This blog post is a submission for Chuck Wendig’s FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: “IT’S X MEETS Y!”
The idea behind this challenge is to use a random number generator to pick two well known IPs from two lists of twenty and create a story that contains the spirit of both. I was unlucky and rolled Frozen and Avengers.
While the concept contains a lot of potential, it does have the downside of being better suited for a longer work (vs flash fiction). Avengers, for example, establishes the characters through at least 4 other movies – allowing Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America to jump strait into the movie’s storyline without needing any real setup.
I also have the misfortune of already seeing the concept done really well. X-men basically is this mashup; and you can make a pretty good argument that Big Hero 6 covers the same ground pretty well. Even How It Should Have Ended has a pretty interesting spin on it:
Nevertheless, I decided to give it a shot. However, with a word count of only 2000; I’m afraid it may have ended up more Frozen Winter Soldier:
Bells rang out in the distance.
Frieda opened her eyes and was greeted to the sight of her own breath. Though it was the middle of summer, it was bitterly cold in the room. Wrapping herself up as best she could in her bed sheets, she sat up. Looking over at the window, she could see a thin layer of frost coating the interior.
“Philipp!” She called out turning to her brother’s bed. Slowly, the young man stirred before suddenly snapping up right and gathering his own thin sheets around him.
“F-F-Frieda! F-f-fr… It’s f-freezing cold. What-”
“I don’t know. But we should head to the town square.”
By the time Frieda and Philipp arrived, a small crowd had already gathered. Though stragglers were still slowly trickling in, the bells ceased ringing and a well dressed young woman about Frieda’s age entered the square carrying a soap box and megaphone.
Philipp leaned over to Frieda and asked, “Is that-”
“Yes, that’s Nia Wyght.” she quickly replied. Her eyes were glued on the other woman.
“The heir to Wyght industries. Yes. She’s also my boss… coming Monday.” Frieda’s voice trailed off to barely a whisper when she finished her sentence. Looking over at her brother, shivering in his thread-bare tunic; she smiled weakly and grabbed his hand.
“I-I’m sorry I can’t-”
“No, its not your fault-”
“I tried speak to the recruiter. I’m 18-”
“You got higher marks at school, and you have smaller hands-”
“As you already know,” the Nia Wyght shouted into the megaphone, “our King and Queen were assassinated by separatists near the Zemlikvostoku boarder less than a week ago…”
Frieda and Philipp let go of each others hands and turned to face the young industrialist addressing the crowd.
“…leaving behind our beloved Princess Victoria as the sole heir to the throne. As I’m sure you are all also aware, she was supposed to be coronated last evening and ascend the throne.”
Nia took a moment and cleared her voice before continuing.
“The good news is that I have receive a telegram indicating that the coronation ceremony of Her Imperial and Royal Majesty Empress Victory of Mittelland, Queen of Nordhalfte was successful. Long may she reign.”
“Long may she reign.” the crowd replied in unison. Before the crowd could do any more, Nia held up her hand.
“Unfortunately, according to the telegram, shortly after the coronation, the President of Terresalouest approached Her Imperial and Royal Majesty and… and some sort of altercation took place. I do not know the full details of what transpired, however, I do know that Empress Victora left the scene in a hurry. Her current whereabouts are unknown.”
Gasps filter through the crowd and Nia held up her hand again. Once the assemblage was quite again, she continued.
“Again, I do not know the details of what happened, however the President of Terresalouest left quickly there after. Since then, he has publicly claimed that our beloved Empress is a monster and both he and the Emperor of Zemlikvostoku will be moving troops into our country.” She stops for a moment to shake her head.
“They claim that parts of our country are rightfully theirs – and that they need to protect them from our Empress. While every effort is being made to find the Empress, in view of the imminent threat posed by both our neighbors; the Imperial Diet had issued a degree that our military operations will begin immediately. All conscripts are required to report to this square by noon. You will receive further orders at that time.
Unless you have received special dispensation from the government, all other adults not involved in agricultural production should report to the Wyght factory as soon as possible. Chances are you already know you work assignments, but work begins at noon. In addition, we will be distributing ration cards. We are not sure how long this cold will last, and but we are distributing emergency blankets, food, and fuel – but only if you have your ration card. Agricultural workers can get their cards afternoon from the town council building behind me.
Agricultural workers are to return to their farms and take whatever steps they need to secure the health of their crops and livestock. We do not know how long the frost will last. The town council will be available to provide whatever support they can. Please reach out to them as necessary.”
Somewhat unceremoniously, and abruptly; Nia finished speaking, picked up her soap box, and walked away.
When the lunch whistle blew, Frieda shut down the press and hurried toward the lunch room. On her way, she ran into Nia.
“Oh! Sorry Ms. Wyght. Are you ok?” Frieda said. Her breath was visible with every word she uttered.
“Oh, no. No. I’m fine. No harm done.” Nia said with a smile, while she brushed herself off.
“I’m glad to hear it.” Frieda replied back with a matching smile. “Say, its been a week… have you heard anything about-”
“No. I haven’t received any new news about the Empress.”
“Are they looking? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. Like I said, I haven’t heard anything at all – other than they were planning to search for her. I’m really sorry. I’ve asked. I’ve got no answers.”
“I know you are doing everything in your power to find out more. Thank you.”
The two young women exchanged nods and set back off to their intended destinations.
The wind was bitterly cold and frost had already started to form on the cobblestone. Since the Wyght factory workers started production at sunrise and shutdown the lines at sunset, night had long since fallen.
Frieda gave the thick door several quick and violent knocks before rubbing her hands together. The young woman didn’t have to wait long for the heavy oaken door to open up and she promptly rushed inside.
“Thank you!” Frieda exclaimed. The room was as warm a forge, and the air was thick with the smell of spices and meat. “Oh, I love visiting you Sophia. Its always so warm here. And it always smells so good.”
Turning around to face Frieda after closing door, Sophia greeted her friend with a warm smile. “Why don’t you help yourself to some stew? It’s over there stove. Anna’s already here. Oh, and there’s fresh bread there too.”
No further motivation was needed for Frieda. She immediately grabbed a bowl and spoon from a cabinet and filled it full of what appeared to be beef stew. Picking up a small loaf of bread from the small pile, she sat down at the table and began to devour her meal.
Anna was already seated and greeted Frieda with a wide smile. “Someone’s hungry.”
“Oh be quiet.” Sophia responded when she joined them.
Setting down the bread and her spoon, Frieda leaned back and looked at the other women. They looked remarkably similar, like they could be twins. Both had bright blue eyes, golden blonde hair, and ruddy complexion. Both were relatively tall and athletically built. Both had the same high cheek bones and slightly up turned nose.
In contrast, Frieda was a bit plain. She had a round-ish face, chestnut brown hair and eyes, and a ghostly pale skin. Unlike her friends, Frieda wasn’t particularly tall. In fact, she was down right tiny. She stood a full head shorter than her friends and was rail thin to boot. Even thought they were all the same age, Frieda looked several years younger than the others.
“I’m sorry.” Frieda started. “I come into your home and I just start-”
Sophia cut her off and shot Anna a sharp glare. “Its ok.” Turning to look at Frieda, Sophia continue. “Eat. I have plenty.”
“It’s not fair. You always seem to have so much.”
“And I’m glad to share.”
“Thank you.” Frieda replied before she started eating again. In between mouthfuls of food, Frieda continued speaking, “Empress Victoria is still missing. *nom-nom-nom* I spoke with Ms Wyght *nom-nom-nom* and she said *nom-nom-nom* she hasn’t heard anything about the situation *nom-nom-nom* since the first telegraph.”
While Frieda lifted the bowl to her mouth and drained the rest of its contents, Sophia and Anna exchanged concerned glances. After licking her lips, Frieda smiled. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” replied Sophia.
“I know the work we are doing is important for the nation, but I – I get the feeling that somethings went wrong in the capital, and I… I don’t think its being handled properly. Its been weeks and the frost is still here. If something did happen to Empress Victoria… I think the people need to know. And if she needs help… then someone needs to help her.”
“Are you suggesting-”
Anna cut off Sophia. “You work with munitions in the factory, right?”
Frieda nodded her head. “Right. Why?”
“I want you to take a look at something for me.” Anna leaned over and pulled something out of bag on the floor next to her. Reaching over, she placed two handfuls of cartridges in two separate and distinct piles before Frieda.
Frieda looked down at the munitions, and then back up at Anna. “Where did you get these?”
“Please. Look at them first. Tell me if they seem familiar.”
Frieda picked up one of the rounds from each pile and examined them both closely before putting them both back down. “They look like the cartridges we manufacture at the factory. How-”
“What would you say if I told you those,” Anna said pointing to one pile of shells, “were from the Zemlikvostoku military and those,” pointing to the other pile of shells, “were found in the possession of the rebels fighting to over throw the Zemlikvostoku Emperor?”
Frieda shook her head. “There’s a rebellion in Zemlikvostoku?”
“Yes. And both sides are using the same weapons and ammunition as us. The same weapons and ammunition Wyght industries is producing.”
“This doesn’t make sense… We-we definitely need to bring this to Ms. Wyght’s attention. Now.”
“What makes you think she doesn’t already know?”
“She’s not that kind of person.”
It was the middle of the night and Nia Wyght was sitting in her study looking at two piles shells piled on her desk. The three young women who brought the rounds to her stood stoically; awaiting the industrialist’s response.
“This is… a very serious charge. How do I know these shells are from Zemlikvostoku?”
When she spoke, Frieda looked strait into Nia’s eyes. “Have I ever lied to you Ms. Wyght?”
Nia looked down at the muntions before her and let out a heavy sigh. “No. To my knowledge you’ve never lied to anyone. You are probably the most honest person I know – that I’ve ever known.”
“Please have a seat.” she said, waving to various sofas and chairs around the room. “Even though it late, I’ll try to get in contact with my father. I don’t think something like this can wait.”
All eyes turned to Nia when she shuffled back into the room. Her normally pale complexion was drained of what little color it posessed, her jaw hung slack, and her eyes seemed to stare aimlessly into space. Already tall and gangly, she could have easily been mistaken for a zombie.
“He knows.” she managed to croak out. The other three women collectively drew in a breath. “He’s selling to Mittelland, Zemlikvostoku, Terresalouest, even the revolutionaries… He… he said that-that he’d sell to anyone. He said he started selling to the rebels over a year ago. He said he was… he was so happy that Empress Victoria was missing. He-” she laughs awkwardly for a moment before her eyes started to shine. “He said it was good for business.”
Quicker than the northern wind, Frieda jumped out of her seat and crossed the room. Wrapping her arms around the distressed woman, she whispered, “It’s not your fault. You didn’t know. And we can still make this right. But what we need to do right now is find the Empress.”
Much like my last flash fiction piece, I did tons of world building for this story, which, sadly, will likely go unused. I do apologize for the rushed country names. Also, I didn’t really have time to go through and edit this very well. You have my apologies for the rough nature of this draft.
While researching for this story, I found that Rapunzel was in Frozen. I’m sure hardcore fans probably know, but I wanted to share it anyway. I found it nifty; given they are contemporaries both temporally and geographically, with Corona being located in Germany and Arendelle being located in Norway.
The images and video in this post were used without seeking permission. I believe their inclusion falls under fair use. If they are yours, and you feel their use is inappropriate; please contact me and let me know.