I regained consciousness with my eyes still closed. I felt water on my foot and the heat of the sun on my skin. A light breeze frizz of hair was tickling my forehead.
What had happened? Had I passed out during the barbed wire crawl?
I popped one eye open, then the other. I immediately squinted in the bright sunlight. Bright sunlight? What happened to the chilly, misty rain from the morning? How long had I been out? Why was it so warm?
I pulled my head up, the rest of my body still resting on the… sand? I looked ahead to see white sand beaches, brilliant blue water and rising hills of green. I was warm, sweating in the baking heat of the sun. This didn’t look like the grey, chilly Puget Sound bordered by cedar and fir forests that I was so accustomed to this time of year! It looked and felt more like Hawaii than the Pacific northwest…
What the hell was going on?
I sat upright, and watched a gentle wave roll in, the water lapping at my foot again. I swiveled my head to take in the rest of my surroundings, and saw Aaron splayed out on the sand by the water as I was.
That roused me to action—I needed to see whether he was okay!
I stumbled to my feet and ran over to where Aaron lay. I put my ear to his mouth and felt warm breath against it. He was breathing. Good!
I put my hand on his shoulder and shook. He moaned, then cracked open his eyes, squinting against the bright light of the sun, as I had. I let out bated breath in relief.
“Aaron? You okay?”
“Yeah, I guess so. What happened? I was right behind you in the barbed wire crawl, when I suddenly felt like I was falling… Wait! Why is it so warm out? And the sun?” Aaron shot upright, and his jaw dropped. “Where are we?”
“Good question. I’m thinking we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!” I replied, looking around again, now that I knew Aaron was fine.
I heard a cry in the distance.
I looked in the direction of the sound, and my eyes widened in surprise. There was a group of about a dozen men with spears running toward us. Their bronze helmets and breastplates glimmered in the sun, crimson cloaks flowing behind them as they ran.
“Who the hell are those guys?” Aaron asked, voicing the question that was at the forefront of mind as well.
“I have a feeling we’re about to find out…” I replied.
As they approached, I saw sweat glimmering on their huge, muscled arms and legs. They were very tan with dark hair. They wore open-armed linen shirts under their breastplates that ran to lower thigh, almost like a dress, with a leather skirt, apparently to protect their upper legs. They wore open-toed leather boots and bronze armor over their shins. They looked like they belonged to some sort of classical era army. Was this some sort of anachronistic battle reenactment?
They surrounded us, spears pointed toward us and ready. If they were reenacting some sort of battle, they were taking their acting pretty seriously!
“Who are you?” said one of them in some other language that I somehow understood.
“I’m Kate, and this is Aaron,” I replied in the same language, that I could somehow speak. “Nice to meet you!”
“Come with us,” the leader of the soldier said, cryptically.
What the hell was going on here? How was I understanding and speaking some other language? Who were these guys? Where was I?
I wanted to ask all of these questions, but the expression on their leader’s face had me thinking twice. I decided to wait until we arrived at… wherever he was taking us.
As we ran along with the dress-up sword and sandal army guys, I glanced over to Aaron. His blue glow was back—and he seemed even more buff than before. He wasn’t a match for these rippling-muscle play actors, but he was definitely on his way. He looked much more muscular than he had this morning at the start of the race.
Noticing my eyes on him, Aaron glanced back to me as well. I watched his eyes go wide as he saw me.
“What is it?” I whispered for no good reason. The soldier-types were close enough that they could hear me whether I was whispering or not.
“It’s you! You’re looking super fit!”
“I am?” I looked down. The previously small bulges of muscle in my arms were becoming more significant. They looked incredibly defined, as if they were carved from marble like a Greek statue. With arms like these, I could get a role in the next Wonder Woman movie as one of those amazon fighters. The thought made me smile… which caused Aaron to give me a questioning look.
I wanted to stop and see what my abs and legs looked like, but I wasn’t sure how these guys would react to me suddenly stopping. I didn’t want to be speared from behind by accident by a solider that was slow to react, that was certain! So I kept running, albeit itching with eagerness to check my new crossfit-esque self out.
Wait! Greek statue… GREEK! You know, that’s what these guys’ outfits were reminding me of, now that I thought about it. It was like we were on some sort of movie set that was being filmed in Hawaii. How had we ended up in Hawaii, though?
I looked at the plants along the beach where we were running. While I had never been to Hawaii, the flora didn’t really look like what I would expect to see in Hawaii. Things looked a bit drier and less dense than I would expect, given the pictures I had seen. I also wasn’t seeing any coconut trees or palm trees. Maybe we weren’t in Hawaii.
The obvious suddenly struck me. We were in Greece.
“Are we in Greece?” I said out loud.
One of the soldiers turned to me and gave me an incredulous look. I looked back at him and shrugged sheepishly. I took that as a yes.
I mean, if we were going to be suddenly transported from our Spartan race in Washington, why was Greece any less likely than Hawaii? Actually, given the name of the race, Greece was very appropriate.
“Hey! Are we in Sparta?” I asked loudly.
“Of course,” answered the man who had initially spoken to us. “Where else would we be?”
Holy shit! Aaron and I really were in Greece. Unable to help myself, I asked another question.
“Hey, what year is it?” I asked.
“What? What kind of question is that! Are you one of those stupid Athenians with your sometimes 12-, sometimes 13-month calendars? It’s no wonder you’re confused about the year. I would be too if I lived in the Gods-forsaken land…” He began to grumble, punctuating his under-the-breath comments with the occasional epithet about Athenians.
Athenian calendar? Of course, he wouldn’t just give me the year in BCE or whatever. The modern calendar probably hadn’t even been invented yet! Even if he had given me a straight answer, I probably wouldn’t understand it…
…which meant I had traveled ThrOUGH TIME AND SPACE BACK TO…
Ancient Fucking Sparta!!!
Omigod, omigod. OH MY GOD!!!
What had I gotten myself into here? Damn Rick and his fucking Spartan race! I had thought I was in over my head before… Now, I would give anything to be back to that level of over-my-headness.
What was I going to do?
I looked back over to Aaron, who looked as stunned as I probably did. Apparently, he had come to a similar conclusion after hearing their answers to my questions.
We looked at each other, the color draining from our cheeks. Our mutual looks both said one thing.
We were in deep shit!
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