Definitely Not a Royal Gala: A King Charles III Tragedy

Pictonaut story vaguely inspired by this unattributed image of an old woman offering up some apples…

Pictonaut short story effort corresponding to June 2014’s image.

King Charles III was feeling very perturbed and very uncomfortable. He was sure that Felipe VI, Kim Yo-jong, Emir Salman of Bahrain and whoever his other three colleagues were felt likewise.

He was round. He was red. He was missing his regular features but yet, somehow, he had sensory awareness of affairs around him. He could hear a commotion in spite of the fact that he no longer had what he’d recognise as ears anymore.

Once upon a time his ears had been very famous. He missed his ears.

King Charles III tuned in his consciousness in order to try and comprehend the strange hubbub. Right now the crazy old woman was talking. Charles did not like being in her hand very much.

All of ’em! Every single one! she was shrieking aloud to the appalled throng in an accent that His Highness couldn’t quite place. Royals and rulers and the aristocratic figureheads of the far future! They weren’t of much use in their own time so, ah hah, I thought I’d gather ’em up, freshen ’em up and take ’em on a grand trip for perspective, like!

Not much use in his own time? Charles felt hurt and it was added insult to injury on what had been an especially harrowing morning. It wasn’t easy for one to adjust to the fact that one was now an apple. He had so many questions. Would he still retain his titles and status as monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland if he was stuck as a piece of fruit? How about his positions as Head of the Commonwealth and Supreme Governor of the Church of England? Would the Royal Mint have to start commissioning coins fronted with his new form?

What would Camilla say? How would William and Harry and all the rest of them feel? Could this new image actually be a boon for his organic agriculture campaigns and assorted green endeavours?

A really important one raised itself: was he Braeburn or Royal Gala? He felt Braeburn, though part of him wished he was Royal Gala. He hoved in his view on Felipe VI. No, Felipe looked like a Bramley cooking apple. Surely, he would be the same. This was a depressing thought.

The noise beyond the Time-Hag’s fingertips was growing louder and King Charles III trained his perceptive gazes in on the crowd. He discerned a gaggle of stern men in black hats and black cloaks. One was brandishing a rod and crying loudly while another pounded a great big bloody antique tome.

Foul harlot! the rod-bearer yelled. ‘Tis Devil’s work! Damn your witchery! Damn your devil words!

The others pitched in with similarly pointed fury. Cries of Burn her! started to flare up in the background and Charles realised that a sizable mob had formed behind the black-hatted men. A quick sprint through his memory of history raised associative notions of Puritans and witch-hunts and old folk legends of the seventeenth century. Was this where he was now?

The Time-Hag, meanwhile, was protesting and attempting to appease her angry audience. Charles listened, as it were, to her wild celebrations of the things she’d seen, the places she’d been and the people she’d encountered while traversing the crystalline corridors forged by the Trans-Dimension Duchesses, the passages to All-Time and All-Space…

The rabble didn’t seem to care much of her talk of telephones and atomic war and fridge freezers and the days when humans would conquer the skies and cultivate gardens on the Moon. They became even more hostile when she gushed about the Transmutational Orb she’d utilised but now, sadly, had left replenishing in her twenty-fifth century bolt-hole. Indeed, they proceeded to holler even louder about the Time-Hag’s witchcraft and diabolicism.

All at once they rushed her, the leading black-clad men grabbing her roughly and wrestling her away from the barrel-bundle that had carried her down those crystalline corridors far and wide through spacetime.

King Charles III fell to the floor and his red outer skin smacked hard against the ground below. I’ll be terribly bruised, he thought, and then he acknowledged the awful fact that he was now beginning to think like an apple.

As the witchfinders and the braying mob dragged the Time-Hag away to the Gallows’ Glade, Charles lay there and wondered. He was not sure where Felipe VI, Kim Yo-jong and Emir Salman had rolled off to.

He was not sure what he was meant to do now. What should one do when one is an abandoned apple in seventeenth century rural England, in the midst of Interregnum era? What would become of him?

Bramley, he said to himself without actually saying anything. I’m definitely Bramley. Oh, I do wish I was Royal Gala…

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  1. Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Definitely Not a Royal Gala: a King Charles III Tragedy’… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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