HE’S BEEN WATCHING far too many movies if you ask me. He always had a cape, a fur-trimmed one which marked him out as one of the regal leads. Now he’s changed the rest of his costume. A big letter C picked out in gold on his chest, shining against the royal blue skin-tight lycra. And talking of tight … let’s just say his skimpy red shorts give one big fat clue as to why Prince Charming’s such a hit with the ladies.
‘So, what are you good people up to, so far from home?’ His voice booms with the authoritative tone of a narrator. Goldie looks up at him with with moist big blue eyes.
‘We’re on a mission.’ She speaks in a sing-song voice, standing with her hands behind her back. ‘An important one.’
‘Aha!’ Prince Charming raises a gloved finger. ‘That explains why my super sense was tingling!’
The only super sense this chump has is of his own self-importance when he looks at himself in the mirror. Though I have to admit, if he hadn’t turned up when he did, I’d be getting scooped up and rammed into an empty box of matches right around now.
‘So,’ he says,’ what’s the mission and how can I be of assistance?’
‘Heard of Gretyl?’ I say. Of course he’ll have heard of her. His signed photo is on the inside of the locker of every female lead in the Kingdom.
‘Ah, the divine Miss Humperdink. Quite the little minx, if I remember correctly.’ He just out his chin, letting the breeze ruffle his hair, then takes out his phone. He points it at himself, clicks a button, then taps on the screen and smiles. ‘Fourteen likes already,’ he says. ‘A new record.’
‘She’s gone over to the other side,’ says Goldie, her voice a tiny tinkle of fear. ‘To the Wickeds.’
He puts his hands on his hips and stands with his feet so far apart his shorts are in danger or splitting. ‘In that case,’ he says, ‘this is a job for Prince Charming.’
Goldie clasps her hands together and squeals. I’m rapidly going off the girl, I must admit.
‘To the woods!’ He raises an arm and wraps the other around Goldie’s waist. She gives a yelp, probably trying to come across like a helpless little kitten but sounding more like someone’s just stepped on a gerbil.
‘Oh, wait,’ says Prince Charming, turning to me with a smug smile plastered across his face. ‘You’re not a flier, are you? I suppose we’ll have to go the long way.’
’It’s not that far.’ I point to a dark line of trees on the horizon. ‘We’ll be there in less than an hour.’
‘You’re right.’ He lowers his arm. Keeps the other round Goldie’s waist, I see. ‘At least that gives us a chance to get to know each other a little better, doesn’t it?’
After ten minutes of listening to him bang on and on about how he single-handedly defeated a legion of dragon-riding giants with one hand tied behind his back, I know all I want to about him. And that the next fifty minutes are going to seem like an eternity.
He’s in the middle of another story about rescuing a conveniently naked Queen Guinevere from the Questing Beast when it happens.
A whistling noise like a boiling kettle. It gets louder and louder. We stop, looking around us. The wood’s still some distance away; we’re in the middle of a field, nothing around for miles.
‘Up there!’ I point at the dark dot in the sky. Getting bigger and bigger as it gets closer and closer, faster than a speeding bullet. Goldie starts whimpering; Prince Charming puts his arm around her. I duck, my arms above my head.
‘Stand bac –’ Prince Charming’s knocked off his feet by the object as it slams into his head. He’s out cold.
I lower my arms, peeking through my fingers. The object staggers to its feet moaning, raising a hand to its bandaged head.
I’ve never been so glad to see Jack in all my life.