Flash Fiction by Laura Libricz
The wind blew the massive oak door open and the page struggled to keep it from shattering against the stone wall. The snow blew vertically into the hall as the king stomped in, shaking the ice from his long black braid. Together, the king and the page forced the door closed, defying the anger of the raging storm.
The page relieved the king of his saturated fur coat and threw the coat to the awaiting maid. The king sat down on the low bench and two other maids pulled his boots off. He winced as if this pained him. Suddenly, all five of them looked up into the darkness of the high ceiling; the wind whipped and the tower moaned.
“We must move on into the next chamber, master,” the page said. “The tower is no longer stable. It could crash under the weight of the snow.”
“Then this portion of the castle will be uninhabitable, too, my boy. We cannot build a-new, not in these conditions. If we are to believe their books, the snow should stop this year. If we are to believe that those men existed at all.”
The king stood and the page ushered him through a low door into a warm, intimate chamber. A fire crackled under a large iron tank and two maids stood at the ready, their faces warm in the fire’s glow.
“Have you heard the latest theory?” the page said. “That the world began 299 years ago and all the stories of a society before ours cannot be proven. They say, we are the only intelligent beings to have ever roamed this frozen planet.” He unsnapped the king’s black tarnished armor, removed the breastplate, the backplate and the legplates. “Flora, run the bath,” he said.
The young blonde maid tapped the iron tank and hot water spilled into the copper bath tub. The somewhat older, dark-haired maid sprinkled handfuls of lavender into the steaming water.
“Fauna, take these.” The dark-haired maid came to the page’s side and carried the armor away, into the shadows.
“I do not believe this new theory,” said the king. “No king would have led his people to inhabit such a barren, frozen land.”
The page poured two mugs of steaming spiced wine, handed one to the king and sipped cautiously at his own. “But surely no intelligent beings would devour and decay a civilization to the point of ruin and an eternal blizzard? I believe this new theory.”
The king handed his mug to Flora. She set the mug aside, unfastened his shirt string and pulled the soiled and soaked fabric over his head. Three deep welts adorned his waist. She ran her finger over his wounds. Fauna produced a small pot of salve from the fold of her apron and gently doctored his split skin.
“And what do your theories say about the ice tigers? Are we maybe decendants from their kind? By the way, our hunting party brought back three. We now have meat for a few weeks.”
Fauna stripped the king’s torn trousers away and led him to the bath. The two women helped him climb up and over the edge and descend the ladder into the tub. He let out a growl of relief as he settled into the aromatic, healing water.
“One more thing, master,” the page said.
“Can it wait until I am finished here?”
“We need to discuss this tonight.”
“Leave me with my maids. We will talk in the morning.”
“There may be no morning, master.”
“All the more reason to leave me with my maids, page.”
“We only have enough fuel for the generators to get us through the night. If that. Then we are on our own. Our last bit of peace and comfort will be gone.”
“Who was to secure our fuel?”
“The last of the Morixen, master. They contracted the sickness after you left for the hunt and died while you were away.”
“Page, go. Now.”
The page bowed low and disappeared noiselessly behind a curtain. Fauna approached the king and undid his braided hair. Anointing his hair with soothing oil, she worked it into a lather and Flora rinsed his hair with warm, scented water. Both women took a brush each and scrubbed the hunt from the king’s soiled and scratched hands. His feet were sore and blistered and he let no one touch them.
He pulled Fauna to his side and kissed her generously on the mouth. “Undress her,” he said and pointed to Flora.
Fauna approached the petite blonde, pulled on her apron and unbuttoned her blouse.
“Slowly,” the king said.
The maid did as she was told.
Fauna kissed Flora on the mouth, pulled her into an embrace and undid her pinned-up hair. Golden curls cascaded down the naked girl’s back.
“Help me out of here,” the king said, his taught muscles gone to mush in the warm water.
Zzzzzzzt. Zzt. Zt.
Winds howled and that familiar snow-white blindness pierced the king’s protective goggles.
Zzzzt. The warmth of the fire.
Zzzzzt. The cold of the snow.
The warmth of the fire.
Ice. Snow. Cold.
The king pulled off his goggles and looked up into blocks of ice; the domed ceiling of his igloo lit by the midnight sun. His snow pants restricted his massive erection.
The page threw a handful of snow into a pot simmering over a pathetic blue flame. “I’m sorry, master. The generator’s out. I have a party out searching for fuel. Your dream date will have to wait!”