Composure – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Alastair Forbes


In a universe strikingly similar to our own, but different…

“Of course we’ll win, mummy,” said sixteen-year old Princess Elizabeth. “You always win.” The ribbons in her hair bobbed as she spoke. She sat for tea with her mother, Queen Ruth III, Prime Minister Healy, First Sea Lord Wooten, and Defense Minister Gallery. The small group relaxed atop the fortress-like edifice of the Admiralty Building. From their vantage they could easily witness the massive gathering of ships out to sea. The largest gathering since two years prior in 1862.

“It’s not always so simple,” corrected Healy. The unusually tall and slender man sat regally in his chair. “There is always risk in war.”

Elizabeth looked to her mother. Queen Ruth nodded, saying, “Overconfidence is improper, especially for a Queen, my dear.”

“Look at Lord Nelson’s devastating loss at Trafalgar,” noted Wooten. He took a puff from his cigar, followed by a bite scone.

“Whatever happened to Nelson?” asked Gallery.

“He’s no Lord anymore!” scowled Ruth.

“Destitute,” muttered Wooten. “Gets pissed every night on Water street.”

Elizabeth smirked. “Yet here we are at the edge of the sea. The Spanish and French fleets nearly within gun range, and we’re calmly drinking tea.”

Ruth raised an eyebrow. The girl had been paying attention after all. “It’s about composure, my dear. A Queen must always exude calm.”

Healy nodded sagely. “Tight upper lip, you know.”

Wooten put down his spyglass after scanning the enemy fleets. “Not a single square-rigger in the lot,” he muttered. “They invested heavily in steam-powered warships.”

“Surely we have our own fleet of steam warships,” said Elizabeth.

“Not a one,” growled Wooten. “Not in the budget. Ever since the loss at Trafalgar, England’s colonies failed. Her fortunes followed soon after.”

Elizabeth could feel herself breathing harder. “So where is the Royal Navy?”

“Off the coast of Ireland,” said Wooten with a wave of his cigar. “No sense placing them in harm’s way.”

Elizabeth felt her guts turn to water. “Where did we invest in our military?”

“Not much in steam technology, I’m afraid,” said Gallery. “The enemy’s built an army of steam-driven tanks. Those ambulating behemoths could level London in days if the enemy fleet lands on our shores.”

Elizabeth looked at the gathering with increasing rage. How could they be so calm? “So how many steam-driven tanks do we have for defense?”

Gallery sipped his tea. “Not a single one,” he said off-handedly.

“Mother!” roared Elizabeth, spinning towards the Queen. “We’re defenseless! Why aren’t we evacuating the government?”

“Compose yourself at once, child!” barked Ruth. “I’ll have no hysterics in my presence.”

Just then, a most horrible shriek split the air. Sixteen aerial things roared past the Admiralty Building. Elizabeth had never seen anything like them. She’d never seen anything in the air except birds and the odd balloon. “Mummy,” she whimpered. “Are those dragons?”

“Heaven’s, no!” said Ruth. She waited until the sonic boom passed before sipping her tea.

“Are they ours?”

“Not precisely,” said Ruth.

Elizabeth felt all hope drain from her body.

Ruth said, “They’re called…oh, what’s the word?”

“Aeroplanes,” supplied Healy. “Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoons, to be specific. Advanced strike aircraft.”

Explosions raged as enemy ships blew up in the distance. Ruth patted the hand of the suddenly pale princess. “We didn’t invest in steam war machines, darling. We invested in a time machine. Our British descendents in 2014 were most obliging!”
Author’s Notes:
In history, Admiral Lord Nelson won an overwhelming victory (unlike in this story) but died gallantly in battle.,_1st_Viscount_Nelson#Battle_of_Trafalgar

Eurofighter Typhoon:

Each week, Alastair Forbes presents an original photo as a writing prompt for flash fiction. The image for this week is the photo at top, and this is my story in answer to the challenge. Look here for more stories based upon the prompt:

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
This entry was posted in Short Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Composure – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. This is brilliant, and so stereotypically English! I think our attitude of ‘keeping a stiff upper lip’ is great. This reminds me of two scenes from Carry on up the Khyber: when they are being sentenced to death (I think) and they tell each other to ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, and during the final scene when they are having dinner but acting as if nothing is going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I wanted to take that stereotype and blow it up a bit . Have fun with it. I’ve seen so many funny examples of this in movies and literature, I wanted a bit of fun with it too. Thanks so much, and thanks for the visit! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. List of X says:

    Imagine how helpful those would have been in the 1066 Battle of Hastings. 🙂


  3. Steve Lakey says:

    Great twist at the end. I always love a good time travel story! They could have also bought themselves a future sports almanac. It could come in handy in times of recession! 😉


    • EagleAye says:

      No kidding. Betting on the World Series could make them millions overnight! Glad you enjoyed the twist. My stories tend to be like that…twisty. 😉 Thanks much for the visit! 🙂


  4. That would do it. I love that “stiff upper lip.” Funny story. Eric. Well done. 😀 — Suzanne


  5. Shannon says:

    I love that amidst Sea Lord this and history that, you worked in a little parable about humility and jumping to conclusions you clever rogue, you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      That’s “enlightened rogue” if you please. 😉 I work in these parables to teach myself, much more than young Elizabeth. It’s a difficult road learning to be a monarch, and many lessons to be learned. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks so much for the visit! 🙂


Don't be shy. Say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s