100 Themes 029 - Happiness

Grozchev was the antagonist for Oxy, my NaNo piece. He's a truly horrible person; I like making horrible people. They're so much fun to write about!

Definitely going to finish Oxy sometime.

He says.


Grozchev felt the closest thing to happiness he could. Somewhere, under the blankets and life support system, a little flutter of excitement curled within him as he watched the combatants circling.

The komodo dragon, ten feet long, hissed at the human and the mutant. They looked at each other, and with the benefit of his viewscreen he could see the sweat on both naked torsos. The human woman was dark skinned, her long black hair ragged and matted, clutching a spear; the Altered one was male, a pair of knives gripped in his fists. The two were shooting glances at each other as much as the dragon.

The beast opened its mouth, tongue stabbing out; the man rolled to one side, then the woman as the lizard’s tail swept around towards her. Grozchev smiled grimly. The dragon’s tongue was sticky, and would draw them in for feeding, while the tail had a poisonous barb; being caught by either meant death.

They were closer together now, almost back to back, as the dragon began to pace forward.

“Controller: zoom in on their faces for me,” Grozchev muttered. The camera drew closer to them and he could see the panic on the man’s face. The woman was tensed, waiting; a fighter. As the lizard’s tongue flicked out again the man dived away but she stabbed the point of her spear into the dirt floor. The long elastic tongue wrapped around it and stuck for a moment.

Clearly he saw her shout and point: “Go, now!” but the Altered one was frozen to the spot, knives held loosely. Cursing, she ran over to him. Grozchev raised an eyebrow; teamwork was a rare thing in the Arena.

She had wrestled one of the knives out of his hands now and turned back towards the dragon. It yanked on the spear and pulled it from the ground, retracting its tongue. The tail came around, stabbing down. She rolled out of the way, the man breaking free of his paralysis just in time to spin away.

Now he was speaking urgently, and the woman was nodding. Grozchev chuckled; it was like one of the old adventure shows from his youth, flickering on the antique flatscreen in their dingy flat.

They moved with purpose now, he towards the dragon’s tail, she towards its head. He ducked the tail, moving closer, then shouted something; she stabbed the spear down, repeating her strategy from before, but this time circled around and quickly slashed through the tongue.

The dragon’s roar was audible even up in the cripple’s office, with its thick windows. He chuckled with glee, quickly devolving into a coughing fit. Spittle dribbled from his lips as he choked but, when the fit had passed, he wiped it away with one liver-spotted hand and leaned closer.

The man had leapt onto the dragon’s back as it spasmed in agony, gained his balance, then run across it. He knelt and stabbed with all his might into its spine, where the legs met the body, and it collapsed. Quickly the man moved forward, stabbing into the spine again, then leaping free as both sets of legs slumped to the ground, paralysing it.

He stood, staggered forward, then plunged the knife into its bulging eyes. Blood and other liquids splashed onto his face, arms, body; he leapt away, coating himself in dust that clung to him, as the lizard thrashed.

The woman, breathing heavily, pulled the spear out of the ground and walked purposefully towards the komodo dragon. She spat, then drew it back for the coup de grace.

The tip of the Altered one’s knife seemed to grow from between her breasts, red with her blood. The spear dropped from her nerveless fingers. Grozchev’s mouth widened into a cruel smile as he watched her drop to her knees, then fall forward. The mutant stared at the body, his eyes wide and mouth agape, then he ran.

Too late, he realised that he had run in the wrong direction. The komodo dragon’s tail whipped out and stabbed him in the leg, then withdrew as it shuddered and died. The man staggered, then tripped, fell, rolled to a stop. The crowd roared its approval.

Grozchev cut their adulation short with a wave of his hand, the viewscreen going dark. Pressing one of the buttons on the arm of his wheelchair he heard a bell ringing, then the door opening.


“Send the usual letter to their families. Get this mess cleared up. Bring in the next event; there’s time for one more tonight. What are viewing figures like?”

“Forty million, sir. Down two percent on last night.”

Grozchev grunted. “Make the next one more spectacular, then.”

“Of course, sir.”

“You’d better be, or you’ll be in the one after that.”

He heard the assistant gulp and smiled again. The door closed with a soft click, and he keyed the viewscreen back on. Perhaps the next fight could do something with acid spheres. Nothing left a mark on people like acid scarring.