The Re-Heading of Anne Boleyn
By: Anne Boleyn
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 29th Apr 2022
The sword sliced through Anne’s neck with a bite that was cold and merciless. The decapitation was a clean one, leaving the stump of her neck neatly sliced. Onlookers gasped, unprepared for the grim reality of the execution so many of them eagerly awaited only minutes earlier. A sigh escaped the swordsman, a minor display of the heavy toll his position demanded. He went to collect the head, fighting to keep his hands steady, determined to treat the queen’s remains with the utmost respect. Her head had rolled as it fell into the basket, eyes staring vacantly up at the gray London sky. A dreary final sight for anyone.
Then the eyes blinked. The swordsman shook his head at the impossibility. The King sent for him only a week prior, and he had barely slept since, disquieted yet resolute that he would do his duty and give Anne Boleyn a clean death. The eyes seemed to blink again, and the swordsman knew madness had overtaken him. No longer were they staring blankly. Now they gazed back in cold fury. Her mouth mouth twisted open, unleashing a scream that tore through the air like a storm of daggers, stabbing the ears of the horrified crowd. Most of them scattered, leaving the fainters and catatonics to fend for themselves. The swordsman lost all control of his body, fear-stricken at the head’s hateful gaze, but more terrified to look away. The scream seemed to hang in the air, and the head went to open her mouth again. “Aaargaagle,” she said.
Anne’s body took some effort to right itself, pushing up from the chopping block, but unsure where to go with no brain in control. It grabbed at the ground in front of it, finally reaching the basket the head had fallen into. A moment later, hands seized just below the ears, bringing the head back to the neck it once stood atop, adjusting it into position with a wet crunch. Pale skin reattached itself, leaving a thin line of pink flesh to mark the cut of the sword. Anne stretched her neck, then popped her knuckles for good measure, a confirmation that her reunited pieces were again working as one. She blinked at the swordsman, hacking a wad of bloody phlegm to one side of him. “Terribly sorry about that,” she said. “Didn’t expect to make much sense as a severed head, but the vocal cords seem to have restitched. Immaculate work, though. Putting myself back together would’ve been quite the chore if your lopping was uneven.”
The catatonics were shocked out of their stupors by then and joined in the fleeing. Some of the fainters stirred in the dirt to little effect. Anne paid them no mind, occupied entirely with her executioner. She stumbled for a moment, gripping his shoulder for support. “Show some courtesy and offer a lady your arm,” she demanded, jabbing an elbow in the swordsman’s direction. He obliged, entwining his arm with hers, steadying the queen. “This reheading’s left me a bit woozy. Lost quite a bit of blood there and I’m not sure how much I’ll be needing. Don’t suppose you’ve any familiarity with the necromantic arts?”
The swordsman shook his head.
“No matter,” Anne said, with a smile that sent a sickle of ice up his spine. “Tell you all about it on the way back to Whitehall.” She touched his nose, a gesture that would centuries later become known as a boop. “You have another beheading to get to.”
Five or So Centuries Later…
“I could certainly go for a roasted marshmallow,” said the queen. Her throne was now one of bone, gold and ebony wood; impractically tall and topped with a towering falcon of pure onyx, its eyes gleaming rubies. The bird of prey had long since become the sigil of her empire. Anne preferred to sprawl out on her throne, often splaying a leg or two over the armrests, an action made easier since she embraced pants. Her pale fingers played over the hilt of a silver dagger, seizing it and driving the blade into a platter with a toppled tower of marshmallows. One was impaled, and the queen prepared to cook her treat. “Flammam, dipshit,” the queen said, a demonic lilt entering her voice with the mishmash of profanity and Latin.
Mumbled pleas turned to a scream, as a fire bloomed beside her throne. At the center of the burning orb was the head of her former husband Henry, parted from his body centuries earlier but kept alive with the darkest of magics. The fire charred him to the skull, but the damage healed just as quickly, an unending seesaw of pain and renewal and more pain. Anne held out the dagger and toasted her marshmallow, rotating until its exterior was golden brown. She snapped the fingers of her undaggered hand, and Henry’s head extinguished itself, the burns giving way to new, pink skin. “Care for one?” Anne asked.
“I’m good,” Henry’s head growled, from its position atop an ebony spike next to Anne’s throne. There was one on each side, roughly Anne’s height. The opposite spike hosted a number of living heads over the years, but Henry’s residence was unending, as was his torment. Anne enjoyed her marshmallow, resting her feet atop the head of her former husband.
The door to the throne room flew open, a chorus of screams, squawks and screeches echoing from the outer halls. One of the human guards ran in, flanked by two of the hybrid pigeons. The abominations could grip weapons with their one human hand, but their single wing made flight impossible. The guard opened his mouth, and the point of a sword sprang from it like a silver tongue. “Huuuuurrrk,” he gargled. The point retreated and he fell the floor.
The bloody sword belonged to the woman who stood behind him, her hair the fiery red that Anne’s was so long ago. Their eyes met from across the room, and even after generations of muddying the royal gene pool, the queen recognized the familiar features. The pigeon guards clucked and cursed, swinging at her with partially feathered human arms and kicking with feet populated by both toes and claws. The woman fought with a dancer’s grace, deflecting their blows and opening both their throats with a single slash. The hybrids collapsed atop their human commander. “Evening, Your Highness,” the woman said.
“Goddammit, Elizabeth,” Anne said, finishing her marshmallow. “I was just settling in for the night, but I suppose I could do with some drama. Last century’s been a bit of a slog.” Her fingers move to the hilt of her own sword, resting in an opal embellished sheath that leaned against her throne. Excalibur slid out like a demonic shadow, the enchanted steel long since blackened by the queen’s corrupting influence. Red veins pulsated within. The once legendary sword forged into a night terror.
Henry groaned at the sight.
“Oh shut up,” said Anne. She looked back to Elizabeth. “It was centuries ago, after I pieced him back together for another round of torturing. Bit of advice, if you really want to punish someone, curse them with immortality first. But anyway, I stuck Excalibur up his ass, and wouldn’t you know, couldn’t pull it back out. Some nonsense about worthiness. Awfully rude of me to kill you with your ancestor’s ass-sword, Elizabeth the… Do forgive me, but what number are you on now?”
“I’m the Elizabeth the Thirteenth,” said Elizabeth, advancing on the queen.
Anne offered the slightest of curtsies. “I’m Anne. The one, the only. Slayer of six of your predecessors, destroyer of Napoleon’s robot body, vanquisher of the Multi-Merlins, queen of blah-blah-blah. All that shit. Compliments on abolishing the monarchy in the Newest of Englands, but seeing as you’re no longer a queen yourself, you really should be bowing.”
Elizabeth raised her sword. “Make me.”
Anne raised Excalibur, admiring her reflection in the black steel. Her neck scar itched, and she wondered if this thirteenth Elizabeth might be the one to open it back up. “Delighted to.”
And so their blades crossed.
Anne wore the Queens Championship around her neck like an albatross. Seated in a highbacked ebony chair, cotton peaking through the cracked leather, she was hardly the picture of royalty. As she got comfortable the chair wobbled, a clear indication that one leg was shorter than the other three.
“I admire you, Ricky of House Rodriguez, truly. Not just anyone can slay a dino-something, or whatever the fuck people are calling dragons nowadays. You have the makings of a hero. In a world of chivalry, you would be knighted Sir Ricky. In fact, I would be happy to do it for you. No funny business. Just a tap on the shoulder with cold steel, inches from your neck. Now where did I put that sword?”
She unfastened the title from her neck, draping it across her lap.
“Ceremonial though the position may be, the ruling of Queenshire is a largely thankless role. You’re familiar, of course, but you forfeited that responsibility. And now look at you, coated in gold like some gilded paladin. Vanquisher of dino-whatsits, slayer of the unslayable. A long, long time ago, a man of some importance sought to have me slain. It didn’t quite work out, but mayhaps destiny was lying in wait this whole time. Now I find myself in front of you, Sir Ricky. Am I the next monster that you conquer, to the raucous cheers of the grateful rabble Or do I swallow you and all that wonderful gold?”
Anne raised the title from underneath, holding the faceplate to the camera like a poisoned chalice, daring the viewer to drink.
“But I grow weary of my queenship. The duty has become a burden and so I must pass it along to you. Think of it not as a bane, but an opportunity. A fire to further forge the steel within you, to mold the potential that might one day make a hero into a legend. The curse has drained me, Sir Ricky. And if I am to survive, you must assume it in my stead. I would beg you to relieve me of this torment, but alas, a queen does not beg.”
She pulled the title back, placing it back around her neck, like an anchor to her soul.
“This is a curse I must force upon you – a misfortune I deliver to you with my fists.”
Her fingers wrapped into fists, centuries-old knuckles on each hand creaking and cracking.
“A major victory is to be applauded, and I commend your recent success, Sir Ricky. In some small measure, it even pains me to relieve you of the bounty that you battled so hard for, to cast a looming shadow over your grand victory. But tragically, I must. As I speak, I wither. Would you doom me to become a husk, Sir Ricky? Or would you help to extend my unnatural existence just a little bit longer? All you have to do is fail. Fail to defeat me, fail to defend what’s yours, fail yourself. Easy as falling off a log, darling.”
The fingers of her right hand unfisted, and the queen reached past the belt to scratch at the pink flesh of her neck scar.
“Don’t let it trouble you. Dwelling on what might have been can be ever so maddening. Be glad that you were the grand hero for one glorious night. That’s more than most ever get. To meet your end now would be a gift, forever immortalizing you and the hope you represent, before you had the chance to disappoint the world. The bards will sing of you, the smallfolk will tell your tale. Perhaps you will even get a statue, a painting, one of those graphic novels. Sir Ricky of House Rodriguez, the Champion of Bronxshire, the Knight of Blood. The man who slayed a dragon.”
“But he could not slay a queen.”