Crossing Over At King’s Cross

The windows rattle as the bombs cascade over the city. Their metallic bodies whiz through the air and land with an explosive thunder which rocks the earth. I sit alone, forgotten, in my room waiting for the world to end.

“Your Highness,” knocks Albert from behind the hallway, “unlock the door, it’s time.”

“Albert, what is going on, I thought you were at Parliament with mother?” I unlatch the deadbolt and Albert barrels into the room carrying my knapsack.

“Your Highness, it is not safe here.”

“It’s the royal palace, where else am I to go?”

“Maurice is bringing the car around; we must vacate.”

“Where’s father? He’s supposed to return for me.”

“Young prince, your father won’t make that appointment.” He opens the closet, grabs a pair of rain boots and slips my sneakers in the bag.

“Is he stuck talking to the Prime Minister again? What about mother, surely she wants me to stay put.” Albert pauses with his wrinkle hands resting on the brass handles. His shoulders slouch, the first time in my twelve years I’ve seen him do such a thing. Always straight and dignified Albert pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs.

“The Queen is dead.” My brain refuses to believe the improbable. She isn’t dead. She’s the queen, she’s the country itself, she’s my mother.

“No,” I whisper, “you’re mistaken…” My lips tremble because the pain on his aging face doesn’t lie. “Father?” Squaring his shoulders, he musters the last semblance of honor his position holds and addresses me.

“The terrorist bombed Parliament; it was a weapon beyond our understanding. There are no survivors.”

“But that means…” The words stuck in my throat as man made thunder clashes outside my window.

“If we don’t act, then there won’t be a country for you to rule. Now, young prince, get your coat. We are evacuating.”

Grief’s numbness sweeps over me as I force my feet into the cold rubber boots. I hurry behind Albert, down the decorative stairs and through a space void of life. Daily objects lay abandoned on surfaces, frozen in time. Reality settles in my gut, I’m an orphan fleeing my childhood home. I’m a soon to be king seeking salvation. Maurice opens the door; I climb in and Albert shuffles beside me. The city is on fire, smoke billows from the wreckage where buildings once stood.

“Why are they bombing us?”

“Because they hate what our country represents.”

Maurice weaves around abandoned dust cover cars and crumbling rubble. Past the once bustling city we pull into King’s Cross, a now vacant train station. As I exit, I spy the ash covered bodies littering the parking lot. My feet freeze as fear grips me, but Albert takes my hand and pulls me forward.

“The train Albert? Surely there is a safer route. A private plane perhaps,” Says Maurice.

“Desperate times demand desperate measures.”

His firm hands guide my trembling body to the platforms. Iron beams hang at oblique angles above me. Save for the bodies lying face down in the rubble the platform is empty. He leads me deeper into the tunnel. Debris sprinkles on the tracks from above as tiny feet scurry in the shadows. We walk for a while, pass the stench of urine and damp until I hear the chaos above.

In the darkness a broad, blackened form stalks from the void. Tall with wide shoulders, he takes up the entire space. My heart races, but Albert pushes me forward, a calm hand on my arm. An orange tunnel light flickers and the form before me takes shape. A larger than life knight draped in tattered cloak and scratched amour challenges us.

“Sir knight,” Albert speaks, clear and direct. “Our country calls on you once again and the royal house requests your assistance.” The knight takes a knee in the mud and awaits his command. “His Majesty is in danger; the country has fallen. To protect the line, he must trespass to Avalon, where he can once again return, and our country can prosper under his grace.

Avalon, like in the old King Arthur stories? But that place doesn’t exist. Does it? The knight stands, steps before me, and holds out his metal hand. No eyes sparkle behind his helmet and I’m not sure there’s anything under the armor.

“Sir knight will protect you, like he has protected the royal house from this spot for centuries. Once the country implores your return, you will reunite the country and retake the throne.”

“This doesn’t make sense,” I stare at the stoic knight with his outstretched hand. His grip is tight and unbreakable. He exposes my palm, and with sword drawn, he slides the shimmering blade across my skin. Crimson blood oozes from the cut but it doesn’t hurt. It’s warm and it glistens on the blade’s edge.

He raises his sword in the air then impales the dirt causing the air to vibrate around us. The garnet pommel glows, filling the tunnel with white light. Before us, a wide frameless window with shimmering edges floats in space. Beyond the barrier a lush glimmering landscape.

“I regret not seeing you grow but I can rest knowing you are safe.” He mumbles through watery eyes as blood trickles from his ears. The world around me shakes and the tunnel groans. “I escorted your mother to Parliament, but I couldn’t pass on until I knew you were safe.” He hands me my backpack, “Long live the king.”

As Albert falls at my feet, Maurice vanishes. The knight stands before the portal, his armor reflecting the vibrant world before me. Bombs smash overhead collapsing parts of the tunnel. The ground sways as I reach for the knight’s hand, he holds me steady as I step through the barrier. It feels like skin on a bowl of soup. I slip through, and the world behind me disintegrates. All that remains is a warm sense of peace cascading over my heart.

End.

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash