I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Here’s the story so far.
Enjoy the latest fairy tale:
Forty Days and Forty Nights
(Containing the startling events that had taken place while Shadowy Secret was doing other things.)
Once upon a time, a long time before he became king of the Land of All Legends, Prince Charming the Fifth was left, abandoned by Shadowy Secret, in the Mountains of Lava. He was left there for forty days and forty nights, not able to rest, to sleep, to eat, or to drink. There, he had to constantly pour water on himself to keep his body from burning.
On the first day, he was frustrated, and believed he was too weak to last. With all that remained of his strength, he poured water on his body.
On the second day, he cried and cried out of desperation and helplessness. And yet he continued to pour water on himself.
On the third day, he had no strength left, and whimpered all day. And yet he continued to pour water on himself.
On the fourth day, his whimpering turned to anger.
On the fifth day, his anger turned to hate.
On the sixth day, his hate turned to hate against King John the Cute.
On the seventh day, his hate doubled. Half the hate was given to King John the Cute. The other half was given to the mysterious stranger that had put him there.
On the eighth day, his hate tripled. Now it was given equally to King John the Cute, to the mysterious stranger, and the rest was given to the whole world.
On the ninth day, his hate grew even vaster, and now included the dead. Prince Charming the Fifth now hated his father, King Charming the Fourth, who had died and abandoned him to this harsh world, leaving him in a bath that never ends.
On the tenth day, the prince began to hatch plans of revenge. And all through this time, he poured water on himself to keep from burning.
On the eleventh day, he hatched plans of revenge against the dead, against King John the Cute, and against the stranger.
On the twelfth day, he hatched even meaner plans.
On the thirteenth day, he hatched crueler plans of revenge.
On the fourteenth day, his head was so full of mean and cruel plans of revenge, that he knew that he would never need to hatch another plan: He would pick one he had already invented, since he had invented all of them by now.
On the fifteenth day, calm came over him. He knew that he would be able to avenge himself.
On the sixteenth day, calm was still upon him.
On the seventeenth day, he began to count the days until he was rescued.
On the eighteenth day, fear began to seep, as he realized that perhaps the stranger lied and no one would come to his rescue.
On the nineteenth day, he panicked and cried, thinking he would be left here forever.
On the twentieth day, he whined, and on the twenty-first day, he whimpered.
On the twenty-second day, he began to plan for the return of Shadowy Secret.
On the twenty-third day, he realized he had to learn to lie and to keep his thoughts to himself.
On the twenty-fourth day, he began to practice lying.
On the twenty-fifth day, he practiced inventing lies.
On the twenty-sixth day, he became an expert at lying and inventing lies.
On the twenty-seventh day, he vowed that he would kill King John the Cute, and immediately afterwards he would kill Shadowy Secret.
On the twenty-eighth day, he began to plan how to find and raise an army that would storm the palace of his childhood and kill King John the Ugly.
On the twenty-ninth day, he planned the first stage of training an army of soldiers and getting them angry.
On the thirtieth day, he planned the second stage of training an army, teaching them how to forget their lives and act as one.
On the thirty-first day, he planned the third stage of training an army, teaching them how to follow his orders blindly.
On the thirty-second day, he planned the army’s invasion of the palace.
On the thirty-third day, he planned how the army would then turn upon the mysterious stranger and kill him.
On the thirty-fourth day, he planned how the army would then travel to Death’s kingdom and destroy the door that keeps the living from entering and the dead from leaving.
On the thirty-fifth day, he planned the assault inside Death’s kingdom.
On the thirty-sixth day, he planned how he would find his dead father, and kill him again. And once the dead were killed, he was certain, they would surely be dead.
On the thirty-seventh day, he began to plan for the return of the mysterious stranger. He began to put on a mask of lies, and to seem as helpless and spoiled as he had always been.
On the thirty-eighth day, he cried all day, just to practice what it was like, so that he could fool the stranger.
On the thirty-ninth day, he whimpered all day, just to practice what it was like, so that he could fool the stranger.
On the fortieth day, the mysterious stranger reappeared, and dragged him out of the Mountains of Lava.
Prince Charming the Fifth looked at him with fire in his eyes, and whined, “Why did you do this to me?”
“Answer a question,” said Shadowy Secret. “Does revenge now seem as too hard?”
Prince Charming the Fifth pretended to think. Then he said, his voice less of a whine, “Nothing is harder than what I had just done. Revenge is easy.”
“Is amassing an army to attack King John the Cute’s army too much work in your eyes?”
“No. It is easy next to what I have just done.”
“Then you have learned your lesson well,” said Shadowy Secret. “Now answer another question: What do you want to do now?”
Prince Charming the Fifth answered immediately, “I will not sleep, I will not eat, I will not drink, until I have amassed and trained an army and killed King John the Ugly. He has taken my throne from me, and I will have it back!”
“Excellent. Shall we be partners?”
“Partners we are!” And the two shook hands. And Shadowy Secret did not know that Prince Charming the Fifth had grown to be a good liar and that he already had a plan. He did not know that part of this plan was to slay Shadowy Secret as soon as King John the Cute was dead.
This has been the startling tale of how Prince Charming the Fifth learned many lessons during forty days and forty nights.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)