Classic Literary Fiction

Crowned Phantom

By CB Droege
Jul 14, 2021 · 336 words · 2 minutes

Photo from Zach Angelo created for his church

Photo by Pro Church Media via Unsplash.

From the author: She came out of nowhere.

She came out of nowhere.

She had to have come from somewhere, of course. She must have been someone’s sister or wife or daughter. It’s not like she didn’t have an origin, or that the universe dragged her from its vast brow fully formed to place her in our path.

It seemed like it though, that dark evening when she stepped out on to the balcony of the palace and stood, waiting for all of us. She did not call to us. No trumpets blared. No criers came around to announce her. She simply stood out upon the balcony which overlooks the great gardens. She wore a sky-blue gown which billowed in the wind; she held the great copper scepter, in all its beautiful simplicity, in the crook of her arm; her silver hair trailed smoothly over her shoulder; and she stood.

The word spread slowly. Over the course of an hour, children woke their mothers, and men grabbed their brothers away from their late-night work, and all of us came out to stand in the gardens. We were silent and stunned and staring up at her. When all of us had gathered, she raised the scepter high and spoke in a clear voice. “The king is dead.” She waited a moment for this to sink in, and for shocked whispers to finish running through the crowd. Then she continued. “I claim this throne by right of conquest, and by approval of the council of elders.”

The already deep silence grew deeper, and we could, for a moment hear the stars turning in the sky, then one voice rang out from somewhere near the foot of the tower, “Long live the queen!” And we all took it up as a chant. We intoned for a quarter hour at least, her lack of any reaction at all to our voices serving only to amplify us. We stopped only because the mysterious woman quit the balcony. Then the bells rang out, and a new era for us began.

This story originally appeared in StrippedLit500.

CB Droege

CB Droege writes short-form and experimental fiction, mostly sci-fi.