Fabius and Octavius were members of the Praetorian Guard, the soldiers that watched over the emperor and protected him. They were two of the best soldiers in Rome. They had fought hundreds of battles in the army, and there were few people who could compete with their strength and agility. Right now, they were standing outside emperor Caligula’s bedroom, as everyone slept, staring at the empty hallway . They were both struggling to stay awake, talking quietly to pass the time.
“Hey Fabius, did you hear what Caligula did with all the statues,” said Octavius
“Yeah, he thinks he’s a god. I think he’s just a nut case,” replied Fabius.
A few days earlier, the emperor had ordered all the statues of the gods around the city to have their heads cut off and replaced with his own.
Fabius continued, “Apparently he tried to go to war with the sea. He ordered all the soldiers to fill their helmets with seashells so that he could rob the sea god of all his riches.”
“Definitely a nut case,” Octavius replied.
They continued to chat about the craziness of the emperor until two more guards came walking down the hall to take their shifts in front of the bedroom.
“There’s another nut case right there. He thinks the emperor is actually a god.” Fabius was referring to Sextus, the head of the Praetorian Guard, one of the people coming for the next shift.
Octavius replied, “No, he’s not a nut case. He’s just a jerk.”
Sextus arrived. “What are you doing chatting like little girls?!” he said, “You’re supposed to be guarding, not talking. Get out, we’re on this shift now. Go!”
They hurried to their next shift, guarding the emperor’s spoiled son. It was too close to Sextus’ shift to continue talking about Caligula, so they stood there, half asleep, until morning.
When the sun came up, and everyone was awake, Octavius and Fabius returned for a quick nap before their day shifts. When they came back, Sextus was waiting to give them their orders for the day.
“Today, you will accompany the emperor to the gladiator fights,” ordered Sextus, “you are to take him through the tunnel, and return as soon as he wishes. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” they both replied, and walked to the palace to pick up the emperor.
“Why do we always have to do the gladiator fights? I hate those,” said Octavius
“Because Sextus hates us,” Fabius replied.
“I heard that once, Caligula didn’t like what the crowd was shouting, so he ordered his guards to kill anyone who was too loud.”
“I’d kill Caligula before I’d kill some innocent people who are talking a little too loud.”
“Fabius! Don’t say that. Someone could be listening. Like Sextus. They’ll kill you if they hear you say that,” Octavius warned.
Fabius continued anyway, “Just think how easy it would be. We have all that time alone with him. At night, in the secret passages, when he’s going to the bathroom. It would be so easy.”
“And how easy would it be getting slow roasted on a stick over a bonfire for public viewing?”
“Yeah that probably wouldn’t be so fun. But if we could get away with it it would be easy.”
“Yeah but we wouldn’t get away with it.”
They arrived at the room of Caligula. It was almost completely covered with gold: the walls, the ceiling, the furniture. The bed was draped in the most expensive silk sheets imaginable. Amulets hung everywhere, all encrusted with priceless jewels from strange faraway lands. Caligula’s life involved spending money, and nothing else. He never made any laws that pertained to anything except money. In less than a year, he had spent all the money that Tiberius had saved up during his entire reign. He invented new types of baths, new food dishes, and once served his guests bread and meat made from gold. He drank exorbitant pearls dissolved in vinegar. Right now he was putting on his silk robe, which was studded with all sorts of different colored gems.
Octavius and Fabius watched in disgust. They had come from poor families outside the city. They knew that there were probably people who couldn’t eat because they had to pay ridiculous taxes, so that his guy could wear and clothes that cost more than most of them would make in their lives.
“I am ready to go now,” Caligula said.
“Okay, follow us.” Octavius and Fabius walked out, and escorted the emperor down to the tunnel that lead to the gladiator arena. It was a quick walk through the dark damp tunnel before they popped out into the sun, looking out over an almost full arena.
Today the planned event was the beasts. They would be released from cages to tear the criminals of Rome apart. Caligula forced the parents of the offenders to watch as they were executed. The first animal was a lion, then more lions, and tigers, and all sorts of strange beasts. The criminals didn’t stand a chance. Most of them probably didn’t even do anything to deserve punishment.
“I have something special planned for today,” the emperor said.
He gave a signal to a group of guards down in the arena and another group above the spectators. Suddenly the wall to the center stage area collapsed and the guards began shoving the crowd into the pit to be devoured by the beasts. Caligula sat there laughing, pointed at the people being slaughtered by the animals. Octavius and Fabius were sickened. They retreated a few steps back, and Fabius began whispering.
“We have to kill this guy. He’s a murderer. A pig. I don’t think a worse person could exist.”
“I agree,” Octavius said, “We’ll do it in the tunnel on the way back. No one will be there. We can run back this way and escape. If they catch us we can just say he tripped.”
The crowd died down, and Caligula decided that he wanted to go back. They walked back into the tunnel. They eyed each other, ready to do it, but somehow Sextus had slipped in behind them.
“Did you guys enjoy the show?” Sextus laughed. “I thought it was pretty good.”
“Fabius and Octavius shot each other a glance. They could kill both of them right now, but they silently agreed to wait. When they returned to the palace, Sextus told them they were off duty for the day. They left promptly, not wanting to see what the emperor did before he went to bed. Usually Sextus would stay and guard the emperor during his dinner and nightly torturings, sexual escapades, and other strange and disgusting activities. Neither of them wanted to have anything to do with it. They arrived at a nearby tavern. They sat down and quietly began to discuss their plot.
Fabius started, “I don’t understand how Sextus can stand him. They’re both sick. We should kill both of them. We take out the emperor from behind, and then kill Sextus. Simple as that.”
“Yes, it will be easy,” Octavius replied, “but the real question is how to get away with it. We can’t just kill the emperor of Rome and walk out into the street.”
“We can kill them, run out and then get as far away from Rome as possible,” said Fabius, “we’ll change our names, and become farmers. No one will ever find us. We have a little bit of money, and we aren’t married. They’ll know we did it, and they’ll look everywhere for us, but they’ll never find us.”
“Okay. It won’t be easy, but it might be possible.” They finished their dinner and left, thinking about what they would do as farmers.
The next morning they were on duty supervising the emperor during his morning activities. They stood outside as he ate breakfast. They didn’t like to see the torturings that the emperor liked to watch during breakfast. They heard the sounds coming out. It was horrible. They heard Caligula’s gruesome orders:
“No you have to press a little harder. No don’t kill him so fast, ha ha. He has to feel like he’s dying, ha ha.” They emperor laughed at the screams of the man being tortured, who was probably innocent. He burst out of the room, laughing.
“Okay, now on to my bridge,” he commanded.
“You’re bridge, sir?” Octavius asked.
Suddenly Sextus appeared. “You heard him you idiots! We’re taking him to his bridge!”
Neither Octavius nor Fabius had any idea what they were talking about. They followed Sextus and escorted the emperor down to the stable to his chariot. They got in, sitting right behind the driver, still having no idea where they were taking the emperor.
Fabius began, “Emperor Caligula, wher-”
“DON’T EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN YOU FILTH. I AM GAIUS CAESAR, NOT CALIGULA.”
“Yes, okay,” Fabius mumbled. They had never seen the emperor so mad. He looked like he was going to kill them. They did not know that “Caligula” was a derogatory name given to him as a child.
“Emperor Caesar, where are we taking you?”
“We are going to my bridge.” Still having no idea where they were going, Octavius and Fabius decided it was probably best to stay quiet for the rest of the ride. As they arrived at a large body of water, Octavius and Fabius saw what the emperor had been talking about. They were amazed. There were hundreds of ships lined up end to end, connected by beams, creating a flat bridge, about three miles long, floating in the water.
“This is incredible,” Fabius said.
Sextus ordered Octavius and Fabius to get out. They all stood there and watched as Caligula rode across on his horse, his gold robe flowing behind him. He trotted across a few times, almost disappearing from sight at the end. It was an engineering marvel. No one had ever seen anything like it. Even Sextus stood in awe, silent, staring at the wonder.
After a few more times back and forth, the emperor decided he wanted to go back. They all got into the chariot, and began the ride home. When Caligula had fallen asleep, Fabius and Octavius overheard a conversation between the driver and Sextus. They suddenly became very anxious.
“I’ve been hearing talk of someone plotting to kill the emperor. It that true?” The driver said.
“Yes, I’ve heard that rumor too. Do not worry though. He is as safe as possible in the hands of the Praetorian Guard. No one can harm him. It is impossible. It would take an idiot to try,” Sextus said. Fabius and Octavius looked at each other. It almost sounded as if he was talking about them. Like he knew. They sat in silence the rest of the way. When they arrived, it was time for the emperor to eat lunch. They woke Caligula from his sleep in the chariot and escorted him to the dining room, where his wife and mistresses were waiting for him. He seemed to be in a good mood when he lay down and began to eat. The three guards stood there and watched him. All three of them seemed to know that something was going to happen today.
Caligula moved over to his wife, whom he had decided to marry during her wedding to another man. He was sitting next to the groom, and suddenly declared to him, “Hands off my wife!” and then he took her. Now he moved closer to her, and kissed her neck a few times, and said, as always, “And this beautiful throat may be cut whenever I please.” He laughed his sick perverted laugh, and decided that he was done with lunch, and that it was time for a bath. Sextus said to Octavius and Fabius, “You are now dismissed for two hours. When you return, you will accompany the emperor to the gladiator games with me.”
On their way out, they saw a senator - a very powerful senator - talking with Sextus. They were looking right at Fabius. They knew. Octavius and Fabius hurried out as fast as possible, and walked to the tavern nearby where they had eaten the day before.
“How do they know? We just decided yesterday. We haven’t told anybody. We can’t do this. We have to run away now. As soon as we go into that tunnel, they’ll have the whole Praetorian Guard waiting to kill us. We can’t do it,” Octavius said.
“No. We must do it, even if we get killed. He has to die. He’s a sick demented murderer. He enjoys torturing people, and he’s the emperor of Rome. We have to kill him.”
“Fine, but you know that we’ll go down in history as murderers. Our names will be even worse than Caligula’s. Everyone in Rome will know our name.”
“No. Everyone in Rome hates the emperor. He stole all their money. He taxed them to death. We’ll go down in history as heroes.”
“Fine. Just know that we’re going to die. And stop talking so loud. The whole tavern can hear you. No wonder everyone knows that we’re going to kill the emperor.”
“Alright. Let’s go.”
After finishing their meals, they began the walk back to the palace. They stopped by the armory to pick up daggers. No one there had any idea what they were going to do. They gave them two razor sharp daggers; daggers that would be used to kill an emperor.
“Are you ready?” Fabius asked.
“Let’s go kill the emperor.” Octavius had made up his mind. Killing the emperor was the right thing to do.
They returned to the palace, the daggers stored in a sheath on their belts. The emperor was almost ready for the gladiator fights. He was on his way down from his room. Octavius and Fabius were sweating. The emperor arrived. Sextus was there too. They started to walk towards the tunnel. They were almost there, when they caught sight of a senator standing by the door. The same senator that had been talking to Sextus earlier.
“We’re going to die.” Octavius said.
They entered the tunnel. Sextus lead in front of the emperor, and Fabius and Octavius trailed behind. They waited until Sextus was about ten feet in front of Caligula. The doors to the tunnel closed. Octavius and Fabius ran up behind the emperor silently. Octavius stabbed first, then Fabius. The emperor let out a scream. Suddenly the entire Praetorian Guard leapt out from a hidden crevice in the wall. Sextus was running at them. It was all over. They were going to die. He was coming straight at them with his sword. He was almost to them, running closer and closer - but then, when he was just about on top of them, he kept running, straight past them, and stabbed… the emperor?! A moment later, all the other guards joined in viciously attacking the emperor too. What was going on? Fabius and Octavius stood shocked.
Sextus gave an order to stop, and everyone drew back. The emperor was dead, soaked with blood, and full of holes. The guards put him on a stretcher and carried him out. Octavius and Fabius stayed behind with Sextus, still standing motionless, in awe.
“What just happened?” Fabius asked.
“You just killed an emperor,” said Sextus, “didn’t you know? This murder has been planned for almost a month.”
“No,” they both replied
Sextus continued, “I thought the senator must have told you. I should have told you myself. Almost all the senators agreed that the emperor needed to be eliminated, so they came to us and asked us to kill him. You didn’t know about it did you?”
“We had no idea.” Fabius and Octavius were still trying to catch up with what was going on.
“Well it must have been a pretty big surprise then. Hopefully you aren’t upset about it, ha. Anyway, I have no doubt you both had thoughts about killing him. We all did. That guy was a nut case.”