Three Hours of Darkness

The scene in “Centurion” when the darkness comes. For more information, see today’s update and gallery of videos, images, and files on my crowdfunding site:


Lucius noticed the sky behind her, a clotted darkness that tumbled toward the hill. It came not as the darkness of night, a welcomed end to the day’s work, but rather as a bruise inflicted by a sudden blow, first mottling the skin, then purpling it, and finally blackening it.

         Everyone on the hill saw it. The heckling stopped as eyes widened, sighs and cries rising as they sensed an ill sign. The moisture in the air began condensing on their skin, and it seemed as if an ominous presence were breathing over them with its clammy breath.

         “Whadd’ya think?” asked Massina, one of the soldiers on the hill, a Syrian conscript, as he nodded toward the sky.

         Valassio shook his head, his eyes peering into the darkness as if to pierce its mystery.

         “I don’t like it,” said Antonius.

         As the darkness approached, so did the apprehension. Those huddled in the crowd filled the eerie silence with nervous chatter. What is happening? What could it mean? Is it a sign? If so, of what?

         “What if we’ve angered the gods?” asked Antonius of Valassio. A nervous pause. “You believe in the gods, don’t you?”

         “The Roman ones.”

         “What if there’s others,” remarked Massina, “and you Romans, by giving homage to just your own, make the others jealous? Ever think of that?”

         Antonius walked to the brow of the hill, studying the strange and foreboding sky. Lucius joined him. “Didn’t Virgil write somewhere that ‘the sun shall give you signs’?” Antonius asked.

         Lucius searched his memory. “’After the Caesar sank from sight . . . the sun wrapped his countenance in darkened gloom.’” The two looked at each other. “The blotting of the sun,” Lucius went on, “It is said to happen at the death of a divine ruler.”

         They looked back at the man in the middle, neither speaking.




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