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A Clever Ruse -- FWG Flash Fiction for 7/30/2022

I love London, just sayin'. Here's a tale set in an indeterminate past, future, or perhaps a parallel world.

Taking inspiration from

here is "A Clever Ruse."

A Clever Ruse

London lay under a blanket of smoke and fog. Only the Tower Bridge hovered above the thick, obscuring haze. It was the perfect cover we needed.

The King lay wasting away at Windsor, his exploits in the taverns and brothels having taken their toll. The spread of his pox among the ladies and gentlemen of the royal court was a map of the decadent behaviors of those who held themselves up as our betters. What better time, with the monarchy in such a weakened state, and with only a single heir to the throne—who was but a babe-in-arms herself—for us to strike?

We crossed the Thames completely hidden from view and, by dead reckoning, landed at Traitors’ Gate. The irony was not lost on us, and it elicited a few chuckles as we made our boats fast against the quay and snuck into the Tower by way of the door our inside-man had left unlocked. We fanned out once inside, each intent on fulfilling our part in the scheme.

My job was simple—a single slash to the throat of the future queen—which would pave the way for a Republic of Equals. It meant I would have to dispatch guards and perhaps a lady-in-waiting or two, but my heart was hardened by the centuries of depravations my family had endured under royal rule.

To my surprise, the path to the child’s bedchamber was cleared of all obstacles, and I strode in unmolested, my suspicions raised too late. The bassinet was empty, of course, and the trap snapped shut behind me in the form of the King, his face unmarked and his posture robust, surrounded by his equally fit barons and dukes, all of whom were rumored to be infected—a clever ruse, indeed.

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