“If I go into hospital who will care for Gorse?” Ursula asks.
Gorse growls and bares his teeth at me.
I swallow, a lot. “He hates me.”
“He doesn't hate you. You'd be missing an eye and bleeding by now if he hated you.” She laughs at me.
“He's certainly a much better guard than the warriors Dad assigns me.” I check my watch. I’ve not got long until my GPS chip will go back to telling those warriors exactly where I am.
Her laughter kicks off another round of coughing, even worse than the ones before.
The fact is she needs hospital and the creature needs taking care of. “I'll take him. I'd better go.”
“Thanks. Why do they call you the Royal Oaf?” She's counting the notes I’ve given her. “You seem nice and not overly oafish.”
“Cos I killed my mother when I was born.” It's the only explanation I have. The media have hated me all my life and it feels like they’ve never run a positive story on me.
“Go with Angus,” she addresses Gorse.
I stand up. My backpack gets strapped on my back and I tuck my skateboard under my arm. “Come on Gorse. I have to be back at the palace before the block I put on my GPS chip fails.”
“Go with Angus.” Ursula gives Gorse a small push in my direction.
I balance on the board and push off.
Gorse follows me as I head for the smells, sights and sounds of the bustling Seatown market. Hot dust, barbecuing meat and ginger tea fill the air. The smell of cooking meat turns my stomach. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a small boy and refused to eat meat. I count out enough Nacls to buy Gorse some raw chicken and myself a seaberry and nut chocolate bar. Gorse slurps the chicken in my ear.
“Hey Not Prince Angus.” A filthy young boy, a bag of bones, winks. He accosts me every time he sees me. “That looks delish.”
It doesn’t take much of his blackmailing eyes for me to hand over the bar to him.. “Like I told you before...”
“Yeah I know, I know he's shorter and his hair is not as curly. Wouldn't want me telling the blue foot over there though would ya.” He indicates the police officer going into the building across the road.
“That's all I got. Now git or I'll call the blue foot myself.” The kid runs when I step towards him, making out I’m going to slap him. I wouldn’t but he doesn’t know that.
He runs off. I sigh. Time is running out and I have to be back at the palace shortly so I strap my board to my rucksack and stand in line for the bus. There's only two or three people in the queue outside the cinema. A young girl in a summer dress, light blue with flowers, sits on the steps. She keeps checking her watch and looking around. I'm bored and I hate being so I take out my PC POCKET to pay Bish-Bash-Bosh.
Bish, I hit a black berry and Bosh a green berry now I need a purple… the blobby things splashes on the screen. The bus arrives and I get on. Seatown did away with real bus drivers years ago; the system is completely automated. I drop my remaining Nacls into the machine and take the ticket it dispenses. The bus is empty and I sit by myself next to the window. The girl who was sitting on the steps has gone. I wonder if she has gone inside or if she got fed up of waiting and left.
As much as I want to escape my life, a soft mattress, sufficient food and servants tending to my every need are more effective at keeping me prisoner than steel and concrete. One rumble of the stomach or a second lying on a pavement and I'd go running home. I focus on squishing berries on the PC POCKET and try to forget I still have to face my dad when I get back to the palace.
A night of blood, mayhem and magic thrust Prince Angus, the youngest son of the king, onto the throne of Covesea Island. He's never wanted to be king. Social media calls King Angus a clown. His subjects don't rate his ability to lead them in the trade negotiations with one of the planet's superpowers.