Staggered through an alleyway; passed out in the trash. Not a problem – it formed around my body like a black plastic throne. That was when my subjects came to pay me tribute.
“O, wise and noble bum,” said a plague of rats that emerged from the smelly heap. “We only ask that we may dwell in the spacious courtroom of your head.”
“Sure,” I replied. Why not? “Climb in my ear.”
A tiny community of vagrants under a bridge was visited by a newcomer: a man whose face was so wrapped in hair and scars that it was barely a face at all. He came limping, begging for food, and they gave him lumpy soup in return for the sharp, cheap whisky he brought in a paper bag. When he got his food, he sat with it – didn’t speak for hours. The vagrants forgot he was even there for a while, when he sat outside the circle when they sang to accordion music and shouted and laughed. The night strangled the evening, and when the vagrants were subdued by the drink and the exhaustion, they settled on barrel chairs and told stories of the horrifying world over the bridge and in the cities, where few of them had set foot. The newcomer joined the circle.
“I have a story about the cities.” He said. His mouth barely moved when he spoke, like a puppet. “About a King.”
As he slept, images of wild grinning cats with fiery manes prowled his head. They were in an open plain with nothing nearby, moving stiffly and they knocked off his son’s crown and bit off his arm, crying inky crocodile tears.
Of course, it was just a dream; King Ograf would never consider of going far out into the beast-infested plains that lay around the city, let alone allow his son to come with him. Besides, the young prince was an idiot, was just as likely to be eaten by guinea pigs if allowed to go out to a pet shop unaccompanied by an entourage.Continue reading