100 short fiction tales in 100 days. 078

The king lowered his hand. It was decided; they would do as the “gods” say and murder all children under ten years of age.
In this case, the gods are being unjust, the king said to his subjects. However, disobeying their commands means death for us all. 

His son and daughter would also need to be slaughtered. The gods proclaimed that if even one child escaped their fate, everyone would be destroyed.

It is a foul day for the kingdom, the king said after a moment. Yet we will go on to be better people for it. 

He of course did not believe this, but his people needed hope. 

The king’s master swordsman raised his sword and put it near the king’s son’s neck. 

The gathered people gasped.

He kept it there even after the king glared at him. 

Finally he took the sword away, but then held it up above his head.

Or we fight, the king’s master swordsman said.

The king turned fully to his swordsman, ready to have the man arrested, or killed, if need be. 

This was a time for united obedience, not doubt. 

This man who had served his father before him. Taught he, and his sister, how to fight. Was a friend. He should know better. Now he would become one of the first of many who would die protecting the children. 

As a king, he had already sentenced his only two children to death. Wasn’t that enough?

It took a moment, but the surrounding fighters also raised their swords. The nobles, and gathered men and women, raised their hands as well. His queen raised her dagger.

His two children turned to him as if looking for a sign. They then raised their swords as well.

The king lowered his head and shook it.

After a long moment he looked up. His voice came croaky at first, but soon smoothed. 

They are unbeatable. We will all die. I give you the opportunity to live. You’ll have more children. The kingdom will survive this atrocity.

The silence afterward was deathly, and could actually result in such deaths. He turned to his wife. She watched him, he could see, but from the corner of her eye as she looked out over their subjects.

The king lowered his head again, although then turned it into a nod.

Alright, he said, we fight the gods. 


About matclarke

Writing became a hobby at the age of ten, boredom being a great catalyst. Whenever I had an idea I would put words to paper until something interesting was produced. I have always loved dreaming up and writing new stories. I wrote from the age of 10 and also built or designed unusual contraptions and created tools for working with assorted wood products. Creativity has always been my thing, however, no other person within my extended family harbours this same creative gene, so I always assumed I was odd rather than artistic. My non-fiction work has been inspired by my letter writing to government bodies and assorted companies, either to request information on a current associated issue or to offer a solution to an ongoing problem with (if a local government) traffic, public transport, spending, banks, etc. And (if a company) an idea for the product so that it could become better accepted by consumers, or in some cases, healthier for consumers. In December 2009 I came across a story I had begun a month earlier but so far written only a single page. I read it again and realised the story was not only interesting but also had the effect of creating excitement as to what would happen next. I immediately decided this could be a great beginning to a piece which could become my first full length novel, Wake (working title). The idea for Wake was born from a writing retreat on the outskirts of Bendigo, Australia. I had taken a break from punching keys on my laptop and walked from the small cabin into the night. Now standing in the silence with the tree canopy looming above, I watched the breeze adjust the leaves ever so slightly—barely enough to create a rustling. It was a creepy, lonely night; isolating beyond anything I had experienced. I smiled. An idea seeded: What would it be like to wake in the middle of nowhere with no memories and no idea of how you came to be there. Wake, is my first completed novel and I am currently 45,000 words into its sequel. I am also editing, Citylife, my second completed novel, and finished writing my third novel, Blue, whilst on a return trip from the US where I visited for book research. You’re welcome to have a read of some of my short stories on my website. Let me know if you liked them. In addition, my writing group and I have completed two anthology of short stories, with another to be completed in April. See my website for more information.
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