Archive for January 8th, 2009

Things have been far too factual on this blog for a while. It’s time for some fiction.

I wrote this a few days ago. Call me inspired.

Once upon a time …

Planet Real, third world from the star that powered the solar system, was a hostile world; one where no air existed, water was black and toxic, and everything that existed carried razor-sharp edges that drew blood and left those unfortunate enough to come in without a shell scraped and bruised and raw.

Most inhabitants were hatched complete with a leathery covering that soon hardened into interlocking titanium-hard plates covering any soft parts, even though those were few. The clanking of armor was the sound of the people, since they didn’t breathe and had only tiny, silent hearts, and as the population moved through their days they filtered the sound of scraping and grinding from their conscience minds and relied on shouts and clashes to communicate between themselves.

One hot summer’s day, an unusually pinkish egg began the humming that indicated the arrival of a new being on Real. Mutant in its color, there had been some thought to dropping it into the festering sea at the time it appeared, but it was a pretty thing, and it’s soft glow lit corners of the hatchery, so the masters kept it on, thinking, perhaps, it would never hum.

The humming, however, began normally enough with the typical monotone murmur that should increase in volume, but never vary, as the time grew near for a new being to be born. Soon, however, workers were amazed to hear the beginnings of shifts in tone that eventually built into a full-fledged song.

Fear struck hearts when the egg began to harmonize with its own birthing tone and reach into octaves never before heard on Real, and for a moment the panicked workers contemplated smashing the thing.

Before action could be taken, however, the being inside emerged, and the gathered crowd was stunned into stillness that stopped the grinding of their plates. In the silence, they saw that the princess was naked … nothing covered her pink softness … and gasping.

That she was a Princess was never a doubt … this could be seen clearly immediately. Whether or not she would survive, however, was questionable.

Running to the treasury, one worker gathered together an urn of precious air and a few drops of sweet water, then quickly returned and deposited the Princess into the mix and sealed the jar.

Over the course of the next months, a glass room was constructed. Air was manufactured especially for it and snowmelt was flown in from the distant poles, the only place on Real where freshness survived.

The Princess was decanted from her urn, it now growing into a bit of a tight fit, and sealed inside the glass room where she could live and breath and escape the wounds her soft skin would encounter with every move outside her protection.

More than fifty years passed, and aside from constant wishes that she had come into the world with a steel-hard casing, she was reasonably content with her lot. Her view changed often as she was carried from country to country and displayed for a public who could never have imagined a creature so vulnerable, and she grew to accept the grinding of plates as the indication of connection with others.

She even managed to love a few times through the glass, fully prepared for the time the shelled object of her affection would wander away and not return … an event that never failed to occur.

One day, while on exhibit in a distant land, she noticed someone staring intently from beneath the hard covering over his eyes, and she turned her gaze upon him. A soft light she’d never seen before, aside from when gazing at her reflection that bounced from her walls, radiated from him and warmed her in a way she had not known until that minute.

When, after hours, he walked away, she felt as though the air had left her crystal enclosure and she gasped and wondered how she would ever again breathe freely.

The next day, however, he returned … and the one after that and the one after that and the one after that.

Each time, he moved a bit closer to the polished surface of her cocoon, eventually reaching to touch, then stroke the glass. She, too, moved toward him, bathing in his light and imagining the sensation of his encased claws on her unprotected skin, knowing, though, that he could easily rip her to shreds.

Weeks were spent in contemplation … he of her, she of him … and soon their light began to mix, creating colors not seen before on Real. Some spectators thought this a dangerous turn of events, while others were simply amazed and enjoying the show.

A day began like others with him positioned against the glass on the outside and her pressed to the inside. On this day, however, he didn’t leave when the dark of night descended. Rather, he pushed himself ever harder against the glass as his light burned brighter and brighter … hers matching the illumination as they glowed and their colors melted together, then created sparks that reflected from the crystal cage from outside and inside.

The Princess cried when he stepped away, fear dimming her radiance and chilling her defenseless form, and she watched and waited.

And then the impossible happened.

Grasping the plate that covered his heart, he began working it back and forth, back and forth, until it came loose in his claw, then detached. With this silvery scale in hand, he approached the Princess, then dug the sharp end into glass and worked it into the surface. Over hours, he scraped and dug and sawed, the Princess always in his sight, until eventually he created a hole large enough for him to crawl through to her.

Once inside, he removed one claw and deftly replaced the glass and sealed his entrance behind him.

After weeks and months of longing, the Princess rushed to embrace the being, but he stopped her.

“Touch me, and bleed,” he said.

And then … “Wait.”

Slowly and carefully, he one-by-one removed the shell that had protected him for so long, casting aside each bit with little regard.

Wonder of wonders, beneath it all stood a Prince. A Prince of soft flesh with hands and fingers, not claws and scales, and eyes uncovered glowing with sable warmth and golden love.

“Now,” he said.

She stepped into his arms, and for the first time knew the touch of another, the feel of breath upon her skin and a heartbeat as strong and loud as her own.

For one hundred years they lived in comfort in their crystal palace, protected forever from the wounds of Planet Real, breathing air made colorful in the atmosphere they created, pulling each other close, touching, loving, making up for all the years the glass was sealed and the shell in place.

They are there still, the Princess and the Prince … only now they are King and Queen … and they dance to the music that pours from them and teaches their world to yearn for the day all shells will be cast aside.

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