The King’s Escape from Death
It was a long time ago, in a castle that has long since turned to rubble. Safe within the castle’s guarded walls, a king laid asleep, blanketed in his own cold sweat. He was in the midst of a dream; a nightmare, to be more exact. One where the sun was setting, and the wind was gentle in its existence. There he stood, in a large open plain, where tulips of every imaginable colour scoured the hilly fields. The king was alone — there was no one in sight.
Confused as to how he got there, the king looked around for an inkling of a clue. And from the corner of his eye, he noticed something approaching him. He could not make out what it was, for it was shrouded in a peculiar darkness. And though it was exposed to the golden rays of sunset, the figure remained but a dark shadow. The shadow swallowed the sun’s light in its concealment, rather than reflected it in revelation of its true form. The king stood frozen in his tracks, not able to move nor take his eyes off the shadow. And as the shadow neared the king, it reached out what seemed to be a hand, and rested it on the king’s left shoulder. Its touch was cold and lifeless, sending a chill down the king’s spine.
“Do not fear, little king. There is nothing to be afraid of. I usually arrive without informing. But you, little king, you rule over a large empire. The people believe you to be great, unparalleled in your majesty. I heard whispers and songs of your glory, and grew too eager in meeting with you. I have thus, first came to see what the fuss was all about. Hence, here we are, before the arranged time, one day before my true arrival. I have come merely to meet you, and inform you of my visit tomorrow.”
Perhaps it was intuition, or a primal recognition of what he was experiencing. Somehow, the king had already known the answer, but chose to ask the shadow regardless, “Who are you? And what do you want with me?”
“Who am I?” the shadow chuckled, “I am death. And I am yours. But you already knew that, didn’t you, little king? Be prepared, for we will meet again. I will come for you when the sun of tomorrow sets.”
With that, the king jolted up, awakened from his slumber. He found himself trembling from head to toe, his heart beating so quickly that he feared it would jump out of its fleshy cage. Was it just a bad dream? Perhaps the food he ate before he slept was not of good condition? No, it was real. The king was sure of it. Never had he experienced a dream so vivid, nor retained such picturesque memory of a sleep’s imagined happenings. It had to be real, and if that was the case, he had no time to lose. For after all, he was a great king, and he ruled over a large empire. If there was anyone who could hope to escape from the very clutches of death, it was him, the great king, that had a shot at his survival.
He summoned his council of wise men, and told them everything about his dream. The wise men discussed the matter at hand, bickering incessantly as to how seriously they should take the dream and what the plausible solutions might best be. This continued all the way till dawn, albeit to no conclusion. But lucky for the king, he had a particular servant. A clever elderly woman, who had served in his household for decades.
“These great thinkers never come up with real solutions, to hell with their pointless chatter! Heed my advice, my king – take your fastest steed, and get as far away from this castle as you can. Only return to this place when the sun has long since completed its descent. By then it should be safe, and we shall hold a feast, in honour of your victory over death.”
Convinced, the king set off on his grand escape. He picked his fastest stallion, and had his servants prepare him provisions for the journey. But on hindsight, he could have skipped on such preparations. For the king did not stop for food, nor did he stop for water. He did not stop to rest, not for a minute, not for a breather. There was simply no time to lose. He rode through the streets of his kingdom, past the wealthy and past the poor. He crossed bridges and sped through gates, even leaving the confines of his kingdom’s great walls. He rode out into the open, into unknown streets and untouched fields. He rode and rode, ignoring all tiredness all hunger, and all thirst of his own. This continued until his horse finally grew too weary, and eventually the steed collapsed unto the ground.
The king panicked as the world spun around him, and he crashed onto the floor with embarrassingly unrestrained force. He picked himself up off the ground, and turned his head towards the sky. He let out a sigh of relief. The sun was already setting, and the king was nowhere near the castle. It was safe, he thought. It must be. For the castle was not even in sight. But just as the warmth of relief started to set into his bones, the king felt a hand rest on his shoulder. A hand that was cold and lifeless.
Death had arrived.
“I was worried you wouldn’t make it in time.”
The king felt the life drain away from his being. He collapsed to the ground, once again, no more gracefully than how he did just moments before. It did not hurt, not in the slightest – perhaps the grass had cushioned his fall. And the last thing the king saw as his head collided against the ground, was an onslaught of colours that he did not notice before. An array of tulips of every imaginable colour that appeared to be all too familiar.
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.
Todos los personajes son ficción. Cualquier semejanza con individuos reales, vivos o no, es mera coincidencia. All characters are fictional. Any resemblance to individuals, real, existing or not, is purely coincidental.