“Plump Parump, Plump Parump,” Harris Herndon cackled, dancing in the hallway behind Patty Parump.
Since second grade he’d tormented Patty, calling her a cow, then a heifer, then a bovine; his vocabulary growing with each language arts unit. But this was the first day of eighth grade, and Patty Parump wasn’t going to take any more.
She spun around, pointing her finger into Harris’s nose. “We know from the World History summer reading that my full-bodied size was once the most desirable look in the world. One day it will become fashionable again. But bony little weasels like you will never be in style.”
Harris’s seven friends leaned back, fanning him like peacock feathers, biting their fingers and waiting for him to respond.
Harris closed his eyes, feigned pain, then pushed his nose up into a snout. “Oink! Oink! Farmer Herndon wants some bacon, and he’s gon’ git some!”
He lunged at Patty, who shrieked, and he chased her through the crowded hallway. She hopscotched over backpacks and books, tears welling in her eyes, until she opened the door to her World History teacher’s classroom and ran into the back-corner closet, pulling the door shut after her.
In the dark, Patty felt her way past coats and plastic bins, searching for the furthest space where she could hide until the wretched day was over. Her hands met the cold, painted cinderblock wall, and then found a creaky, brass doorknob. Wanting to be anywhere else, she turned it and pushed open a small portion of the wall, and she crawled through.
Patty landed with a thud on a grassy hill, somewhere far away. There was no Harris Herndon, no lockers, no school, no anything but a gorgeous green pasture and, far off in the distance, a thumb-sized castle, like a drawing from a picture book she’d read as a girl. She squinted, shielding her eyes from the sun, and watched a speck of something leave the castle and rush towards her, growing larger until she determined it was a horse, and on top of it, a strong and regal prince.
Finally he stalled his colt and dismounted, then dropped to one knee before Patty. “A dollop of heaven, you are, my fair maiden,” he said in a rough British accent. Patty’s heart raced. The man wore a beautiful maroon tunic and his eyes, looking up into hers, were as blue as anything she’d ever seen. He reached out and she put her hand in his. “Your soft, full fingers,” he said, “are divine.”
Patty smiled like she never had before — unafraid to show all her teeth, to be herself in her fullest form — but a fierce arrow tore through the prince’s neck and he crumpled at her feet. Her horror lasted only a moment, as a spec grew in the east, another horse galloping towards her. On this one sat a taller, more muscular, statelier prince, who leapt off his steed and bowed before Patty. “My queen, my queen,” he said, admiring her round belly. “Would thou make me the most fortunate man in the village and–“
A long sword, thrown from the west, severed the second prince’s head, and his body collapsed onto that of the first prince. Patty turned and watched a white stallion thunder towards her, driven by the most handsome man she’d ever seen: a fairy-tale prince with broad shoulders, massive arms, and a hulking, hairy chest. He dismounted and offered both his hands to Patty. “I have long dreamed of meeting an ample and hearty lady, and your form surpasses my deepest desire. I am the duke of a prosperous iron-exporting burgh and I can promise you a life of opulence and pomp. Will you grace me with your hand in marriage?”
Patty had never been so happy in all her life. “Yes,” she said. “But on one condition.”
“Anything for you, my robust goddess.”
“There’s someone from my school I want you to meet.”
Patty and her fiancée crawled past the coats in the closet and opened the door to the World History classroom, where thirty confused students and one angry teacher glared at them.
Mr. Nance said, “Patty, where have you been? And who is–“
“Bring me Harris Herndon,” the Duke said, standing before Patty with his chest out and hand on the hilt of his sword, his six-foot-six body towering over the small desks.
Harris’s posse leaned back around him, biting their fingers and waiting for their king to respond.
“Yeah, I’m him,” Harris said, stepping forward as the other students pushed their desks to the side, clearing a space for the Duke to approach. Harris licked his lips. “Did Porky Patty pay you to come here and–“
The Duke unsheathed his sword and plunged its razor-sharp blade between Harris’s ribs, puncturing his left lung before tearing open the skin on his back. The other students shrieked as the Duke removed his sword, and then drove it again through Harris’s right lung, sending blood gushing out Harris’s mouth. The children and their teacher scrambled into the hallway screaming. Someone pulled the fire alarm. The Duke slid his blade free again, then heaved it up and over his shoulder in a full-bodied strike to chop Harris’s left arm from his torso; and then he did the same to the boy’s legs. As pandemonium erupted in the halls and the principal announced via the PA system that there was an intruder and the school was on lockdown, the Duke continued butchering Harris’s cold, gray body. When he’d finished, he fell to one knee before Patty, soaked in Harris Herndon’s blood. “I pray I’ve done right by my podgy empress.”
Patty kissed the Duke’s forehead. She led him back into the closet and through the portal just as the SWAT team entered the classroom and found the mess of gory meat, causing the commander to vomit into a trash can and declare this barbarism the vilest thing he’d ever seen.
For the rest of her life, living atop her picture-book castle with her dreamboat husband, Patty Parump was showered with love and respect.