THE PEEPSHOW: Peekaboo! (Chapter 5, Part 2)

Give a voice to the voiceless!

 

Princess Amnesia's servants pay the ultimate price as she plays a very dangerous game in this new chapter of B.B. Young's serial novel "The Peepshow." (Image by Joel B. Feldman)
Princess Amnesia’s servants pay the ultimate price as she plays a very dangerous game in this new chapter of B.B. Young’s serial novel ‘The Peepshow.’ (Image by Joel B. Feldman)

Editor’s note: Welcome to “The Peepshow!” For centuries, the peepshow was a popular form of entertainment presented by traveling showmen. By looking through a small hole into a viewing box, spectators could contemplate magical, bizarre and unusual sights that filled them with wonder, laughter … and, sometimes, with fear. The showmen traveling with these boxes would provide patter to go with the pictures, spinning strange tales that sometimes told hard truths.

The Polaroid photographs appearing in this story are the work of American artist Joel B. Feldman. They are not digitally altered in any way. The story you are about to read is a work of fiction. “The Peepshow” posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Her secret having been brought out and exposed for all to see, the princess Amnesia was free to resume her usual routines. She lounged on divans as soft as clouds, eating honey cakes and picking at fresh fruit as she wandered through room after room, humming absently to herself. The servants grew to think of that humming like a bell hung around a cat’s collar, the tinkling sound warning them when an adorable bundle of softness with thoughtless, lethal claws was nearby and ready to pounce on them.

 

For the princess Amnesia had become so accustomed to her luxurious shroud that she no longer required the royal Dressmaker to create new gowns for her to wear. With no one to admire her fashionable frocks, they soon became a form of crushingly expensive and very tight underwear. For some time, hence, the Dressmaker had been preparing to die. When servants were no longer useful, they were killed and made into dog food, which was the humane thing to do. It was cruel to make the pets starve.

When the Dressmaker suddenly disappeared, it came as no surprise. He loved dogs, you see.

The Dressmaker was but one of thousands of hardworking servants and slaves required to upkeep the palace, but the princess’s new habit of going naked under her veil meant that her entire body had become a minefield, prompting the Majordomo to beg her to stop playing peekaboo games with the staff. It was a terrible drain on time and resources that the kingdom could ill afford.

“A thousand pardons, princess!” the Majordomo groveled, “but I cannot conjure slaves out of thin air! These games you insist on playing … look around you!” He waved an exasperated hand at the scuffed floors, the piss pots shoved into corners, the tiny cracks appearing in the ceiling and fireplaces full of ashes and soot. “The palace is falling to pieces!” And he bowed very low, hoping she’d understand the awful strain she was putting him under.

But these details were just that — details. To the princess gazing through her pinprick peephole, the palace was still an impressive expanse of white marble floors, vases made of gold, fireplaces lined with onyx and ceilings painted to resemble blue skies filled with flying angels. It was the most magnificent residence ever built. Her world in a nutshell.

The princess gave no indication that she’d heard the Majordomo’s plea. A living ghost under a velvet sheet, she stood motionless and silent, without giving the slightest indication that she’d grasped the implications of his words. No incline of the head, not even a shuttered blink to indicate that she’d heard his small speech. As the Majordomo continued to bow very low, his heart sinking with ever second that passed, the princess finally spoke.

“None of this is my concern. It’s your job to keep the palace running smoothly,” she reminded him in her musical voice. “How dare you deprive me of my only loves?” she chided him and sailed out of the room to resume playing her game.

The game was a form of hide and seek. She would follow the slaves around, hiding herself behind drapery, tucking underneath tables and crouching in corners. Instead of doing their work, the fearful slaves spent all their time running away and trying to hide from her. Sometimes they succeeded. More often, however, a slave would tiptoe into a dark and dusty room, thinking to hide under the bed, only to discover the princess had already decided to hide herself in the same place …

”No!” they’d scream, turning their heads and throwing out their hands to push the awful sight away. “I didn’t see your face! Please don’t kill me!” She’d laugh and laugh. And that would be the end of them.

As years went by, the princess — who was, after all, just a teenager and, like all teenagers everywhere, was a contradictory bundle of silliness and cruelty — became increasingly lazy. Instead of making the effort to stalk her slaves so she could jump out and scare them, she’d order one of her servants to line up 10 slaves picked at random, command them to face her, then lift her veil up … up … up … and let it fall. Up … up … up … up … and down again. Up … up … up …

“Peekaboo!”

Those who failed to cover their eyes quickly enough were executed the following day. Somehow, the Majordomo found slaves to replace them. It was a wonderful system. The beautiful princess and her pets lived in unrivaled splendor, their only job to be pampered and well cared for by others. She had more wealth and power than she knew what do with, and her every need was catered to by a small army of humans.

Things were perfect until a slave decided to see for herself what was really under that veil.

 

B.B. Young is the author of the serialized novel “The Peepshow,” which is published exclusively by TheBlot Magazine on Tuesdays and Thursdays and features images by artist Joel B. Feldman. Read Chapter 1, Part 1, The Boy with the BackpackChapter 1, Part 2, Anyone Can Call Themselves a MurdererChapter 2, Part 1, Here’s GoodChapter 2, Part 2, The Man with the Box on His HeadChapter 3, Part 1, The End of the WorldChapter 3, Part 2, Don’t Go ThereChapter 4, Part 1 The Forbidden PathChapter 4, Part 2 A Warning with Webbed Toes. and Chapter 5, Part 1 A Miracle or a Monster?

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