in Short Fiction

The King’s Man

Harry looked at yellow blood, half dried, on the cobbled road. You could still see some of the white shells that the King’s Men had been unable to clean up. Harry looked up at the wall. Fifteen feet up. For a human, it wasn’t a deadly drop. For an egg, though, it was fatal. He still didn’t know why he was here. All he had been told was that the King had requested that he be consulted. Chief Dumpty had sent him a messenger, and now looked at him keenly as Harry examined the bloodstains and the wall.

“What do you think?” Chief Dumpty asked him, as their eyes met.

“Must have been important egg.”

“He was. Humpty Dumpty. Twenty. He’s dead now, so I can tell you, but this stays between us. He was a spy. Red Queen.”

“Dumpty, huh. Any relation?”

“Distant,” Chief Dumpty said simply.

“Black sheep of the family?”

“Something like that.”

“So he was a spy for the Red Queen. The King’s Men found out and assassinated him. Pretty cut and dry. What am I doing here?”

“The King’s Men didn’t kill him.”

“So they say.”

“We trust them.”

“Everybody lies.”

“Not these men.”

“Why?”

“We have our ways of knowing.”

“I see.” The torture was part of the reason he had left.

Chief Dumpty eyed Harry. He had never liked him. He was too wild, too unpredictable and his brief stint in the King’s Men years ago had only left behind a myth, and a bad after-taste that Chief Dumpty had tried to clean up. But this was the King’s orders. And he was a good soldier. “We don’t want this to become a diplomatic scandal.”

“They’re claiming Dumpty?”

“Yes.”

“That’s … odd.”

“Very.”

“Why?”

“We don’t know.”

“And you want me to find out?” Chief Dumpty nodded.

“I am going to need an upfront fee,” Harry said. “And a daily allowance.”

Chief Dumpty huffed. “The King, himself, requested you on this. You will do this for the honour.”

Harry eyed Dumpty. “No I won’t. Like you said, the Kind requested me himself. I am sure he wouldn’t mind seeing me properly compensated.”

Chief Dumpty did not say another legible word. He just turned around and stormed off muttering under his breath.

“Alrighty, then,” Harry said to himself. “Let’s see what Humpty was doing up there.”


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