What Happened to the Queen of the World?

The queen of the world lives in apartment 2B, and it doesn’t belong to one of those nifty apartment communities with a park and a pool. She drinks her coffee dark as mysteries and prefers her chocolate the same way. The queen takes the bus downtown every morning to rule the world from what used to be a shabby insurance office, and what is currently a shabby world dominance office.

Each day, she makes decisions about the state of things; the fissure, the beasts still pouring through, the soldiers and the refugees. The queen makes decisions and holds them in her head until they transform into words that are orders. The orders wing off to the heads of men and women far away, and are heard, and followed. She hopes. The queen tells herself her decisions mean something. When she sees children shivering without blankets, soldiers without guns, and cars without oil finding more noble purpose as homes, she isn’t so sure. When she sees the photographs of the beautiful, magical beasts she’d dreamed of in childhood with all of their blood on the ground beside them, she isn’t so sure. When minds adjoined to hers wink out, she isn’t so very sure as she wishes she was.

It has been a very long time since the queen had any coffee or chocolate.

She once told a prince to kill a dragon, and two beautiful lives were destroyed.

Each night, the queen dreams of the battle that she didn’t see, and the aftermath which she did. She sees impossible colors in the dragon’s child-wise eye, already glazing with death by the time she arrived. Worse, she sees the howl on her son’s charred face, silent now, always silent. In her dreams there is no sound though she tries to scream, first without words, and then ‘Stop! I’ve made a terrible mistake!’ Not her first. Not her last. It has been a long time since the queen slept the night through.

She was once told by a cat to kill her husband, and she said she only needed to find him first.

She let the cat live, though it was a beast from the fissure. She liked cats, even sassy beastly ones.

The queen found her husband and her daughter in a cave shortly after she sent her son to kill the dragon. Her sweet daughter, just seventeen, so excited to help her father open a real door to the new world. One that would stay open longer than a piddling hour and let greater beasts than dragons through. The princess’ lifeblood fueled the rending that shook the world and collapsed a mountain with her parents still inside it. Out of the rubble he crawled, the queen’s husband, he always had quick reflexes and quicker spells. He dug out his wife; they kissed and talked love. The queen slapped his mind out from behind his face and burned his living corpse. She watched the prancing, bright reflections the sparks made in his blood and thought that she had loved her children more than beasts of all kinds.

The queen thinks about the horror she felt when she saw the fissure glowing still, blue, the color of her child’s soul, the color of hallucinations and spots in front of your eyes and the edge of frostbite and crushing dread. She thinks about her daughter’s consciousness, still trapped inside that glowing blue door. She thinks about saying “I’ll make it all better.” She thinks about not even knowing where to begin, except to kill the next beast that slithered through.

The queen thinks about still not having a clue, and throws a report at the wall. It explodes into a paper storm, so unsatisfying, she wishes it had been heavier, a book or something, but she takes a deep breath and reminds herself that queens don’t throw books at walls. The queen puts on her coat and leaves the office for the day without cleaning up.

On the bus the queen thinks about the last time she had chocolate, and the last time she had coffee.

The last time she had chocolate it was an apology from her husband for an argument about his magic, and how it was affecting their daughter. The chocolate was warm in her mouth, but not burning hot as her words had been earlier, so she let him comfort her and she apologized and the chocolate was too sweet, but she ate it anyway and they comforted each other the rest of the night.

The last time she had coffee it was from a mailman turned soldier turned general. It tasted like a burn. The queen thinks she might have started falling in love at the first sip of his coffee. He hadn’t known who she was at the time, just flirted and offered her a cup. When he found out who she was, he said you have a beautiful mind. When the cat jumped on his lap and purred, she considered the matter settled.

Two months later, she said ‘I’ll make you king of the world.’

Two months and one day later, a beast greater than a dragon killed him as he guarded the fissure, her husband’s legacy, the only wound in the world that wouldn’t close. When the king’s mind winked out of hers the queen screamed and screamed and didn’t make a sound. She doesn’t like to talk about it and she doesn’t like to think about it, and she doesn’t think, ever, that while the queen of the world lives in apartment 2B, the king of the world sleeps directly under it.

When the queen rests, she dreams of coffee and chocolate.

She dreams of magic and blue.

She dreams of sparks and blood.

She dreams of a cat’s paw on her face, and an imperious demand for cold salmon with creamy lemon sauce. No, she doesn’t dream that. It is four in the morning. The queen does not say thank you at four in the morning. Hardly anyone does. She tells the cat that meat is strictly rationed, and anyway cats don’t like citrus. The cat stares at her. She gets out of bed and tears off a small piece of jerky, possibly beef, probably not. He is satisfied with the portion, though not ecstatic. The queen sucks the grease off her fingers and gets back into bed. The cat arranges himself on her stomach with his jerky. His familiar grumbles are almost like purrs. The queen stares at the water damage on the ceiling until she falls back asleep.

She dreams of nothing.