December 31st, 2014


“New Year's in the Lost Kingdom”

Update: You can now view this as a PDF file, formatted for e-readers, here.

Two New Year's Eves from now in a place you've never heard of...

            “New Year's in the Lost Kingdom”
               by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Saturday 31 December 2016
21:55 CET (GMT+1)
Sommerhus, Eisbergen

     According to the media, much of the world was spending New 
Year’s Eve drinking  - if sixteen-year-old Crown Princess Daniska 
Elsinor believed the media.  That might be true.  It might even 
be true for her Eisbergen.  But not for all.  Some people had to 
work, if not for a living, then for the good of a kingdom.
     In the barn’s dim light she scraped the shovel against the 
floor and deposited another load of cow dung in the wheelbarrow.
     The main door to the west barn screeched open and a rough 
voice called out in the old Ur-Danish, “Who’s there?”
     “Me,” Daniska replied.  This was her kingdom.  She really 
had no one to answer to except her father King Henrik VII and 
God  - in some order she never felt she wanted to debate.
     She kept shoveling until the intruder came around the pens.  
“I saw lights on...  What the hell are you doing shoveling the 
shit at this hour, princess?” Klaus Jønsson asked, irritated at 
her as usual.  The middle-aged farmer used the word princess as 
if it was a taunt, not an honorific.
     “Could you shut the doors?  You’re letting the heat out.”
     Klaus might not have liked the royalty of Eisbergen or how 
they ran things.  But he did know and care about animals  - and 
was famously frugal  - this was a request he responded to, even 
if he acted grumpy as usual.
     “You haven’t answered my question, princess,” he said when 
he came back.  He stood 6’5” and solidly sturdy  - she straightened 
up to her slender 6’4” height so they stood eye-to-eye in the 
     “There wasn’t time to answer you  - and I wasn’t going to 
shout after you like you were a servant or something.”  Daniska 
didn’t know why she felt she had to needle him as well.  “It’s 
New Year’s Eve.  There is going to be a lot of drinking in Eisbergen.  
And the livestock needs to be attended to, no matter what day 
it is.  Everyone is going to be moving slow in the morning.  
I’m just trying to lighten the load.”
     “You’re going to smell to high heaven if you keep up at 
this,” Klaus said, grabbing an old iron rake and starting to 
pull some of the sodden straw out of the stalls.  One of the 
cows moved out of his way.
     “Too late,” Daniska said, pausing to wipe the sweat on her 
brow with the back of a glove.  The jeans she had on were old, 
as was the tattered and faded University of Oslo sweatshirt.
     “Well, it’s good to see you working for a change,” he 
grudgingly acknowledged.
     “You have no idea what I do,” she replied calmly.  “You’re 
too busy running your farm or trying to rile up the citizenry.”
     “Hmph.  Well, you may be right about that.  It certainly 
looks like you’ve shoveled shit before.”
     Her iPhone rang before she could come up with a rejoinder.  
“Yes?” she answered on speaker, after waving a hand over the 
camera.  It was her sister.
     “Dani, where are you?  It’s almost ten o’clock.  You have 
to get ready.”
     “I’m almost done.”
     “Done what?”
     “Cleaning out the barn.”
     “You went out there two hours ago.”
     “You didn’t come to help.”
     “Not fair  - I had baking to do.”
     “I’ll be there,” Daniska said, waving her hand again - 
the handsfree app she’d written disconnecting.  “Still think 
that all royals are worthless leeches on the backs of the workers?”
     Klaus glared sourly.  “You should go, princess.  I can 
finish this.  I don’t want Marcellus or one of his Romans to 
come and get me.”
     “They wouldn’t be after you,” she said, finally putting 
one last, large shovelful in the wheelbarrow.  “They’d be after 
     Grabbing the old coat that lived in the mud room off the 
back of the kitchen at Royal House, Daniska bundled up and headed 
     “Don’t you stay up so late here, either, Klaus.  It’s New 
Year’s Eve.”
     “Ah-hhh, bah,” he waved a hand at her in annoyance.  “And 
shut that damned door behind you.  Don’t let all the heat out.”
     New Year’s Eve  - twenty minutes to midnight  - in the 
warmth and light of Royal House.
     “Anaulka  - are you dressed yet?” Daniska called up the 
     “I’m coming,” the girl responded.  And indeed, within a 
minute she emerged from their bedroom and came clattering down 
the stairs.
     “Are those my shoes?”
     “They don’t quite fit you,” Daniska sighed.  Anaulka wasn’t 
one to give up.  “I heard you all the way down.”
     “Urrrrgh.”  Anaulka kicked off the chunky white heels.  
“I can’t wear your really high heels anyway.”
     “Not yet.”
     “And I don’t have any women’s shoes.  All I have are little 
girl’s shoes.”
     “We should correct that then.”
     “I’m thirteen,” Anaulka insisted.
     “There you are,” their mother Queen Joelle said, coming 
out of the kitchen in an elegant royal blue evening gown, her 
short dark hair contrasting with the girls’ long blond hair.  
She kissed the top of her younger daughter’s head, noting that 
without shoes, she was her height for once, almost 6’1”.  “I 
was beginning to be think you’d never make it, Ani.  Now, both 
of you  - turn around.”
     Daniska was three inches taller than her sister anyway, 
but since Anaulka was barefoot, she towered over her.  Both 
princesses wore loose, full-length white dresses with embroidered 
square necklines.  Their waist long blond hair was free tonight, 
partly pulled back  - Daniska’s by a 12th century silver Viking 
comb, Anaulka’s with a black velvet bow.  The comb kept slipping 
against Daniska’s unruly wavy hair, threatening to fall out every 
ten or fifteen minutes.  She’d rather braid it and forget about 
her hair.
     “You both look lovely.  But no shoes, Ani?”
     Anaulka pointed at the shoes lying in a heap near the bottom 
of the stairs.  “They didn’t fit.”
     “She can’t just wear my things,” Daniska told their mother.  
“Don’t let that tomboy attitude fool you  - you’re growing another 
woman in this house.  Another princess.”
     “Yeah,” Anaulka said.  “You’re neglecting me, Mother.”
     “You’re not helping.”
     Anaulka stuck her tongue out at her sister.
     The queen sighed.  The girls were right about one thing - 
she didn’t spend enough time with them.  Both were growing into 
lovely young women.  And from what she heard, the kingdom liked 
their princesses.  The sad thing was she wasn’t likely to change - 
Dr. Joelle Lund liked her academic world south in Oslo far too much.  
The kingdom and her girls was just some place she visited.  
     “Someone bring the herring and the champagne glasses.”
     “Herring!” Anaulka called and went to get the two platters 
of pickled herring, plain and with cream sauce.
     “Henrik  - it’s time,” Joelle called to her husband.
     “Yes, yes,” he replied, emerging from his study.  Amazingly 
he carried no papers  - Daniska wasn’t even sure he had his iPhone.  
Indeed, the 6’7” king was, for once, elegant himself in full 
black tails and tie.  His dark blond hair was cut short and curled 
in the old Roman way  - his beard fierce and Viking.  The king 
and queen looked every bit the royal couple they were.
     The elaborate grandfather’s clock in the parlor began to 
     “Four... three... two...” Anaulka counted out loud, her 
eyes sparkling with anticipation. “TWELVE!  Midnight everyone - 
Happy New Year!”
     The two princesses kissed and hugged.
     “Happy New Year, my dear,” Henrik said to his wife and they 
embraced and kissed while the girls stood by smiling.  Anaulka 
elbowed her sister.
     They heard a series of cracks outside.
     “Someone has firecrackers,” Anaulka observed.  “Oh, and 
happy birthday, sister.”
     “Yes, my little Y2K bug  - Happy Birthday,” Joelle came 
over and kissed Daniska.  Then the princess was kissed by her 
father and her sister.  Blushing, Daniska went back into the 
     New Year’s Day 2017 A.D. in Eisbergen.  Seventeen years 
ago, 1 January 2000, at 2:32 in the morning, Daniska Elsinor 
Raphaella Rachel had presented herself to the world and the then 
Crown Prince Henrik.  She didn’t remember it, of course, but 
the world had survived the calendar rolling over from 1999 to 
2000 without catastrophic computer losses.  Anaulka joked that 
it was the source of her sister’s superior computer coding abilities 
- an omen.
     Daniska came out carefully hanging two bottles of champagne 
in elegant black bottles by their necks in one hand and a tray 
with four tall champagne flutes in the other.
     “Two bottles of champagne, Father?” Anaulka asked.  “You 
are about to sink one, are you?”
     Henrik frowned.  “I’m not sure what you mean.”
     “She’s teasing you,” Daniska said, setting down the tray, 
then the bottles.  “Sinking is ordering two bottles of champagne 
and pouring one down the sink to protest some silly Swedish law 
against spraying champagne in a public place.”
     “This is not Sweden, my dear, or have you forgotten?” Henrik 
said to Anaulka.  “There is no law against spraying champagne 
in Eisbergen  - only common sense enough to know not to waste 
any precious product.”
     “But it’s Swedish champagne.  HATT et SÖNER Prestige 2005 
Le Grand-Père,” Anaulka said, picking up one bottle and reading 
the label.  “So I thought, when in Rome, do as the Swedes do?”
     “That one doesn’t even work,” Daniska said, shaking her 
     “We are Rome,” Anaulka said helpfully, and as Eisbergen 
was founded in part by a Roman Senator as one of their three 
crowns in 460 A.D., it was true.
     “The company may be owned by Swedes, not Frenchmen,” the 
king explained, “it is still French champagne.  Otherwise under 
all those arcane EU rules and regulations, they couldn’t call 
     “Henrik,” the queen said.
     “Quite so.  The new year is precious seconds old  - and 
we have not yet poured and toasted.  And,” the king said, pausing 
to remove the wire cage from the first black bottle, “I am not 
averse to popping the cork on these festive occasions.”
     “Ah...”  The ladies all applauded as the cork sailed up 
almost to the sixteen-foot ceiling of the great hall and bounced 
on the stairs.
     “There’s four of us  - and two bottles,” Anaulka said, as 
Henrik began pouring into the tall thin glasses.  “Is that half 
a bottle each?”
     “No,” Daniska said.  “You have two bottles in case one is 
a dud.”
     “Or unexpected company arrives,” the king said.
     “It’s midnight in the most secretive country in the world,” 
Anaulka frowned.  “Who could possibly come unannounced?”
     “You never know,” Henrik said.  “Everyone has a glass?  
Yes?  Then Happy New Year to all of us and our kingdom.”
     “To the New Year.”
     “God grace the king,” Daniska added.  The others immediately 
replied and Henrik nodded.
     “And a very happy birthday to my Princess Daniska,” he answered, 
which began yet a third round of toasts.
     They had barely started on the black bread and the pickled 
herring when the front door chimed.  The girls looked at their 
father, who had a mischievous smile.
     “Who could that possibly be at this late... er, early hour?” 
he asked.
     Taking his wife by the arm, they advanced to open first 
the inside double doors and then with a flourish, Henrik pulled 
both of the outer doors at once.
     “General Marcellus,” he greeted the Roman Centurion standing 
on the porch, the slowly falling snow glistening on the full 
ceremonial armor.
     Marcellus saluted, fist out.  “Your Majesty, Your Grace - 
Happy New Year.”  He held out a small stoneware crock, wrapped 
in a towel.  “I bring fish soup to give you good luck throughout 
the year.”
     “Come in, come in, old friend.”
     The sixty-year-old Roman carefully stepped over the threshold, 
planted both feet and handed the king the crock.  It occurred 
to Daniska that this was a ceremony of some sort.  The first 
visitor of the new year?  She would have to look it up.  It seemed 
that her father was also not averse to reviving old customs.
     “Daniska  - we shall need more glasses.”
     Behind Marcellus on the porch, were the part-time Steward 
of Royal House and his wife Greta, their part-time cook and housekeeper.
     “Now it’s a party,” Anaulka observed.
     “Happy birthday, Your Highness,” Marcellus said, removing 
his helmet with the red brush on top and presenting a small package 
wrapped in silvery paper to Daniska.
     Daniska set the additional glasses down and accepted the 
gift.  “Thank you very much, Marcellus.”  She kissed him on both 
cheeks.  Then she held up a silver spoon.  “I think we should 
pass your soup around and skip trying to dish it out.”
     “An excellent idea,” the Roman said, rubbing his hands.  
“It is damned cold out there.  And we need some good luck in 
the new year.”
     “I don’t know about luck,” Daniska said, picking up the 
crock in one hand after wrapping it in a towel, “but we have 
champagne, herring, bread and fish soup.  We are certainly trying 
to appease the gods as much as possible.  Oh, this is good.”
     “Most of the meals that I cook myself are based on basic 
Roman camp food recipes.  I’m afraid I’m stubborn that way.  
Be a Roman, be a Roman all the way.  But this?  This is my mother’s 
and she got it from her mother  - generations back.” 
     “Well, you can clearly cook, good sir.”
     The bell jangled at the door again  - this time for the 
realm’s two fishermen and their wives.
     “It’s time to sing,” one of the fishermen shouted.  “It’s 
New Year’s for God’s sake.”  The suggestion was greeted with 
applause and everyone looked to the princesses.
     Anaulka and Daniska realized they would not get out of this.  
So the birthday girl sat at the piano in the parlor, and Anaulka 
stood nearby.  Her singing voice was higher and sweeter than 
Daniska’s, but she could start strong and low enough to suit.
        “Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo
        og stryges fræ wor mind?
        Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo
        med dem daw så læng, læng sind?
        Di skjønne ungdomsdaw, å ja,
        de daw så svær å find!
        Vi'el løwt wor kop så glådle op
        for dem daw så læng, læng sind!”
     Daniska came in on the chorus and the duet soon became a 
trio as their Father’s baritone was added.  Soon everyone joined 
in the choruses as Anaulka sang the next stanzas  - the ones 
that most people didn’t know, Daniska smiled.
     “I think we did Robbie Burns proud,” Anaulka said to her 
sister, after they took their bow.
     “I think on New Year’s nobody cares  - they just want it 
sung.  But,” Daniska hastily added, “you did beautifully.”
     “Thank you,” Anaulka beamed.
     The champagne was long gone  - there were eleven in Royal 
House now  - and so the adults had switched to whisky and brandies.  
Daniska took a small glass of brandy.
     “We’re sharing,” she told her father as he frowned.
     Anaulka sat on the sofa, rubbing her bare feet.  “Here, 
let me do that for you,” Daniska offered, and as she sat down, 
Anaulka propped her legs on her sister’s knees.  “You’re cold.”
     “I have no shoes.”
     “You’re a very silly girl from time to time.”
     “Thank you, O worldly princess sister.”
     “You should have put on a pair of your own shoes.”
     “What would be the fun of that?”
     The bell jingled again and the princesses looked at each 
other.  Daniska went to the front door and was surprised to see 
Klaus Jønsson and his two sons.
     “Klaus!  Dean, Cyril  - Happy New Year to you all.  Thank 
you for coming.  Come in out of the cold, please.  All of you.  
You are always welcome.”
     The farmer harrumphed, and kicked his snowy boots on the 
side of the door frame before stepping inside.
     “Apologies for coming so late,” he said, taking off his 
     “Nonsense.  It’s New Year’s  - we’re going to be up all 
     “I wasn’t going to come,” he said gruffly.  “But I was reminded 
- this is your seventeenth birthday, princess.  By the Old Law, 
today is your age of ascension.  You can become queen on your 
own without needing a regent.
     “So I suppose I should be nice to you, princess, as someday 
you’ll rule,” he finished his speech, handing her a package.  
“I brought smoked blood sausage.”
     “Thank you, good sir.  And let us hope that I am not queen 
for a long time.”
     Anaulka had come to take their coats.  The sons were both 
older than the girls.  Dean was nineteen and disliked the royals 
as much as his father.  But the older brother, Cyril, was quiet 
and shy  - and if he hated anyone in the world, Daniska didn’t 
know who it was.
     “Cyril, I’m amazed you made in from the south farm in this 
weather.”  As expected, he didn’t answer her.  “I’m sorry, we 
had very little champagne at midnight.  But there’s whisky and 
brandy.  And still some herring and smoked fish, plus your wonderful 
     “Whisky sounds good,” Klaus said and headed over to get 
a stiff drink.  “Behave yourselves,” he told his boys.
     Someone had found the master control panel for the Bang 
& Olufsen BeoSystem 5000 stereo, which had apparently fallen 
off a truck near Copenhagen back in 1985 and found its way into 
Royal House via their Royalists motorcycle club.  Below were 
sliding wooden doors which revealed hundreds of old LP records.  
Soon the background was filled with Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte.
     It was during Harry Belafonte’s Calypso in Brass from 1966 
and “Jump in the Line”, that Daniska was asked to dance by her 
father.  When she glanced back, Anaulka had pulled her knees 
up to her chest, watching and grinning at everyone making minor 
fools of themselves.
     By two, Anaulka had been recruited to play the straight 
violin and soon raucous fiddling tunes spurred on the dancers 
- and those who weren’t dancing kept time clapping.  Half an 
hour later, the younger princess declared she was in no shape 
to keep playing at this hour, and the party went back to the 
stereo.  And Chubby Checkers.
     “It’s 3:13am,” Daniska told Anaulka, as her sister came 
back out to the great table with a small box. “And you’re eating 
     “Nope,” Anaulka said, holding the box out.  It was fondant 
stuffed sugared dates.  “Have one.”
     “I’m already stuffed on herring and soup and bread.”
     “It’s not like you need to worry about getting fat.”
     “Alright.  I’ll have one.”
     In the morning it was of course still dark.  But those who’d 
gathered at Royal House and had stayed up for all hours, bundled 
up against the cold and went to New Year’s Mass at eight.
     “What did Marcellus give you for your birthday?” Anaulka 
whispered as they took their seats and waited for the kingdom 
to arrive and stand for the service.  “I never did see.”
     “It’s a Chinese black lacquered abacus  - very small and 
very old.  It’s quite lovely and it makes a nice clicking sound 
as you flick the beads back and forth.  I have no idea where 
he got it.”
     “I don’t recall reading about any piracy against Chinese 
shipping in the Book of Days,” Anaulka said.  “Maybe it was a 
personal possession on some ship we captured long ago?”
     Though much had been lost in 1944, they still had some 
stores of trophies collected from centuries of Viking and pirate 
raids in the name of the kingdom.
     “I don’t know.  And Marcellus never tells where he gets 
     “He does it to annoy you,” Anaulka said.
     “He does it to challenge me, I think.”
     By noon the sun made its first appearance for 2017, staying 
only for a while.  It was just eleven days after the winter 
solstice in the secret kingdom of Eisbergen just north of the 
Arctic Circle, hidden amongst the mountains and fjords of Norway.
     But not Norway.

From Book One of the Lost Kingdom Chronicles
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon -- All Rights Reserved

This is the second outing of my Lost Kingdom princesses story.
PLEASE send me feedback.

And All The Best for 2015!

Dr. Phil

Is This Normal?

It's 11:16pm EST on New Year's Eve. I am sitting here futzing on the Intertubez and watching the Superstar Sabotage Championship on Cutthroat Kitchen... It's the last day of the quarter and often I am scurrying to get my entry into WOTF. But no.

I got that sucker in at 4:05pm this afternoon. Yesterday at this time the story was one-third the size. And I think it's really good.

And then I did final revisions on the second Lost Kingdom short story for New Year's and got that posted at 6:24pm. I am a machine! Well, at least feeling very productive at the end of 2014.

So THEN I finished writing our annual Christmas letter. Hey, it was finished in 2014, I'm good with that, considering we had a couple of missed years and had to write a 2009-2013 catch-up letter last year.

Anyway, besides basking in my end of year rush, I thought I'd share what I posted on the WOTF Forum this afternoon:
I don't know what's wrong with me. It's 16:15 EST on 31 December 2014, the last day of the current quarter, and my story for Q1 is in. That's WAY early. I usually push on towards midnight... What am I going to do with the time -- oh, wait, I have another story to get out tonight. No problem.

Also -- to the people above who mentioned recycling reedited or rewritten H-Ms from previous quarters -- this can be an excellent plan. Me, personally, I do it if I have substantially changed the story.

Of my three Finalists, the first one was very early in my submissions. But the second and third were both Quarter Finalists, what we used to call H-Ms in the Dark Ages.

The Moons of Mercury
Version 1.07.7 / 7767 words -- Quarter Finalist V22Q4
Version 2.01.11 / 10,506 words -- Finalist V24Q1 (lost out to Published Finalist -- me)
Version 2.04.14 / 13,347 words -- Currently waiting on a major rewrite request for publication...

A Man in the Moon
Version 1.54.8 / 10,890 words -- Quarter Finalist V21Q4
Version 1.60.14 / 14,151 words -- Published Finalist (Not A Winner) WOTF XXIV (Q3)

Of course, I was SO SURE that my last Q4 story would win... It's not for me to say that the new Q1 entry is better than that, but it's different... and poignant. So beware. K.D. loved me -- the new guy, not so much. But this time.

This time!

(Back to the Acme Rocket Powered Typewriter, working on the NEXT brilliant Wile E. Coyote Plan for SF Domination...)

Happy New Year all you crazy kids! Wherever and Whenever you are in the world!

Dr. Phil
And my response to a comment about sending last quarter's rejection to Charles Coleman Finlay. He's guest editing a third issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. F&SF still takes only physical snail mail submissions -- except CCF takes electronic subs. So I commented:
And the Send Off Your Stories to C.C. Finlay for the new F&SF special issue e-sub period -- which just opened because Charles declared that it was New Year's in New Zealand, so it's January 1st -- is another EXCELLENT idea. ***

I am going to crush it with my brilliant story which was supposed to win Q4. (But the new Judge hates me.) (evil-grin)

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Dr. Phil

*** Seriously, we ALL go through the phases of Authorhood:
Hide what you wrote from EVERYONE.
Let one little story leak out into the world.
Find WOTF.
Write more every 90 days.
More WOTF.
FINALLY get around to sending stuff to other markets.
Win... get paid.
So how's your day been?

I've got eggnog and herring in wine sauce coming after midnight to welcome 2015.

Dr. Phil