Michael E. Bailey is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. There was a tie this week, so the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules. Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Michael E. Bailey
Gradually, the din subsided. Lysimachus grunted with pain and exertion, straining. No use.
Sacred oath kept, the huge Spartan lay on his shield. Problem was, the shield lay on top of Lysimachus. Blood flowed from the deep wound on his calf, inflicted by the falling warrior. The helot was keenly aware of his raging thirst, the bleeding wound… and that Similars would be roaming.
Alone, heartbeat racing, he mentally screamed as movement caught his eye to the left. A huge vulture, arm’s length away. Oionos! Bad, bad omen… huge beak reaching now… He braced himself.
With an obscene sucking sound, it yanked the Spartan’s right eye out, cocking its head as if to jest, amused by his horror.
“A very bad omen, friend! But not for you!” Lysimachus flinched at the deep, laughing voice. He’d thought it was the vulture. Huge Athenian hands pulled him free. “You’re property of the State! This omen is for Sparta! But now… you’re Messenian again. No longer a helot.”
Lysimachus drank deeply of the offered skin. “What…?”
“Rebel slaves have done what heroes could not. Sparta herself kneels before you… Bind this legend’s wounds!”
Head spinning, Lysimachus felt the darkness lift from his soul. His love and their children avenged. Murdered by the Kryptia, by the very man lying here.
They had recognized each other instantly, and in surprise the Similar had lowered his sword tip.
One moment in eternity…
Another heartbeat, and both had fulfilled their oaths.