The Hour House

Prologue

In Which We Learn the Events Surrounding Our Beginning


The roar outside the palace was deafening, and Madgelie was having second thoughts. After all that the people of her country had been though, would this be enough? Could, she, one person, possibly take on all the problems that had arisen in the previous reigns? Her grandmother was the queen that had started this mess. She had wanted to take over the world for some unexplained reason.

Her father had carried on the legacy but Madgelie was different. She was going on a completely unexplored path and she was unsure of how to go about this. The crowd went wild outside the palace walls; despite their enthusiasm Madgelie ran for the garden. She felt something snaking around in her stomach, threatening to rise to her throat and out through her mouth. She was losing confidence, she had to regain it—too late, she was already retching into a rosebush. She started to come up again, thinking the worst had passed, but she was hit with another bout of nausea and she vomited again.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw him coming. She hastily tried to wipe her mouth, but it was too late, he had seen. He offered her a handkerchief and she took it and wiped the remains of the vomit from her face.

"Thank you Alfred," she said.

"Any time, Madge. I was going to hold back your hair, but you have it in such a tight ponytail, I don't think one strand is out of place," Alfred commented. She took out a compact mirror and fixed her red lipstick and adjusted her military cap.

"Is my uniform okay?" she asked. He nodded.

"Don't be so nervous. Everything will be fine," Alfred said. "I promise you. We worked hard on this."

"Alfred, will it be enough?" she pressed. "Is what I'm doing really enough?"

He smiled and put a hand on her shoulder, "You're giving an entire nation of people hope. That's more than they've ever had in years."

Madgelie gazed at her friend in his Military Science Army uniform. She had met Alfred years ago, they had both been studying under Professor Coolidge. Professor had introduced him to her and Madgelie remembered that Alfred's reaction to her had been unlike anyone else's before. Most when meeting the crown princess would bow and act impressed and reverential. Alfred's red hair was a mess, his suit had been wrinkled and his blue eyes were full of sleep. He held out his hand, but his face was seemingly unimpressed. She learned later that he had spent the entire night sitting up with his sick younger brother; meeting Madgelie had only been an after thought.

She learned that day, that people's lives didn't begin and end with the thoughts of the princess. She had to make them care; mean something to them. To do that she had to gain people's respect. In order to gain the respect she wanted she had to learn how to help people effectively. Madgelie decided that day that she would start by earning Alfred's respect. Eight years later he was still here, he had become the person she trusted most. She trusted him enough to help her with the event today, and he trusted her to bring about change for the country.

"I won't let you down," he said, running his thumb just under her right eye with some remorse. She pushed his hand away. Her eyes were her most distinctive feature on her face: her left was brown, her right was blue.

"I know you won't let me down. I hope I don't disappoint you," she replied.

"You just give your speech, I'll take care of the rest."

Madgelie nodded and they went back into the palace. They walked together for a while and stopped at the main hall. She looked at him and closed her left eye so only her right was showing.

"I'll watch for you with my blue eye," she told him. "Do you remember the phrase you're waiting for?"

"Yes, yes, now get out there! Your people await!" he cried. Madgelie squared her shoulders, straightened up her uniform and went to the front doors of the palace. She tugged on her blond ponytail, tapped her booted foot on the marble floor, took a deep breath and signaled for the doors to be opened. She was almost knocked back by the sheer force of the cheering. Her red lips curled into a smile. How she had waited for this day. She walked up to the podium just in front of her and held up her arms to try and silence the crowd. They only got louder.

"My people!" she cried. After some time, they got quieter. She put her hands down, resting them on podium.

"My people!" she repeated. "My father's passing was untimely and unfortunate. I will miss him, I learned many things from his example."

She heard the murmuring the crowd.

"One thing I learned is that a war that is claimed to be fought for the glory of our nation must actually benefit the nation. Have we really achieved glory? Have we really achieved fame? Power? Has this war benefited anyone?"

The crowd fell silent. Everyone knew the answer: a resounding no.

"That is why, I move to end the war my predecessors have started."

She could barely finish her sentence. Right after they heard, "End the war" the crowd went insane. Madgelie held on to her cap, as though the sound waves were strong enough to knock it off her head.

"Instead, I say we better our nation and give it an edge unlike any other. Instead of developing military weapons, I say we develop ourselves on the home front, restoring schools, health care…"

The people started screaming for joy again. She held up her hand.

"Providing for the returning soldiers, and developing scientific research. Particularly Temporal Sciences. Imagine, our country having the ability to bend time and space itself to our will!"

The cheers stopped then. She knew this would happen.

"This sounds like insanity. But my people, I would not make a claim if I could not back it up. Already, we have made great strides in this research. In fact, I will give you a taste of it today."

She glanced to her right, Alfred was in the tower, arms strapped to a large machine. She smiled and gripped the podium tightly.

"This courtyard was transformed into a giant teleportation pad. Remain calm and still, we shall go on a little trip to the largest coliseum in the country where the second pad has been set up."

Madgelie heard the hum of the machine and her heart raced. They had teleported many people before, but never this many. There had to be at least eight thousand people out there. She chewed the inside of her cheek and stared straight ahead. As she became enveloped in a blue light, she had no doubt as to whether or not this would work. She closed her eyes and when she opened them, they were in the coliseum. People were exclaiming in disbelief and wonder and she called them to attention.

"Many of the complexities of Temporal Science have been explored by our top researchers. On the wings of this new research, I will push to bring our country to the future! Now…let's bring ourselves back home."

The machine hummed the coliseum became flooded with blue light. Upon their return, Madgelie barely heard or remembered what she said. All she saw out of the corner of her blue eye was Alfred releasing his grip on the machine and collapsing. She finished up quickly yet calmly and graciously bowed out to the cheering and the chanting that had started.

The doors closed behind her and as soon as she was certain that she was out of view from the people, cameras and flashing bulbs, she took off running down the hall toward the tower Alfred had collapsed in. The demonstration was an amazing success, but that didn't matter if Alfred didn't make it. As she made it to the wing of the castle, she saw her friend being placed on a stretcher and the medical team rushing past her.

"What's wrong? What's happened to him?" she asked hurrying after them.

"No time Your Majesty, he's stopped breathing," one doctor called over his shoulder. She stopped dead in her tracks. If he had taken a brick and tossed it at her chest she wouldn't have been affected any differently; her diaphragm pushed all of the air out of her lungs. Madgelie breathed in slowly, almost cautiously. The teleportation machine had always taken a decent amount of human energy to charge, but never that much! Never!

"Alfred, what have I done?"

She stared after him, the crowd chanting her name outside, but inside her heart pounded, and every beat called his name.


Haha, it's been a while since I put anything up over here. This is my NaNoWriMo '08 story. As there's not much to comment on, I don't have much to say. Please leave a thought if you feel the need.