Muse: Traitor’s Gate
Prompt: Call me Joe, for I am man of the hour.
I walk through the gate with my head held high. It doesn’t matter that the ropes securing my wrists are so tight that my fingers are numb or that I cannot take deep breaths without pain.
No one listens to a traitor.
There will be no lenience, no chance anyone will loosen the thick hemp that binds me. No one will check on my fractured ribs.
So, I take shallow breaths and force myself to walk with my chin up and eyes forward to the judges, ignoring the crowd. The stands are full to bursting and they have allowed cameras so that the multiverse can see justice served. No proof required.
A tinny voice recites the charges against me. The arena echoes the displeasure of the spectators. The punishment is a one-way trip through the Traitor’s Gate. There is no trial, no witnesses, no appeal.
The Gate is your Judge, Jury and Executioner.
Legend says the Gate was where they’ve always sent criminals of the multiverse. The most popular versions of the legend say that it leads to a far off, isolated world, populated only by carnivorous beasts. Other tales say the gate leads to a different place for everyone, that if you’re guilty, it’s far worse than the worst Hell you could ever imagine.
It is a guaranteed one-way trip. No one has ever returned.
I keep a brave face as they open the gate. An abyss opens in the rock before me, a swirling mass of black and gray. Rough hands push me into the chasm and I am pulled through a vacuum of nothing.
I land hard on a bed of jade colored moss. The breath is knocked out of me and I gasp for air. I try to calm myself; trying not to breathe too deeply; try not to picture snapping jaws coming to investigate the noise I undoubtedly made as I crashed to the ground.
Pain and stress finally catch up and overwhelm consciousness. An undetermined amount of time later, I come back to, the sky looks the same but now my arms are free and I don’t know how. There is a small brown basket near me. No one is around, just the basket. Someone, or something, has come by and left this. It’s an odd assortment of brown and green, and nothing smells or tastes like much of anything. There is a blue bottle that has an odorless and colorless liquid inside. Tastes like sweet water but makes me feel remarkably better.
I dozed again and awoke to find a small, blue man watching me. He brought me another basket. This one filled with the same things as before but also motioned for me to follow him. I picked up the basket and walked warily behind him. I crept around the corner and there was a little village, with hundreds of miniature blue people. In the midst of the town is a worn granite statue of a large man.
Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at the new arrival, me. I stood at least three foot taller than any of the blue people. I am astonished to realize that the face of the stone man looks remarkably like me.
Call me Joe, for I am man of the hour.