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Everyone knew the man was innocent. We knew that there was no way he could have possibly stolen the king's chalice, no way he managed to get past the guards. And yet, no one had spoken up. We had all shifted uncomfortably while we heard the verdict, death by lions. And yet, we kept our silence.

There our victim stood, alone and unaided in the middle of the arena. Allowed only a knife, his chance of surviving two starving lions appeared miniscule. The man, really only a boy, nervously fingered his weapon.

A bell tolled. A gate opened, allowing two ravenous lions to storm in. Terrified, the youth froze, slowly bringing his knife forward. The lions, hungry and fearless, attacked, gracefully launching themselves in the air.

Oh! The blood, the screams! The lions crunched on flesh and bone as we watched, enthralled by the sight. I found myself roaring my approval, jumping in the air, begging for more violence.

And then it finished. The shame of what I had done hung on me like a yoke. I realized that day that humans are inherently cruel, savage by choice, and that only small differences separate us from the lions.

Story by:

Connor Cook

submitted at 5:00am

15 August 2011