This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Literary Mash-Up.
There’s no sense pretending on this one. I loved (no, let’s not even hide it, love, present tense) Frozen. So when my random selection gave me a mash-up of The Avengers and Frozen, it felt like Christmas coming around again.
I took the mash-up a little bit more literally than perhaps the challenge is meant to be taken, but I don’t care. I had more fun writing this than anything I’ve written in recent months.
Here’s Cold Fury, in 960 words.
Get out of the ice business, they said. Market’s crashing, they said.
But what the hell was I supposed to do? I’m just an ice jockey from the sticks. No formal education, no particular skillset to speak of, outside of chopping ice, shaping it, transporting it, preserving it. Who am I kidding? It’s not like you couldn’t teach a rock troll to do what I do. The reindeer can practically do the job without me; he just can’t hold the icepick with his hooves. But that’s hardly the point.
Point is, the world is getting way too strange for somebody like me to make sense of it. I mean, one day I’m hauling a load of prime-cut crystal down from the peaks, and BANG, like magic, there’s this freak snowstorm out of nowhere. To say it’s a few months early is to overstate the obvious. Granted, weather can get weird up in the mountains, but this stuff settles in. Goes on thick, like marshmallow paste, and heavy, like reindeer dung; it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and I might as well be dragging a sledful of sunlight in the summer behind me for all the good this ice is gonna do me. Pity, too. It’s a beautiful haul, but off it goes down the mountainside; no sense tiring out the reindeer. And I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself for the foreseeable future when I remember there’s this shack back down the mountainside a stitch. Maybe I can ponder my troubles with a mug in my hand, away from the cackling of the jerks back in town.
I’m within sight of the shack when this guy steps out from behind a tree. Out-of-towner. Whatever he was doing out there is anybody’s guess, but I wasn’t gonna ask him. He’s got this leathery coat flapping like mad around his knees in the mountain wind, and a gleaming bald black head atop these massive, don’t-mess-with-me shoulders, and he’s staring hard at me like I stole his lunch money twenty years ago and he’s here to pay me back. Or maybe he’s just looking at me, and it’s the eyepatch that makes him look all ominous.
He tells me he needs me. That there’s this girl coming up the mountain, and she’s in trouble. That I should look out for her, help her find her sister. That he needs me to help “bring the sister in,” whatever that means. I ask him what’s in it for me, and he asks if I’ve ever wanted to be a prince. And I’m about to tell him to take a flying leap off the bluffs over there — seven hundred feet straight down. Then I stop. It’s not like I have anything better going on. Endless blizzard and all.
Looking back on it now, I don’t even know if he was real. All I know is, I turned to ask what he was gonna do for my reindeer, you know, to sweeten the deal, and when I looked back, he was gone… and behind him, in the distance, I see this girl lurching up the mountainside toward the shack. Tiny. Frail. Freezing. Then it gets worse. I follow her in, and she turns out to be gorgeous. Weird thing going on with her hair, this pale streak mixed in with all the red, but a face that’s cute like about a dozen baby reindeer and… well. I try to play it cool, but my brain is doing backflips trying to figure out how that angry eyepatch guy knew about her.
We talk. She needs a ride; I could use the money she offers me for giving her a ride. Next thing I know, it’s talking snowmen and imperial guards and a chase back down the same damn mountain we just climbed up. Oh, and her sister? Yeah, turns out she’s some sort of witch or something, and she’s all icicles and snow and eternal cold and… look, I’m not the guy to ask about everything that went down, all right? To be honest, the talking snowman gave me the screaming willies, and now he’s got his own room in the castle and he’s somehow still a snowman despite the fact that summer has come and gone six or seven times now. Ice Witch, right? Anyway. Sister and I get married, do the happily-ever-after thing, and the Snow Queen or whatever you call her rules in grace and splendor and all that good stuff. And then it hits me like an avalanche.
Eyepatch was right. I’m a prince now.
It’s too good to be true, right? Me, the ice-chucker from nowhere marries into the royal family. For years I don’t say anything — don’t look a gift reindeer in the mouth, right? — until one day I’m heading down for breakfast in the lower dining hall and I hear that voice. I go running in and see the guy, eyepatch and shiny head and all, sitting down talking with the queen. And he’s spouting all this stuff about parallel dimensions and ancient artifacts of untold power and how the world — no, the universe — needs her. Before I can even get my wife out of bed (she sleeps like a yeti, that one) the queen goes and gets on this — what can I call it? Like a boat, but made of steel, and flying, just floating over the ground like a hummingbird, if you can believe that — and leaves with the guy. And I try to explain, but my girl just goes into this… this FURY, you know?
Anyway, my wife and I rule the kingdom now while her sister, the Frost Fairy or whatever, is off fighting the evils of the universe, or something. And that’s how I became King of Arendelle.