by ADAM BRECKENRIDGE
Memorial to Napoleon by Mustang Joe | Flickr
“Ha! I am bigger than this island,” Napoleon said the first time he stared up at St. Helena’s tilting cliffs, then tried to prove it by embracing the dirt and, when that didn’t work, rolled around in it instead. He stood up, then approached a peasant saddling a horse.
“I am bigger than that horse, don’t you see?” he said.
“Of course you are, sir,” the peasant replied.
Napoleon responded by unleashing the most heinous fart ever heard on the island.
“Curse that Duke of Wellington,” he screamed, “perfuming me with his flatus!” He jumped on the horse. “Away to my prison,” he shouted at it, then, when it refused to move, got down and started walking.
That evening he reenacted the battle of Waterloo with his bath toys, forcing the servants to come in and watch while he demonstrated how he could have easily won if only he’d had more rubber duckies on his side.
“By all rights that farting duke has no business claiming himself the winner,” Napoleon declared, punctuating his assuredness with a stream of bubbles rising up from his backside.
He ordered every tree on the clifftops cut down so that when he stood on the island’s highest point he would be the tallest thing there. Anyone who accompanied him on these journeys had to crawl on hands and knees lest their eye level inadvertently bob above his. “I am the tallest man on earth,” he would shout to the ocean, hopping up and down on the island’s summit until he’d inevitably lose his balance and go tumbling down the slope.
When they served him beef wellington for dinner he threw it across the room and demanded peas and carrots instead. When these were brought to him he reenacted the battle of Waterloo once again, this time to demonstrate how he could have easily won if only he’d had more carrots on his side.
“I could eat the Duke of Wellington if I wanted to,” Napoleon said, “because he is so very, very tiny.”
He then bit into a pea with a grin on its face. The innards of the pea shot out from the skin, flying across the room to strike a servant in the eye.
“See? The Duke of Wellington flees from me now! He shrinks like a testicle!”
The servants soon began to notice that it was Napoleon himself who was shrinking. None wanted to be the fool who would say it out loud, though even Napoleon couldn’t deny that he was beginning to look like a boy playing dress up with his father’s articles, but to him this meant new lands to conquer.
“Soon St. Helena shall be as big as the world,” he said.
When his clothes stopped fitting he’d run around naked instead, wielding a butter knife as a sword, trying to rally the blades of grass to join him in victory while cutting down other blades that he decided were English or Russian.
“Who says my Russian campaign failed? Tolstoy? Ha! I am bigger than Tolstoy. He has not even written War and Peace yet.”
The servants should have known how misplaced their relief was when the day finally came that they could no longer find the emperor. They’d all hoped he’d frittered away into atoms, but their joy was cut short at the sound of his voice booming from the void: “I am bigger than the world!” because they knew that voice would be echoing through all of time.
Adam Breckenridge is an Overseas Traveling Faculty member of the University of Maryland Global Campus where he travels the world teaching US military stationed overseas and is currently based in South Korea. He has twenty-eight story publications to his name and has most recently appeared in Mystery Weekly, Wyldblood, and The Fantastic Other, and has a story forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.