Short Story : The Rose Queen by Atikah Nabilah Latama


The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

He swept his gaze on her from head to toe. “Who are you?” he asked.

She turned towards him and stared back. “I’m the pink rose you kept on top of this table here,” she explained, pointing at the table by his bed.

He ran towards the table. Frantically he looked around for the rose. The king noticed that around the soles of her feet there were rose petals. “DID YOU STEAL IT?” he yelled.

“No, I did not. I am that rose. I’m here to tell you that …”

“LIAR! GUARDS, TAKE THIS THIEF TO WHERE SHE BELONGS!” he shouted, cutting her off mid- sentence. He grabbed her upper arm and threw her down to the floor.

The guards barged into the room.

“Wait, wait! Please, listen to me I have something to tell you, Your Majesty. If you’d just …” she pleaded but it was of no use. The king would not let her speak.

“SILENCE THIEF! Guards! Take her to the dungeon. She will be put under the guillotine tomorrow,” he ordered. The guards dragged her by the arms leading her out of the room until her pleas, could no longer be heard.

This strange incident reminded the king once more of his misfortune. He stared down at the garden from the window of his room, and clenched his fists. He could feel hatred boiling inside him. He cursed Fate, for he believed that he had not done anything to deserve the untimely deaths of his wife and son. That night the king did not get a wink of sleep.

The next day at the break of dawn, the woman with the pink hair and ruby eyes was brought out to the field for the execution where the guillotines were placed on wooden platforms. Surrounding the field were walls fifteen feet high, fashioned out of grey rocks stacked upon one another. There were hanging stands and five wooden guillotines, arranged around the field at some distance from the wall. At the edge of the field was a platform with stairs on its side. There was a single red chair on the high platform which was shaded by a thick white cloth. The platform was high enough so that its occupant could observe all the execution stands.

Below the twilight glow of dawn, there were only the king, the executioner, two maids, four guards, and this mysterious woman with the pink hair. The king sat on the red chair with the maids standing beside him. The woman stood by the guillotine and beside her was a guard and the executioner. The other guards were scattered, two at the gates of the field and one near the hanging stands.

The king gestured to the executioner signalling him to start. The executioner positioned the woman underneath the blade. She didn’t resist. She kneeled with her neck resting on the wood beneath it, and her head was positioned in such a way that she was staring down at the wooden floor. She lifted her chin a bit to look at the king in the eye.

 

Read the complete story in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018. Show your support for contemporary Asian voices. Order your copy now:

 

For Indian buyers: Flipkart & Amazon.in

For all buyers (except India): Kitaabstore 

 

Dear Reader, Please Support Kitaab! 

Help promote Asian writing and writers. Become a Donor today!

https://www.patreon.com/kitaab