A Time Travel Clyde Mini-Epic!
THE IDIOCY AND THE ODDITY
(with apologies to Homer, the ancient Greek Gods and Heroes,
and lovers of great literature everywhere!)
--Part II --
The ODDITY: An Epic Adventure!
RETURN OF THE KING
Hissica seemed strangely quiet to Clydesseus, and though it was familiar, he could smell change in the air. Still, it was home, and though he was exhausted from his journey, he had an inner feeling that his adventures were not over yet, and he would still need all his cleverness before he finally found peace. So he carefully left the beach, dragging the "Great Cleaner Eurekat" behind him. It was rather heavy, but there was no place to plug it in so he could take a short flight to his palace.
Along the way, Clydesseus spotted a tiny grand manor house from high on the sand dune he'd just climbed. He recognized the place; he'd ordered its construction once long ago. It was the Tiny Grand Manor of the King's Chancellor. But it looked awfully run down since the last time he saw it. He hurried to the door and knocked.
"Who's there?" A feeble voice coughed from inside.
"Uhhh.." Clydesseus stalled, remembering his costume and the warning Hurries had given him. "...Room service!" He tried.
"Room...??" The old voice muttered. "Oh, hang on, hang on."
Clydesseus heard the shuffling of paws on a rough floor, and the squeal and squeak of the old door's rusty hinges as the occupant opened it . He found himself staring into the very old eyes of... Shadow, his trusted Chancellor!
"Sha..." Clydesseus checked himself.
"Eh? What... What'd you say? Speak up!" The old cat asked.
"Shall I clean the room, sir." Clydesseus asked, getting into character.
"Clean the...? What's going on?" Shadow asked, backing away from the door, letting Clydesseus see the plain and empty room. The tiny grand manor house was so small, it only contained one room. Clydesseus remembered that Shadow had asked it be made that way so he wouldn't get lost like he often did in the grand royal palace.
"I... I'm here to clean the room." Clydesseus replied.
The room was not like this when he had left for Toy so long ago. No, then it was rich with fine furnishings for the comfort of his friend. There was no comparison with the musty, barren room that his eyes saw. He needed to learn more from his friend. He hurried to fuss with the kitty bed.
"I have no money, you know." Shadow wheezed, turning to watch this extremely strange visitor.
"I know." Clydesseus replied. "Don't worry, it's courtesy of the house."
"The house? The BIG house? Up there?" Shadow pondered, looking out the window to the ancient and still impressive palatial castle. "Why, there hasn't been word from there in years! Have they finally gotten over their endless arguing? Are they actually going to attend to the kingdom?"
"I really don't know what you are talking about." Clydesseus said rather truthfully.
"Oh, I get it, discretion...sure, I know." Shadow nodded, and lay his head in his paws. "But, I know maids like to tell tails! Have you been up there? What's going on with them? Is Queen Penelopuss still resisting the suits? Oh, you gotta love her, you know. In all this time, no matter what was said, she's remained faithful and true to our lost King, Clydesseus..." Shadow's voice trailed off for a moment as he was caught up in emotion. "Oh, poor, lost Clydesseus. There never was such a king as he was! Everybody loved him. I curse the day Clydesseus left! That was the start of all our ruin! He was hardly gone before the vultures came to stay!"
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." Clydesseus replied, knowing that was the way to get the old boy to talk.
"Oh, of course. And, you know nothing of how our economy has failed, how the oil jars aren't being shipped because of a false injunction, and how our government is stalled because of legalities being misused, and there's no justice in the courts anymore because of all the suits..."
"There was justice when Clydesseus reigned, wasn't there?" Clydesseus asked coyly.
"Sure, then. Then we had a King! He ruled..he was so good, we had so much... he..he was my friend, you know. He gave me this job."
"Chancellor, Guardian of the Royal Mittens of State, of course!" Shadow snapped, trying to lift himself to a dignified position. "He valued my services, the good King did, even built this tiny grand manor house for me! I do miss him though, I surely do." Shadow's voice trailed off.
"The Mittens? Oh, yes, yes. But, where are they?" Clydesseus looked around. The Royal Mittens were a symbol of state, and were always kept in the care of the Chancellor.
"I...I lost them!" Shadow wailed, falling on his forepaws.
"You LOST your Mittens!" Clydesseus almost bellowed. This was so unlike Shadow. He'd expect such a thing from a kitten, but hardly from a Chancellor.
"Well, it amounts to that. They took 'em. Along with everything else. They said I'd been 'downsized' whatever that means."
"WHAT!" Clydesseus almost roared. "Who?! Who did this?"
"Security. You know, the new palace guards. We didn't have them when King Clydesseus reigned. Didn't need 'em, you know? Clydesseus ruled so well we were always secure. But not long after he left, under the new government..."
"NEW GOVERNMENT!" Clydesseus sprang out the door, tearing up the hill to the castle, dragging Great Cleaner Eurekat behind him.
"Wait!" Shadow called to him, "You didn't clean the floor!"
By the time Clydesseus got to the castle gate, he was out of breath and exhausted. Dragging a vacuum cleaner up a hill is not easy for a cat. But, he was determined and banged loudly at the impressive wooden gate, a gate that was never closed when he reigned. A guard opened a peephole and demanded. "What!???"
Castle photo courtesy of ArtToday
Clydesseus wheezed, for he was so out of breath, "Room Service."
Well, it worked once, why not a second time?
The guard mumbled and opened the gate. "What agency?" He demanded, looking at a clip board listing all those who were authorized to enter.
"Uhh... Hurry Up."
"Excuse me? That's very rude!" The guard remarked indignantly.
"Hurry Up!" Clydesseus repeated.
"Hurry up and what?" The guard demanded.
"Hurry Up n' Clean!" Clydesseus testily replied.
"Listen, I am losing my patience with you. YOU'RE the maid, YOU hurry up and clean. I don't have to, I'm a guard!"
"Oh!" Clydesseus responded. "Hurry Up n' Clean IS the name of the agency. I wasn't being rude. I suppose I should have explained that first."
"Stupid name for an agency if you ask me!" Said the guard. "Okay, well, let's see now." He checked the clip board. "Hmmm.. not on our list. Oh, well. Now I have to kill you. It's the law. Nothing personal, you know." The guard continued, exposing his extremely long and sharp claws while menacingly lunging at Clydesseus..
"Wait! I'm a temp!" Clydesseus quickly replied.
"What agency?" The guard sighed, sheathing his claws once more.
"Uhh... Hurry Up n' Clean Temps?"
"Ohhh, yeah, Hurry Up n' Clean Temps!" The guard replied as the words Clydesseus just spoke magically appeared on the guard's list. This was a little gift from the Gods, since without it, Clydesseus would have had to defend himself, which surely would have 'blown his cover', and probably ruined his chambermaid disguise as well. "Well, why didn't you say so? Sure, go right in." The guard cheerfully concluded.
Clydesseus eyed the courtyard carefully as he made his way to the great hall. The open court was neglected, overrun with weeds, and almost devoid of activity. He had left a bustling center of commerce and returned to a desolate ruin. He hurried into the great hall and almost froze in his tracks.
The Great Hall had been designed as a grand reception area, where dignitaries and ambassadors from wealthy islands and palaces would come to call on Clydesseus and the Hissicans, seeking trade, friendship and allies. It had been huge and open, a grand space, with rich tapestries and carpets, fires blazing in the hearths, food on the table, wonderful music in the background, and the buzz of profitable deals being made as happy and competent courtiers milled about in the endless conversation of commerce and politics.
But what greeted Clydesseus was a far cry from that! The great hall, once so full of light, had been dimmed by shades. Gone were the rich tapestries and carpets; the sound of mewsic was silent, replaced by the endless clatter of computer keyboards; the long banquet tables had been pushed against the walls and piled high with papers, and the vast center of the great hall was filled with a maze of dull, blue canvas cubicles.
Clydesseus muttered under his breath as he made his way to the Queen's apartments.
"Hey, you!" the receptionist called out. "Can I help you?" She demanded in a haughty tone.
"Uhh.." Clydesseus had to think fast. "Lady's maid." He said curtly, not stopping.
"Wait a minute. Do you have an appointment?" The receptionist stood up, about to call Security.
"Uhh.. Emergency call. The Queen spilled her milk. Gotta mop it up." Clydesseus hurried.
"With that!?" The receptionist argued, pointing to the Great Cleaner Eurekat.
"Wet-Dry." Clydesseus replied. "And if you were worthy of your job, you'd have known that! Who's your supervisor? Maybe we should have a talk!" He knew that he had to intimidate this receptionist or he'd be soon in the dungeon.
"Uhh, of course I knew that! I just didn't recognize the model. New, is it?" The receptionist pretended to admire the unfamiliar machine.
"The very latest in cleaning technology." Clydesseus smiled, his trick worked. "Now, if you don't mind, we cleaning engineers are very busy...there's that milk...?"
"Oh, yes, of course. I'll just buzz the Queen..."
"Don't do that!" Clydesseus snapped.
"Why?" Asked the receptionist, growing wary of this impudent maid.
"She might slip on the milk and hurt herself! Do you want to be responsible for hurting your Queen?"
"Oh, no, of course not. Hurry, hurry!" The receptionist shooed Clydesseus away.
He rushed down the hall and into the Queen's bedroom.
The sight of Penelopuss, sitting by the bedroom window, twitching her tail, at once thrilled and shocked him. For his Queen had grown very old and gray, and she seemed so very tired. She hardly took notice when he entered the room.
"I did not send for you." Penelopuss muttered absently.
"Are you sure?" Clydesseus dared to ask.
"What?" The Queen spun around at the impudence, which Clydesseus was very good at, just ask Poseidon. Something in Clydesseus' appearance looked familiar to her, but she was too tired to consider it.
"Oh, just go on." She sighed, dismissing the maid to her chores.
Clydesseus fussed about with the kitty bed, while Penelopuss sighed, gazing out to sea. "It's a beautiful day, my lady" He offered.
"No day is beautiful to me. You should know that. Doesn't everyone talk about it, the mad Queen Penelopuss believing in her long, lost husband's return?"
"I don't get around much." Clydesseus replied.
"I will see no beauty in the days," the Queen continued, "until I once again behold my beloved Clydesseus. Oh, I know it has been years, and the sea, and his travels may have changed him, but, to see him once more, to see those shining whiskers, the high topped ears, his," she giggled fondly, "great big paws. Oh... oh" and the Queen wept.
Clydesseus wanted to spring out of his maid's uniform and reveal himself, but a small voice within urged caution, so he restrained himself.
"Perhaps your day has come." He offered.
"How, how can that be! What do you know?" Penelopuss demanded, almost hysterical with hope.
"My lady," Clydesseus said carefully hiding his face, "Do not consider yourself alone. I am here to clean things up."
"Obviously." The Queen muttered. Then catching some of her old, kinder self, softened and said "You are kind, but only one can comfort me, and he, they say, is lost."
"What is lost can also be found." He replied quietly. "You can find all sorts of things when you do a little cleaning. We maids know all about that!"
"What?" She asked, feeling a surge of new hope.
"My lady," Clydesseus asked, coming as close to the Queen as he dared, he so wanted to rub her whiskers, "being a Temp, I'm unfamiliar with the Palace. Can you, well, sort of help me out, you know, fill me in on how things are done here? I don't want to get fired on my first day!"
"Oh, well, I wouldn't want that!"
"If your are Queen, shouldn't you be able to make certain? I mean, your word is to be obeyed, right?"
"Good heaven's! Where have you been girl?" The startled Queen asked. "Don't you know, I have no power, no authority? The Corporation controls everything now. They only keep me on for insurance."
"Oh, my lady!" shrieked Clydesseus, "I... I hardly know what to say! But, how did this calamity occur?"
"You're a newbie, right?" She asked wearily. She sighed, "Well, it is good to confide in an impartial listener, I guess."
So the Queen began her tail. There was something so comforting in the maid's manner and appearance, something so familiar and friendly and loving that she allowed herself to recite her sorrows. Her tail was long, and hard to hear, for the steady decline of the House of Clydesseus was a tragic tale of deception, betrayal, and greed.
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