Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: A King Someday

Every Friday Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

A King Someday
Word Count: 600

The King had two draughts in his pocket: one for guilt, and one for innocence. His young son sat across from him in the empty chamber. The boy had just reached his thirteenth year. A tiny blood smear traced the Prince’s eyebrow.

“You wanted to see me, father?”

The King let his eyes wander around the room. He’d sentenced men to death in this room before, and family members, and children, and heirs to land and title. But never all at once.

“Father?”

“I’ve heard disturbing reports about you,” said the King.

“From whom?” asked the Prince.

The King frowned. An innocent man would have asked what kind of reports. “What happened to your horse?”

“It died,” said the Prince matter-of-factly.

She died,” said the King. “How did she die?”

“It was an inferior animal,” said the Prince.

“And how did the ears of this inferior animal end up in your bed chambers?”

“Well, someone put them there, obviously.”

The King frowned once more. “What sort of someone?” he asked.

The Prince removed a kerchief from his pocket and dabbed his forehead, blotting the blood. There was no sweat to mop. “I’d been trying to ascertain that myself,” he said.

“Do you remember my cousin Reginald?” asked the King.

“We met once or twice,” said the Prince.

“He was a troubled youth,” said the King. “When he was eight, he was discovered butchering one of his mother’s favorite dogs. It was a shock, but not a great one. Animals had been disappearing for months. The family kept this a secret, of course. When he was twelve, he assaulted a servant. He was reprimanded. His father, my uncle, had hoped to cure him of whatever… sickness… might drive him to such acts.”

“Was he successful?” asked the Prince.

“No,” said the King. “Reginald’s tendencies could not be controlled. So an arrangement was reached. Reginald kept his activities private, and in return, some undesirable would be allowed to disappear. At first it was the odd criminal or peasant. Soon it was servants. Then Reginald killed his sister…”

“That was foolish of him,” said the Prince.

“It was indeed,” said the King. “You see, if Reginald had kept his end of the bargain, their arrangement could have gone on indefinitely.”

“So why are you telling me this, father?”

“I have no other sons. You will be king someday. If you have certain needs that can only be met through distasteful means… then an arrangement will have to be made.” The King cleared his throat. “However…” he said.

“However?”

“We can only make an arrangement if you tell me what those needs are,” said the King.

“I see,” said the Prince. “So you want me to tell you about killing a horse?”

“Did you?” asked the King.

The Prince stood, and the King backed away instinctively.

“You are frightened of me, father?”

“The entire realm is frightened of you, my son,” said the King.

“And so you intend to kill me?”

“No,” said the King. “I intend to save you.”

“How?” asked the Prince.

The King produced a phial from his robe. “Drink this.”

“What is it?”

One for guilt, and one for innocence.

The King sighed. He was a good liar—all good rulers are good liars—but he hated to lie to his only son. “It’s late, and this tonic will help you sleep. I have one for myself as well.”

The table flipped as the Prince leapt. The King fell backward. The boy was on him in a flash, pouring both down the King’s throat.

“Then sleep well, father.”

Edited by Carolyn "I Both Love And Hate The Ambiguity" Abram

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