I finally got around to finishing Part Two of three of Escape or perish! If you haven’t read part one, please head back in time to the short story post.
These have been fun to write as I had no idea how to make the first lines to work.
I hope you enjoy and stick around for Part three…
I had always hated Christmas.
His face, his name, his attitude; these were all the things I despised of the parasite that became King Christmas a year before. His father, King Jered, a real man of the people, went missing at war and on many counts was declared dead. This left the pretentious Prince to be crowned; the person to blame for the loss of my home, my family and everything that I lived for. Since then, the land had deteriorated, the livelihoods of many lost and the Kingdom descended into darkness.
Even as he stood across from me, with a smug expression that spoke of relief from catching his prey and the tip of his sword grazing my neck, the opportunity of spitting in his face was too much to resist. It was something I had always thought of doing.
A few seconds later, the urge became too much to bear, so I spat, my saliva catching him on his cheek and it dropping on to his bottom lip. It could have gone two ways; I either was going to be struck down before I had chance to move, or it would distract him long enough to make a break.
Christmas’s sword dropped to his side, an expression of disgust appearing as he attempted to wipe away the fluid. I threw a kick, striking him hard in the stomach and knocking him back against the wall. I turned and ran away from the fallen King. It wouldn’t take him too long for him to catch me if he used his magic.
I did not look back, choosing to run on ahead, past the cell that was once my sanctuary, along the dank hallway and towards an uncertain fate. I scooted to a halt, the dust kicking up around my feet, before I reached the perilous staircase. I recalled the torturous scream that rang out from the darkness. I hesitated, unsure if the horror from behind outweighed the terror from beyond. The sound of footsteps forced me into action and I threw myself into the dark, almost tumbling down the spiral staircase as I went. For each step I took, the air got cooler and thicker and the smell of death owned it.
I could see nothing in the darkness and I lost my footing on the last step. My knee buckled underneath me and I went crashing to the floor, grazing my hands and knees as I fell. The grit on the floor dug into my skin and buried itself into it. My head rested against the cold, dust ridden floor, but a flicker of light caught my eyes. I raised my head slowly to come face to face with what must have been the owner of the screams. Its skin was made of leather, its eyes of crystal.
It wasn’t human, I knew that immediately. It sat on a chair, chained from the wrists to the cell bars that encompassed it. The light emitted from a lamp at each corner of the cell. The room was otherwise empty. I pushed myself up, neglecting the urgency that I was once in, and limped close to the cell to gain a better look at the monster that sat in front of my eyes.
Its skin was grey, taut against the structure beneath giving it a leathery look. The eyes were shining in the dim light giving off a diffuse reflection. It was a beauty amongst the horror. Its head was oval, hairless and thick. The lips were thin, the nose was obtrusive and neck was solid. It was naked with the exception of a cloth wrapped around its waist. It looked timid in its current state, but if standing, would be at a height much taller than my six foot frame and five times my weight. Its breathing was heavy and rough. There was something familiar about its presence.
I jumped back as the chains buzzed with a force unknown to me. The timid monster grunted as if aware of what would be coming next. The chain lighted in blue and transmitted lightning like bolts from the cell chains to the monster. It screamed and thrashed around, unable to remove itself from the torture. It stood, its body lighting the room from within and its screams were deafening. I had never felt so much sympathy for a creature. The charge from the cell died off and the monster sat back down, grunting heavily to wait for its next bout of punishment. I noticed smoke seep slowly from the skin of the monster and the smell of burning touched my sense making me nauseated. The sullen, defeated monster had an air of degradation around it. The creature must of had seen or heard me, but chose to neglect that I was there.
“Well, well, isn’t this fitting?” the nasal tone of the King said behind me.
I chose to stay facing the timid monster; it was a much better sight. I could feel the presence of King Christmas close behind me. A few moments later he revealed himself in all his glory, sword in hand and proud. To my surprise, he ignored me and chose to walk to the cell.
“The fact that you scurried away to the torturing chamber is most pleasant; for me anyhow.”
His voice grated on me and his look fared no better.
“As you are close to your demise, let me share a secret, as the burden to hold onto it is too much to bear,” he said without turning, and I felt my body stiffen. He had used his magic to control my body.
“A little over a year ago I was approached by the sisters of Avalon, or known to your kind, as the banished Witches. They promised everything I needed in regards to magic, as long as I turned on my Father and give them entry to our land. What would a young, unrewarded and unused Prince do but seek the benefits?”
The revelation of his treachery did not surprise me, but still my stomach dropped. If he was capable of that, then what other horrors would lay ahead.
“I couldn’t kill my father though, as he would then miss out on his son being the King he never trusted me to be,” he never took his eyes off the monster.
“Father, are you proud of me now?” Christmas spat at the monster.
My eyes widened as I looked toward the timid monster. The King, the real leader, not the parasite that stood on the wrong side of the cell. I could not speak as the hold Christmas had on me was too tight. The monster grunted and kept its head lowered.
“As for you, Lened,” Christmas said turning towards to me, “you treat me with disrespect, courting the future Queen and putting my being under scrutiny.”
The magical grip he held on me tightened and I winced in agony. In a matter of seconds I was thrown hard against the cell, winding me as I collapsed to the floor. He eased his hold but I could still feel it was there. I heard the buzzing from the chains. Any moment the monster would be tortured, but the King had not noticed, for his focus was on me. The chains flared with energy and shot into the monster lighting up the room. The King froze, mouth ajar. I heard the screams of the monster at its peak. I felt the heat of the cell on my back, increasing until the energy channelled into me. The power was too great and threw me towards the still form of the King. As I vaulted, so did Christmas, across the room and landing hard against the stone cold wall, the metal of the King’s sword clanging against the floor. I dropped to the concrete, my head bouncing off of it. My head went numb, my vision blurred and a cold shiver ran down my body. Soon after, the darkness took me.