Tabula Rasa

The two Authors faced each other across the arena. Around each were scattered the accoutrements of his trade; a whirlwind of papers, pencils, ink, and erasers around the one, and a small, glowing tablet that hung suspended six inches in front of the face of the other and a little below shoulder level.

The stands were crowded in the stadium, for this was the final round of the kumite, which had been bloodier and more spectacular this year than at any other time in living memory. Both Authors had clawed and fought their way to the top of their respective brackets over the crushed bodies and shattered dreams of their opponents. They were canny, clever, and absolutely ruthless.

“Once upon a time,” said the paper Author.

“A long time ago,” said the other, his voice slowly and stately, each word distinct and ritualized. His tablet flickered and spun.

The crowd leaned forward in hushed anticipation. Soon would flow the blood, to mingle with the dust of the arena and the ink of ages.