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Metamorphosis (standard:fantasy, 1000 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Aug 09 2004Views/Reads: 2355/1150Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
I wrote this for a competition: 1000 words max. story to start with the words 'Given the amount of time Brantley had been down the hole, it was amazing his single, lid-less eye could still focus.'
 



Metamorphosis 

Ian Hobson 

Given the amount of time Brantley had been down the hole, it was amazing
his single, lid-less eye could still focus; yet he could make out the 
shape of one of his jailers above, silhouetted against the grey light 
of dawn. 

Would today bring food or an upended bucket of icy water, or worse? 
After countless days of imprisonment, he knew to expect anything.  As 
he heard the scrape of the wooden bucket, he pressed himself back 
against the side of his tomblike prison, relieved as he saw that it was 
being lowered, not tipped.  He snatched at it and grabbed for its 
meagre contents before it was quickly hauled back up. 

Bread and a half-rotten apple.  He ate the food then knelt and lapped
water from the tiny pool in the floor of the old well.  The flow was, 
at times, not much more than a trickle, but it had never dried up 
completely.  Brantley had considered blocking the outlet and allowing 
himself to be drowned, but his will to survive had proved stronger than 
his despair.  Suddenly there were more sounds from above. 

'Who wants him?' asked a gruff voice that Brantley knew well.  It was
Falmuth, the head jailer. 

'Orders from the King,' came the reply.  Brantley knew that voice also,
but had not heard it for a long time.  As he looked up, the end of a 
rope ladder fell towards him. 

'Move yourself, prisoner,' ordered Falmuth.  'If I have to come down
there, it will be the worse for you.' 

Brantley grasped the ladder and climbed awkwardly towards the daylight,
and as he neared the surface, Falmuth grabbed a handful of his hair and 
hauled him out.  With his right hand, Brantley shaded his one eye 
against the brightness.  The prison courtyard was circular, and he 
could see other prisoners staring open-mouthed at him through barred 
windows.  Most had seen him before; but still, the sight of a childlike 
Cyclops - especially one so deformed and ugly - was something 
incredible. 

'You don't get any prettier, do you, Cyclops? 

'And you don't smell any sweeter, Foul-mouth,' croaked Brantley.  This
earned him a vicious stroke across the back with the short leather whip 
that Falmuth carried.  It was painful, but Brantley didn't cry out. 

'Let him be!'  This time Brantley could see who was giving the orders:
Lord Chiron, the king's bodyguard. 

'Chiron.'  Brantley spoke his name, and for a moment Chiron looked
questioningly into Brantley's one eye, before gesturing to the two 
guards that were with him and turning and striding away.  The guards 
stepped forward and, taking the prisoner by the arms, they followed 
after Chiron.  Brantley was barely half their size, but somehow he 
managed to keep pace with them. 

The prison was at the lower end of the castle, so the winding alleyways
that they passed through led gradually upward.  Brantley inhaled the 
fresh air, ignoring the stares of passers-by.  Ahead, Chiron stepped 
through a gateway where guards sprang to attention, and as he 
disappeared from view, Brantley's guards quickened their pace.  When 
they caught up with Chiron outside the doors to the great hall, he 
ordered the guards to wait and entered alone, giving Brantley a 
much-needed respite.  But soon more orders were given, and Brantley was 
pushed forward and allowed to enter unaided. 

Inside, the hall was lined with courtiers: lords and ladies and their
offspring; all dressed in fine costumes and gowns.  Brantley knew them 
all, but as he ran the gauntlet of their stares, he kept his eyes fixed 
on the figures ahead. 

King Branghust sat on the largest and grandest throne and beside him sat
Esmeltha his queen.  Suddenly, aware more than ever of his grotesque 


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