Fiction: Return of the Queen

Chuck Norton, Writer, Pub

Many moons ago, an insecure king ruled alone over a grand kingdom. His short stature provoked him to use his military to prove his masculinity. He captured whole towns and extirpated any foreign cultures that didn’t mirror his own, which sparked a resistance movement that spread through the kingdom like wildfire. The momentum of the resistance was strong, but the law enforcers were stronger. Anybody who contributed to the resistance faced the guillotine. Two of these victims were the parents of a young girl, who, filled with trauma and grief, fled to the corner of the kingdom. One decade later, she returned to the city of Galilee with an army of soldiers to overthrow the ruthless king.
As the sun rose, rain crashed down on the revolting army as they marched up to the sturdy walls of Galilee. The king slept as his unknown enemy’s catapults moved into position and heaved a boulder through the wall. The crumbling stone jolted the king from bed. After assuming command in his throne room, he declared for the standing army to defend the vulnerable points. The front lines of the revolting army, led by the vengeful woman, scaled the debris. Blood from the scrapes on her hands and knees painted the stone as she scoured for the quickest route to the castle. Her view was obstructed by a flock of militia who aimed their canons at her. They lit the fuse. She squinted, bracing for a quick end to her attack. One of her soldiers rushed into the herd of militia and took out two before he was overwhelmed. With his last breath he stumbled backwards, crashing into the canon. Boom! The shot collided with the wall. The stone rushed down toward the woman and tackled her into a cave.

Fear filled her eyes. She tried to dust herself off, but a fabric wrapped around her leg detained her from under the debris. She tore the fabric, and used it to bandage a wound on her arm. Her head jerked up as a woman’s singing voice trickled into her ears. Enticing her, these voices acted as a torch through the dark tunnels that lead her to an area that was dimly lit by a crack in the ceiling. Rain dripped onto the source of the singing: three wrinkly old ladies whose grinning, mustard teeth were the only things that emerged from the shadows.

“Why, hello,” creaked one of the ladies. “We’re awfully lonely down here. We would like to join the commotion upstairs.”

“If you give us that apple, we’ll show you how to reach that light,” hissed the second.

The woman’s eyes darted from the apple that had sprouted on the wall to the newly visible light at the end of the tunnel.
The third chanted, “It leads to your most desired destination, but it will come at a cost.”

The woman hesitated. Then she plucked the apple off the wall and tossed it to the witches. The chains snapped. A door opened. The woman ran without looking back. She was close to the light, to the end. Then the walls stopped moving. Her legs kept rushing forward, but no progress was made. The walls projected images of her soldiers surrendering, then her last memories of her parents. She saw the years of living alone. She saw the barriers that were necessary to overcome in order to make change. She knew that giving up wasn’t an option. She closed her eyes and stormed through the castle door before bolting up the stairs towards the throne room. The woman untied the bandage on her arm as she creeped toward the king. The king perched over the window on the other side of the room. The determination in her eyes faded into fear. She worried that she would continue this cycle of violence. How long before violence became her new norm? The closer she got to the king, the more she dreaded what she had to do. With her heart pounding, she pulled the bandage around the king’s neck and held on as if she was hugging her parents for the last time. The king collapsed. She raised her hands out the window and washed the blood off her hands. The new queen of Galilee smiled.