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Too Many Heroes

posted Monday, 10 December 2007
Written today and first published here today.
The soldiers marched through the forest, some even taller than the trees. These soldiers were actually over-engineered robots at the same time as being scaled down to appear like giant human beings; they marched under the orders of two special robots that were in turn scaled up to appear like stunted versions of the gods depicted in the Ancient Book.

It was as if nobody understood the chain of command but were jockeying for positions in the variously perceived pecking orders of robot, human and god.

“How many more?” roared one god to the other.

“Millions, millions of them, marching to their death,” was the reply, with redoubled roar to outbid the screeching air.

Wild bird-fighters soared and slanted, sky-skidding and -skimming above the belittled forest. A huge forest belittled by those who marched through it.

One by one the soldiers died a terrible death, across eternities of hand-to-hand fighting, the single force of a single army battling within its own ranks amid a makeshift war.

“There are two many heroes,” roared a pipsqueak god, diminished by the cruelty he oversaw.

“Too many brave hearts,” roared an even pipsqueakier god.

The roars were only roars because all other sounds had become a foil of silence. The roars were – in pitiful effect – barely beyond the threshold of hearing.

One solitary robot having survived the eternities looked towards the twin towers of what once were the gods who had held sway upon the infighting army. He wore a soldier’s metal armour and was in truth merely a soldier disguised as a robot, as would become clear in almost instantaneous hindsight. The towers became – amid the roiling mists at the end of time – the covers of the Ancient Book. Spineless and without title. The forest’s trees were bending down between them like courtly pages-in-waiting.

Smothered by silence, our last soldier tried to find another soldier like himself to fight, rather than have his eyes pecked out by a bony bird-fighter settling – even as he thought about it – upon his face from the sky. But it was simply a ghost configured from the soldier’s own metal-eyelid wings hovering like eye-floaters.

The last hero was one too many.

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