X – Roman Moving Day?

Dear Journal:

Things have taken a dangerous and mystifying turn. Yesterday, I decided that I’d had enough of the ‘stay at home’ situation. I figured that, if I was under house arrest, they could darn well tell me. That said, I put on my favorite traveling toga and went out for a stroll.

The guys at the end of the street glared at me as I walked by, but didn’t try to stop me. Instead, they fell in behind me, and our merry little group sauntered off. I took my regular route through the merchant district and waved at everyone as I walked by. I was in a fairly good mood, and why not? I had my own bodyguards. I could pretend I was a big shot. So much for illusions of grandeur.

We had covered a good distance and were entering an older section of town, when it happened. My little group of three turned a corner (I hate corners) and practically ran into three members of the City Watch. The three guys in front of us didn’t look too happy. If looks could have killed…well, you get the gist of it.

Their leader, a big, beefy, smelly type gripped his sword and snarled, “Hey! You’re th’ guy who testified at the Senate aren’t ya’!”

I started to answer, but was cut short by mister chuckles.

“Sure ya’ are. Ya’ wouldn’t have two of our guys guardin’ ya’ if you wasn’t. Ya’ know the fella’ that was watchin’ ya’ at the corner? Your friends made dog food outa’ him! That wasn’t very nice! Now we’re gonna’ make dog food outa’ YOU!!”

So saying, the men behind me grabbed me, while the ones in front got ready to carve. I had given up struggling and was watching my murderers with horrid fascination, when I was suddenly released, while the three guys in front of me started to back up. They didn’t get far.

Around me roared a wave of armored death as Praetorian Guardsmen made short, bloody work of my captors. The battle (smirk!) was over before I could catch onto my sudden shift in fortune. I was saved! Yeah…riiight.

The situation was about to get worse in a twisted sort of way. The leader of the dozen or so men sauntered up to me and smiled a crooked smile.

“You should have stayed at home. It isn’t safe on these streets. Never can tell what might happen.”

Apparently, he saw my look of growing discomfort because he genuinely grinned.

“Relax citizen. You’re safe. We were sent to pick you up, and when we found you not at home, we asked your neighbors. They told us of your walks and the two gunsels who were with you. Those guys were supposed to prevent you from going anywhere, not join up with you. On a hunch we headed for this district. Good thing we did, too. Almost didn’t make it on time. Anyway, you’re safe, so come along with us. We’ll escort you home.”

To say that I was immensely relieved was an understatement. Then, my confused brain really began to think. Why were the Praetorians sent to ‘pick me up’? And where were they supposed to deliver me?

At that moment, another fact intruded into my thoughts. We weren’t headed back to my house! Instead, we were headed toward the Palatine Hill, where the rich and sneaky folks lived. I mentioned this to the officer and he grinned again (much like an Egyptian crocodile).

“Oh, we had orders to pack you up and move you to a safer location. The Emperor was getting the jitters about something happening to you. As we speak, your belongings are headed to their new home. Yessir! You’ve moved up in the world! Welcome to your new home!”

While we had been talking, we traveled up the hill to the VERY rich district, and had come to a stop in front of a very imposing villa. I couldn’t afford this!! At my panicked enquiry, the officer just laughed.

“You don’t pay a cent. This is gratis of the Empire. And from now on, WE’LL be watching…er…guarding you.”

Yup! The worst was yet to come.

Chapter XI

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 2:29 PM  Comments (3)