They chose me because I’m the fastest among all the hemerodromes; no other messenger is as efficient as I. It was all in my hands because nobody saw the Persians coming that day. We received intelligence but thought they wouldn’t have dared. When we saw the black sails staining the horizon, it was me our generals sent. I didn’t fail us when I arrived in Sparta asking for reinforcements. I didn’t feel the distance I had run in only two days to make it there and back on time.

I was just elated at my success and furious at the Persians who wanted to invade our motherland. I fought them side by side with my compatriots, banging on my shield, shouting like a madman. I didn’t look at the blood from friends and foes running like ruby streams on the battlefield.

So many of us perished yesterday but we won. We threw the few surviving invaders back into the sea so they could take our good news back to their king. Darius and his once mighty empire is no more!

I’m running again on these roads, my lungs fit to burst, the thirst tormenting me like the bite of a million scorpions. I lost my sandals a long time ago, yet I don’t feel the pain of my shredded feet. I’m not far, I can see the whiteness of the Acropolis in the distance, but sweet Hermes, the stitch in my side and the agony in my chest take away the little breath I have left!

I am suddenly there as I fly up the marble staircase and spot the Archons reunited in the immense chamber. They all crane their necks, waiting for me to speak. Now that I’m still, black spots dance in my vision, my chest feels as if the weight of a whole temple is squashing it. I haven’t realised I have fallen but I’m here, I have made it.

“Joy to you, we have won…” I feel as if I’m shouting, while I close my eyes for the last time.

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1 year ago

A fine retelling of the story of how the news of the victory at Marathon got to Athens. The author breathes new life into a familiar story, dramatizing the excitement but also the cost of good news. 

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

What an interesting story, Greene. I can’t imagine running those great distances in the Grecian heat. I’m not surprised your poor protagonist’s heart gave out, especially with a battle with the Persians in between! Great job

Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
1 year ago

The pain of the long-distance runner who dare not rest, so well illustrated in this little gem. History-based too. Well done indeed Greene.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

What a powerful story, Greene, and one so vividly described that I could picture every second of the messenger’s run. An ending that pulls us in two directions, joy for the victory but oh so sad for the messenger. A wonderful piece of writing.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

Hello, Greene. I love this history-based story, Greene. It is well written and well portrayed.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Greene M Wills
1 year ago

You’re welcome, Greene.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
1 year ago

Thanks Greene for teaching me a new word, “hemerodrome” and for inspiring me to write an historical piece.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

Thank you for reminding me how Phidippedes felt while running from Marathon to Athens, Greene. A few years after him, when I was 22 and 23, I tried marathon myself so I know how grueling it is to run the distance. Just like your protagonist, I felt like dying. You verbalized the feeling perfectly.

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