snout violently splattering saliva.
“Found you.”

Unlike the swift movements that the beast took as it moved along the surface of the water mine were violent splashes and unsteady steps that threatened my fall at any moment. My feet sunk about five inches every time I took a step in order to run. This was another wretched rule that the judges made in order to make this hell even more difficult to get out of. There were still about fifty yards between us but that was quickly changing as the dog only gained speed.

I’m sure that the people inside the houses must be cheering the beast on. This is what they all waited for. The games are the only way that the judges kept their people entertained: by watching the gladiators die while being hunted by these beasts. One became a gladiator if branded a criminal, opposed the judges, or they simply didn’t like you. In this game there were only five gladiators released into the city which doubled as the arena.

I darted into one of the thousands of alleys that connected all of the streets and houses together. Before I reached the other side and into the street I heard the horrifying screams of the first victim. It was close by, maybe a few yards away. I hoped that the beast that killed the man would be as far away as possible from me. When I exited the alley I was greeted by a ghastly view.

Fangs painted crimson with the blood of the fallen gladiator smiled at me as the dog stood on two legs peering over its kill. It howled in celebration and as a call to its allies. Without a second thought I started running away from the dog splashing water all around my robe. After looking at the carcass of the man I remembered that we weren’t supposed to survive this slaughter, weapons weren’t even granted to us to at least offer a bit of competition for the rabid dogs. We had only our bodies to protect ourselves. However, it wasn’t mentioned in the rules of the games but we were allowed to form alliances with the gladiators. This was never possible due to how fast everyone died shortly after being released into the arena.

The hot breath of the dog behind me made me realize how fast it was. And it was also bigger than the one that had been chasing after me. I struggled to turn around to see how far away it was. Bad mistake. As soon as I did this, it reached out with its paw and scratched my face which to him it was a playful slap. The force of the impact made me crash into the wall next to me. I landed right next to someone’s door. I now noticed that the dog had black fur and sunken hollow sockets instead of eyes. Fear froze me in place when the jaws opened revealing a set of wickedly sharp canines. To my surprise, the door next to me opened. A figure leaped out and stabbed the beast in one of the hollow sockets with a knife.

The dog staggered backwards and fell to the floor barking and screaming in agony taking the boy down with him. Despite the struggle of the animal he kept digging the knife further and deeper into the dog’s head. After it stopped struggling and the body went limp the boy twisted the knife and swiftly pulled it out. He stood up, hands coated with black blood, and turned to face me.

“Name’s Lionel, take the knife,” he said as he threw me the knife.

I happily took it. I opened my mouth in order to thank him and at the very least offer him my name but another dog came down from the sky. I never considered the possibility that these devils could climb the steep walls of the houses too.

Lionel barreled into it and screamed “Do it now! Stab him in the left eye!”

With both of them in the ground it was difficult for me to get a clear shot without hurting Lionel. Finally I decided to go around and stand next to the dog’s head. I pressed my boot down on its throat and felt bones cracking under my foot. “That won’t be enough, you have to pierce his left eye!” Lionel continued to struggle to hold down the dog and then I grabbed the hit with both hands and plunged the blade into the left eye. He screeched with pain, the black blood pooled under its body and splattered the three of us, and it finally died.

With two of the dogs dead now we only had to worry about one more. Perhaps the rest of the gladiators could make it out alive as well. But my hopes were soon cast aside as the last dog yelled out from somewhere far away, “Where are you? You’re the last one.”

There was a good chance that he was only lying in order to intimidate us but knowing how these games usually ended I decided to believe that he was speaking the truth. Lionel and I decided to head for the exit. All we had to do was keep running up the steps without getting caught. If I recall only two others had survived the arena but it happened before I was even born. Not a word was spoken between us as we made our way to the exit. Lionel was now considered a gladiator and a traitor for helping me. Now I had to help him.

We saw the white gates leading to the exit and freedom. As we got closer I could make out a small black dot. Later, the dot became larger and it seemed to be moving and I realized that the last of the beasts had been waiting for us at the exit. And it was now charging at us to meet us running at full speed on four legs. I pulled out my knife in order to fend off the beast and hopefully come out alive.

“Get ready,” Lionel said to me as the dog was within a few yards from getting to us.
“I’ll grab him and you do the rest, just like we did with the last one.”

The dog grimaced at us and leaped into the air right after shifting to two legs. Lionel mimicked his actions and met him in mid-air punching it in the chest and stomach while they flew on their way to the ground. This dog put up a much better fight than the last two because it was scratching and it even took a bite out of Lionel’s shoulder. I needed to help him and I shook my fear off and ran towards his aide. I began to stab the dog at the legs in order to weaken him and then I slashed its right eye and plunged the knife down on the left socket as its paws covered his right socket in pain.

Still bleeding, Lionel and I left the dog writhe in pain and bolted for the exit. As we pushed the doors open a booming voice was heard all around the city. “Due to the acts of treason you are now cursed and shall become one of my minions, Lionel.” Fear chilled me to the bone as I watched the person next to me. He was unrecognizable as his skin began to sag and bleed making way for the fur. Hands which were now paws covered his eyes and clawed out the right eye but pushed the left eye in into his skull. He was no longer Lionel, he was now a monster ready to kill me.

The voice spoke one last time. I couldn’t see the person behind it but I knew a wicked smile was sewn into their face as it said, “You see, not all good deeds are rewarded in the end.”




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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

NotLiam said...
today at 11:58 am:
This...cosmic, dance...of bursting decadence and withheld permissions, twists all our arm collectively. But, if sweetness can win, and it can. Then I'll be here tomorrow to high five you yesterday my friend. Peace.
 
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grendelThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm:
wow, that was amazing
 
SubmitChannelAvatar replied...
Dec. 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm :
Thanks, it is much appreciated. 
 
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