Author’s note – this is one of those in which I choose not to strictly adhere to the prompt. If you like the prompt as it was originally written, seek the original, and click the title of the thread to see all the top-level comments, all of which should be either stories or poems. There are some good ones for this one.
This is a story of change, my change. A metamorphosis. I don’t speak of the triviality of my form. This story is about my spirit; though my form is a product of my spirit, so perhaps there is no difference.
I had bathed in so much blood across the centuries. The crusades were my peak. I was drunk with power for centuries. Even as rifles became more common, I often drank. When firearms truly came into their prime, times became leaner.
My nature is such that I am shaped by the expectations of those exceptional people who might wield me. I have been a katana, I have been a bastard sword, I have been a stiletto and a claymore. In these modern days, I have even been tools, to my shame. But eventually some exceptional youngster comes along, looking for something to pretend to do battle with, and I am a weapon again.
And always, always I take blood. If not from an enemy – so few people have “the enemy” now – if not from the enemy, I will take it from the wielder. A spirit has to eat, after all, same as any man.
Recently, I was the bayonet of a re-enactor. Believing I was a genuine civil war bayonet, I was one, and thus he was reluctant to try to blunt the edge of an artifact so rare, so pristine. But he would not bring me to battle with an edge. And so he made me impotent, helpless to kill. He made a sheath of semi-flexible clear plastic, thick and bulging around the tip and edge. There was no chance I might accidentally cut through. He was always so careful in maintenance. I could not disrupt his focus, could not call for his blood in a careless mistake. Lacking the strength of blood, I fell back on the intensity of those men’s emotion. It was a weak substitute, meant only to last until I could truly feed again.
And they were passionate. They fought, and they struggled, they tried to win, they worked to overcome. They forged bonds, they formed enmity, comrades, and nemeses. And afterward, the South and the Union got up off the ground, they shooke hands, they talked, they hugged. They did not hate the men who defeated their brothers. Even their defeats bound them more closely to the enemy. Even their enemies were men to them, and these bonds of enmity made them more human, not less.
I have bathed in so much blood. But I am beginning to think that I was not strong. Oh, I was powerful, as were the warriors who bore the burden of feeding my thirst, but was I strong? Were those warriors strong, or only powerful? It took a very long time for me to ask myself what strength truly is. I think it may not be what I thought.
When he died, and his grandchild picked me up, it was the first time someone looking for a play weapon – a ‘boffer’ – truly found what they were looking for. Fifty years ago, he would have found a vicious blade, shaped just right for a young man’s longsword, or an adult’s bastard sword, ready to draw the blood of his companions, or himself in some careless mistake. Today, I am a toy with which to play games. And I surprise myself; I am not ashamed.