Tales From The Park-Side is a series of horrific short stories inspired by places and artifacts that can be found inside a certain little theme park in central Florida. These stories are written by members of the Orlando area entertainment and theme park industry and were curated by Audrey Brown-Willaims.
"18th Century Turkish Oushak"
by Meghan Moroney
“18th Century Turkish Oushak (Ushak) rug. Some damage. Some staining. Tassels not original embellishment. Decorative piece. History unknown.”
“ ‘fraid not.”
The Prince heard Dmitri’s voice echoing in his brain as if he were still in the basement of his former palace. His breath held. Not a moment ago, he had tipped the bellhop to run cases to his room, not a minute ago he had signed the guest registry, not a week ago he had been contacted by a studio wanting to option his memoirs for a film, not 30 years ago the REASON people wanted his memoirs . . . his neutralization of that Charlatan.
The Prince removed his white straw hat, fashionable for the California weather, and laid it on the lobby table, gaze jarred to the worn but elegant carpet beneath. The pattern of red, black, and cream swirled into his vision…impossible. He had sold that Oushak Carpet when he fled revolution in Petrograd, just another exile, a Prince in title only . . . not for the money . . . but, because every time he looked at it all he saw was one ice grey eye staring into him as he pulled a trigger.
Dmitri had checked for the pulse of that Fraud who spoke of Holy Visions in one breath and encouraged female nobility to kiss his filthy hands with the other, delicate women of the court-drawn to him, enticed by his soft voice, enraptured by the absolute depravity of this Hypocrite who charmed the Tsarina and then dared to imply he had defiled her. The court loved him, the people loved him, he petitioned feeding the rabble surplus . . . “They are starving,” cautioned this Siberian trash. Had HE starved on any pilgrimage, Russia would still stand. The Prince had acted to save his Aunt’s reputation, the Tsar’s power . . .yet, despite these steps, Russia had fallen to the hordes, and the Prince had fled.
The peasant fallen on that carpet not from the poison, not from being stabbed… but from a shot to the chest, collapsing, his head to the side, that one grey eye, hypnotic, piercing, wide open, burning into the Prince as Dmitri checked for the pulse. The Prince’s unspoken question . . . “Is he dead?”
“ ‘fraid not.”
The monk’s hand shot out to Dmitri’s throat, constricted . . . Court had not made him weak, only unwary . . . his strength as remarkable as his resilience until the Prince placed a bullet directly into the forehead of the Usurper, executing him on the carpet. The murder was planned, the result bungled, a jumble of carnage. Desperate to conceal the gore (red blood, black bile, cream-colored brain matter), the corpse was wrapped within the carpet for transport to the Little Nevka River, where it was unrolled into the freezing water, one grey eye still open. Still accusing.
The carpet cleaned and replaced, later sold to help finance a new life in France . . .until his memoirs, confessing the assassination of the “Mad Monk” made the Prince famous enough to come to Hollywood . . .to rediscover this carpet. Four overlarge corner Tassels said it couldn’t be. Added by the hotel to match the swags on the curtains? But that print . . .Unique.
He went down to one knee. The bullet hole, if never patched, would be just under the leg of the table. It was heavier than expected, but he slid it to the side and saw the hole from the exiting bullet staring up, polished hardwood beneath shining up like the grey eye of his victim, unblinking. The Prince stood, recoiled from the certainty, the toe of his wingtip catching in the gaudy added tassel at the corner, shortening his step and twisting his body. His temple connected with the corner of the table like a pistol crack. He dropped onto the carpet, head to the side, one brown eye wide open in surprise, the white filling with blood from his shattered skull. The lobby guests flocked to him, one finding no pulse, another lifting the tassel from the toe of the shoe, and shrugging an explanation.
While she absolutely knows which parts of her fiction deviate from the historical assassination, the foundation was too delicious for author Meghan Moroney to ignore. This is her first published work, and she thanks you for the read.
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