The trickle of crimson that streaked the clean white lace of the Queen’s dress splashed onto the green grass. A haze of smoke hung over the expanse of the private gardens like a frozen breath of anticipation. A flurry of birds scattered as the echo of the shots reverberated. The silence seemed to cling to the percussive clamour like a lover holding on too long to a departing sweetheart.
The Queen’s breast shuddered, the movement releasing a clucking gurgle in her throat. The crimson showed bright against the lace like the flowering spray of fireworks in the night. Somewhere across the lawns varied shouts rang out, as the shot had done moments ago. Cries of alarm, calls for assistance.
Amidst the trees, assailants hovered like hunters awaiting confirmation of the kill. Shadows hanging in the periphery paused in the act of seeking certainty. Each fixed eyes upon the motionless form lain as an angel upon the lawn. The Queen fell with arms wide as if seeking to embrace her fate, claim the metallic sting of death foist upon her. She didn’t move, not even a breath.
“Call the guard! The Queen lies dying. Raise the alarm!”
Feet pounded across the pristine lawns, leather soles bounding across the turf. The cries of alarm carried through the palace beyond the gardens like ripples.
Imagine the scene as a bird flying high overhead. Movement on the edge of the garden, like ants, edging inward, panicked. Dark spots linger amongst the hedges and trees, a dozen or more. At the centre, a fleck of white. Closer, an angel wreathed in lace, silk and blood. Closer still, lifeless eyes staring blankly at the heavens, a painted face framed by fiery hair. Yet closer, pools of darkness, pupils fixed and unresponsive. A life lost, a soul claimed?
John woke with a start. He sat bolt upright in sheets sodden with sweat. The dormitory resolved through sleep thick eyes. He looked around him, unable to shake the final image – eyes fixed on his, a gaze locked in the moment of death. He could smell blood, the iron tang in his nostrils as he fought for breath, chest heaving.
John tried to calm himself, desperate not to wake the other boys sleeping in the simple cot beds around him. A weak glimmer of moonlight illuminated their restless forms. He pressed his palm against his chest, feeling the urgent thud of his pounding heart. He closed his eyes and sought to find some solace in the darkness, tried to find calm but found only that image of death burnt upon his eyelids.
Had he witnessed the assassination of a queen?
Yet, which and where? And, for that matter, when.
He felt the place familiar but did not recognise the face. The hair, that brilliant spray of red? Could that be a Tudor queen, while Henry yet resided upon the English throne. Might that be young Elizabeth, not yet 6 years old? Yet, how could it be? How could he have seen the death of someone not yet old enough to have weathered the misfortune of a broken mirror?
And what might he do about it? Did he not struggle enough already in classes as his teachers spouted rote and rubbish like actors prancing on a stage. No, he must hold this foreknowledge, if that it were, close to his chest and bide his time. One day, he felt certain, the revelations communed within his dreams would bear fruit and furnish him with just reward. He would ascend as confident and trusted advisor to the great and the good – and thence onward to the heavens.
Now breathing evenly, John rested back upon the thin mattress, strange clumps of straw and feather lumpen against his skinny frame. He looked up into the darkened rafters and pondered for a moment on the worlds beyond that he hoped, one day, might open up before his slightest gesture. He felt certain, despite the anxiety and stress raised by the nightmarish vision, that these images of death heralded something greater. One day, he would know the hallowed halls of royalty and they would bear forth his name upon their lips with high regard.
This is not a finished bit of work. I have neither re-read, re-drafted or otherwise polished this effort. Herein lies the genesis of my effort to write more by engaging in the challenge of writing 750 words or more a day. In this instance, with the story not quite enough to achieve this end, this explanation serves to take be beyond the mark.