by Leo King

Approx. 1000 Words


Color of Blood Series:
Part 1 | Red Blood
Part 2 | White Blood
Part 3 | Blue Blood
Part 4 | True Blood


The innocent should never have to suffer.

It was on the eve of our thirteenth birthday when our uncle invaded my father’s kingdom. In a matter of hours, our merry old soul of a father was impaled on a spike at the highest tower of his castle, staining the stones red. My sister and I were captured, and our uncle, peering at us with his miserly monocled eye , had us thrown into the Royal Gaol in the Grimm Gully. He said we would stay there and suffer unspeakable torments until either I signed a Declaration of Abdication or my sister agreed to marry him.

Neither of us gave in to our uncle. And, true to his word, we have indeed suffered.

It started with simple beatings. My jailer, a snaggle-toothed hunchback, would first start with his fists, then with a club. When that didn’t work, he resorted to using simple devices of torture, such as nail-pullers and toe-screws. When I still wouldn’t give in, he got imaginative, bringing in complex machines as terrifying to witness as the pain they caused me to experience. It got so violent that his assistant guards would often look away.

I’d always scream, and of that I am not ashamed to admit. The pain was unimaginable. But, with every torture and with every scream, I would let my hatred for my uncle boil hotter and hotter in my veins. When they cut off both my arms and replaced them with clockwork replacements, presumably so I could still sign my kingdom away, I let my blood turn to boiling hot poison. Somehow, I’d find a way out and make my uncle pay for what he’s done.

Despite all my torments, the blood-curdling screams that would issue forth from my sister’s cell made my own sound as if it were laughter.

My name is Prince Alan Cole. My sister Jane and I have been imprisoned for one year.


CLANK CLANK!!

I look up from my seated position in my cell, my arms hanging limply at my sides, having long since run down. My feet are shackled to the floor with a length of thick chain. Around my neck is a collar, one all prisoners wear, ready to remove my head should my jailers see me as a threat. My eyes hold a defiant glare in them. It’s time for my daily torture, it seems. As the door opens, and as the hunchback’s figure appears in the doorway, I wonder what it will be today – the peeling rack, the spiked wheel, or maybe The Machine again.

To my surprise, the hunchback starts drooling blood, his mouth foaming and his eyes rolling back. With a teeter, he falls forward to the ground. There is a large gash down his back. My torturer is dead.

“Your Highness!”

A young man appears. Although his face is less youthful, worn with what has likely been a year of his own horrors, I would recognize him anywhere. Only a few years my senior, he’s been my bodyguard and closest friend since I was but a babe. I remembered that he surrendered only at my order, done so to save his life, and that he held the angriest look of all as Jane and I were taken away.

“Jack,” I say. My mouth is dry, and my lips are cracked. His name, however, comes out like ambrosia. “Jack Nimble, is it really you?”

“In the flesh, your Highness,” Jack says, rushing to my side, a key in hand. In a few moments, he has unshackled my feet and removed the collar from around my neck. “What in the name of the Grimm Tales have they done to you?” The outrage in Jack’s voice is overtaken only by his anxious concern.

I manage a weak smile. I’m tired, truth be told, but if Jack is risking his life to attempt a rescue, then I can be exhausted later. “My arms, Jack,” I say, rolling my head towards them, “I need you to wind me up, or I’m afraid I won’t be much use to you.”

It took Jack only a moment more to comprehend what had happened. The rage on his face reflects but a fraction of what was in my heart. As he leans me forward and starts to wind the mechanism on my back that functions as a source of power for my arms, I stare ahead and start to grin. I find myself with a wide and devilish grin, a toothy grin. I’m going to have my revenge on my uncle soon enough.

The mechanism wound, I feel the sudden pinch of the clockworks to the nerves in my shoulders. I have arms again! Standing up, I take a moment to regain my balance. Jack moves to help me, but I ward him back. I will never lean on another person so long as I can live.

“Do you have a weapon for me, Jack?”

“Aye,” Jack says, producing a pair of sickles, “A gift from Farmer Dell. Your uncle, the usurper, took his wife and child. Farmer Dell says to give your uncle his love with those two.”

I take the sickles and look at them. I have never seen such sharp blades before. Farmer Dell must have used these to reap his crops. Now they will reap blood.

“Let’s go,” I say to Jack, brandishing my two newfound friends, “my sister is in the cell down the corridor. Let’s rescue her and make good our escape.”

Jack nods and follows me. Already he’s taking to my command. I’m pleased with that. I couldn’t do this without Jack. My grin is gone, replaced by a scowl as Jack and I hurry down the dark, dank corridor. All around, the sound of chains and the weeping of prisoners assail my ears. The smell of rotted wool forces itself into my nose. Who else is prisoner in the Royal Gaol?

A minute later, we are at the edge of the corridor leading to my sister’s cell. Standing guard are a Hammer and a Nutcracker, both with stoic expressions. From the other side of the door, I hear my sister’s voice. It is not screaming, it is not crying.

It is singing.

“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye. Four and twenty black birds baked in a pie.”

(To Be Continued…)


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