Great short story Barb. I love the ending. I didn't see that coming, and I bet poor Lucius didn't either. See, he should have been watching your naked dance instead of sleeping.3. At the Optio's command, three legionnaires step forward, squat down next to my cross and begin to lift ... grunting with exertion ... cursing ... struggling to pry the heavy timber from the sticky mire into which it has settled. Clouds of exhaled breath fill the cold dank air as their burden shudders and grudgingly begins to move.
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"That's it. Now, forward with it lads!" directs the Optio. "Heave! Ho!"
"Easy for him to say when we are the ones breaking our backs," grumbles the one called Markus.
"Shut up and lift, you fool. Let's hope for your sake he didn't hear that," hushes another.
The angle of incline increases as the third legionnaire, positioned above my head, puts his shoulder into it, causing me to slide down a bit, exerting pressure on and tearing at the wounds in my nailed wrists. Blood trickles down my arms in fine little braided rivulets.
My cross and I are moving now, but the ride is rough. The base of the stipe keeps catching on roots and clumps of turf as the legionnaires struggle to move it forward. I am shaken about like a rag doll ... breasts jiggling and head knocking against the wood. I wail and moan as the jostling and rubbing of raw nerves against iron nails overwhelm my senses.
The whole enterprise falters and nearly collapses when Markus stumbles over Lucius' castoff helmet. As he hops about on one foot ... shouting "deodamnatus!" ... the cross lurches sharply to the left and I am flung off to one side, where I am left hanging and screaming in agony until he regains his footing and rights the cross.
Once we have reached the edge of the hole, the legionnaires pause to plant their feet firmly in the treacherous mud before raising their burden high enough to drop it squarely in its hole. Up I go. Time seems to stand still for a moment. The cross sways from side to side. Rain beats down on me and the straining soldiers below. My head rolls forward. I look down, wide-eyed ... waiting ... wondering when.
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Then they let go. The base of the stipe slips into the hole and hits bottom. The jolting impact casts my body away from the wood, swinging out to twist and turn in the rain and wind, before being slammed back hard against the wood. It is done! I have been raised and crucified!
Wooden staves and stones are hastily driven into place to secure the cross in an upright position. The whole thing shakes as the staves are driven home. My body shakes with each new shudder runs up through the thick timber. Only when the last stave is in, can the legionnaires step back to survey the results. Arms folded, temporarily out of breath from their exertions, they gaze up at me as I hang nakedly from my wrists, knees bent, legs lewdly spread to reveal my open womanhood.
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"Such a waste of good cunt!" mutters Markus, as he surveys my panting body and pokes his finger up between my thighs and twists it about.
"What do you think it would be like to screw a noble woman like her?" muses Lucius. "Do you think she would secretly relish being fucked by the likes of me? Bet her man was only half the man I am."
"Don't flatter yourself! If she was mine, I'd go straight for that tight little ass of hers, I would," laughs the third legionnaire.
"Knock it off ... you dolts ... " snaps the Optio. "Form up, let's get out of here. Lucius! You stay behind and keep a watch. She should tire fast enough in the cold and the rain. You shouldn't have to stay long. In the meantime, get under a shield and enjoy the show."
For hours I dance the dance of the crucified. Pushing and pulling myself up for desperate gasps of air, sliding back down, and then doing it all over again. Sitting under the shelter of his overturned shield, Lucius watches, clearly enjoying my naked suffering at first, then losing interest, dozing and falling asleep.
Before long I am alone. My efforts to raise myself become more ragged. The strength has left my arms and legs. The excruciating pain of pushing and pulling against the iron nails driven so brutally through my wrists and feet is too great. I become listless, uncaring, resigned to my fate. The rain feels even colder on my skin than before. The temperature is dropping. The rain comes in icy, stinging darts. I shiver uncontrollably. My head sways from side to side. I begin to hallucinate; to pass in and out of consciousness.
During a lucid moment, I think hear a voice. From where? Behind me? Calling my name! Is it the woman on the other cross behind me? Do I know her? Is she alive? Do we share something ... have something in common ... beyond being crucified nearly side by side? I want to talk to her, share my misery with her.... she is so near, yet so far.
I attempt to turn in her direction, expending the last of my energy and strength to swing out from my cross, twist about, call out to her. She moves her head. She heard me. Who is she? Sheets of rain obscure her. I can't maintain this position. I falter and writhe, then fall back. I am too weak. I will never know her or hear her response.. I hang helplessly. It's no use.
The sky has darkened and the rain has become so torrential now that the ground has flooded. The ditch along the road has overflowed. My cross gradually begins to list forward, its moorings surrendering to the growing fluidity of the muddy morass below. The tilting continues, more rapidly now. I hang out away from the stipe now, back arched, new pressures tear at my nailed wrists.
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Something gives way. The sharp sound of splintering wood competes with the howling wind. I am going down! ... right on top of a slumbering Lucius crouched beneath his heavy Roman shield!
I float back into consciousness. I lie face down in the mud, the heavy cross weighing down on top of me, pressing me into the mud. I turn my head to the side. Water half covers my face. I am unable to move, unable to raise my head ... helplessly drowning.
Beside me, lies Lucius ... eyes vacant and eerily wide open ... an expression of utter surprise on his face .. blood streaming from a cracked skull. A short distance away ... his helmet ... turned upside down on the ground ... filled to overflowing with water.
A heartfelt thanks here to both madiosi and Tree for all their efforts to provide such great manips to accompany my story. THANKS GUYS!