Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Genot Erebus
By Rory Fleming

Genot Erebus discovered the majesty of intimidation. In a skirmish between his people and theirs, he sat on the grassy knoll with his curved knives and dug into his own abdomen. First, his soldiers stopped trying to hack apart the enemy. Then the enemy stopped swinging back at them. The loudest sound on the battlefield, steel clanging against steel, died down. He found his intestines and dangled them between his fingers. The enemy commander, Taurus Bambino, was given word that Erebus decided to inflict harm upon his own body.

Bambino, a very big man, marched down from the officers’ tent to see for himself. His spiny shadow trampled the grass that his feet missed. His armor was jagged so he could run into others and impale them on his own body. Sometimes he would kill his own men. Not today, he decided. If there was something he would never consider, it would be to impale himself. Erebus, he thought, was a stronger man than him.

When he finally came to the oozing enemy commander, he crumpled like a diseased bull. Bambino’s troops reluctantly carried him back to the tent. Erebus smiled (just barely) from his spot on the ground. His own soldiers carried him to their tent.

Peace was patched together, the threat of war staved off for a little longer. Nurses wrapped Erebus’s stomach around with gauzy bandages to push his insides back to where their belonged. His squire lifted him into a horse-drawn carriage with the assistance of four other men.

Genot Erebus himself was quite a large man. A keeling, sick, and desperate man.

For this, Genot Erebus became a hero.


The Queen praised him for his act in the Court of the Shadestress. She gave him a room in the palace and said that he could ask for any pleasures he desired. Erebus did not long after any pleasures. He wanted a good surgeon. He permanently disfigured his belly and wanted it undone. The Queen informed him that all the surgeons left when the Court announced a policy of isolationism, and that there would be no more war.

He ordered books from the palace library and all of them were on suture. He slid a handwritten note under the heavy oak door and his squire, who he no longer saw face to face, fetched the books for him. The squire knocked on the door, Erebus reached his hand through a little crack, and he dragged the tomes into his darkened space. He placed them on his splintering desk and sat in the stool he used for reading. On the desk rested a single candle. Its vanilla wax melted and occasionally he nodded off from his studies and watched it drip down to the dish. He licked the flame once and felt nothing. It left a scar on his tongue.

Of course, a hero could not remain inactive for long. War broke out soon enough. He got a letter under his door, the first one that slid from out to in. They were sending him back to hell.


His stomach was not fully healed from his attempted operation. No one was willing to seal up the wounds but he, because they wanted to recognize the excellence of their hero.

Half-stitched, defeated, he stumbled back to the officers’ tent.

“Sir, sir,” whined his squire, “the soldiers of the Blood Kingdom are gaining ground on us. What do we do?”

Erebus drank fortified spirits from the bottle and slurred, “Just meet them on the field. I’ll be there too, don’t worry.”

But the squire was worried, because he knew that Erebus never knew how to fight, unlike Bambino’s Blood Knights.

Erebus and Bambino rode their horses to the center. They embarked at the same time and even arrived at the same time. Bambino hopped from his horse and drew his blade. Erebus did not jump off his horse but waited for Bambino to approach him instead.

Bambino lowered his head, his helmet with the horns, and sunk his horns into Erebus’s horse, which died instantly. He was knocked to the ground. His stitches ripped open, displaying his intestines. They reeked like an uncooked flank roasting in the sun. His Shadow Troops retreated into the hills and left Erebus with Bambino and his warriors.

“That trick will only work once,” Bambino laughed, closing in on him, “And we have no use for those like you in our kingdom.”

Bambino took his blade and lopped the head off Genot Erebus. He tossed it up into the air, impaled it on his blood-encrusted blade. Then he snapped his fingers, whistled, and ordered his warriors to march onward to the Kingdom of Shadows.


Genot Erebus was altered in the history books. The team of scholars from Bambino’s kingdom reported that Erebus was the founder of ritual suicide, after his initial defeat by their leader’s hands. The Shadow Kingdom too was rewritten, its legacy of artists and tradition of obscure community erased in favor of less introspective virtues. Bambino’s people were those that could change the world, they concluded. The Shadow Kingdom alone was weak enough to be overwritten, blown over by the wind and washed away by the tides.

Shadows still existed in the land, however. Even Bambino, the new king, had a shadow where he stood. Its name was Thanatos Erebus, also known as Thanatos Eerius, a scholar in the printing division. He knew little of his father. Like the other young people, he was reared on principles of violence. He sharpened his pencils by day and his knifes at night.

Bambino soon died. Thanatos also died. Then no one else died, and nothing went back to the way it was.

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Rory Fleming is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina who is attending UNC School of Law in the fall. When not training to become a magician of contracts and potential future statesman, he is hard at work weaving new worlds that long to be populated by readers and sympathizers. He has been published or has work forthcoming at The Speculative Edge, Three Line Poetry, Apocrypha and Abstractions, and Short, Fast, and Deadly.


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