A Matter Of Perspective

2nd in the 'Story Writing Comp 2000' competition

Jean-Paul brooded. A veteran warrior, he had witnessed moments that would make anyone cringe. The agony of watching as a comrade’s life ebbs away before you, victim of chance and fate, staring penitently into the eyes of a twisted foe, hell-bent on winning the malicious game of war. He had seen it all. And, whether by wariness or chance, he had survived it too. But now, as he stared into the eyes of this enemy, he knew he was finished. Though he prided himself on being not only agile but versatile too, this opponent matched and countered his every move, getting closer and closer to the final, fatal blow. So far, Jean-Paul could hold his own. His ability to counter-attack, however, of turning the tables on his antagonist, was woefully inadequate. It’s only a matter of time now, he realised.
A matter of time.

Joseph tossed yet another rock. His beady eyes scanned for something to pique his curiosity. A conspicuous clump of bushes lay ahead. Ever the entrepreneur, Joey pulled them aside and saw a spectacle. A preying mantis and a scorpion were battling fiercely. He located a nearby rock and sat on it. This was fascinating.

It was a suitable end, at least. Just like so many other fighters he’d admired, his death would be a sudden jolt of pain, then nothingness. Many times, he’d wished it so. He’d imagine falling nobly in heated battle. Finally, I can rest. The thought comforted him for a moment. Another savage swipe to the side, and Jean-Paul danced away. Usually, he’d be able to outrun an opponent and finish him off when he was fatigued and weakened. In this case, however, dodging and weaving only made his antagonist stronger, more determined and somehow, more vicious. To top it off, his armour was too thick for Jean-Paul’s attacks. Running was out of the question too. After his back was turned, one blow would end it all. Another frontal slash, and Jean-Paul leapt back, hitting a wall. He straightened proudly. Now was his time.

Joseph sat up. The preying mantis was cornered! He’d been banking on the proud insect to win all along, and now this. He frowned. This was not ruining his afternoon. He glanced around. Time to help.

The villainous opponent drew closer. The tail arched up, poised ready to finish him off. Despite himself, in his last moment on earth, Jean-Paul was content.

The tail came lashing around, just as Jean-Paul anticipated. Before it connected though, a meteor from the heavens flew down, crushing the invincible foe, thus ending the epic duel. Jean-Paul, dazed but victorious, exited swiftly.

Direct hit! Joey jumped up and down jubilantly. He could barely hear his parents calling him, so he rushed off, dizzy with the joy of war.

Jean-Paul moved like the wind, flying across the terrain. For a moment, he perused his recent victory, the futility and remorse, the miracle of survival. Then, the thought passed and he was one with the night.

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