Percival

Sophie didn’t want to return to work after the flood. A hundred people had died at the old quarry at an event that she had produced. It was doubly bad because as well as Lucerne Valley’s Chief Producer she was also its Crisis Manager.

How could this have happened on her watch?

She had asked herself that question a hundred times, and always came to the same conclusion – because she had been overruled by her CEO. Knowing this had caused her to have a nervous breakdown, but what could she do against the instant, modern, social media spin machine?

The Authority had put their weight behind her boss and Sophie was made out to be the villain. It was said that despite the Flood Alert, she had permitted the Gilgamesh multimedia show to continue. It was highly irresponsible to have five hundred people underground whilst there was active flood risk. Sophie’s denials were in vain, and she was suspended with immediate effect. The local paper’s headline was “Soph-ictitious!”

A month later the official story changed. Sophie was now portrayed as a hero. They said that never for a moment did she forget her duty as Crisis Manager. She had managed to manually override systems and save the lives of four hundred people. She was reinstated on a higher pay scale. The paper now read “Soph-antastic!”

Sophie wished that she’d never had the idea of using the quarry, now branded QARY, for multimedia productions. The Authority had invested heavily in the project, and this commercial juggernaut was now unstoppable. Production meetings had continued in her absence for the next scheduled production, the earliest version of the Grail quest, that of Percival. Most of the preparations were complete, but she had always been the hub of operations and they needed her on site. That explained her reinstatement.

Sophie asked to meet her CEO, who was, for some reason, wearing big sunglasses indoors. She must have been on the martinis last night. Sophie said, “The script is okay, but I need to change the set projections.” She was wary of this woman now and wanted to keep the meeting brief.

Her boss said, “Go on, I am listening.”

“We should establish a green theme throughout the show. From the forest where Percival is raised by his mother, far away from knightly culture, to his arrival at Camelot and defeat of the Green Knight and taking of his armour, to his meeting the Fisher King at a pool in the woods, the colour green is essential. Even when he witnesses the strange procession in the castle, the Grail gives off a greenish glow.”

Her boss took off her sunglasses. She had two shiners, both fresh and green.

Should Sophie ask her about them? She decided not to. This woman had screwed her over royally. Who cared about her bloody eyes.

Sophie continued, “And when the castle disappears, Percival finds himself again in the forest. When he gets a second chance to see the Grail, he asks the question, and…”

Sophie stopped suddenly. Of course, the question. Percival had been instructed at Camelot that it was wrong to talk too much, and not to ask personal questions. He was taught to be a man of culture rather than one of nature. So he hadn’t asked the question in his heart; he hadn’t asked the Fisher King about the cause of his pain, and the suffering that cursed his kingdom.

Was Sophie making the same mistake?

She asked her CEO, “What happened to your eyes? Are you okay?”

Her boss began to cry. She told Sophie that she had been beaten by her drunken husband. She said he did it “now and then”. This time he was annoyed by her screaming during nightmares. She had suffered from them since being told to lie about the hundred people dying in the flood. They hadn’t really. It was all a stunt to reduce demand for QARY productions. The Authority wanted to change it into a corporate venue. She was so sorry for making Sophie look like a villain, she’d had no choice.

Sophie was stunned. By asking the question, she had discovered the answer that she needed to hear. She hadn’t killed anyone.

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One Response to “Percival”

  1. Really good stuff Babar

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