The Arts Section has started a brand new segment called ‘Our Creative Community,’ in which writers will have the ability to showcase and publish work that has a personal meaning to them.
Here is our second entry: ‘Collapsible Kingdom’ – a short story written by Joshua Copus-Oxland.
A king, no taller than a highchair, sits on top of his soft throne. It is composed entirely of cardboard from different sources: of cereal boxes, of TV cases, of hollowed-out mail packages, all sealed together with superglue. Nevertheless, it keeps its form, even when the king bounces on it and swings his legs, rocking it ever so slightly.
He sits in a kingdom comprised of much of the same material, which is big enough to encompass most of the backyard. It is made up of different materials, holding it together, with papier mache for the foundation, tarpaulin for the roof and string to function as a makeshift drawbridge. The fence surrounding the backyard is the closest object appearing to function as a security mechanism. Regardless, the king thought of it as real as the castles he’d visit with his parents on the occasional day-trips out. To his mind, the cardboard kingdom he crafted with his friends was as sturdy as stone.
He stares ponderously at the sight of two guards, much smaller than him, who bring in a prisoner whose hands are bound by toilet paper. His face feigns mock concern. The king smiles through his kool-aid stained teeth.
“Guards!” he said, “State his crime!”
“Milord,” one guard replied, “This, um, man was discovered stealing from that, um, sweet jar!”
The king, or rather the playmaster bashes his fist on the arm rest, jiggling the throne back and forth.
“No, no, no,” he says, flushing beetroot, “I towd you, pway awong!” His tongue slaps against his teeth as he talks and saliva sprays out, still learning the ropes of his r’s and l’s.
“Aw, c’mon,” the guard, or rather the playmate says, “It’s just a game.”
“It’s my game! And you pway by my wules! Keep pwaying!”
“Alright, alright,” the guard says, adjusting his paper chain mail, “Now, this man was found rifling through your treasure box! Behold!”
He holds out a handful of red, spherical objects, which seems to shine in the electronic candlelight.
“Such treason!” The king swoons in his seat, looking at the prisoner with scorn. “It’s a massive offence to my kingdom and my country! Tell me, young curr, why did you ransack my goods?”
The prisoner smiles, revealing their braces.
“Why, they just looked so lovely! I had to have them!”
“Inexcusable!” The king leans forward, teetering on the edge in an effort to look imposing while avoiding falling off. “This is beyond theft! This is treason! And for that, I sentence you to death.”
“Um, hey,” another guard says, arching an eyebrow, “Doesn’t this guy get a trial?”
“W-what?” The king replies taken aback.
“Well, my mum and dad says you have to have a trial before you, um, I can’t say that word, you know.” He makes a chopping motion with his hands behind his neck.
“No!” The king says, and falls off the seat. His eyes go misty, and his lips tremble, although he suppresses the urge to throw a tantrum and sniffles. “T-that’s not faiw! Just pway by my wuwes, or we’we not fwends anymowe!”
“Fine.” The guard puts a hand on his soft face and sighs. “Alright, sir, shall I fetch you a sword?”
“No need, my most faithful. I have one by my side.” He waddles behind the throne and comes out brandishing a cardboard tube. The tube is thrice as big as the kind and almost touches the ceiling. Balancing himself on his plump legs, he walks, step by step, on the red rug, which he imagines as a velvet carpet. He views the walls around him, as the previously blank beige walls turn to stone before his eyes, where each inch of the indoor castle is decorated with intricate sculptures of fallen knights who fought valiantly in crusades, and kings long past his lineage. The small cutouts in the walls used to let drafts in turn into stained glass windows, casting kaleidoscopic patterns of light onto the floor. He admires the work of his legacy before turning to the prisoner before him, who looks at the towering king with a mesh-wired grin.
“My excellency!” he says, again not hiding his playful facade, “Please have mercy!”
The king ignores this and raises the tube before him, which turns into a great sword before his eyes, formed from molten steel and covered from hilt to tip in encrusted jewels. With one deep breath, he swings the great sword down on the prisoner’s neck. It whips through the air. Instead of bouncing off with a thwack, it strikes down with a squelch. Screams follow.
Joshua Copus – Oxland is a 3rd Year Journalism and Creative Writing student, with more of a knack for the latter rather than the former. He enjoys fiction writing, particularly fantasy, as well as art as a side hobby. You can follow his pages on Instagram and Facebook.