“Here we are, your highness. Sector 375 and over there is Old Earth”, said the pilot, “Why are we landing on this dump again?”
“Just get us there”, the Queen said, “It’s something I have to do.”
“Is it about the princess?” he asked.
“Hmmm. Hopefully, this will cure her”, said the Queen, “How long ‘til we land?”
“About an hour, Your Highness”
“I’ll go wake her up then”
The Queen walked out of the bridge of the spaceship, as the pilot began his descent into Old Earth’s atmosphere. He did not know what to feel when the Queen herself asked him to carry out this mission. Just the three of them: Him, the Queen and the Princess. But this was a direct imperial order and he was an imperial soldier, so he had to carry it out. Her explicit ask was that no one should know about it on New Earth. So he made sure that their launch was as stealthy as possible. He hoped that at least the King knew the whereabouts of his wife and daughter. Although the princess was the most adored person back on their planet, everyone knew that she was troubled. He had seen her collapsing once while the King gave his sermon. Her mouth frothed; she let out silent screams, gasping for air. The Queen then held her in an embrace until the screaming subsided and she fell asleep. She hadn’t made any public appearance since then.
The princess was still asleep when the Queen went into her chambers. The pills the doctors gave her acted more like a sedative. The Queen felt that the pills were eating away her baby girl’s feeble little mind. She sat on the bed beside her and stroked her hair. This, hopefully, would work, she thought. Everything else has failed, hopefully, this would work. She closed her eyes, holding back the tears. The fits started last summer when the princess turned eight, she remembered. She was a cheerful little girl until then. She started growing distant after the first few fits and after she collapsed in public, things took a turn for the worse. She didn’t speak, barely ate anything, her screams lasted longer and grew more silent. The Queen had lost all hope of getting her daughter back until she met the witch.
“We’re landing in fifteen minutes, Your Highness”, the pilot announced over the PA system.
“Wake up, princess. We’re almost there”, she gently nudged her awake. The princess opened her eyes and sat up. She went over to the windows and looked downwards. A vague feeling of familiarity washed over her. She was here, the place from her visions. The Queen felt a shift in her daughter’s stance. The witch had advised her that unless the princess makes this trip, the fits would not go away.
“Please stay seated for the landing”, the pilot announced. The princess crawled up beside her mother and fastened the seatbelts. The spaceship landed with a thud & the fell silent.
“We have successfully landed, your highness. Please make your way to the bay doors.”
The Queen held the princess’ hand and led her to the bay doors. The doors opened with a hiss and they saw what was left of Old Earth. Tall, white mountains filled their view and ruins of an era long gone lay in front of them. It was snowing lightly and was still day out. The princess walked into the snow and stretched her hands and stuck out her tongue. This felt like she had done this before. This felt like home. The Queen marvelled at this behaviour. There was no snow on New Earth as the weather there is artificially controlled. This was a new thing for the Queen, but her daughter felt familiar.
The princess went into the ruins. She touched the old granite as she made her way into the inner chambers. A ghastly, wretched feeling overcame her and she felt sick but did not collapse. She walked on. She cupped her ears to the walls and could hear muffled screams inside her head. This hurt her deep in the stomach, but she did not collapse.
She made her way into the innermost sanctum. It was dark, save for a beam of light, and covered in layers and layers of dust. A headless statue lay in the middle of the sanctum. The head lay in the corner. She picked it up, its eyes were closed. She placed it where it belonged, sat there in the dust and closed her eyes.
Her mother came in after some time. She held the princess in an embrace. “The weather’s getting worse, the pilot told me”, she said,”I guess we have to leave, but not unless you are feeling better.”
“I’m okay now”, the princess said.
This was the most the princess had spoken in a long while. The Queen could not hold back her tears any longer.
“Come let’s go”, the princess said as she helped her mother up.
They walked out of the ruins.
“Mother, just this one thing I have to do”, said the princess as she walked over to the ruins. She found a large rock, erected it and began writing in big letters in the snow below it
A . . . S. . . I
“Come honey, we have to leave now”, the queen hollered.
“One second”, the princess said
F. . . A
She closed her eyes, placed a kiss on the rock and went over to her mother.