Rose no More

The third instalment in my short story series based on the concept of Disney princesses in a dystopian world.

The Droogs are on the move again, their crabwise scuttle and heavy shadows can’t be camouflaged, and I am running out of hiding places. They’ll get me before the night is over, and despite that I still try to run. Hope is such a stupid character trait and yet I have it in spades. 

Up ahead is a pile of rubble that might once have been a shopping mall. There will be plenty of nooks and hidey holes a street rat like myself could disappear down, the only problem is there is only open ground between me and my potential salvation. The guttural chatter of the bull headed Droogs has gone silent, they can possibly smell me by now. Not great news, I know. It’s now or never.

A handful of gravel in my slingshot fired over their heads might be enough of a distraction and to be honest it’s the only strategy I’ve got right now. The tiny shards fly high and true making a skittering sound as they rain down on the broken buildings back down the alley. There is a huff and a roar as the Bull-headed boys take off in the direction of the sound. 

So far, so good.

My initial burst of speed is good given my footwear is designed for work in the mines rather than a jaunty jog, but halfway there I know I’m not going to make it. My pursuer is fast, and it sounds like he is wearing heavy boots as well. They thunder over the cracked pavement like the roar of an oncoming train. I can hear the huff of his breath through the furry nostrils.

‘Don’t look back’ the tiny voice calls from some terrified corner of my brain. The Droog is close, I can feel the heat from its huge body and its stench overpowers my own. I am not going to make it, and still my legs pump onward even though my heart and brain know the truth. Some part of me still hopes. Curse it!

In hindsight it must have been quite comical to see. The thing caught my ankle and physics did the rest. There was definitely tumbling due to forward momentum, and the world did take on a decidedly upside-down quality. Then there was the pain and darkness. It would have been comical if I wasn’t fighting for my life.

I am a trophy.

A freak to be viewed in a pretty cage. By animals. Droogs are the worst sort of animal because that’s what they choose to be. 

Cosmetic mutation is what it was called. Men trying to be more. Most died but for some reason the Droogs were a huge success and the one that captured me is the King of them all. The bull-headed boys are his minions, violent but stupid. Human hybrids that look like the Minotaur’s of old, but him…he is the Bison-headed God of something terrible and I am his freak.

I have been washed, preened, and dressed in something golden for the other Droogs to gawk at, and my master, I’m sure, has other things in mind. He casts another glance my way and for an instant I feel safe in the filthy cage that has become my home. Perhaps he is calculating my worth… as a plaything, a bauble, maybe his next meal. All I know is that his creepy blue gaze makes my skin crawl, and his minions are getting restless due to his lack of action.

I eat, sleep and wait, but if I believed that the tension was killing me it is driving the bull-headed boys absolutely insane. Things have devolved into a bellowing match over the fire pits.

 The whole situation has come to a boil.

One of the minions arrives at my cage. He has a pile of clothes for me that bring on one of those gut swooping moments. There are far too many frills amongst the metres of saffron coloured fabric, the shoes have stiletto heels. Atop the ghastly garment is a crown of roses although a more apt description might be, one or two blooms amid a bunch of thorns. On top of his calloused hide, it might make no difference, but it will surely shred my scalp.

He watches while I change into the ridiculous frippery but makes no comment, and for that I am grateful. He then marches me onto the killing floor where Bison God is waiting. His muscles are polished, tattoos exposed, and he wears the biggest steel ring through his nose. All around the coarse wooden walls, just out of reach, there are weapons of strange and malicious design. Useful in a fight, if you are a seven-foot muscled mutant, not, if like me you are a skinny street rat.

I won’t bore you with the details of the fight except to say a fistful of sand, the spike of a heel in the eye are all a girl needs in a fight to the death. My trophy, a pretty steel bangle on my wrist, a herd of minions to do my bidding and a glorious crown of roses to declare my reign to the world.