Return of the King (of England

)

by

Ben Lacy

Copyright © 2009 Ben Lacy All rights reserved

Two days after the catastrophe, the Earl of Sussex summoned Lord Robert MacGregor, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Crown and Nobel Prize winner, to the Earl’s office at Buckingham Palace. “I thought there were hundreds of blood relations. Won’t one of them do?” MacGregor asked. “None are close enough or interesting enough to be acceptable to the public. We need someone who will be embraced by everyone. The state of the monarchy is too precarious for anything else.” “Well, how about a clone then. We can get hold of some tissue and …” “No,” the Earl interrupted, “nobody wants a retread. Aside from the legal issues, the last one, God rest his soul, wasn’t that popular. We need someone new.” “All right, we’ll go back into the past and get a sperm sample, then we can …” The look on the Earl’s face stopped MacGregor in mid-sentence. “And how will you get this sperm sample. No, that is just too crude. I’m afraid it’s hopeless. I’m sorry, Bobby, I’ve only wasted your time calling you here. The Monarchy is doomed and the way things are going today, I fear the whole country will soon follow.”

MacGregor sat in his stiff backed chair, deep in thought. He had not become his country’s greatest scientist by giving up. There had to be a solution, an angle that would provide a replacement the public would embrace. No, a replacement that the public would demand! In a flash of pure insight, he saw the answer. In his excitement, he leapt to his feet. “No, my friend, I have the answer, the perfect solution. Yes, yes, it can be done!” The Earl stared at him with a touch of annoyance, “What are you talking about? Calm down and tell me.” “The Princes in the Tower.” First the Earl looked stunned, then comprehension came and with it … a huge smile.

**********

MacGregor walked the corridors of the Tower of London, carefully using his hands to feel the way. Only a few hours ago, by his reckoning, he had carefully toured the entire Tower, but that Tower had been a brightly lit tourist attraction. This Tower was a dark, dank, prison; a place where more than one king had been murdered. Worse, the Tower had been renovated several times over the last seven hundred years. Records indicated that King Richard had removed most of the guards from inside the Tower just before the murders, but MacGregor knew that an encounter with even one would risk changing the course of history. He had to avoid that at all costs. He picked up his pace, hoping he was near the boys. Behind him, his automated equipment cart sped up to stay with him. He could see light coming from the third door on the left. Voices were coming from inside. He paused a moment to listen. They were children’s voices. He sighed with relief. He had found his target. Light came from a small window set high in the thick wooden door. Iron bars ran vertically through the open window. MacGregor saw one boy standing over another,

smaller boy, who sat on a bed with a blanket wrapped around him. The younger boy had been crying. “I’m so cold Edward. I think I’m ill.” The older boy tried to comfort him, “Be strong little brother. Mother will come for us soon and everything will be fine.” “No, no it won’t. We’ve been prisoners for months now. Uncle Richard will never let us go. He means to have your crown. So we both have to die … just like Clarence.” Edward slumped down beside his brother and embraced him. “Aye, maybe we do,” he sighed. “Oh, Uncle, I would gladly give you my crown would you just suffer us to live.” For a moment, MacGregor was spell bound watching history come to life, but time was very short. To avoid making any change to the course of history, he’d had to come back at the last possible moment. The door had a crude lock. He pulled out a skeleton key that the Crown’s Historian had assured him would open any door in the Tower. The key slid in, and with some force, MacGregor was able to turn the lock. A good thing too, blasting his way in would be a huge risk. He had to be careful to leave no evidence behind. The boys looked up at him. They seemed wary but not particularly afraid. Both were handsome, blonde haired boys. They looked unharmed but somewhat malnourished for royalty. As Edward walked up to meet him, MacGregor had to struggle to keep his face from crinkling. Edward V, the rightful King of England, smelled very bad. MacGregor reminded himself that bathing was not a frequent habit of the era. “What can we do for you milord?” Edward asked. Edward was used to receiving deference, but the tone of his voice showed that he was no longer sure whether he should expect it. MacGregor was unsure how to explain himself, when young Richard, Duke of York, forgetting his illness, leapt from his bed and ran around his brother. “What is that,” he exclaimed, pointing to MacGregor’s equipment cart floating silently behind him. “Are you a wizard?”

Wizardry would be associated with the devil, so MacGregor decided not to accept that designation even if it would simplify explanations. “No, I am a scientist from far, far in the future. I don’t have time to explain, but the two of you have to come with me. First though, I have to take care of a couple of things.” He pulled a large silver colored bag from off the cart and carried it to the bed. Even through the bag, the boys could tell that a body was inside. MacGregor grabbed another bag, with a slightly smaller body in it, and brought it to the bed as well. Tearing both bags open, he moved the bodies into a sleeping position on the bed. He looked at the two bodies on the bed, then at the two boys. The likeness wasn’t great, but it would be dark, and he doubted that King Richard’s assassin had ever seen the boys before. “Good God, man,” Edward exclaimed, “are those corpses you are putting in our bed.” “No, they’re puppets, to fool your captors,” Actually, they were simulated bodies grown fully formed from an organic compound just hours ago. The bones matched a human’s but the insides were soft vegetable matter, except for a pair of rudimentary lungs and the diaphragm that supported them. MacGregor injected a needle into the diaphragm of one of the bodies. This triggered a reaction that caused the diaphragm to expand and contract. The body appeared to be breathing. He heard a gasp from behind him. He ignored the boys; another needle started a chemical reaction in the body’s pseudo skin to keep it warm. He repeated the process with the other body. They would keep breathing until Richard’s assassin smothered them in a few hours. “Sir, I truly must insist you explain yourself.” Edward stood beside a small writing table. He held a large candelabra in front of him. His younger brother stood behind him, cautiously looking around Edward. MacGregor knew that he had frightened the boys badly and they’d already been through so much. He had been fortunate that they were bright enough not to raise the alarm. Time was now desperately short, but he felt he had to give them some kind of reassurance. He held his hands in front of him to show that he was unarmed and walked

to within a few feet of Edward. He bowed deeply and sincerely. “Your Majesty, forgive my brusqueness.” Edward hesitated a moment then lowered the candelabra slightly and nodded for MacGregor to continue. “As I said before, I come from as many years in your future as King Arthur is in your past. In my time, our King and the entire royal family met with a terrible accident.” They all died when a meteor struck the family yacht, which crashed into one of Jupiter’s moons. That explanation could wait for later. “We have no king and no one who can succeed to the throne. We want you, Edward the Fifth, to be our king.” Edward stared at MacGregor, trying to comprehend what he had just heard. “Thank you for your offer, sir, but I am to be king here,” a note of defiance had crept into the youngster’s voice. “No, your Majesty,” MacGregor shook his head sadly, “your time in this world ends tonight.” Both boys gasped. They turned to look at each other. “Brother,” Richard said, “I want to go with him. Leave this place to Uncle Richard.” Edward looked at MacGregor for a long moment. Suddenly, a noise came from down the corridor. A guard was coming. “Your Majesty, our time is up, you have to decide now!” MacGregor said urgently. Edward turned back to MacGregor. “Very well, sir, we are in your hands. What would you have us do?” “Just stay absolutely still.” MacGregor turned to the equipment cart and flipped a switch to open the time portal. A bright light formed at their feet. Both boys were startled but held their ground. As the portal opened beneath them, a trembling but angry Edward declared, “I just wish I had been able to punish my uncle for his treason.” “Don’t worry,” MacGregor said as they dropped through the portal. “He’ll get his soon enough.” And then they were gone.

**********

Richard III had stolen the throne from his nephews and locked them in the Tower, where they were never to be seen again. Within months, people suspected he had murdered them. Opposition to his seizure of the throne became overwhelming. Two years after that last night in the Tower, Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field by the forces of Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII. For years, nothing was found of the princes. People argued over whether they had actually died, and if so, who had murdered them. Two hundred years later, during renovation of a portion of the Tower, the skeletons of the pseudo Richard and Edward were discovered, sealed underneath a staircase. They were properly buried for another two hundred and fifty years, when twentieth century scientists disinterred the remains and confirmed that they were probably the murdered boy princes. After a reexamination of the evidence, historians could finally prove that Richard III had indeed had his nephews murdered. With the mystery of what had happened to them seemingly solved, they simply became one of the more fascinating parts of the history of the British Crown. That is until another two hundred years passed. When, on a bright summer day at Westminster Abbey, after nearly seven hundred years, the true king was restored to the throne. Edward V, redubbed Edward XII, was crowned … King of England.

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