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Deborah pulled her jacket around her. It was cold tonight, the streets empty. Bags of rubbish littered the road; she rolled her eyes. These people were scarcely better than Outzoners. Eventually she arrived at the Stadium, its large spotlights shining out like a beacon against the night sky.

She entered the stadium and took her seat. Below, three circles, two men in each. Papers on her seat explained their misdeeds. One had allowed his wife to have relations outside of marriage; another had spoken harshly towards an agent of the Elect; another had been lax in his attendance at Temple; and so on. Deborah tutted, a small amount of revulsion welling up inside her. Revulsion mixed with gratification, gratification that these sinners were getting their deserved treatment, and that she and others were able to watch.

She looked around her. The couple from down the road were here, barely showing affection. And his jacket was clearly scuffed at the wrists. Most unacceptable. She felt a shiver run up her spine.

A voice boomed over the tannoy system, echoing through the stadium. "Ladies and Gentlemen, in the name of the City, in the name of Justice, in the name of the Elect - this is Retribution."

A roar passed through the crowd. The men in the circles tensed, faced up to one another. A whistle sounded. Suddenly the men were fighting, brutalising one another. She watched, entranced, as one swung his fist at another's face, a spurt of blood erupting from a newly fractured nose. The man staggered back, clutching his face, before lunging forward with a snarl, arms reaching for his opponent's throat.

In the next circle, the two men had obtained crude weapons, substantial blocks of wood pierced with nails and wrapped in jagged wire. They circled menacingly, before lunging at one another, blood dripping to the floor, grunting, swinging their fists. One managed to trip the other and, before he could regain his feet, brought his club crashing down on the man's ankle, wire ripping through flesh and tendons.

The crowd grew louder and louder, chanting, cheering, booing, jeering. A cheer went up as one of the men slipped on a pair of spiked gloves and began to beat his opponent, tearing into his skin. Suddenly Deborah was part of it, up on her feet, screaming for blood. The energy passed through her body, exhilirating, disorienting. She was no longer herself, but part of the mass, and the anger of the collective passed through her. It raised into a crescendo, hundreds of voices raised as one in righteous anger, a fury greater than any of them alone could muster.

Suddenly a noise passed over the tannoy, a horn, deafening. The men leapt apart and stood alone, shaking, blood dripping from innumerable wounds. After a moment they left the stadium, guided away by officials.

Deborah sat back in her seat, exhausted, drained. Retribution had been served.


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The following comments are for "Retribution"
by JonnyT

future past/ future present
in many ways the formal, almost ceremonial violence harks back to the days of gladiatorial combat, but then, in a more sinister way looks forward, to a culture so obsessed with violence that it has become a form of entertainment, not merely in mimicry, but in fact... worse yet is that this is not such a far cry for some places in the present, where harsh punishments are meted out in a brutal mockery of justice...

the result is a sci-fi tale that is eerily familiar. you know your way around this genre well, and it is always a pleasure to read you.

( Posted by: AuldMiseryGuts [Member] On: October 29, 2008 )

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