I'm not going to tell you which fairy tale I picked to re-write in a new genre. I want to see if you can guess. Oh, and this is really REALLY a rough draft, as in I just finished writing it. All thoughts and critiques welcome, and I know it just kind of ends, but I was over the 1000 word limit so, um, there.
So, what fairy tale do you think it was? Come back tomorrow for the Fight, Fight, Fight, blogfest.
Gareth sat on the hillside surrounded by his classmates. A light breeze played with his hair and the sun warmed his face. His fascination with the color blue made it hard to concentrate on the teacher’s voice.
“Clairborne stole the Princess from her parents and hid her away from the people. He surrounded her with traps to prevent anyone from freeing her. His revenge was complete and our people fled the solar system.” The automated voice sounded all around him.
He heard the same story every year on Princess Amelia’s birthday. At age fifteen, Gareth had it memorized. He lay back and counted the clouds as the voice rambled on.
“One day, someone will find and wake her. She will teach us how to live on the planet’s surface once more.”
The lesson ended and the breeze stopped. Blue sky darkened to black metal bulkheads and Gareth lay on the holodeck floor. With the ambient noise gone, he could hear the hum of the starship’s engines. The other students chattered as they left, but Gareth sat and wished for a real sky over his head.
“Hey, Gareth, tomorrow’s the big day. Lucky stiff. If you find her, give her a kiss for me.” Jimzy punched Gareth’s shoulder as he walked by.
“No way man.” He watched his friend walk away and continued packing.
Today Gareth turned twenty. Tomorrow he would board a shuttle and descend to the planet’s surface. His bag held a map, rations for four days and a communications uplink in case he succeeded. If he failed, the ship would journey to the edge of the solar system before turning back. Once every twenty-five years, a man tried to wake the Princess. The mission failed in each of the previous hundred cycles. The Princess had slept for twenty-five hundred years, and the planet grew wild.
Gareth slipped a packet of genetically altered seeds into the bag before zipping it up. Technically, he stole them from the greenhouse deck, but he had a better chance of survival with them in his bag. He sighed and lay in his bunk for the longest night of his life.
The sky glowed bluer than the holodeck. Gareth stood trembling under its expanse. His heart beat erratically as he tried to catch his breath.
How could such unimaginable beauty be so deadly?
A hiss of air drew his attention back to the shuttle. The door closed and it took off. The Captain must have called it home. Gareth picked up his bag. A crude shelter waited half a mile away, and he needed to find it before night fall.
Before searching for Princess Amelia, Gareth spent a day scraping a place in the dirt to plant his seeds. Now he had a choice. Die searching for the Princess, or prove the planet was habitable without her. When the tiny shoots popped up after a few hours, he was tempted to settle in for the long haul. However, he saw Amelia’s eyes every time he blinked.
The last four years were filled with videos of Amelia. He knew every fluid movement ever recorded of her by heart. The sound of her laughter haunted his dreams. Gareth recognized the conditioning. He knew a starship full of men in love with her now orbited the planet, but he was lucky enough to be chosen. He hated to be used. However, he longed for blue skies before the blue eyes, so he accepted the opportunity.
With a sigh, Gareth picked up the map.
If I can have blue eyes with the sky, it could be quite the life.
It took two days to reach the Princess. Concrete and steel. That’s what the history vids called the building material that sheltered her. Gareth blew dust off the keypad and punched in the code the Captain had scribbled on the map. As the door hissed open, cold air rushed past him. Inside smelled like the ship—recycled air without the sweat.
Two sets of lights, pulsed red to white, leading to another door. Gareth opened that door and found a standard cryogenic suite. Computers monitored the sleeper’s vital signs, but when he looked into the glass window of the coffin-like chamber, he found it empty.
“Turn around slowly.”
Gareth recognized the voice and a tremor of anticipation ran through his body. He turned to face Princess Amelia. She stood in the shadow behind the open door, but he could clearly see the phase disruptor pointed at his chest.
“Are you the only trap?” He inquired.
“There are no traps, just the test. I wake every twenty-five years and wait for the next candidate. I’m tired of this game, so let’s get this over with so I can go back to sleep.”
“Optimistic, I like that. Did you kill all the others?” Gareth leaned against the cryo chamber.
“They didn’t pass the test. To live all you have to do is answer the question to my liking. Why are you here?” She stepped forward, her beauty outlined in the halo of light from the ceiling.
Gareth chuckled under his breath and shook his head. What kind of set up is this? What answer would let him live?
“You know why I’m here. They brainwash us boys to want you, and then they send us down one at a time. Why? That’s what I want to know. If you’re going to kill me at least tell me what the point was, because all I really wanted was blue skies over my head.” He looked up at the ceiling and waited.
“So, you don’t want to marry me?” She sounded surprised.
“Princess, they make sure each of us are crazy for you. Classic Pavlovian conditioning, but if that’s not the answer you want, I’d like to ask permission to leave rather than die.”
“What would you do if I let you leave?”
“Try to survive. I have a garden started, there’s plenty of water, and enough sky to satisfy me.”
“A garden? They gave you seeds?”
“Uh, not exactly.”
“You stole them? Why would you do that?”
Gareth considered his options. She would shoot him or she wouldn’t. On the off chance she let him live, the Captain wouldn’t be back for twenty-five years to punish him. He had nothing to lose, so he stuck with the truth.
“I’ve known for years they were using us, and I wanted a choice. With crops growing I didn’t have to come looking for you if I chose not to.”
“And yet you’re here.” Her brows arched upward, and the hand holding the gun lowered to her side.
“They’re pretty good at brainwashing.” Gareth smiled and knew things were going to turn out just fine.