I guess I fainted from all the craziness because next thing I knew I was in my bed. This was getting weird, creepy, and scary. I was getting scared that one of these times I would faint and wake up in a hospital, at the edge of a cliff, against a shooting squad, or perhaps…gulp!...never wake up at all.
"Ugh…what happened? Where am I?"
"You fainted and you're in your room," Larry said.
"Uh…what time is it?"
"It's fifteen minutes till four."
I sighed. "Larry, remind me of something important."
"When we get this situation all resolved, if we do, remind me to resign as King and become a backwoods-man."
"It's no use, Larry. You and me and the whole family are resigning and moving to the back of the woods where there are no rebels, no evil plots, and the only friends we'll have are little furry animals that will feed out of our hands!"
"Spiny, don't exaggerate. You're making a grain of mount out of a sand."
I stood up and looked at him. "What?"
"No, I mean, don't make a grain of sand out of a mount."
"No! I mean, uh, don't make a mount of sand out of a grain. No! NO! I mean to say…"
"Forget it, Larry. Just leave it at that. If not you'll end up embarrassing me. I know what you mean. I'm just sick and tired of having to go through these situations."
"No one said being a King would be a walk in the park."
"Oh, it is. It is. It's like walking through a park full of loose monsters and you're alone on an empty tropical island."
"Are you copying Jurassic Park?"
"OH! You know what I mean!" I fell back on the pillow and was about to turn around to see if I could fall asleep, my cell rang. All right! That did it! I wasn't going to stand this anymore! I grabbed my phone and answered it. "Listen, you! This is the 3rd time you've called! I've had it with you and your accusations! If you don't believe me, fine, but don't make my life a misery!"
"When have I done that?" said Lilia's voice.
Gasp! Lilia?! "Is…is that you, Lilia?"
"Yes, it's me. And what's the matter with you?"
Oh, boy. That was just what I needed. I gulped, feeling my face getting hot. "I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you. I thought it was the…I thought it was someone else. I didn't see who was talking."
"Well…all right. I just wanted to call you. Think you can come over?"
Man, I almost said yes! But for many obvious reasons, I said, "No, I can't. I'm not allowed to."
"Not allowed to?! Says who?"
"The Council of Elders. They still aren't entirely convinced I'm innocent, and I'm not allowed to see you."
"Oh, I'm sorry about that."
"Yeah, well, I feel even worse. This has been the worst day in three days. I still haven't gotten over what the UN did to me and now this."
"Hmm. Well, I just wanted to call you to see how you were."
"Oh, just fine. I just woke up today for the 3rd time."
"The third time?"
"Yes. I have fainted, lost consciousness, or have blacked out three times today."
"Really? How come?"
"I guess it's all the craziness of the situation."
"Sorry to hear that. I know this won't help you feel better, but…I hope you feel better."
I smiled. "Thanks, Lilia. You always know what to say in rough situations."
"Well, I know how hard it's been. My phone hasn't stopped ringing. All my friends have ditched me and all my former teachers have said how disappointed they are." I could hear her voice starting to quiver. "It's not fair! How can anyone be so cruel and heartless to you? They're ruining our lives! We can't even be together! I want to be with you! Without people thinking we're going to do something stupid!"
I bit my lip about halfway through and by the time she stopped talking, she was crying and I felt tears running down my cheek. I cleared my throat and tried not to whimper, "Please don't cry, Lilia. I'll try and see how I can solve this mess. But don't cry. Okay?"
She sniffled and said in a shaky voice. "Okay."
I sighed. "I love you. Very much."
"I love you, too. I really do."
She hung up and I lay there, staring into empty space. That did it. That really, really, REALLY, REALLY did it. I was going to get to the bottom of this. I was going to find out who had done this evil thing to me. I was going to do it. I was going to prove to my people and to my world that I was innocent from the start. I was going to teach them a lesson. Even if it cost me my life, I was going to clear my name and vindicate the Amarkian monarchy, which has been preserved for 95 million years.
I turned to Larry. He had a look of strength and determination in his eyes. "Let's do it."
I didn't need to ask how he knew what I was thinking. "Where do we start?"
He began to think. "Let me see here…"
Someone knocked on the door. Then Robert's face appeared. "Um, Spiny. Have you got a moment?"
"All right, but hurry up. I'm in the middle of something important."
"Well, I, uh, have a confession to make."
"Robert, now I don't have time for your personal problems."
"It's got to do with you."
That got my attention. "All right. What is it?"
"Yesterday when I was talking a walk, I bumped into this guy. He looked very mysterious and had a scar on his left cheek. He asked me if I was Robert. When I said yes, he said, "I wonder where the King is going this evening,' and then I told him where. Then he said, 'Very interesting,' and he left."
My heart started to pound around in my chest. "You…did…WHAT?!" I lunged at him, but Larry grabbed me by the ankle and pulled me back.
"Wait, just a minute! Robert, did he have a dark denim jacket?"
"Had sort of gray at the temple?"
"And was he wearing ostrich boots?"
"Yes, yes, yes! That's him!"
I stared at Larry. "You mean…you know the guy who's behind this?"
"No, but we're just starting to get to know each other. I bumped into him earlier today. He was happy about the whole situation and I even followed him into a dark alley. It's all a plot to remove you…or us from the monarchy."
"You mean…they want all of us…out of the picture?" Robert asked.
"Yes, and that's all I'll reveal. This is Spiny's problem. We don't want to worry the rest of the family."
"That's right. Now go on to your room or play video games or something. And not a word to Patty about this. If she asks anything, just tell her Larry and I went out."
"What if she asks where?" Larry said.
"Don't worry. Patty isn't like that, but Kathy is. Patty only asks once and she's satisfied with whatever answer you give her."
"Oh, ok. Now come on! Let's get some justice done around here!"