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Butting Heads and Burning Bridges

by Sarah 10 months ago in Short Story
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An immovable object meets an unstoppable force

The sun had barely started to shine down on the cobbled road as merchants finished setting their tables up. Many people had food as food will always sell somewhere, while others had a more eclectic collection of items waiting for the right person to come along. As the day progressed, it became more lively. Musicians, artists, and daredevils all appeared, showing their skills off in exchange for money. Most of the year there’s so much hostility between the local gangs and the people, with this being the usual exception.

It’s later in the afternoon. The mosquitoes and moths have come out to circle the lamps set on counters and in the street lamps. There’s a light breeze bringing in the clouds from the ocean, “threatening rain,” says some of the locals. A large group all dressed in renaissance costumes and animal masks make their way to the center where there had been multiple people in and out, setting up a stage, throughout the day. This seems to be the main event of the evening. Sure enough, after the light from the day sneaks just under the horizon, a spotlight lights up the heavy, velvet curtains. By this point, a large crowd has left the stalls and set up small camps surrounding the stage and there’s a hush of anticipation.

The first actor to burst through with a thunderous voice welcoming the crowd is a lion. She’s wearing a long braided lion’s mane and a robe made of gold silk. Golden diamonds dangle from her neck and the hems of the long bell sleeves. Her nails are nearly six inches long and file to a deadly point. She thanks the audience for accepting the invitation to an experience of a lifetime and then explains how this is a retelling of a classic tale between two feuding houses and their star-crossed lovers.

It’s a few minutes in when a block over there’s a commotion. The two leading gangs maybe having decided to show up with the intention of marking this holiday as their own. Or it could have been fate that brought them to this spot in time. Either way, it seems the Aries group was stopped by the Taurus group at the entrance of the event. Presumably, the leader of each faction stood nose to nose, their full masks staring blankly as they both argued. All parties are wearing helmets and masks covering whoever happens to be underneath, going as far as long sleeves, gloves, and high collared necks. Not even hair shows.

The bull threads his fingers together and stretches above his wide horns that jut from the side of the helmet. This is when hell breaks loose and the little ram, with her pastel pink gloves and leather jacket and curved horns, slams her body weight into the bull’s ribs, taking him down to the ground.

Before long there’s unbelievable carnage. Bats, brass knuckles, and heavy chains are all objects of each other’s destruction. Blood seeps through clothes and people are falling like flies, neither group willing to give in or give up. It’s only ever been this option. There’s only ever been a fight waiting. Or has it? The ram is pinned under the bull with his brown gloves wrapped around her throat. She knees him in the ribs causing his grip to loosen. Seeing her opportunity, she shoves him off of her. Instead of immediately lunging at him, blood-thirsty, she finds herself staring at her girls laying around her. “Hey! Where the fuck are you going? Get back here,” the bull calls after her as she falls to her knees and crawls over to the closest girl. Muffled sobs rack her body as she ignores him. There’s nothing stopping the bull from grabbing her and forcing her to return to him so why isn’t he? “Did you hear me? I said come back here and fight me! Kill me! I don’t care anymore!” This time his voice is shaking and pleading but still, he’s ignored.

“Ahhhhhh!” The bull falls to the ground, eventually falling completely onto his back. The rain had started sometime during the fight and was only drizzling now. By the time the cops arrive the ram is still crying but some of the other rams are starting to stir. The bull is silently revealing his numbness and regret after the adrenaline. The bull has stood and is reaching for the woman on the ground as an officer tackles him to the ground.

There’s a quick round-up of as many people as they can get their hands on. Some of the attendees to the festival are lingering around the scene but the heart is still quite lively with the play in bright, colorful contrast to the carnage in the shadows. If you ask the older locals they all say something similar to “We didn’t stare for too long after the cars had left. Just long enough to burn the memories in our souls.”

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