The Fresh-Air King

A fairy story for the over twenty-ones

Once inside a Cornflake packet lived the Fresh Air King. He was two thumbs high and his kingdom extended to the four corners of the tablecloth. Being a Fresh Air King, he was invisible.

As more cornflake packets were opened every morning, so his army of Fresh Air Friends grow. They drilled up the warps and down the wefts of the linen cloth, wheeling at the cruet and smartly dressing before the salad. Like the King, they too were invisible.

Year by year the army grew, living on a diet of fresh air and training vigorously over invisible obstacle courses. The defence estimates were nil and the troops regular in their habits. It was a most civilian army.

In this cornutopian Sparta, the only problem was the absence of an enemy. Crime was unknown; the jug never filled, except with milk and honey. As the Fresh Air King proclaimed annually 'pax hoviscum.' But there must be an enemy.

In the outer space of the household, misshapen giants were discerned. Saucers were seen landing on the table and then hovering above it. An exterior intelligence was there - but what?

The Fresh Air King immediately ordained a space programme. An invisible launcher was built at a cost of a billion invisible dollars. Probes, rendezvous and Gemini occurred.

The first four shots revealed nothing but the fifth took photographs of AIR POLLUTION.


At last an enemy!

Reserves of Fresh Air Youths (FAYs) and Fresh Air Maidens (FAMs) were invisibly mobilised. Plastic submarines and other give-away impedimenta were assembled at politic-strategic intersections. The cornflake packet, like the ziggurat of other times, stood amidst this Babel of preparation. The Fresh Air King spoke, concluding with a clapped-to-the-dying-breath statement; that Air Pollution should not be allowed to cloud the issue.

The sixth shot located the source of the pollution - the castle of King Coughdrop - a belching cup-shaped inferno joined by a stem to a vent in his head - a kind of mindful volcano. It was too nasty even to probe. Photographs of its backside were taken but these proved to be so distasteful that they had to be hidden from the FAMs.

War now ensued in the name of clean living, all that's decent, anti-contamination and the Oxford Historical Buildings Preservation Society.

The give-away impedimenta were the first troops to attack but, being plastic, died chemical deaths on the lip of the smoking cup; they melted. Rocket FAY and FAM attacks were also repulsed. The Fresh Air King was in despair. How could the micro FAY and FAM forces attack the belching Coughdrop? There was no gas-mask production in the Fresh Air Kingdom.

He need not have despaired. For with the failure of the frontal attack, there was resort to FAY and FAM(inine) guile. And what can withstand that?

By day, the cup fumed with evident steadiness of puff. When the fuel in it grew low, masses of narcotic combustible were pressed in, lit by flaming pit props. But by night the fire in the cup was out. King Coughdrop slept.

They decided to enter his mind by night.

A Fata Morgana was organised by the FAYS - a neon-lit lung with rotting fabric hung in the sky of his nightmares. A succubus FAM invaded his bed chewing tobacco leaf and filling a stained spittoon. With one front tooth she hit it at three yards.

Where battle had bungled, nausea triumphed. King Coughdrop volcanoed on by day but by night the FAYS and FAMS grew more pestilential. This was guerrilla warfare at its finest - sanctimonious civilians killing an old pleasure.

They won of course.

The volcano was dowsed. King Coughdrop no longer polluted. The FAYS and FAMS returned to their tablecloth kingdom.

The spawning of Cornflake Men continues....

L. J. Hyde