Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

The Pathetic Motley Clown

by M. B. Barlow


Everyone looked at her because she was as beautiful as she said she was. Her golden coat matched her golden hair and the rest of her clothes matched her skin, dark yet light. She was perfection to so many men, but her face never showed emotion. It was a constant scowl, and as far as anyone around her knew, she was happy. She would never say why she was really miserable.

King Katush was surprised to see her as she wasn't meant to be there for several hours yet. Being a man, he could ignore that frivolous rudeness; his loins told him to ignore it. He told a servant to take his meal away and gestured for the rest of his family to have theirs taken too. His son, Maxille Katush, complained to his mother: "I haven't bloody well finished yet!"

"Silence," she replied. "Do as your father says. This woman is very special."

"But I was enjoying it."

"Silence, I say."

"But, mother!"

"Shut up Maxille," the king shouted over as he watched Sarra Slylaw walk down the hall towards the table they were sitting at. He shut up, but watched the servants take away his food, his belly starting to rumble.

King Katush stood up and swung his arms open to embrace the woman coming towards him. His loins were in overdrive. She stared at him hard-faced and the king was left standing foolishly with his arms raised waiting to get a feel of the most incredibly gorgeous woman he had ever seen, but she wasn't having it one bit. Normally he would have had a woman, or man, who did this taken care of, simply because he could. But this woman was far too good-looking to waste. He was left to stare at her body instead and let his imagination do the work.

"If you care to stop looking at me in such a male-chauvinistic way, I would like to get our deal done and polished," she said, her voice grizzled like two stones rubbing against each other.

King Katush nodded, bringing his eyesight to her face. He brought her to the table. She stood in front, hand on hips.

"Would you like a seat, ma'am?" asked a servant.

"No," she said. "Katush, I want this deal done now and I don't want to wait around. I swear, if you don't come through with this I will…"

"Yes, woman, yes; I get it. I have the weapon in my banks, somewhere. And you have ten men waiting to join my cause?"

"Not until I get the weapon in my hands."

The king laughed. "Of course. You are smart, lady. You know what to say."

She said, "I was programmed that way."

King Katush was going to laugh, but the words reached his ears and he realized what she had said. His eyes fixed on her with intent. "You are a robot!"

"Yes. Is that a problem?"

"I specifically told your government not to bring their technologies into my land, especially synthetic humans. You are synthetic?"

"Technically, yes."

His son watched his face grow red. He knew that meant the lady would be sent to the dungeons, and he felt sad for that lady. She didn't deserve that. It wasn't her fault she was fake.

Within a minute of entering the castle she was in trouble. Serious trouble.

"Guards," the king shouted over to two large men. "Arrest this machine and place it in the dungeons."

"No," Sarra slammed her fist down on the table. "This deal has to come through. You said so. You will not send me anywhere, and I will refuse to go even if you force it."

"To a human representative I would have done everything quick and easy; not with a mechanised bucket," he said and waved the guards to take her.

They grabbed her arms and she snarled as she brought her hands together; they tied rope around the wrists. There was no real use refusing as she would be easily overpowered. She let it go.

"You are a liar, king," she shouted. "My country shall hear about this and you will have to deal with them in your face when I don't return."

King Katush walked up to her, his face in hers. "You expect me to believe they would care about the return of a machine, machina designed to talk and look," he grabbed a clump of golden hair and sniffed it, "and smell like a real human. You're a toy, and I don't make trade negotiations with toys. Take her away, guards."

The guards forcefully took her away and the king watched, shaking his head. "Why do they not learn of our customs."

"Father," Maxille said, standing beside his father. "If you do not want, may I have her?"

"What?"

"I wanted a female after all, and she is most beautiful. If you're not using her."

"She is a machine -- it would probably be like having relations with a washing machine."

"Still, father…"

"I'll think about it, son. First, I'll finish my dinner."

When he sat down at the table he picked up a chicken leg and tasted it. He spat it out and waved over a chef. "Warm this up, would you? It's bloody cold and you know how I don't like my chicken cold."

"Yes sir."

####

Sarra sat in her cell, fists tied behind her back. The cell stank of bodily functions and the walls looked like the inner linings of where the smell would come from. Sarra was angry, and not because the deal hadn't gone through as it should have; but was because she had to sit in the cell, humiliated like a commoner. She knew she could escape. The ropes binding her wrists were not electro, they were fibre -- made using ancient methods she thought long forgotten -- and she could rip them apart easily. To think that this country, Varsam, was a sister to Armero, her home. Pathetic.

She stared at the wall opposite her and conserved her energy as she seethed.

She couldn't rip open the bindings because she had been told to preserve all diplomatic relations between the two nations. Escaping from the jail she had been placed in would certainly cause trouble, but imprisoning the appointed representative of Armero was an even worse breach of protocol. True, her android nature was technically a violation of Varsam's prohibition against any mechanical or electronic technologies entering their country, but no one had considered that the rule would apply to a sentient being, to a person. To think in such a way would be impossible in Armero, yet here, her artificial origin had landed her in jail. This was a foreign land, more foreign than she had ever imagined. Once her business here was settled, she hoped she would never have to come back.

She was only here for the one thing anyway, and after that there would be very little, if any, trade negotiations. That was one of the few things that made her happy.

She waited several hours, her internal clock ticking down, until a guard opened the padlocked door, marched in front of the cell, placed, roughly, a plate on the ground and left, padlocking the door shut. She sat up from her piece-of-wood-attached-to-the-wall and picked up the plate. It was…something, and didn't look very delectable. She didn't eat it.

Time went by and as it did it became clear to Sarra that she may just not come away from this alive. Such thought would be stupid, but it stayed there until the King's son Maxille, the young prince, came into the prison, standing in front of her cell.

"Hello," he said, his posture perfected to the royal decree. "I just want to say, even though you are a robot bin, no harm will come to you."

"Oh, good."

"No execution will come to you, but you will become my property."

"What?" she asked, raising her voice. "Your property? Your plaything, is that it?"

"Yes. Your life will be saved."

"I can't accept that."

He looked confused, his eyes screwing up. "That is not a choice. You will become my property. I will own you, to do with you whatever I wish."

"I would rather die."

"That wouldn't be a smart move on your part, Miss Slylaw," Maxille told her. "What you have done, what your people have done, is beyond your comprehension, throwing away our entire customs. It is not a question of whether you accept my offer or not, because it is not an offer. Goodbye, Miss Slylaw."

####

"King Katush has ordered your presence at a dinner service he is having with acquaintances," a different guard said.

"Why?" asked Sarra. "Does that mean I"m no longer prisoner?"

The guard opened the cell door and she was led out, her wrists still handcuffed. No gun was on the guard, but there was a sword. A sword, she thought; pathetic, pathetic, pathetic.

The dinner was held at a hall only kings and queens seem to have. A table larger than most houses was laid out with more food than could be possible to eat. She saw how this royal family were overweight, their son looking like a bowling bowl balanced on matchsticks. Not one person in Armero was overweight, by law. Every piece of food and ounce of liquid was registered onto an internal checklist and if you went over your monthly limit you were given the diet. No one liked the diet, but there was no choice because the taste would be altered so any fatty food would bring on sickness, so you either had to eat healthy or not eat at all. If you didn't eat at all you were sent to a camp, and that was the worst of all she had heard. Her slim figure proved it.

She was pushed down onto a seat beside the queen with King Katush at the head. He was beaming at her. "I do think I need to apologise to you. The way I acted was out of order and I"m sorry. It was based on outdated thinking and it was our custom to act in such a way. I hope you accept my heartfelt apology."

"I hope you will go with our agreement of trade," she replied.

The queen gazed at Sarra in a dead, uncaring sort of way. Her eyes were like squashed peanuts and the hands she had on the table, Sarra noted, were shrivelled and almost decayed-looking. A single gold ring was wrapped around one finger.

"I expect that to be a robot way of accepting my apology, and I assure you that there will be no more jail time while you are here."

"Goody," Sarra said in deadpan.

The king's face was frozen in a forced smile. Sarra knew he wasn't going to let his little anger trip of a few hours ago reveal itself here. He was going to play it cool and make it look like a professional trade between two equal countries. As if Varsam was any where near Armero on an equality level.

She smiled back at the king, as much as she hated it.

"Your meal will be coming along in a second, Miss Slylaw. I assume that your…kind eat?"

Sarra resisted the urge to shout out her answer. "Our kind certainly do eat, your highness." She wanted to puke.

"Yes, good," said the king, feeling sick at the thought of technology in the shape of a woman sitting at his table, about to eat his food paid for from his own money. It was so completely against his rules and against their entire reason for living that he would have to give up his title on the spot for allowing it. He waved the non-machina rule just so he could get this over with; at least for the moment. As much as he hated it.

The servants brought the food along and Sarra was pleased so see that it looked quite edible. Food in Armero either came in small packets or created through devices that always seemed too impersonal to eat from. The food in front of her was grown naturally using the old methods, such as vegetables that were actually taken from soil, which seemed pretty remarkable to her. Methods like that didn't exist in Armero.

"I want this deal done with now," demanded Sarra, who was staring at an apparently un-synthetic potato. She"d never seen one before.

"Oh, Miss Slylaw, you must resist with such business talk. We will eat and then we will talk. Isn't that the way we do it, my wife?"

His wife said nothing but moved her head to look at Sarra Slylaw, face dead.

"For now we will eat and watch the entertainment. We have a jester who is quite hilarious. Isn't he, son?"

"Yes father," said Maxille through a mouthful of food. "Very funny."

"What does he do?" asked Sarra.

King Katush seemed confused by this question for a second, and then said: "Ah, it is not what he does, Miss Slylaw, it is what he is that the real hilarity comes from."

The entertainment came from a clown who walked with a limp and a shuffling of the shoulders. He wore colourful clothes and a jester's hat, and the face under it looked deformed, mutated. He was a mutant.

The king was already laughing, as were the rest of the royal family and the distinguished guests. And the clown just stood there, deformed face left in a state of mock happiness. Sarra stared at the clown and she could feel emotion for this clown. He was used as an object of fun and ridicule, apparently, and she knew what that was like. Her ugly past was still fresh in her memory.

The mutant clown stood in front of the table, apparently waiting to be told what to do. His face, Sarra could plainly see, was filled with sadness. He held a staff with pieces of coloured paper wrapped around the top.

"Clown," King Katush said. "We want to see you dance. So, dance."

The clown held his stick forward as he stood in the middle of the hall, the table at the top, and he started to dance. And when he dances, Sarra's eyes went wide; she saw the dancing, and even though that was what it was, simply dancing, she could see that this was a fighter: a skilled fighter at that. His body, though obviously deformed, had the motion and versatility of a true fighter. She could this, but she could also sense it. The clown had Warsense; the word for such battle strengths. A clown! She was sure this was a first.

The clown danced an ancient tribal riff, with wide swinging of the arms and arcing of the legs into the air -- stuff he had been trained in by the looks of him, but obviously dancing he felt very uncomfortable doing. The clown was a fighter.

"What is his name?" asked Sarra.

"You must refer to him," said a distinguished man beside her, nodding at the king, "as lordship,"

"No I don't," Sarra told him plainly.

The king leaned forward, bringing his face as near to Sarra as was possible. "You are breaking far too much, young lady," he said, spitting the last word out as the falsity that he knew it was in his head.

Sarra really couldn't care less about breaking rules and regulations and centuries of history. She didn't care. She was too annoyed to care.

"You didn't answer my question. What is his name?" she asked a little more forcefully.

Maxille was watching how this machine, this robot boobs on legs, was acting towards his father, the king. Very few, previously alive, had dared to speak or behave in such a manner in front of the king, and none directly to. So to watch his father absorb it and not punish this bucket with hair was absolutely incomprehensible, and Maxille was seething in such a way as to feel that he would do the job that his father wouldn't, and damn to the mutual partnership with their sister country -- this woman had destroyed that anyway.

"I don't know his name," the kind told her truthfully.

"Of course you don't," she smirked and turned to the distinguished man. "Do you know his name?"

He looked shocked, as if she had sworn at him. "How should I know? I do not socialise with persons such as he."

She turned her head to the clown, who had now stopped dancing and was standing slack, staring at her with his unequal eyes. The king bashed his hand down on the table and stood up, leaning his fists against the wood while his wife held his back. "You must not speak to the clown! A jester shall not speak directly to guests."

"Am I a guest?"

"Yes you bloody well are and the jester will not tell you his name and he will not utter one word to you or any of the humans at this table. Isn't that right?" he asked the jester.

Jester said nothing.

"Good," he said, sitting down. He watched Sarra unblinking, so she sat down but kept her eyesight on the jester who was now staring at the ground, floppy hat covering his face.

"He is entertainment, nothing else. Keep dancing, you."

As the jester clown danced Sarra felt the Warsense in him very strongly. She had to contact her people about this mutant clown (she knew it sounded stupid, but to see something like this dancing for the entertainment of an overweight king and know that it could be an incredible asset in battle, yet it was left as a form of fun. It was kind of hard to take in.) and tell them that she had just found the saviour of the land.

She had to stop. She was getting way ahead of herself now. A clown the saviour of their land? Unlikely, but she had sensed much in many people, but nothing as strong and clear as this…man, if that is what he was.

"How much?" she asked the king as he ate.

"Hmmph?"

"How much for the clown?" she asked again as he put down a drumstick.

"That clown, ma'am, is not for sale. Why such interest in it?"

"You're clown is far more important than you think."

"Oh really?" he asked, gaining interest. "Why is that?"

"I can't say. All I can say is that I need him…it, to take back with me to Armero."

"Hmm, well I could make an offer, if you like. How about…no, I must talk to my advisor about this. Is everyone finished with their meal?"

"I"m not," said Maxille.

"Good. If my guests care to explore the castle or do whatever they like, I"m going to speak to my advisor. Good day to you all."

The king stood up and left the room, leaving everyone still at the table. Sarra Slylaw went after the clown who was hobbling away. She ran up to him and placed her hand on his shoulder, making him stop. "I found your dancing incredible."

He said nothing.

"What's you're name?"

The jester said nothing.

"Come on, you must have a name, surely?"

"No," he said, his voice small and delicate; almost childish.

"You don't have a name?"

"No. Never."

Sarra saw the eyes of this man and what was behind them. She had that sort of ability. The clown was sad -- a bit of a cliché in her home country -- and he knew, knew, that he was capable of more. She could see this in his eyes only.

"I want to buy you," she told him.

He looked to her and replied, "You can't."

"Why?" she asked, taken back.

"Because I"m not for sale."

"I"m sure I can come to some arrangement with your king. He obviously doesn't care much for you."

"You are a very pretty lady," he said. "But not very smart. I"m not for sale because I say I"m not for sale, the king doesn't say so, I do. You can't buy me and no one else can either. I am my own man."

Sarra was thinking of something to say. She was very surprised at what he was saying. She hadn't expected it. Her noodle -- the term for the advanced computer brain -- was thinking up many things to say, but none of it seemed suitable enough. She picked one.

"No you aren't."

"What?"

"You aren't your own man. You're a play thing, for entertainment; like a doll or a robot dog. You're not a man, you're a toy."

"Shut up," he said under his breath, eyes covered by the hat again. "Go away. Who are you? Go away. Go away."

"I"m going," she said. "But think about leaving this place. You'll be better off, I swear to you that."

The clown walked through a red curtain and was gone. Sarra could still feel the strength within that man, and when he was talking it got stronger…and stronger. His Warsense was beyond anything she had ever sensed. The clown could just be the saviour.

####

Sarra Slylaw was asked into King Katush's business office, which was garish and over the top. The giant golden lion was a bit tasteless, she thought, as was the flowing fountain. A man with too much money devours taste and sense, the Beautiful book said. Kind of right.

"About this clown you wish to purchase," announced the king. "I won't be selling him. I don't need the money and I quite like the jester, the clown; whatever you want to call him. Ugly as sin, but hilarious. About this trade agreement, though. Our natural bio weapon for your ten troops. Is this an agreement?"

"Yep," she said offhandedly.

"Good. Of course we want to see the troops when you send them to my castle, and that is when we will hand over the weapon. Hmm?"

"Yep," she said again. Her mind was not on her original objective. She was seeing images of a clown, the kind dressed in motley clothes, face deformed, obliterating armies and soldiers trained to the best in the world. Killing all of them, one person. A one-man army with big floppy shoes.

"You don't seem thrilled. I do hope you are not still unhappy about being thrown in our jail cell. That was unintentional, we have these policies, you see, and…"

"It's not that."

"Ah, good. Well, if that is all then I will ask you to deliver the ten men personally to my place of residence. The weapon will be handed over to you or your officials, if you want to bring any, and that will be the end of our deal, and I think that our two countries will have a stronger alliance."

"I think so."

"Good. So tomorrow, same time?"

"Yes."

"Yes."

Sarra wanted the clown.

####

The clown was in his room, lying on his bed. His make-up was taken off, revealing the destroyed skin. His room had very little in it, but it did have a large frame with a blank t-shirt inside. He was staring at it.

The door was edging open slowly, he noticed, and his heart started to race. "Who is it?"

"It's Sarra Slylaw. I just wanted to talk to you before I left."

"Go away."

She came into the room, making the clown angry. He stood up and pointed his finger to the door. "Get out!"

"You could be…no, you are the greatest fighter I have ever met."

The clown brought down his hand. "What?"

"You are the greatest fighter I"ve ever met, and I know this."

"I"m a clown, not a fighter. I"ve never been in a fight in my life; I dance. That's what I do. Why do you say that I"m a fighter?"

"Because you are. You have what we call Warsense; that is, if you like, the spirit of a fighter. You may have no experience, but you are a fighter. You have a future, one very bright, and you being here does nothing. If you leave, with me or not, then you will fill the potential that is hidden within you. I ask you now, leave. It doesn't matter whether the king says you can or not, just leave. He can't stand up to you, and neither can his guards. You are far more capable than you know, and those capabilities which you know nothing of are waiting outside, in far parts of the world. Here you're a clown, there you are a legend. I"m telling the truth and if you don't take it as the truth, then by gods you are a fool as well as a clown. Do it."

She left and the clown stood in the middle of the room.

####

The next day Sarra Slylaw arrived at the castle in horse and carriage, as she had done the day before. Normally it would be a troopship but because of the no technology rule, she couldn't do that. It was almost degrading, a woman of her stature riding in such ancient ways, but she had to. Three carriages were needed to take the troops, but even then the troops in her carriage were staring at her. She knew how good looking she was, and to be involved in the military involved a lot of men who hadn't seen a woman in such a long time, who would pounce to see a glimpse of someone like Sarra. It made her feel powerful.

The weapon she was trading these horny soldiers for wasn't technology, by definition. It was the first natural weapon; a bit like an exploding plant. It had no name, and the king was happy to have it be gone. They would test it and make duplicates all in exchange for the ten trained troops who would be a huge asset to their own army, seemingly -- he wanted to use their expertise to train the Varsam soldiers. The possibility of this becoming a threat to Armero was almost nil, mainly because the soldiers would be using a type of stick and Armero would be using missiles and guns. They were pretty happy to get this revolutionary weapon for some guys they had loads of anyway.

They stepped into the hall and there was no king. Just Maxille and two guards. The boy walked up to Sarra and shook her hand. "Welcome, Miss Slylaw. You look wonderful today."

"Yes, I do."

He was holding her hand for a few seconds too long. "Come, sit down. These troops certainly look like they'll be beneficial to our army. Make them stronger, faster."

"That's the deal."

"Yes. My, you are very beautiful. Please, all sit around the table. My father shall be here presently."

As they all sat round the table she had a look around this hall. It was something she had never seen before; a castle, certainly, and these kinds of places where the ceiling is so high and there are illustrated windows. Everything was compact in Armero -- no room for such niceties, not even for the most wealthy. There was never room for much of anything in her country. That was one of the reasons she hated it.

Maxille Katush had been told that in no circumstances would he be allowed to own Sarra. He was disappointed, but there was nothing he could do. He would just have to let his mind conjure what he had asked for and let it fill his dreams. They would be excellent dreams.

King Katush came into the room, his lady wife beside him and two servants carrying the weapon on a platter. It looked like a plant, nothing more.

"That's the weapon?" asked one of the troops.

"Yep" Sarra told him.

"Damn. Doesn't make me feel like much."

King Katush sat at his rightful place at the table and Maxille moved, as he had got scornful looks from the queen for sitting at the chair of the king. He sat beside Sarra instead. Far too close.

"Nice to see you again, Sarra," said the king. "This will be the last time a machine enters our country, just to inform you and your government."

Sarra nodded, feeling the threat in the way the king said it. Subtle, but just strong enough for her to get the message. She also felt Maxille's eyes staring at her face but she ignored it.

"And nice to see that you have brought such a fine group of men. I"m sure they will be a fine asset. Now, here is the weapon."

The servants placed the weapon on the table, like a cuisine. The plant weapon was bright purple with yellow leaves sprouting from the sides. It was fairly pretty, but very unharmful-looking. "Is this really it?"

"Oh yes. It doesn't look like much, I know, but it is very explosive. We have called it the Pith bomb. I"m sure you know most of the aspects already."

"Yep."

"Good -- very good. Do you wish to stay for lunch?"

"No I don't think so. We'll just finish up and then…"

"What the hell are you doing out here!?"

Sarra thought the king was shouting at her but she saw that he was staring at the clown. The clown that stood at the doorway, his path being blocked by two guards. He had what looked like a t-shirt tied around his neck.

"I wish to quit," he said.

"Quit? How can you quit when you don't have a job. You are my property, not a member of staff, so you cannot quit."

"I want to leave," he shouted from above the guards" arms.

""Are you insane? Obviously so, as well as being pathetic. You cannot leave, you will not leave and, ultimately, you'll be the castle's jester until you die. Okay?"

The clown's eyes raged and his head started to shake uncontrollably, as if he was having a fit. A fit of rage. He threw the guards to a side and stepped through, the king rising to his feet. "Seize him."

Sarra couldn't believe her eyes. The clown took down the guards with ease, hitting them over the head with his dancing stick and taking them down by the legs. He was on fire during his complete rage. He was not doing as she told him. He was destroying the royal guardsmen, not simply leaving. There was no need to do this, and she told him so.

"I am a warrior," he shouted over to her. "I am no longer a clown, I am a fighter. I am the best fighter in the world. You said so yourself, Miss Slylaw."

"What the hell is this?" complained Maxille, leaving his hand from her leg. "You"ve been talking to the entertainment? How many rules can one person break, father? She and the clown must be exterminated."

The king stared from behind the table at Sarra and the clown, deciding what to do until the rest of the guardsmen turned up. "Yes, I think you are right, son. You will both be exterminated. Killed by the blade."

As four guards poured into the room, the clown went to action. Four blows to the windpipe with his stick, and four more guards dead. The clown was a mass murderer!

"Stop this!" she shouted at him. "This is not what you are meant to be."

"They treat me as fun, now I show them all what I am."

"A killer?"

"Isn't that what a warrior is?"

She shook her head. "No. Not this way. Not killing because they make fun of you. Not that way at all."

"They now see how I am, truly."

"They"re not seeing anything because they"re dead! You see these bodies lying around, you killed them. You let your emotion kill them, and that isn't right. That's not right at all. You think I don't get angry? That I don't get upset? Well I do. In this place I"m a freak, just like you. They threw me in a cell because of what I am. Because of what I"m made of. But I don't kill people because of it. I take it in and suppress it; I do not let it out in a violent form -- that's for the battlefield!"

The king was backing away towards the wall, shaking his head nervously. "Both of you leave immediately. You have killed my guardsmen, you have turned him this way, you gods be damned robot! In fact, I hold you responsible for the every murder on this floor, Miss Slylaw. Both of you will be killed, but you, ma'am, you will be tortured. Yes, that sounds pretty good to me."

"I"m a robot as you say," she replied. I can switch off my pain receivers with no problem. But we'll no longer be here. We"re leaving, clown…whatever your name is."

"Call me Motley."

"That's not your real name."

"I know. I can't do this again. Teach me, Sarra; teach me to be a good fighter, not an evil one."

"I'll try. I promise you that."

"Wait there!" the king shouted. "I'll not have you leaving. Maxille, stop them."

"Father?"

"Stop them I say!"

Maxille got to his feet nervously, looking like the boy he was. "I c-can't father. I just can't."

"Stupid boy."

The troops were watching all of this and did nothing. They just watched, all in slight amusement.

The king walked up to the clown and the robot, his anger raised beyond anything it had been like in years. "I'll do it myself. I'll bloody destroy both…"

With one swiped of his stick, the king was knocked off his feet, straight onto the table and onto the platter. He crushed the plant.

"Gods, run!" shouted Sarra.

Motley the clown and Sarra Slylaw ran as they heard the explosion behind their backs. She could hear the troops screaming, aswell as Maxille and his mother. Everything crumbled behind them as Sarra switched off her pain receivers against the searing heat against her back. They stopped when nearly out of the castle itself, turned behind them to find large crumblings of rock and plaster strewn across the ground, and now blocking everything that they had ran from. There was no one around them.

"You"ve killed them all."

"What? No, I haven't. I…didn't mean to. I mean, you said that I…"

"I know what I said! I was wrong; you should have stayed a clown for the rest of your life. You were never meant to be a fighter."

"Yes I was."

"No you weren't," she shouted at him and felt the synthetic tears run down her cheek. She was wrong. She was never wrong, but this day she was. She was very wrong.

"I was," he told her, his deformed face in hers, Sarra trying not to look at him. "I was. I am. I am. How can I prove it? Tell me."

"Run away. Run away to some far off country and never come back."

"I…can't do that."

"Yes you can. You have to."

"But I don't want to."

"It's not about what you want. It's about what is needed, and I need you to go far away and never come back."

"But -- where can I go?"

"There is a place called Talaria. Have you heard of it?"

"No," Motley told her innocently.

"It is called the home of the warrior, and it is. They will train you; make you the best you can be. Go now!" she shouted as she spotted police from afar.

"But how…?"

"Just go!"

Motley ran away in the opposite direction of the police, his floppy shoes making a slapping noise against the ground. Sarra watched him go and had to wonder about what transpired the past two days. It was confusion in her head. She had killed the royal family; that had to be something to tell the grandkids. Of course she couldn't have kids naturally, but it would be a story to tell. And she may have just released an incredibly deadly force into the world, and she was going to take the entire blame for the murders. She just hoped -- she prayed in her mind for the clown, Motley, to become an asset to the planet. That what she was about to receive wouldn't be for nothing. That the deaths wouldn't be for nothing. That spending the rest of her life in prison wouldn't be for nothing. That while she rotted in jail there would be that clown saving the planet. Saving Armero.

She prayed for it as the police grabbed her. She prayed for it.

She prayed that the fighting mutant clown would turn out good, because only the gods could make that happen. Only the gods could turn such power into something great.

At least she hoped so

THE END


© 2007 M. B. Barlow

Bio: Mr. Barlow is a resident of Glasgow, Scotland, and has been writing for a number of years. This is his first published story. His myspace page can be found at M. B. Barlow

E-mail: M. B. Barlow

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.