My Kingdom for Arugula

Can you write a story titled My Kingdom for Arugula?

*  *  16  *  *

Darryl tried to stretch his legs, hoping there was more room in the box to be found. There wasn’t.

He dug in his pocket until he found a small locket. As he opened it, a light billowed out and he felt his material form slipping away. The resounding click as the locket closed was joined by a rematerialization of the world around him, now quite different: there was a wide expanse filled with nothing but a terrainless green ground and a cloudless gray sky. He gleefully stood, stretched his limbs and shouted his approval of the amount of room he now had.

“You know there’s a price. Right?”

“Oh shut up, Roquette,” said Darryl. “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

“No, but circumstances have changed.” Roquette manifested before Darryl: a seven foot tall, red-skinned man who wore nothing but a pair of purple briefs. Roquette’s long blonde hair seemed to be under the impression that gravity was pulling it in the opposite direction of everything else. “Your circumstances to be precise.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s more obsessed than ever. Unfortunately, that means that if you wish to leave this place again, you have two choices: accept her affections or face the colewort.”

“And if I don’t wish to leave this place?” Darryl asked.

“Then you will slowly become one with it as I have until you are merely a manifestation of someone else’s imagination.” Roquette leaned in until their noses nearly touched. “And trust me. That’s not a fate you want. Someone might force you to have red skin and walk around in your underwear.”

“Well at least they go with your new complexion,” said Darryl with a smirk.

“Bah!” Roquette threw up a hand in surrender as he turned away. “So what’ll it be? Embrace her affections or face the colewort?”

The idea of encouraging her in any way made Darryl anxious. He had done so once before and successfully escaped one imprisonment. Unfortunately, that had been years ago and had only reassured her that they were meant to be. He’d been in and out of her various traps and boxes for the next two years. Giving her anything in return for her affection was incredibly dangerous.

On the other hand, there was the colewort.

“I’ll take the girl.”

Roquette laughed. “That is a choice.”

A bright light suddenly filled Darryl’s vision. When his eyes adjusted, he saw her staring down into the box. He quickly stuffed the locket in his pocket.

“Well?” she said expectantly.

Darryl knew what he had to do. He reached out, grabbed her and pulled her into a tight embrace. She grinned as her wide eyes bored into his. Their faces got closer and closer until they were mere millimeters from a kiss.

He felt her warm breath as she whispered, “I love you.”

“Nope,” he shouted as he dropped her and stood up. “I can’t do this. Hey, Roquette? Is it too late to change my mind?”

The world around Darryl suddenly melted away until he was in a room with a single door and a table. On the table was a plate.

Roquette appeared across the table from him. “A much better choice.” With the wave of a red hand, the plate was filled with a massive pile of arugula. Roquette smiled as he handed Darryl a fork. “Eat up.”

He looked at the fork, pondering his future.

“I changed my mind again.”

“Eat the damn vegetable.”

“Fine.”

And Darryl accepted his fate.

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