The Forgotten Land (under the bed)
By Bill Kelly
Welcome to my world! I live in an empty wasteland of toast crumbs, odd socks, forgotten toys and giant marbles. I am a knight, the King and rightful ruler over this domain and the collection of figures discarded by the Human. It has been a long time since we were last played with. Since then my hand has been stolen by the dog, my body has faded, and my yellow face chipped and scratched, thanks to a new kitten. However, I live on, enjoying the peace and quiet of retirement in my castle. A magnificent abode of four floors, each covered with a colourful arrangement of assorted bricks and purple flags.
Hello, what’s this? Something or someone different has entered my kingdom.
As the object rolls towards me, the thing that troubles me most is that it is clearly new, not old and forgotten like the rest of us, but shiny and new. Slowly, like a train emerging from a tunnel, a figure stands, his carefully manicured hair sparkling like sun on a lake.
“Who are you” I demand in my loudest voice.
“Duke”, he drawls, adjusting a pair of sunglasses balanced on his forehead “I am conquering this land. I am looking for an army to control and look up to me. I am the new King.”
A pang of rage fills me. I feel that I may scream, but I do not.
“You can’t take my throne… this is the forgotten land, you don’t belong here, you are too new, too shiny” I stammer.
We walk onto the dusty balcony of the castle and look out over the tattered citizens scattered across the kingdom. Forty strong knights, Yes, forty, you have heard me correctly, but all old and long forgotten.
“Let’s see what the fans want, Scratchbrain”, Duke replies. He addresses the crowd, with a calm confident manner. “I am the new King; I can lead you out of here and make you popular again”.
There’s a hushed murmur of voices. Duke and I wait as the knights make their decision.
“So, who will you choose, him or me?” My voice breaks up as I question my once loyal followers. Will they vote for me, comfortable, steady, humble, and our quiet existence out of the limelight, or him, the flash new guy, full of promise, fat lies and greasy advertising patter?
They have voted. I remain King; who likes new toys anyway? Old toys don’t.
Duke slinks away, head down, dejected, his sunglasses reflecting the dull shine of my helmet.
Then, all of a sudden, I hear a terrible noise like the whirling of fire… Before the others, I see it, eyes like flames, then silver wings swooping like a vulture, and a gaping hole of black. There is only one name for a creature as fearsome as this, Suckcrueleous, the Air Dragon. His yearly visits terrify my citizens, forcing them into submission against his power.
It roars again. This time the bricks click loose from the top of the castle and fly into its long, tubular, open mouth. I hear the clinking as the tiny blocks spin up the beast’s neck. I grab for Duke and we try to run but petrified he can’t take his eyes off the towering dragon. Frozen like statues we watch its destructive force.
I realise I have to come up with a plan to stop Suckcrueleous for ever. But no plan comes to me. I haven’t trusted him up till now, but maybe Duke can help us. I must be a good king for my people, I turn to him. “Okay Brainiac, if you want to show us what you are made of, how can we get close enough to fight the Dragon without getting sucked up?”.
Duke turns slowly to look at me. His face lights up. He points straight at the Royal Cannon Ball which lies next to a broken wheelbarrow; A huge glass orb with colours inside that twist and glisten like a dying star detonating through space.
“Maybe we don’t” Duke replies. “Maybe we get it to come to us. Follow me.” Together we sprint up the three flights of stairs to the top of the castle.
“It’s getting closer… I can feel the suck” I scream.
“Never mind” shouts Duke over the top of the deafening roar, “when I say run, scram”.
Duke gently lets go of the giant ball and we plummet back down the stairs to watch as it spins through the air, connecting with the creature’s gaping black mouth.
KA-CHUNK. There’s a metallic clang as the cannonball hits.
Within seconds the whirling stops and the great neck twists and bulges. Suckcrueleous crawls away, gyrating slowly to a standstill while still whining like a stuck kitten.
Duke has defeated the legendary beast and we have won. The crowds cheer, faces brimming with happiness.
“That’s my cue to go” Duke says solemnly and walks away from the castle, heading for the light beyond our lands.
In the days after Duke leaves. I spend my time gathering dust in this forgotten land. However, something has changed. The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams, so I am thinking I might venture out one day to see what Duke is doing in the sunlight.