A Deadly Pause
The sounds of combat echoed through the arena as the crusader, Sir Halloch, assaulted his enemy, Drakkus, the Black Knight. The crowd thundered applause with every blow.
Halloch had Drakkus stunned. Dizzied by the flurry of blows, he hadn’t held out long. Doubled over, Drakkus heaved deep and hollow breaths. The end would come momentarily.
Halloch knew that God had granted him this victory. He had planned for this moment, visualized the combination of maneuvers he would unleash on his foe. At God’s behest, he would win this competition and rally support for the Great Crusade.
The crowd quieted. Halloch hesitated. He did not move—could not move! Was this some kind of spell? Murloch the Enchanter had the potential to freeze an opponent, but Halloch dispatched the wizard in a previous combat.
At least Drakkus seems to suffer as well, thought Halloch. He struggled to free himself as the invisible force gripped him. Moments passed as the petrified champions froze still as statues; suddenly Drakkus stood, laughing.
Halloch’s pupils dilated with dread. He couldn’t coax his arms to even ready his shield.
Seconds ago, Drakkus was on the verge of death. His armor bore the marks of the abuse that Sir Halloch had meted out. Now, the evil warrior taunted him.
With a cackle of laughter, Drakkus charged. Unsheathing a serrated blade, the combatant ripped into the immobile Halloch’s armor.
A forceful roundhouse kick connected with Halloch’s chin and sent him flying across the battleground. He crawled to his feet and limply readied his sword, still unable to defend.
As another barrage of attacks fell upon Halloch, he cried out to God. He needed rescue from this power that controlled him. If he could only free himself, he would end this madness.
The crowd roared their approval, now cheering for the Black Knight. Drakkus took his magic amulet and launched a flaming ball of mystic energy.
Halloch howled as the projectile seared through him, beating him to the ground. His thoughts challenged his faith. Why doesn’t God release me? Are my actions not done in His name? Where are you, God?
The battered crusader slowly got to his feet, his armor still smoldered from the previous attack. Halloch futilely held his weapon. But, his will was impotent.
He couldn’t hold out against further abuse. Drakkus launched another painful orb at him.
As he fell, Halloch’s emotions raged. Had I known the outcome, would I have still entered this combat, accepted the challenge? What is God’s will in this? Could I have been wrong…about everything?
He crawled to his feet for the last time. Halloch was spent, and knew it. Even if this force released him, he doubted if he could throw a single blow.
Perhaps this was God’s plan, that he become a martyr for the cause. Would his death be a catalyst for God’s plan? That would be the first question he would ask God. Halloch dropped his sword as the adjudicator cried, “Finish him!”
* * *
“Hey! You unpaused it!” yelled Steve as he ran back into the room. He zipped his fly as he entered. “You jerk! I had to use the bathroom!”
Joe laughed at him, controller in hand, as he enacted a final combo move. Drakkus, The Black Knight, unleashed a massive fireball that fried poor Sir Halloch. The next screen displayed the game players’ statistics.
“And I was winning, too.” Steve picked up his controller and sat next to Joe.
“Alright, fine,” said Joe. “Rematch?”
Christopher Schmitz is the author of The Kakos Realm fantasy novel series. His short fiction works include pieces of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, literary fiction, and satire. You can check out more of his writings at www.TheKakosRealm.com. He has works published and pending publication in Shine, Halo Magazine, Bewildering Stories, and Brilliant!
He says, "The motivation behind A Deadly Pause is simply the matter of perception. Our circumstances are not always what they might appear as. The starting thought behind this flash story was the title of the book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." The thought followed course and arrived at, "What would video game characters feel and think about their predicaments?"