Equinox: The return to Earth

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A broken King

The bright sunlight streaming in ferociously through the little gap between the heavy curtains hurt Jason’s eyes as he attempted to open them. His head ached and pounded in protest as a wave of nausea washed over him.

With much effort he slowly brought his right hand up to his face shielding his light brown eyes from the cruel, unyielding light. He tried to propel himself into the shade with his left hand which refused to respond, causing an instant feeling of panic and spurring him into wakefulness.

“What’s going on?”

He barely recognised his own tortured voice as it escaped his throat. It sounded hoarse and broken.

A moment later he felt foolish and angry at himself for panicking. He had simply fallen asleep on top of his left hand and it was now void of any sensation.

He forced his aching body to move until he was lying on his back, freeing his left arm and restoring the blood circulation. He scowled as the all too familiar sensation of pins and needles took hold in his arm. At least his face was out of the burning sunlight now.

Jason guessed that it was late morning, but he couldn’t be certain of that. To look at the little clock which stood on the dresser to his left meant turning his entire body around again and he was just not ready to put in the effort. His slow, lethargic mind couldn’t even remember what day it was!

He lay on his back staring blankly at the silver chandelier which hung from the centre of the ceiling while massaging his left hand with his right. Wakefulness began to seep into his tired mind causing his head to throb even more now.

The ruby, emerald and sapphire hues emanating from the crystals on the chandelier helped calm him down somewhat as he gathered his thoughts.

He instinctively moved his right hand to his forehead which was throbbing immensely now and winced in surprise when his fingers made contact with the deep gash there.

“Ow!” he exclaimed in response to the sudden white hot pain which sprung from the wound.

His forehead was swollen and crusty, and felt unfamiliar to his fingers.

With the greatest effort he finally managed to pick his head up and turn onto his side again. Forcing his eyelids wide open, he stared at the clock which stood on the dresser, confirming that it was indeed late morning.

Next to the little clock stood a number of bottles of the finest, most expensive red wines Carac had to offer, most of them already empty. Glancing around the room he discovered even more bottles lining the bedside stands and scattered on the floor around the huge four poster bed.

“It’s no wonder that I feel so hung-over!” he concluded, speaking to himself.

Counting on his fingers, he worked out that six days had passed since Princess Jasmine was laid to rest. His memory of the funeral was a blur as Vince had pumped him full of painkillers just so that he could attend and his recent drinking spree didn’t do his memory any favours either.

The passing away of the Princess meant that he was now the sole ruler of Carac.

The kingdom of Octavia along with all the people of Carac were in mourning after the tragic death of their beloved Princess Jasmine.

The painful memory of his wife’s final moments played in his mind once more, now that the effects of the alcohol had worn off.

She had displayed such bravery and expressed such confidence in him with her last breath.

He held his face in his hands and wept bitterly.

“It’s all my fault, Jasmine,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”

Jason had retreated to the Princess’s chamber as soon as the funeral was over, refusing to see anyone. The guard had been given strict instructions not to let anyone into the room, under any circumstances.

Glancing around the room for an unopened bottle of wine, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. An unkempt, spiky beard had formed over his usually clean shaven face and his normally short hair had grown a little, making him appear old and haggard.

The wine warmed him up from the inside as he gulped directly from the bottle and he began to feel disconnected once more.

He recalled something Jasmine had said to him when he had refused to surrender to Captain Pretorius. Her words echoed inside his head.

“Then we will die together,” she had said. “Death before dishonour is the code of the knight.”

He reached for the side table and his fingers closed around the cold metal of his handheld atomic disruptor.

He gingerly picked up the weapon and placed it against his forehead.

“It’s all my fault that you’re gone,” he whispered between sobs. “And now I have to make amends by punishing the one responsible.”

His finger tightened against the firing mechanism.

“Goodbye Jasmine. Till we meet again.”

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