The Lion Doesn't Sleep Tonight - A Very Roman Holiday

Written by Laura Fink

The Skin Traveler

© 2001 Laura Fink / All Rights Reserved Episode One - The Lion Doesn't Sleep Tonight

The sculpted bushes and phosphorous fountains of Shiver Tower Gardens began to fade, and Tock felt a strange buzzing in his head. He saw his hand reach in slow motion for his mouse, but before he could touch it, he found himself sitting in a dim corner of a dark enclosure. It smelled musty, like a cave. Beside him was his laptop. Although his cell-phone was nowhere in sight,repparttar computer appeared to be still on-line. Tock puzzled over this for a moment, and then began to look around. He heard voices speaking quietly in a foreign tongue. As he strained to listen, he found that gradually he was able to understand their language. The voices came fromrepparttar 118297 center ofrepparttar 118298 room, where a group of simply clothed men and women sat onrepparttar 118299 floor, their heads bowed.

"And Father, please take away all fear, so that we may give honor to Your Name," one man said. "Amen!"repparttar 118300 other voices added in unison.

With shock, Tock noticed that he was dressed just likerepparttar 118301 folk sitting onrepparttar 118302 floor. Quickly, he stuffed his computer into a spare corner of his shell, asrepparttar 118303 sound of clanging metal filledrepparttar 118304 room. It was then that he noticedrepparttar 118305 bars that closed offrepparttar 118306 far end ofrepparttar 118307 room. A key turned in a lock, andrepparttar 118308 bars swung open. The shadow of a very big man with a serious case of body odor filledrepparttar 118309 room. "All of you, rise!" he bellowed. The small group stood meekly. The brute withrepparttar 118310 key pointed his truncheon at Tock. "You, too! The lions are especially hungry, today!"

Tock froze, sweat running down his face. Mamma mia! This was notrepparttar 118311 trip he had planned! He wondered vaguely whererepparttar 118312 Tourist Information Office was located.

The beastly smelling, over-muscled Roman guard led Tock andrepparttar 118313 others into a small holding pen which led, through a gate, intorepparttar 118314 open coliseum. A faint roaring sound came fromrepparttar 118315 arena. What,repparttar 118316 lions were out there already? Tock wondered. His stomach tightened. But no, it was justrepparttar 118317 roar ofrepparttar 118318 crowd. They wanted to see blood, guts, and ripped flesh. Tock wondered if he had time to downloadrepparttar 118319 trailer for "Gladiator" fromrepparttar 118320 Net. Would that satisfy them?

Behindrepparttar 118321 back ofrepparttar 118322 guard, who stood Rambo-like atrepparttar 118323 gate torepparttar 118324 arena, Tock edged nearer to investigate a foul-smelling hole in one corner ofrepparttar 118325 room. Phew! The removal of human waste products certainly had improved inrepparttar 118326 last millenium or two. A little standard lo-tech hygeine would be good for these folks. One ofrepparttar 118327 prisoners drew close to Tock and leaned down to whisper in his ear.

"Brother, I see you have noticed something of interest." Tock looked up at him quizzically, then down atrepparttar 118328 primitive loo. Ah, of course! "Being of such small stature, you could find your way through this fissure down intorepparttar 118329 sewage tunnels that criss-cross this city. And from there:"

The Gray, the Blue, and the Green

Written by Laura Fink

The Skin Traveler

© 2001 Laura Fink / All Rights Reserved

Episode Two - "The Gray,repparttar Blue, andrepparttar 118296 Green"

The buzzing in Tock's head faded, and he found himself outside in a forest at mid-day. "Toto, we're not inrepparttar 118297 sewer, anymore", he said to a nearby squirrel. The squirrel, whose name apparently was not Toto, didn't answer. Before Tock could instinctively withdraw into his shell,repparttar 118298 sound of voices arrested his attention. He craned his neck to see what was happening. In a clearing, a scraggly group of men seemed to be arguing with one man who stood on a tree stump. Behind them stoodrepparttar 118299 tattered remains of four or five tents that probably used to be white. Tock crawled closer to get a better look.

"We're done for, I tell you. Hain't no chance under heaven we'll make it out of here. Let's up and take torepparttar 118300 forest, every man for himself!" This cry fromrepparttar 118301 crowd drew a general response of cheers.

The man onrepparttar 118302 tree stump shook his head, sadly. "God's truth, we're in a bad spot," he said. "We've got no proper food, medicine, or clean water. For six days we've had no contact with our commanders, and we can ill afford another encounter withrepparttar 118303 enemy such as we had yesterday." At this,repparttar 118304 crowd murmered fearfully. "But men! Take courage! According to my calculations, we may very well find General Grant's forces nary a day's walk from this spot. Alone, you may be captured. Together, we'll salvage what's left of our honor and make a stand. Who will follow me?"

Tock was now right under their noses, posing as just another creature ofrepparttar 118305 forest. He watched anxiously asrepparttar 118306 men muttered amongst themselves. One of them spoke up. "I say let's take until sundown to decide. Then inrepparttar 118307 morning, we either split up or carry on together, as Andrew proposes. What say ye'?" There was a chorus a "yeas", andrepparttar 118308 men moved apart. Tock crawled to where Andrew now sprawled alone under a tree. Tock mustered all his courage, and dared to speak.

"Eh, excuse me, sir." Andrew opened one eye and looked upward. Not seeing anyone, he closed it again. "Eh, down here. It's me,repparttar 118309 turtle." Andrew turned his head cautiously, then drew in his breath.

"I'm having a bless't vision, that's what it is. Not enough sleep, probably."

"No doubt, that'srepparttar 118310 reason," Tock answered sensibly. "But listen, I want to help you. Can you please tell me where we are, and when?"

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