The Princess and the Ogre

By: Lyle Aryn

FOREWORD





Writing this novel was a new experience for me. My first book, The Guardian took 15 years to write. This one? Just 15 days.



November of 2017 was cold. I’d prepared for the annual Novel Writing Challenge diligently but come November 1st I just couldn’t get any traction. That was all right, there was time.



Fifteen days later, and I had three sentences. About 40 words of the 50,000-word goal. Oh well, I thought. There would be other Novembers.



To say I’d found inspiration suddenly would be an understatement. I woke up with this little lady shouting in my head, and she’d not let me rest until I wrote her story.



Fifteen days later, I’d made the deadline for the challenge and had the distinct pleasure of reaching the end of another novel.



Here it is. The Princess and the Ogre.



Enjoy!









01





You might think that being born a mute wouldn’t be so terrible. Teachers would never call on you for answers. You would never be expected to interact too much with customers, should you find yourself gainfully employed. You learned to listen carefully, hearing the words that people weren’t saying, and nobody would ever tell you to shut up.

There were some serious drawbacks though.

I heard her voice every day. She could speak when the professors called on her, and she always had the correct answer. She could laugh at jokes, and make my heart skip a beat. But If she looked my way, her eyes would never linger. I thought this just was a gracious courtesy.

Then again, she was polite with everyone. The vivid scars that marked my face were difficult to look at, though most people stared anyway. My father had been partial to glass-bottled beer, and a mute child made for a handy punching bag. It was what it was, and I had long grown used to other people’s reactions.

Their whispers of freak and thug and monster.

Ogre.

I had decided to focus on my schoolwork from an early age, which is how I ended up at a decent university. My handicap afforded me a dorm room, and I hadn’t bothered to tell my father I was leaving. I had freed myself of him.

Only to find myself trapped by her.

She seemed to be on a similar academic path as I, and we shared many of the same classes. During my freshman year, I had even braved several parties, only to eventually learn that she didn’t stay in any of the dorms. She didn’t eat lunch on campus and never socialized after class. When dismissed for the day, she would promptly leave.

I was sentenced to watch her from my corner of the classroom.

Wishing to be noticed. Fearing the recoil when she did. I watched, invisible. I would bury myself in my work, if only to escape the lonely feeling of intense longing she stirred within me.



“Come on, sweets, don’t be that way. We just want to show you a good time. Ain’t that right, Bill?”

“Right.”

“See? Why the cold shoulder?”

Another day on campus. Another pair of jocks trying to ‘charm’ their way into a pretty girl’s pants. It wasn’t a problem I ever had, so it wasn’t my problem. Best to just keep my head down and keep on walking.

“I said, buzz off! I’m not interested.”

I hesitated, daring to look. I knew that voice. Lily O’Keirnan. Tightly curled red hair, green eyes, and skin that was the same shade of ivory cream year-round, though her freckles would become more pronounced in the summer months. Full lips, a proud nose, and a squarish chin that managed to strike the balance between delicate and strong.

A Princess in need of rescue.

The two thugs had her pinned between them and the wall. Leaning towards her like hungry coyotes. Anger flared within me, a gift I had fully inherited from my father. I approached the trio completely unnoticed, blood pounding in my ears.

“We won’t take no for an answer! I promise, sweetheart, you’ll have the time of your life.” Thug One stated. His comrade grinned like the jackass he was.

I tapped the Jackass on the shoulder, feigning meekness. Hoping they would shift just enough for her to slip by them.

“Hey Johnson! The Ogre wants to party with us, too!” Bill barely even turned his head. Johnson didn’t even move that much.

“Yeah? The more the merrier. Can’t have too many chicks around to fuck, am I right?”

Lily stared at me. Seeing me now. What must she think? My face could have been used to inspire Halloween masks. I didn’t care, though. My blood was up. She was being threatened, and I could not just walk by and do nothing this time. I reached for her hand, only to feel Johnson suddenly grab my shoulder. I could growl, and so I did. The boys laughed.

“Belongs on a chain, this one. I think we could arrange that. Maybe a good muzzle to keep her from biting, too.”