Vance Bartram looked up at the statue of Boudica beside Westminster Bridge and thought something was different.
“This is an outrage!” shrieked Loughton Pinchot, chairman of the RRS (Roman Reenactment Society). “Look at this!” He held out his replica of a Roman helmet. Most of its comb had been burned away and a large dent marred the metal. The breastplate he wore, lovingly recreated in bronze, bore holes and gouges as though from sword blows. Pinchot glared at Police Chief Mabry. “I demand you arrest the hooligans who did this at once!”
“I fully intend to do so, sir,” said Mabry. “Unfortunately, there’s very little evidence to go on so far.”
“Lack of evidence?” howled Pinchot. He shook the battered helmet under Mabry’s nose. “What do you call this?”
The heavily built police chief was unfazed by the theatrics. “Yes, very good, but who perpetrated the crime? The tents housing the Roman costumes of your actors were surrounded by constables who saw and heard nothing. The security footage is curiously blank.”
“You must have something! The History of London celebration is ruined. Someone must pay!” He turned on Vince, who still stared up at the statue. “Bartram! You’re the historian of the event. Who do you think would violate the celebration?”
“Someone who hates Romans passionately, I’d reckon.”
“Go on,” said Mabry.
“Well. Boudica was an Iceni queen whose lands were stolen and her daughters raped by the Romans. She led a revolt and eventually sacked London while it was the Roman city, Londonium. Eventually, she was defeated by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus at Watling Street. Anyone who knows her history knows her burning hatred for Romans.”
“Yes! In fact, Suetonius retreated from London allowing her to destroy it.” Pinchot pointed to the Roman garb he wore. His Tunca looked like a red skirt as it fluttered in the breeze beneath his armor. “I would play the part of Suetonius. “I would march the Romans past this statue of Boudica. We’d suddenly look up to see the Briton warrior queen and race away in terror!”
Bartram pointed at the Roman standard held aloft by the statue. “I see our Boudica now holds the standard of Legio IX Hispana as though she’s captured it.”
“Made with actual bronze, I might add,” grimaced Pinchot. “It’s a perfect replica. Hooligans placed it in the statue’s hand.”
“I just don’t remember the statue holding anything aloft like that. It’s different,” said Bartram.
“Are you saying the statue was vandalized also? Impossible!” said Mabry.
Pinchot set upon the police chief once again, shouting and blaming him for the whole debacle.
Ignoring the noise, Bartram watched the statue of Boudica once again. He thought he saw its features change, and even the head moved fractionally. Soon her fierce gaze set upon Pinchot, dressed as the Roman who ultimately defeated her. A malignant grimace formed on her face and the javelin in her hand lowered towards Pinchot.
“You’re the historian, Bartram,” said Pinchot. “What should my actors do now?”
Bartram winced as Boudica’s javelin aimed perfectly at Pinchot/Suetonius. “Well, as a historian I’d say…get the hell out of that costume!”
Since I knew nothing about Boudica, I studied a lot before writing this.
History of London in Roman times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_London#Roman_London_.2843-410_AD.29
Roman Standard: http://www.roman-empire.net/army/leg-standards.html
Legio IX Hispana: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legio_IX_Hispana#Rebellion_in_Britain
Each week, Alastair Forbes offers up a first-born photo as a sacrifice to the Roman gods. From there, humble scribes such as myself, imagine stories of the old and new based upon the photos. This story is one of them. Look here for more stories based upon the photo of Boudica above: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/sunday-photo-fiction-february-8th-2015/