The Last Descent

Note: Brilliant Lilith at Because We’re Poets gave us Short Story Prompt #6 #: to write a short story to the music in the video below.

He ran up the stone stairs, scaling them two by two. The sword, hanging from the sheath on his waist, was clinking noisily against his thigh like an offbeat drummer announcing the momentous occasion.

The roof of the castle was blown clean through by the tools of war. Rains had poured in and moss was growing on the stairs. The destruction of the vast space looked like a gaping wound. The end of an era, he happily thought.

As he steadily ascended the castle walls, he passed windows that looked out onto the vast fields that had once been immaculate. Now they were scattered with corpses and bonfires smoldering.

It was a long war – a world war with too many dead on all sides. Enough casualties to bring a halt to the insanity chronicled by senseless killings, homes destructed and orphans constructed. Finally came agreements and understandings of trust etched in men’s hearts and words of wisdom forged on formal decrees. The last war on earth had brought peace at last. Soon there would be pledges signed, armies disbanded, nations disarmed.

He, too, would have to surrender his own sword. He drew it out. It echoed in the stillness of the empty castle. It was bloodied and it seemed heavier, perhaps reckoning the death of each man he had killed. But now the battles were fought and the war was won and there were no losers.

When he reached the top, he looked down upon the empty castle. The morning sun had cast rays through the jagged opening above, capturing smoke and debris in beams shining through the chaos. A hopeful sign, he thought.

He disappeared into a large room and quickly reemerged, clutching a box in one arm and his sword in the other. The box was wooden and had gold corners and gold latches. He began his descent with even more enthusiasm than before. As he passed each window, he would glance out at the fatalities on the fields far below.

“You have not died in vain, my brothers,” he shouted out as he stopped at one window and held the box through the opening as if to show proof to appease the ghosts of the dead.

He continued his dash downstairs, eager to join the remaining soldiers soon-to-be noncombatants in a rank-less world. Looking beyond, he could see the castle doors. Enveloped in his rapture, he suddenly lost his footing on the slippery stone and fell down the remainder of the staircase. The box fell from his clutch and rolled down ahead of him. A woman entered just at that moment.

“Did you find my box…?” Pandora asked gleefully as she entered.

He and the box were five feet apart. Her face contorted at the horrible sight before her. The soldier had fallen on his sword and died instantly. The box lay open and empty to the beams of light that disappeared instantly as the sun set before it’s time.


Note: I’ve always wondered why a woman had to unleash the evils upon the world? Hence, this take on the myth. But in reality, I wonder what kind of world would we have today if women were the majority in leadership roles? No offense gents. But there is an old Arabic saying that in the womb lies mercy.

Please also read other writers of this prompt: BastetJefLilith, Mark

Copyright © 2013 Shainbird. All rights reserved.


About Shainbird

"A lonely craftsman putting one word after another."
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20 Responses to The Last Descent

  1. Sahm King says:

    Shainbird… Were this an appropriate hour, and my lady were not asleep, I would stand up immediately and applaud. This. Work. Is. Brilliant. Firstly for your ability to paint the world in the mind, seemingly without effort and, secondly, for your take on the myth…

    Jaw-dropping, excellent piece of awesomeness in text. Please allow me to go with a “Wow” just for good measure!

    • Shainbird says:

      Okay, Sahm, I am smiling ear to ear, right now! Thank you in this inappropriate hour! 🙂

      • Sahm King says:

        Hehe. I try to be mindful of the neighbors. Seriously, when I was reading this I was amazed. Hell, Shainbird, between my lady, Lilith, You, Baldy, and a couple of others, I’m feeling pretty inspired at the moment. I thoroughly enjoy reading and sometimes I read things that just bring back memories of the first time I picked up a book. This story did that. I appreciate that, and I think anybody who feels like I do will be able to as well! 🙂 Sorry… Seeing pieces like this makes me very excitable for some reason… :/

        • Shainbird says:

          Well, like I said before, Lilith’s prompt was amazing and her selection of music was powerful. This story just dripped out of me. Funny thing is, I won’t write short stories like this on my own. I’ve never really tried. Poetry, yes but not prose. So you guys are doing something wondrous! … Thanks Sahm and don’t be sorry, you tell us to preach our passion, Sensei!

  2. Sahm King says:

    And, I think were women the majority, and in power, their sons would know better how to treat their brothers and sisters. Compassion, though men are capable, seems to be the domain of the feminine… IMO, anyway.

  3. Wow! This is a Game Of Throne-esque finale if I ever read it! Awesome! 😀

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  5. Bastet says:

    Ah…at last a man who asks the right questions…just kidding, there are many these days who do so. This was really a great take on the myth, loved it. I feel so sorry for that poor guy though…the fall from the stairs that unleashes the ills! Bravo!

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