While You Were Sleeping

…. so Sleeping Beauty slept for a hundred years, as did everyone else in the castle. Outside, of course, life just carried on…..

The Prince kissed Sleeping Beauty. Her eyelids fluttered and she awoke. She stared in wonderment and love at the Prince.

“Oh my swain,” she swooned. “How didst thou get into the castle? Surely the briars would have grown thickly by now.”

The Prince pulled out the largest sword she had ever seen, with fierce serrated edges. “It’s a hedge trimmer,” he said. “Now, let me take you outside. You’ll find the world has changed a bit, by the way.”

They walked hand in hand out through the portcullis and across the drawbridge. She looked down into the moat. She could see no fish, the moat appeared to contain only a large mesh basket with a handle and four small wheels, all of which pointed in different directions. Judging by the name on the handle the object was called a Tesco.

But she was most struck by the walls of her castle. They were covered in writing in the most lurid colours, some very ornate, some barely literate. There was too much to take in in one read, but she noticed that Darren loved Linda, and that someone called Barry was Gay.

“Lucky Barry ,” thought the Princess. ”My heart is so distraught about the state of my castle that I fear I may never feel gayness again.”

To her surprise the Prince handed her a helmet with a visor on the front, and put a similar one on his own head.

“Dost thou expect me to joust with you?” she asked.

“No, I’m giving you a lift on Betsy,” he said.

They rounded the corner of what had once been the royal maze and she stared in astonishment at the iron beast standing in front of her. It was vaguely horse-shaped but had handles where the head would be and two wheels instead of the usual four legs.

“What do you call this?” she gasped.

“Well, it’s a Honda 350,” the Prince replied, “though I call her Betsy.” He climbed on and patted the seat behind him, then watched in amusement as she tried to get on while wearing a dress that came down to her shoes. Eventually she hitched it up both front and back, making herself look as if she was wearing a car-tyre around her waist, and clambered on. There appeared to be nothing to hold on to, so she placed her hands gingerly on the prince’s hips. Suddenly the beast roared then leapt forward, she clung tighter to the Prince than she had ever clung to anything in her life and the next twenty minutes were a blur, as was the scenery.

Eventually they pulled to a halt outside an eating-house. She noticed that it was called Burger King, , presumably after the King of Burgeria.

“Fancy a Whopper?” he asked. She blushed more deeply than she ever had before, but nodded shyly (it had been a hundred years after all). He sat her at a seat, went up to the serving wenches and returned with the strangest looking meal she had ever seen. It looked as if someone had taken a vole, placed a cheddar cheese on top of it, pounded it flat upon an anvil and then stuck the result between two pieces of crusty bread. She lifted the top and found what appeared to be two gherkins inside, but, having considered the fate of the vole, feared they might not actually be gherkins and put them to one side.

And that was just the beginning of her evening. He then took her to a tavern. They did not serve mead, but he bought her something called Heineken which was quite pleasant , though it made her suddenly belch in a most unprincess-like way. There was a large box in the corner with lights on the front. A girl put some coins into it, the loudest music the Princess had ever heard came out of it, and she watched in awe as the girl and her friends sang along to the tune, loudly informing the world at large that at first they’d been afraid, they’d been petrified.

When the tavern closed the Prince took her home in a horseless carriage called a “Taxi”. He walked her to the door of the castle. “May I take you out again tomorrow?”

The princess was about to day “Thou mayest”, but looked behind her into the cold dark castle, then at the neon haze from the town that was just visible above the trees, and chose the century she wished to belong to.

“Bet your ass,” she said.

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