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The Wings of Freedom

By Michael James Wilbur All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Fantasy

The Wings of Freedom

The prince was unceremoniously thrown into the cell. Turning over on the ground, he looked back at the two guards who had ‘escorted’ him to the chamber.

Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed the bars and hissed, “You will pay for this. You, your families, your goddamn pets … I’ll strangle them with my bare hands!”

The face of one of the guards went bright red. He stepped forward, only to be held back by the other.

"He’s not worth it." She hissed in his ear. "He’ll feel the headsman’s axe tomorrow anyway."

The offended guard glared at the jailed prince for a moment longer before turning away and heading for the door, the other guard following a moment later.

"I’ll make everyone you ever cared for pay in blood!" The prince screamed as she closed the heavy iron door.

His only answer was a series of heavy clicks followed as numerous deadbolts slid into place, securing the prince in the cell.

Still fuming, the prince looked at his surroundings. The cell was essentially a heavy iron cage in the center of a small room with metal walls. There were no windows, no doors save the one, and only a small vent to allow the circulation of air.

"Okay, okay." He said, massaging his temples. "This isn’t a problem. They’ll come to get me once they realize what happened. I just need to wait."

He spent the next few hours brooding on his cot, imagining all the horrible and foul things he’d do to the people who wronged him. Not just the guards, mind; the prince had a sharp mind and a perfect memory; every person who wronged him from the jester who dared to make a joke about the prince, to the King of the miserable little castle in which he was now imprisoned would feel his wrath.

As the hours of night began to wane, the prince felt a slow desperation begin to seep though him. Where were they? They were supposed to be watching over him. They were supposed to be helping him.

His ear twitched as one of the deadbolts slid back into place with a loud thunk.

"Finally!" He said, clambering to his feet and moving as close to the door as his cell allowed. "It’s about damn time!"

One by one, the deadbolts slid back into place. As the door finally opened with a loud creak, the muffled sound of conversation from the other side became clear.

"Chinese? We haven’t had chinese in awhile." Said the first man to enter, a thin fellow in a white robe.

A dark-skinned woman with a guitar slung over her shoulder stepped into the room behind the robed man. “I dunno, Jay. The last time we had chinese, I was sick for a week. How about Sushi?”

"Come on, Melody; we do sushi on Friday, and it’s only Wednesday. How about Mexican? Some nachos would be killer right now."

"Hmm." The woman scratched her chin as she considered.

“Where the hell have you two been?" said the prince. "You’re supposed to be keeping me safe!”

"Geez, man." Said the robed man. "Chill out already."

"Chill out? They’re going to execute me! Do you know what that means? They’re going to kill me!"

"Well, yeah, man! You tried to force yourself on that poor girl; even if she wasn’t a princess, you’d be in some serious trouble."

"She was promised to me!" said the prince. "That makes her my property, and I can do whatever I damn please with her!"

There was a definite drop in the room temperature at the prince’s comment. Melody opened her mouth only to be interrupted by Jay snapping his fingers.

"Italian!" He said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "There’s a great little bistro I used to visit in New York that makes a fantastic meatball calzone!"

The prince stood dumbfounded, which gave Melody enough time to say, “Oh, that sounds good, but those things run right through me. Maybe a sub sandwich?”

"I’m going to be killed in a couple of hours!" The prince said. "Stop talking about food!"

"Well, we’re hungry!" Melody snapped. "It hasn’t been easy keeping an eye on you for the past few weeks."

Jay nodded at the prince. “You are a bit of a prat.”

"How dare you!" The prince said, his face livid. "It isn’t for sub-creatures like you to question the bloodline of kings."

"Sub-creatures?!" Melody said, not bothering to hide her outrage. "Watch it, norm! We are Dreamers! We can alter the fabric of reality with a mere thought!"

"And you have to do what I say." There was an air of smugness about the prince as he continued, "That’s what you said, right? You’re here to make sure I’m right where I’m supposed to be."

Jay scratched his bearded chin. “That is what I said.”

"And my proper place is on the throne! I am the last heir to King Jonas, not that low-born thug Matthaius. As such, I demand you get me out of here and help me deal with that horrible whelp."

"Horrible?" said Melody as she circled the cage, one finger tapping against the bars. "Let’s talk about horrible, shall we? The first time we met, you had just tried to steal the gold from a traveling merchant."

"I am to be king." The prince said stiffly. "Everything in this realm is mine."

"Next," Melody continued as though she hadn’t heard him, "You nearly kicked a beggar to death for the crime of asking for a single coin."

The prince snorted. “I’ve no time for such scum. If she couldn’t work, she deserved to starve.”

"And the gypsy who gave you a bad fortune? The child who accidentally splashed mud on you? The guard who tried to help you up when you slipped? The town crier who had the misfortune of passing just a little too close to your window? If we had left you to your own devices, how many of them would you have killed or robbed?"

"You wouldn’t understand. I will be king! I must act like a king!"

Jay snickered. “I dunno, Mel; sounds like a king to me.”

"You’re not helping." Melody told her friend.

"Neither are you!" The Prince kicked at his cot. He wanted it to go flying against the cell walls for dramatic effect, and only ended up with a sore foot when the bolted down cot didn’t move an inch. "It’s not for you to understand, and it’s not for you to judge!"

"He might have a point." Jay suddenly grinned. "Pizza?"

"FOR GOD’S SAKE!" The Prince screamed, his voice nearly breaking, "STOP TALKING ABOUT FOOD! I COMMAND YOU TO GET ME OUT OF THIS CELL AND HELP ME RETAKE THE THRONE LIKE YOU SAID!"

There was a long pause as the two Dreamers traded glances.

"Let me tell him." Melody asked, clasping her hands together. "Please let me tell him."

Jay shrugged and waved at the Prince. “Be my guest.”

"Thank you." Melody graced her partner with a thankful smile before she turned her sights on the prince. "We never said anything about installing you on the throne."

"Don’t be stupid!" The prince snapped. "You said you were here to put me where I was supposed to be!"

"And here you are." Melody leaned closer to the bars, her voice now eerily quiet. "In a cell beneath the true king’s castle, all ready for the chopping block in the morning."

"How dare-"

"I dare because you would have treated that poor princess like a sex slave until she committed suicide. I dare because you would’ve murdered innocent people just because you didn’t like the look of them." The prince could see literal fire in the depths of Melody’s eyes as she said, "I dare because you would’ve led this country to war, all to expand your empire."

The prince shrank back from her. “W-what? What are you talking about?”

"I’m talking about the future, prince." Melody said as she resumed circling the cell. "You see, you didn’t need us to retake the throne; a sneaky little bugger like you would’ve found a way. There are always those tempted by power, and they would’ve helped you kill the true king just for a chance at power. They wouldn’t have gotten it, of course; you’d have them killed as well just to cover your tracks. Or maybe because you’re a sadistic little bastard."

"You’d be stopped eventually; all dictators eventually are, but hundreds of thousands of people would die because of you. Children who would have grown up to be artists or story-makers, or maybe even Dreamers, all dead because of one greedy, beastly, and downright evil little norm." Melody face the prince again, this time with a smile on her face that sent chills down the prince’s spine. "And now none of that is going to happen. The true king will lead this country into an era of prosperity, all because of us. Job well done, Jay."

"You too, Melody." Jay paused. "I’ve got it. Wings-2-Go."

Melody smile became genuine even as a look of horror spread across the prince’s face. “Ooh, yes. I love their chicken quesadillas.”

"Then it’s settled!" With that, Jay approached the door. With a wave of his hand, it swung shut and the deadbolts slid back into place.

"Nice and secure." Jay turned back to the prince. "So that’s that. Assignment’s done, time for us to go. Have a nice life, kiddo."

"Wait!" The prince said, grabbing the bars as Jay and Melody approached another door that appeared on a previously blank piece of wall. "You … you can’t just leave me here like this!"

"That’s the thing." Melody said as she followed Jay through the door. Leaning her head back into the jail chamber, she smiled at the prince one last time. "We can."

The door swung shut and vanished, leaving the prince alone in his cell, unable to appreciate the first rays of dawn that were slowly shining over the castle. It was just as well; he was too busy screaming to enjoy it anyway.

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