September 14, 2009

Light: Part I

They were dark days, those days of the King. The King was heartless, or else insane. He would issue unreasonable demands on his subjects, and it took all of the servants’ powers to restrain him during his wild rages. It weighed heavily on the two Princes, Philip and Benjamin. Philip’s winning nature helped him cope. He made friends with the servants, and soon became popular. When the King wasn’t around, the servants would whisper of Philip’s bright future as a ruler.

But Ben withdrew. The behavior of his Father (though he never called him such- it was always, “yes, my Lord,” and “of course, Sire”) was terrible to the young prince. During the King’s rages, Ben felt his soul stripped defenseless and struck with the fiercest blows of hate.

Despondent and moody, Ben would escape to the palace’s library. There he lived vicariously. His mind soared within the essays. The records of history matured his perspective. Best of all were the stories. Ben couldn’t resist those tales of courage and heartbreak and happiness- a world where right could succeed. The truth told in fiction captured his being. Every moment away from the books, he lived in longing for them. People in the palace grew accustomed to his absence.

On a cloudy day in December, Ben was again reading in the library, when the silence was interrupted by the clank of metal against metal. Twelfth Night was cautiously closed and rested on a chair, and Ben got up to investigate. The heavy wooden door was locked. He frowned. Who could have locked it? A well-meaning servant, no doubt, (it was probably old Lottie- she kept charge of the library) had locked it to keep the palace safe. Now he’d have to sit inside the library until the morning, when Lottie came by to dust. He looked around for a key, but no key turned up. And so he waited. He wasn’t too worried: the library was the best possible place to be stuck, in any event. He read some more, then drifted off to sleep as Olivia was asking Cesario to stop delivering love notes from Orsino.

~

Morning came, and sunlight streamed grey through the blackness. Lottie had still not waken. Her daughter, Lily, tiptoed in, wondering how the morning could be underway without Lottie’s service to accompany it.

“Mother? Are you awake?” Playfully, Lily teased, “This shirking of your duties is really unacceptable.” Lottie lay in her bed, sleeping peacefully, noiselessly. The daughter approached, a little uncertainly.

“Mother! Wake up!”

The sleeper was undisturbed. Silence, then a check of pulse. A scream. A collapse. Now two unconscious in that dim room, one never to wake.

~

Ben’s night kept in the library stretched to a vigil of days. He created excuses for Lottie’s absence, none of them striking at the truth of the matter. As his throat itched and stomach growled, he berated himself for being too absorbed in his book. Perhaps he could have heard her approach, and stopped her from locking him in.

He searched for a key again, and found nothing but a dusty bottle of some liquid. His weary mind was still capable of processing information, and the natural suggestion was to pour some of the drink into his parched throat. It didn’t smell bad, so it seemed edible enough. He drank a deep gulp. It burned as it went down. Or perhaps the burning was simply from his lack of water?

He shouldn’t ask questions, he told himself. Though this was a library, and as such was full of answers, it was devoid of people to connect the questions and answers together. No matter, the drink was making him feel a little better. This couldn’t be so bad, could it? Another drink, another drink…. He felt the worry melt away. He floated through happiness and oblivion until his eyelids finally fell and sleep descended with them.

~

There was no grey that morning. There was nothing, nothing at all, but headache and nausea. Ben looked tried to get up and look out the window, but he saw nothing. He only crashed into a bookshelf and fell helpless on the floor. This aching was terrible. Why was he in here, anyway? Why could he see nothing?

~

Philip’s professor had told him to go look up battle strategies in the library. So off he went, grumbling. When he found the door locked, he called a black-clad Lily to get the key. Lily obliged, unlocking the door and offering to come in and help him find what he was looking for. As they entered, the little light from the doorway was illuminating Ben’s still figure. Ben let out a quiet moan.

4 comments:

Hayley said...

Twelfth Night - WIN. :happy sigh:

"Though this was a library, and as such was full of answers, it was devoid of people to connect the questions and answers together." The real reason why librarians are truly magical.

Serfy said...

wow, a suspense story! I love it! Please tell me you're going to post the rest. :)

Are you accepting critiques at this time? I just have a comment about a particular part. :)

Art said...

:) I'm glad you're happy, Hayley.

Serfy, yes, I will post the rest. As of now, the four parts are scheduled for one a day, though I may get impatient and post them soonter. And I'm glad for critiques.

Serfy said...

I think the second paragraph of the second part (from "Mother, are you awake?" to 'a little uncertainly.') would be strenghthened by more showing. Maybe cut down a bit on the adverbs and show some action. I'm guessing you don't want to make that part too lengthy because of the flow of that particular section, but the way it is now, the adverbs don't help me visualize anything. Something to think about. =]