Sunday, March 09, 2014

All These Things Happened On My Birthday (250=1)

All These Things Happened On My Birthday:

In 475 AD, Emperor Zeno fled Constantinople, surrendering control of the Byzantine Empire to Basiliscus. That much we know.  What we don’t know is what Basiliscus’ favorite song was . Basiliscus almost certainly had a favorite song: do you suppose that favorite songs arose only in the modern era?

As he stands on the steps of Constantinople’s capital, Basiliscus, holding up a spear, perhaps, bloodied but proud, his hair the kind of noble mess that only ancient gladiatorial rulers in metal chest plates can pull off, Basiliscus gazes out onto the streets, littered with bodies and starting to darken as the sun begins to set, far off in the West, where the Mediterranean Sea will appear to redden with the blood of his conquest.

His soldiers are securing the city.  They are going door to door in places, rooting out troops loyal to Zeno, scaring some of the populace and reassuring others.  Merchants are cowering within their shops, hoping that some of their wares survive the inevitable looting tonight.

Already, his personal guard is starting a bonfire.  Basiliscus can smell the burning wood torn off of some homes, and soon the smell of meat on spits will join it and the city will be alight with twenty-foot tall waves of celebratory flames.

And he is humming, almost unconsciously, a song, a little ditty about Anastasius and Diane, perhaps. His reign is going to last only until next August. Let him enjoy the moment.
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In 250=1 I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title. I've written lots of them; here's a list.

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The short stories here will introduce unforgettable people living remarkable lives. Cowboys wander in a timeless desert. Scientists meet in secret to plot a new way to get attention, and money, from people. A man and his would-be lover try to find lions on safari, and more. The people and places in this book spring to life fully-formed and full of anxiety and imagination. They worry about the time they have had and the time they have left. They bury their loved ones and look for new friends. They talk and laugh and hope and cry and die, while their friends and family and enemies and Gods watch them, seeing, in their faces and actions and fears, a portrait of just exactly how life looks.

3 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

He liked -that- song? No wonder his reign didn't last. Such poor taste.

Elsie Amata said...

As soon as I read the word *diddy*, that song started playing in my head. Looks like John Cougar owes someone someone's family some royalty checks. Or, at the very least, a shout out!

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