Evading Dragons, Part Eight: Graves of The Kings
Entering the city
They could smell the briny depths of the sea long before seeing it. There is nothing else in nature like an ocean, the power of the waves, the ebb and flow of the tides and its presence large and as formidable as the sky. They were not near the ocean yet, but they could feel its presence. Jennifer was the only one to see the Atlantic Ocean, and that was many years ago. They took shelter in a small building just on the outskirts of this town Jennifer called the graves of the fathers. Much of it was in ruins with clear signs of dragon damage. There were also ruins of the old army such as the skeletons of the flying machines and what they called tanks. Hester thought about the great battle that must have happened here. They fought to the last man to protect this place, this Washington.
Unlike most of the dead cities, they came across, this one seemed to be laid out like a grid. Less organic than the other cities that seemed to add haphazardly as they grew. The city didn’t provide much cover. They could go from building to building with a run between the gaps. Jennifer had a goal in mind. She wanted to see two places. They found their way to what must have been the capital of this place. It was in the middle of the town and at one time must have been beautiful. Most of it was in ruins accept part of what must have been an amazing dome. Jennifer said how the dome was bigger when she was a child. How some of it collapsed over time. They made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue passing the ruins of buildings and something called a plaza. From there they came to a large gated house. Unlike the rest of this place, this house was still in one piece. Someone was maintaining it.
A man in a uniform of some kind stepped out of a small building near the gate. He had one of the ancient weapons the old people called rifles. The man said, “what business do you have with the King of America.” Jennifer asked, “the what now?” The man stepped out and struck her with the butt end of his rifle knocking her down to the ground then he pointed it at Hester. He said, “this is the residence of the one and true King of America, the ruler of all the lands and sovereign of its people. You must show homage to his majesty and respect to his banner.” He pointed to a flag flying over the guard house. It had thirteen stripes of red and white with a blue patch on the corner with two stars. Hester remembered a similar flag with fifty-two stars. Val and Lee saw to Jennifer while Hester and Lars stood in front of then between him and them. The man said, “no one comes here without permission.” He pointed his rifle at Lars and asked, “you don’t know what this is, do you?” He pointed the rifle down and fired. The round bounced off the curb and back to the group striking Jennifer in the abdomen. The man’s face went ashen, and he dropped the rifle. Five men came running to the gate from the house. The man in front put up his hands and said, “we won’t hurt you just put down the weapons and let us help her.”
My name is Jefferson
Along the way to the house, they passed marble covered graves with names carved with the word king. The five men took their hats off as they passed the graves of the kings. Inside they were met by a woman who had them put Jennifer on a table and cut her shirt off. She looked to Hester and said, “my name is Ida I’m a healer for the king. We will do our best to save her.” Ida and her people took Jennifer into a room near the entrance. Lee stayed with her. The lead man said, “my name is Jefferson, I am the master at arms for the King. I was ordered to bring you to him, but first I must disarm you.” Lars stood back and pointed his spear at them. Hester said to him, “he means to take our weapons not our arms, boy.” Lars looked at Hester and said, “then why didn’t he just say that.”
The King of America
On the way to the throne room, they were told that the ones that occupied this house declared a new kingdom on the ruins of the old country. Jefferson said, “some of the former states kept in contact for a while, but now it's just us and the coastal communities.” He told them that the kingdom runs from the small villages that start from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the place where the long lizards eat people. He said, “don’t go to the coast. They eat people.” At the door to the throne, they were stopped and searched again. Jefferson said, “bow to him and don’t say anything about the outside world. He thinks we won the war against the dragons and he rules over the country.” The doors opened to an oval room with a throne near one side up against the windows. In that throne was a boy of about ten or eleven. A man near the throne said, “all bear witness to his majesty Reginald Wilson Reagan the Fifth King of the Americas and Northern Ireland. All bow to the king.”
Would America ever accept a King
The king asked, “why are you here and where are you going?” Hester looked at the others then he turned to the king. He said, “we are traveling north, but first we promised to bring a woman to this place, so she can spend her last days.” The king asked, “is this the woman who attacked my guard?” Jefferson said, “my lord the guard was Gregg.” The king rolled his eyes then said, “my apologies we will help her in any way we can. We will also provide for your trip north.” He looked at his guards then to the group. The king said, “it would be best for you to stay here in my capital city until winter is over. We will provide a place for you and provisions.” The king didn’t wait for an answer he clapped his hands, and they were escorted out of the oval office. Jefferson said, “let me take you to your friend and then we will talk about you staying.”
A Journey's End
In the room by the entrance, Jennifer told them that they did what they could, but she was finished with her part of the journey. Ida told them that the round nicked her liver and she was bleeding internally, and they had no way to stop it. Jennifer said, “please take me to see him just one more time.” Using a stretcher, they carried her down a long park-like setting lined with graves. They passed an obelisk laying on its side with chunks of marble missing. They passed a murky reflecting pool then a swamp-like pond. It was there they first saw the tomb. It was the only other structure other than the white house that was untouched. Jefferson said how even the dragons knew not to touch this place. They brought Jennifer around to the front where the statue was. Lars asked, “who was he?” Jennifer said, “he was a leader of a country in a time of great upheaval. My father said this place reminds us that no matter how bad things get we still can come together for a more perfect union.” Jennifer didn’t say another word and died an hour later.
They buried Jennifer near the monument in a place surrounded by other graves of their fallen leaders. Ida said, “if you stay you won’t ever leave. They will make sure of that. It would be best if you just go now and don’t return to the house.” Lars said, “we left our stuff back there.” Ida pointed to the soldiers that came with them. She said, “we made sure to bring your provisions with you just in case you decide to go. Along with your stuff, we added some more supplies for your trip.” Hester pointed to a backpack that wasn’t theirs. Ida said, “you will need a guide for the trip, I am from the dead city of Trenton, and I can guide you to New York.”