Long had the girl slept, cocooned within the thorny vines that embraced her castle. Long after the fairy curse had taken hold and forced upon her unnatural sleep, her parents and the other citizens of the kingdom had succumbed to the radiation that sickened humanity after the final World War. Toxic rain and poisoned water finished off those who had not died with the final deadly blast. Yet the princess Aurora slept on, immune by the unknown virtues of her curse.
The ship used its lasers to cut through the tangled vines, slicing a neat hole through the stones for its captain to enter. He stepped into the Earth’s past, sheltered and preserved by the briars that had gripped the castle like a skeletal fist. The light from the device he held lit his face in the darkened halls as he watched its monitor for signs of life. It pinged softly, each ping growing louder and closer as he strode the stairs of the castle’s tallest tower. By the time he reached the princess’s door, the noise had become a steady loud hum.
His large eyes widened as he pushed open the door to view the prone form of the girl, the last living woman on planet Earth. He pushed aside the dust covered canopy that surrounded her bed, gazing down at her beautiful features. Never had he seen a vision of such loveliness. Her long copper hair framed her face, like a Brillo pad around a worn bar of soap. Saliva dripped from the corner of her open mouth, from which the odor of her last meal was still apparent – seasoned by age. When he leaned closer, he smelled cumin.
Remembering his research, he bent over the girl and brushed her hair aside, planting a soft kiss upon her hard and cracked lips. He stood back and watched her struggle to open eyes that had been caked shut by years of sleep. One eye opened. She rubbed the other, which opened as well. Bleary eyed, she gazed upon her rescuer. “Whazza…whozit?” she mumbled, shaking off the sleep of decades. To her hero, her voice was the melody of the past.
He pressed some buttons on his device. The machine pinged once more, then translated his words into electronic clipped tones that Aurora would understand. “Welcome back to wakefulness, Princess. I have sought your resting place for many years. This is a very important discovery.”
The woman propped herself on elbows that popped audibly, then squinted into her benefactor’s large black eyes. “Huh?” She strained to focus on his face. Skin the color of ripe avocado, eyes that blinked slightly less often than she liked, and a large, bulbous head as hairless as a cue ball. If she was still dreaming, she figured she might as well play along. “Who are you?” she managed. Aurora ran her tongue across teeth that hadn’t been brushed in decades. She definitely needed a brush.
The little man pressed more buttons on the device. “My name is Zork, chief of Galactic History for Sector 42. You must accompany me to Zeta Prime where you will be questioned on Earth culture.”
The woman swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She gingerly tested each one until she stood on them both. “Wait a minute,” she said, reaching for a brush on the nightstand and attempting – without much success – to run it through her hair. “I read books, you know. I’m not going anywhere until I get my prince.” She glared down at Zork. The little man was waist-high. “Rules are rules.”
The little man’s skin darkened to a deep forest green. He tapped the device. “Our civilization has evolved beyond the feudal system of more primative sociopaths.”
Aurora backed away and gripped her brush. Dream or not, this still felt real.
Zork checked his device, then tapped again. “Apologies. More primative societies. There is, however, a Galactic President.”
The woman relaxed her grip on the brush. In her mind’s eye, solar systems did a slow waltz across galaxies which spun slow, lovely pirouettes. A thought struck her, shattering the image, and she blurted, “Beyond primitive so… so… so you don’t rule any land?”
The green creature looked at the ceiling a moment, then tapped again. The electronic voice chirped, “I own half of sector 42, which includes this solar system as well as several others.” He tapped, “This gives me exclusive historical excavation rights over said property. Is this sufficient to meet your requirements?”
Princess Aurora gazed down at her small saviour. Ruler of the whole freaking planet? A prince would be a step down. “Zork,” she said, smiling sweetly through taco-stained teeth. “Take me to your leader.”
Hand in hand, the two stepped aboard the shining craft. The saucer flew into the starry void.
*I’ve “retold” so many fairy tales that it’s hard to believe I’ve left this one alone this long. So I decided to
destroy attempt a fresh take on this classic. Please, forgive me.