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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2193196
A man leaves a special notice under a tree.
There was nothing there to see, wrote Officer Donohue as he stood there, next to the signal tree.

He wouldn't have long before the Hidaway Army would be there. Without even knowing, Officer Donohue had tripped their alarums. And now he had no recourse but to prepare for his ultimate demise.
For, without shoes, he couldn't run fast enough. And if he were to build shoes in the wild, that would take too long. They would be upon him. Alarum. Alarum. What could possibly be worse. Without fiction, Officer Donohue nailed his notice to the signal tree and trod on towards freedom, the border.

About half a mile away, in the other direction, The Dragon fumed. His big feint, his Trojan Horse was now found out. There would be no big surprise, no big dishevelment. He had no choice but to call it all off. Or did he? Whoever it was who had broken in, who had seized his great fortune of mind, was still there. He still couldn't figure how they had broken in. But he did know that they wouldn't break out. The alarum had sounded, as they say. No one got in or out of the Hidaway Empire now.

The soldiers trudged along; through mud, through rocks and thorns, through snakes, through possums. They made it all the way to the edge of the clearing and stopped.

“Where, oh where, could he have gone,” said Timothy, a Hidaway soldier.

“Wherever, forever, he is not here,” said another.

“Where is he?” said The Dragon, arriving on horseback. “I pay you to find, not to be kind.”

“Dragon! Dragon!” said Timothy, standing by an apple tree. “I have found something.”

“What is it, my friend?”

“There is a note posted to this tree,” said Timothy. “It says, 'There was nothing there to see.' Shall I take it down?”

“Why would he post his findings in our own territory?” said The Dragon. “It is either a game played by the children of the town or it is a not left by a Bard toward his lover. On with it. Cross the clearing!”

Just then, the solders left the edge of the clearing and strode on, leaving all pretensions behind. There was a feeling of enmity in the air, but what was one to do? Life could not continue without the works of a few good men, a few young men. Young men with hearts and legs and shoulders and arms, and fists. The kingdom of Hidaway would not defend itself, its own honor. It had to be defended by its youth. And that is why they were there, in the Imperial forest, finding out their quarry.

Though it was a great and dastardly deed pulled off by the interloper, they were not quite as motivated to catch him as they wished. It was a long shot mission to begin with, fraught with potential dangers, potential mishaps. If only they had been more tight with security to begin with. But, perhaps it did not matter much. Perhaps they would catch him, and all would be grand again. Indeed, these were the proving grounds of an empire.

“I know not what this is,” said The Dragon. “But I believe that we are in the clear.”

After about two more miles, The Dragon found his quarry. After a savage beating, they took him prisoner back in the Hidaway Tower.
“Death to it all,” said Bomba, as he trudged through the Imperial Forest, looking for the signal tree. ”I am almost late.”

He was very careful where he stepped, for all manner of beasts – and beast snares – could be found among the thorns. As he made his way through the trees, he checked the position of the sun in the sky. Not knowing what he would find and he trode ahead, he made his way past the brook which fed the deer in the valley. Across the brook, when he looked, he saw it.

“Ah, a signal tree of the west. A signal tree to be desired of me.”

He approached it to read the note on the front of it.

There was nothing there to see.

“Oh, my,” said Bomba. “I must inform the higher echelons of the kingdom. We shall not be forced into surrender by this most Trojan of Trojan horses.”

Just off in the distance, he heard laughter, shouting and thumping.

“Goodness, I must leave,” said Bomba, as he escaped towards the south. “'Twound not be advantageous for me to be found among the rubble of this fallen empire. Not a bit of good. Not even in winter. Sherrydragon awaits!”

A hundred and fifty miles away, in Sherrydragon Kingdom, the king, King Oppenheimer, sat there on his throne. He appeared greatly concerned as he had not yet heard word of the mission to Hidaway. His counselors tried to console him, tried to calm his nerves. But then the door to the throne room bursted open.

“King! Your Royal Highness!” said Bomba. “It is with you that I must speak! You alone have the authority!”

“What is it?” said King Oppenheimer.

Later, they were in the king's private study.

“What is it, my noble squire,” said King Oppenheimer. “What have you learned.”

“It's a feint,” said Bomba. “All of it, the attack in three days time. It's all a trick to get us to move forward, so that they can take us from behind.”

“Just as I always suspected,” said King Oppenheimer. “Take this note to the Captain of War. Tell him that without his help, we are doomed. Tell him that I want him to fire up the engine of war. Spare no expense. Make the trolly. Darken the bathurst. Do what he must. For me. For life. For kingdom and honor.”

“Who do you work for?” said the torturers. “We already know that, of course, but we wish to hear it from your own haughty lips!”

Timothy said, his last breath, "There was nothing there to see."
© Copyright 2019 John Andrew Jenkins (johnjenkins at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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