Imma jump right into this one and put the prompt at the end. This is one I got out of my bits binder. I don’t know what I had in mind when I scribbled it down, but this is what came when I read it this morning.
Into the Breach
by Marian Allen
The voice said, “Next.”
Uniformed officials opened gates in the four arenas within sight and admitted contestants two by two.
The keeper of Gate #3 drew a sword when more than two tried to push through. They had orders to let more than two in sometimes, but it wasn’t pretty when that happened. Melees were always messy.
This one was a wrestling match. Sometimes they were slugfests. Sometimes they were games of chance. A lot of them were talent shows; those were fun. Now and then, there would be puzzle-solving competitions or debates. Brain stuff. Those were Gatekeeper #3’s favorites. Most of them were this brute force stuff, though, and it sure got old.
But hold on! This one was different!
The combatants were unevenly matched, which usually made for a short bout. One was sturdy, almost to the point of bulkiness, vibrating with physical power. The other was slightly but noticeably smaller, slimmer, weaker. But the weaker one was holding out against the stronger, brain against brawn.
Gatekeeper #3 felt interest stirring in the usually impatient crowd around the arena’s edge, too.
The combatants circled, facing each other, but Big was just working up steam; Small was watching for an advantage. Big plowed in, shoving a shoulder toward Small’s torso. Small dodged aside, leaving enough leg in the way for Big to trip over and go sprawling. Quick as lightning, Small knelt on Big’s back, twisting one of those bulging arms up over the raging face.
The crowd roared rough blessing for the winner, for diversion in the infinity of round after round of combat that only mattered to those inside the arenas.
They roared too soon: Big bucked that broad back and flexed those steel-cable muscles and swept Small off onto the ground.
Small rolled and leaped upright. Big wrapped both arms around Small, squeezing mercilessly. Small’s head lolled back. Unconscious?
No! Small’s head snapped forward, hitting Big’s nose with a crunch that bounced off the wall of spectators. Big, blinded by pain, fell, but took Small down, too.
Hard to tell who was winning, now. The two were entangled, Big seeming to be everywhere, Small’s hand gripping Big’s heel.
A voice bigger than all creation intoned, “Time!”
The figures in the arena vanished, with no clear winner.
They’d be twins, then.
The voice said, “Next,” and Gate #3 swung open to let two more contenders into the arena.
~ * ~
MY WRITING PROMPT: The unborn chooses to be born, chooses parents, directs and compels it to happen.