Flash Fiction: The King’s Evil

Crop of Catherine Parr, by unknown artist. See...
Catherine

 This my entry to Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds.com Flash Fiction Challenge Plucked from the pages of History

 Enjoy

‘28 January, the year of our lord 1547

These may be the last words I write.. I’ve uncovered something. Something terrible and now I am to die because of it. It’s something about my husband, it’s something about the…’

“Catherine, what are you doing?” Catherine quickly put down her quill, and covered her writing. “Nothing husband, just poetry.”

“Poetry, then why the secrecy? And why is there a tremble in your voice when you speak to me?”

“It is humility my lord, because I am in your presence.”

“No, the tremble was of fear, not humility.” Henry strode over towards the table, snatched the papers and read them aloud. “So, you do know do you. That is, unfortunate.”

“I know of nothing my lord, it is just poetry.”

“Do not take me for a fool! You know and for that you must die.” Henry took a torch off one of the walls and brought it close to Catherine’s face, the heat causing her eyes to sting, and her hair to singe.

Catherine had been Henry’s wife for over three years, and could not have failed to notice the painful and gangrenous wound in his leg. Seizing the advantage she kicked him, connecting well enough to cause Henry to fall to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

Diving past him, as he attempted to right his colossal frame, she unbolted the thick oak doors and ran out into the corridor. “Guards! Guards! the king has taken leave of his senses and right now seeks….” She stopped. The corridors were silent, there was nobody. No guards, no maids, no-one.

“You think you could do better than the others?” Henry stood in the doorway, showing no sign of weakness. “Catherine found out, and then she lost her head. Catherine the Arrogant I used to called her. Thinking she always knew better than me.”

Catherine ran to the end of the corridor to open the door. It was bolted.

“Then there was poor ‘ambling’ Ann Boleyn. She also found out, so I divorced her. I divorced her entrails right from her body.” Henry advanced on Catherine as she frantically pulled on the door, not being able to move it an inch.

“Jane, I was disappointed with. She died before I could even harvest her.” Metre by metre Henry walked down the corridor, stopping briefly for no other reason then to prolong her fear.

The door was well and truly locked with no hope of escape, Catherine turned to face her captor. Her inevitable death giving her a calm and strength that she never knew existed.

“Ah, Anne of Cleves. She had her neck cleaved well enough, and Catherine Howard another very brutal divorcing for her. So you see, you are the last one. Six hearts are required, if the spell is to work.”

“Spell? What spell?”

“Oh, so perhaps you don’t know everything. If I am to create my own demon child, then I will need the blood drained from six hearts of those who have loved me”

“Demon child? Is that why you wanted a son?”

“Only a male child would have the strength to house the demon. My earlier experiment failed, Edward was not strong enough for the seed. Anyway, look at us chatting like washerwomen we have work to do.

Henry grabbed a halberd off a suit of armour and moved towards Catherine. Swinging the blade clumsily at her head. Catherine ducked and weaved, until her back was at the door.

“Goodbye, sweet wife.” Henry sneered. He lifted the blade as high as he could and brought it down, towards her head. Catherine ducked, the halberd making contact with the cast iron door lock. Both lock and blade shattered, Henry’s confusion providing just enough time for Catherine to escape through the door.

“You cannot escape me, do you not think I locked every door.”

Looking down the corridor, her feeling of freedom waned and then disappeared entirely. Every window had bars and the only exit had an iron portcullis in front of what was another heavy Oak door.

“My husband, If you still have any love for me, then I ask you to send me to my lord quickly.” Catherine begged, all her earlier confidence retreating from her.

“Of course love, although quick it shall be no less brutal.”

Catherine dropped to her knees as Henry approached. Unsheathing a jewelled dagger from his belt, he lifted the dagger, smiled sweetly at his soon-to-be ex-wife and plunged the dagger down.

The air was split with the sound of thunder and a brilliant light enveloped the entire corridor, neither murderer nor victim able to see.

“Not so fast, Henry.” A couple of men dressed in peculiar clothes emerged from the light, each pointing a small black device at the king. “We are the MONKs, the Ministry opposing nihilistic kings”. Come with us please, Mr Tudor, your Highness. You have been found guilty of murder, witchcraft and demonology and must come with us. If you resist we will shoot you.”

“Shoot me? You’re words are strange but you are mistaken if you think you can stop me. If a jousting lance couldn’t stop me what chance do those… little things. Now prepare to meet your god.”

Henry charged down the corridor, knife help aloft but his gout and figure only made him an easier target. Bolts of lightning shot from the strange men’s hands. Henry hit, was stopped in his tracks and fell to the floor.

“MONKS? MONKS? MONKS” he cried, before he was still.

“Catherine? You’re free. Get out of here and never tell anyone what you’ve seen her today.”

“Who are you? Are you wizards?”

“It’s not important.” One of the strange men, touched his wrist and after another flash and crackle the corridor was empty of everyone except Catherine.

And so ends the story of Henry. Catherine escaped and lived out her life, free from the demonic tyranny of her husband. Though history did not see fit to record the truth of what happened, there are still clues to the truth left behind…

Henry’s wives… divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded…. Survived.

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3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The King’s Evil”

  1. Very nice work, you indulged in enough detail to leave us intrigued, while not giving enough to drown us in unimportant things. The only criticism I have is the line where the MONKs appear. I would have shifted the dialogue round slightly when it came to the wording of how they described themselves

    “We are the MONKs, the Ministry opposing nihilistic kings”.

    I think flows better. Also I would have liked perhaps a little description of the “odd devices”. Just a thought. Other than that, very very good work. I too chose a tudor period for this challenge, so it was nice to see that worked out well.

  2. Yes, that does read a lot better thank you. it did seem rather clunky. I’ve changed it now.

    I’ve still got till tomorrow, so I’ll see what I can do about the device description.

    Thanks for your help, and I’m glad you liked it.

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