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


By this time, Jack has cleared away the bodies and is guarding the exit from this area. When he sees Jane, his face pales. I figure he knows what has happened to her. I look him in the eyes and say, “We can discuss her later. How do we get out?”

Jack nods and says, “I snuck in through one of the crates of stuffing they use to keep the Toy prisoners healthy. We can’t exit that way. We need to head out of the front of the cave the Gaol is located in. My little sis will cover the escape.”

I nod. I hadn’t seen little Jill Nimble in over a year, but I do recall she was the kind of scrapper who’d punch all the boys and make them cry. I can respect that. “Let’s go,” I say, leading Jane and following Jack.

As we travel along the corridors of the Gaol, Jane humming the same song she was singing earlier, I notice how few guards are around and ask, “Jack, this place should be crawling with guards, correct? I mean, two political prisoners here, and Goose knows who else…”

Jack shakes his head. “It’s not needed, your Highness. In the past year, anyone who says anything against your uncle is either sent to the Quarry, sent here, or fed to the Trolls. Besides, with collars like what you had on, anyone who tries to escape gets Queen-of-Hearted.”

Jacks voice lowers, the bitterness thick as butter. “And I have had to play party to that murderer for a year; I—“

I interrupt, “You have done as I commanded, Jack. You’re no use to me, my sister, or our father’s kingdom if you’re dead.”

Jack says nothing else for now, but I know this conversation is not over. I decide to change the subject. “So where did those evil Toys come from? The Hammer? The Nutcracker?”

“From the Toymaster,” Jack replies, stopping at a doorway and motioning for me to quiet. I let go of Jane’s hand and signal for her to be quiet. She signals right back at me before hunching down next to a wall to talk to it. I leave here there and join Jack. He motions to three more Toys, a set of sharp teeth attached to a spring mechanism of sorts, a maniacal marionette with a hatchet for a right hand, and a large white glove.

Signaling to Jack silently, we brandish our weapons and rush in.

A few minutes later, Jack and I are covered in white blood, the bodies of the evil Toys in pieces everywhere. Catching our breath, we both watch as Jane comes inside, doing her best impression of a kitty cat. A small hairless tail wiggles around outside of her mouth. She slurps the tail up like spaghetti and chews contentedly with a very proud expression on her face.

I turn away as Jack dry heaves. As soon as we escape, I’m going find out what is wrong with my sister.

A few minutes later we are heading towards the exit. As we walk, I ask, “Who is this Toymaster?”

Again, Jack shakes his head. “No one knows who he is or where he came from. His evil Toys helped your uncle take over, and afterwards, he set himself up in a tower to the west. It’s said that any Human or Toy sent to the Toymaster’s Tower is never seen again.”

I nod to myself, putting the Toymaster on my list of people who need to die.

“And the Quarry,” I ask Jack. “You said Toys are being sent there?”

“Aye,” replies Jack, his voice again getting bitter. “It’s the most horrible sight you ever did see. Teddy Bears with buttons missing, Dollies without dresses, and stuffed Pups with no noses. Toys sent to the Quarry mine this ore your uncle is acquiring for the Toymaster, and they work there until they drop dead of exhaustion.”

My gut retches at the tale of mistreatment suffered by my subjects. Teddy Bears without buttons, and Dollies without dresses. Such abuse of beautiful toys is a sin!

Soon we reach the exit. I expect to see a large group of Evil Toys there to stop us, but there are none. The one thing I do see, however, chills me to my bone.

A person. A human. And, I know him. Standing at the entrance, a halberd in hand, is the Royal Gardener. He was a good fellow, though always a bit simple in the head.

“Simon?”

Simon steps forward. His face and his bib are covered in gooseberry juice. I know that Simon loves that flavor more than anything else. He could eat four and twenty gooseberry pies a day if allowed. Around his neck is a collar much like my own.

“Sorry, your Majestighness,” Simon says, calling me his unique blend of “majesty” and “highness” as he always has. “But Mister Toymaster says I gotta kill you and Miss Jane, or I gets Queen-of-Hearted. I’m sorry, but I don’t wanna die! If I die, I can’t eats no more pie. So sorry!” Simon started preparing the halberd for battle

I grit my teeth. The last thing I want to do is hurt Simple Simon. “We don’t have to do this,” I yell out, brandishing my weapons in case he charges. “Come with us, Simon! We’ll find a way to set you free. We’ll find a way to help!”

Simon’s cheeks are streaked with tears as he blubbers out, “There ain’t no hope, your Majestighness. Just gotta do what you can to stay alive! Just gotta survive!”

Despite being out of my cage, I feel helpless. It’s like it’s neither I nor Jane who have truly gone mad – it’s the entire world.

Simon starts to advance, his weapon at the ready, as Jack yells out, “You traitorous coward! You dare raise your hand again—“

Jack is interrupted for a second time today, this time by a flash flying past us both and past Simon as well. There is a surreal moment as a thin red line forms around Simon’s midsection in a slant, before he lets out a gurgling cry and falls into two pieces. Red blood goes everywhere, coating the one who cut Simon in half.

Jane.

Standing at the exit to the cave, Jane is holding a giant scythe that looks to be made of blood. Tendrils of blood cling to the scythe from her newly opened wounds, as if giving it life. Turning her head as if there were great resistance, Jane stares at the remains of Simon, and says, “And now poor Simple Simon bids you all Adieu.”

Her look is a look of death itself. For a brief moment, I’m terrified of my own twin sister.

The scythe melts into liquid blood and travels back into her scarified arms, right into the reopened tic-tac-toe wound. I stare. When Jane notices, she makes a wide grin and tilts her head to the side in a cutely disturbing fashion, saying, “Hey, Diddle Diddle!”

I hurry out of the Gaol with Jane and Jack. The Gaol is on a large cliff near Grimm Gully. When we get outside, I take a good first look at my kingdom.

What I see burns itself into my mind.

(To Be Concluded…)


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