A Sci-Fi Sleeping Beauty
By Frank Grigonis
A Queen gave birth to a baby daughter. She asked the fairies to the christening, but there was one she did not invite, for that fairy was also a witch. The fairy-witch came anyhow, passed the baby's cradle, and said aloud:
"When you are sixteen, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die!"
"No!" screamed the Queen, who ordered a good fairy to dispel the curse. But it could not be undone; for the best the good fairy could do was take away the curse’s deadliest power; so that now, on the day when the princess would injure her fair finger on a spindle, she would fall into a dreadfully deep sleep rather than die. .
The little Princess grew into a budding beauty, one who loved nothing better than wearing pretty dresses. The queen worked the seamstresses hard to keep her daughter happy. Of course she also arranged it so that the princess should be kept away from spinning wheels and spindles; the Queen even threatened anyone with death who would allow her daughter to catch sight of one.
But on the princess’ 16th birthday, a resentful, overworked servant coaxed the princess into the spinning room.
"What could that be?" the princess inquired as she beheld the spinning wheel.
"Have you never seen a one of these?" This is what I use to spin the loveliest yarn to make your beautiful dresses,” said the servant.
The princess, who was ever curious about all things pertaining to fashion, reached out to touch the pretty yarn and pricked her finger on the sharp spindle it was wrapped around. Then she dropped to the floor as though dead.
Hours later the Queen found her daughter deep in the throes of a sleep so deep, that no matter how hard she shook her daughter, the girl would not awaken. Wizards were summoned to her side, but they could do nothing. Finally, the good fairy was called, and the Queen said to her,
"It has happened. Can anything awaken my daughter now?”
"Only love," replied the fairy. "If a man of pure heart falls in love with her, he will awaken her!"
The queen was heartbroken. She had known and heard of many men, but none that could truly be called ‘pure of heart’.
"But will there ever be such a man?" sobbed the Queen. The sleeping Princess was taken to her room and laid on the bed. The good fairy considered the Queen’s words thoughtfully, for she too agreed that it could indeed be a very long time before a pure hearted man were to come upon the sleeping princess.
The queen’s sadness deepened. She could not bear the thought of life without her beloved daughter, so she bade the good fairy to cast a spell so that she, herself and everyone else who lived within the castle—knights, ministers, servants, cooks, and guards should also fall into a deep, deep sleep along with the sleeping princess.
“But then who will protect the castle and all within it?” asked the fairy.
After pondering that very questions for two full days and nights, the queen decreed that the good fairy should cast an additional spell: one which would create an enchanted bubble surrounding the castle and its grounds, a bubble that would make everything within it invisible and insubstantial-- except to a man of pure heart.
And the good fairy made it so.
Years passed. Within the bubble, even time itself had stopped, but outside--what centuries of change!
Warriors and explorers came and walked upon and even walked right through the castle, yet they neither saw nor felt it, for none were pure of heart.
And still more centuries elapsed.
Finally, after more than a million years had passed, and the lush forest beyond the castle grounds had become dry desert, a daring explorer carrying only hydration and sustenance pills dared to cross that desert by walking. This was something the people of his time did very little of.
When he came upon the castle, he was able to see it and the guards who slept just beyond its walls, for he was pure of heart.
For a fraction of a second, the explorer thought the castle was a mirage; then his intranet, implanted in his brain at birth, flooded his consciousness with images and many quants of information concerning knights, ministers, guards, cooks, royalty, wars, witches, fairies, and more about the Middle Ages.
He touched the castle walls, which had been well preserved by the bubble, and then he felt the warm hand of a sleeping guard. As he continued to explore and reflect upon the information revealed by his intranet, he felt great curiosity and pity for these early humans who lived in such a brutal and superstitious time, long before what the people of his age referred to as The Great Awakening.
Then he ventured within the castle itself and continued to explore there until finally he came upon the rosy-cheeked princess herself, still sleeping on her bed surrounded by what were to him the strangest flowers he’d ever seen. He gazed in wonder at them, then at her; but he could not feel anything like love for such a primitive-looking creature, so he walked on, and the princess and all the people of the castle slept forever after.
- - -
Frank Grigonis teaches high school English. He hopes that one day someone will use one of his stories as the basis for a successful film. Should that occur, he'll be in a much better position to help the helpless and vanquish the vicious.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
A Sci-Fi Sleeping Beauty
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