~1000 words based on the idea of The Danger of Undeserved Power
Entering the room, he hesitated, unsure of how to broach the subject weighing on his mind. His pulse raced, blood and hormones coursing through his veins – fight or flight in full swing though he had not yet made up his mind which course to take.
She was standing at the window, looking out at the falling snow, and he was momentarily relieved. She adored snow. Perhaps seeing it now, in all its cold, serene, beautiful danger would mean she was in good humour and accept his coming declaration with some level of humility.
Crossing to the centre of the room, he gently cleared his throat to get her attention and held his breath while she turned from her daydreaming, anxious to try to read the look on her face.
True to form, however, her face held as much emotion as a slab of marble. Blank, yet disarmingly welcoming, her gaze settled upon him as she waited to learn of the reason for the interruption. She seldom asked people for anything, and they both expected him to know it was for him to explain his presence.
He gently cleared his throat once more, his gaze dropping to the expensive carpet beneath their shoes before speaking, careful to enunciate every syllable for oh, how she loathed mumbling!
‘Your Grace, we have received word that…’ was all he was able to manage before being cut off by the sound of her voice. His head snapped up in his shock and worry, no one ever spoke over her, not even a syllable and he wracked his brain, trying to remember if he’d been inhaling or otherwise hesitating when she’d started speaking. He silently prayed that this was true while taking extra pains to hear her every word.
‘I don’t care,’ she all but spat. The venom in her voice not worse than normal but he noticed something about her face. There was an expression there that he’d never seen before in all his years of service to her. It was all he could do to stop himself from visibly recoiling at the sight.
‘Has the fabric for my dress been finished?’
‘No, Your Grace. The factory has had a set back. The fire caused so much damage that they haven’t been able to fulfil the order. They’re rebuilding as fast as they can.’ He blanched, knowing that she had ordered the arson attack on the city and that it had gotten out of hand. The people tasked with starting the fire had met their own end in another, smaller fire two days later when the total extent of the damage had been known. She expected perfection and it had not been delivered.
‘Those bloody imbeciles! I simply wanted the urchins in that damned bakery to learn a lesson – no one disappoints me, I don’t care who died. I accept no excuses.’
He nodded in response, ‘Yes, Your Grace.’ His own brother had been lost in the accident that affected the bakery but he was wise enough to know better than to speak of such things in her presence.
He listened to the rest of her brief diatribe and accepted her next set of outrageous instructions. She all but vibrated with ferocity and strength as she spoke. She was quite formidable and anyone who had ever seen her in person understood immediately how she had come to power so quickly, so absolutely.
When he finally left her presence, she was back to staring out the window, her lunch – cooked to perfection – and probably several times before the chef was willing to have it presented to her, being wheeled in through the doorway he’d just exited.
Walking swiftly from her suite, he found a rare moment to breathe and to collect his thoughts before he was bombarded by lesser staff, desperate to know what it was that she demanded next, desperate to know how they would struggle to appease her.
One by one he briefed all of the people who approached him and then sought out those that had been too busy or too afraid to learn of what was to come. The staff scurried from task to task – there was no time for hesitation, conversation, contemplation… Orders had been received and must be carried out to perfection and without question.
Several hours later, when the instructions had all been disseminated, he left the building through a servant’s door and headed to a local café. Bundled against the snow, he was grateful for it as it provided much-needed anonymity. He entered the café through the back door and stomped his boots firmly on the mat inside before removing his heavy outerwear and heading upstairs to the café owner’s residence.
Well into the night, the carefully-chosen attendees of this secret meeting discussed the plans, the details of the coming coup. It had been 5 years in the making, each year the plans becoming more and more concrete, more and more urgent as their beloved country struggled under the control of Her Grace. Meticulously detailed and happening in just two days’ time, the plan was set into motion that night in the residence above a small, unassuming café where, outside, beautiful snow blanketed the world, creating a landscape of dreams, of fantasies, creating a world of seeming purity and innocence.
He knew his role in the plan and he knew it well, and though he understood the necessity of it, he still struggled with the damage his future actions might have on his psyche. He had been ordered to kill many people while under her rule – many who deserved it and many who did not. This next killing, however, was different. This next killing would be of their ruler, their leader, Her Grace and, though he knew they needed to be free of her tyranny, he had never killed someone so young. If everything went according to plan, and how could it not, Her Grace would die the night before her 11th birthday.