Queen Ulcer sat in the soothing darkness of her ice palace. The Queen of Isolation. The palace was silent except for the occasional creaking of the ice walls as they ground, glacial like, against each other. Or was that her teeth? After four nights without sleep it was hard to tell. Damn this ice.
The palace was her sanctuary. It was a labour of love and she adored everything about it. The solitude. The pale blue light shimmering through the solid ice walls. The mournful howling of the wind as it wound its way through the turrets and towers. The exceptional acoustics that it afforded her 4am doof doof music.
Sitting on her icy throne, the numbness of her backside was matched only by the numbness in her soul. A numbness that hid the torment of a childhood best forgotten. A numbness brought on by the ice.
She tentatively allowed her mind to wander back to the early days. Before the ice. She wouldn’t normally allow her mind to go there, but after a four day bender she was no longer in complete control. She thought briefly about her parents. Their lives prematurely and abruptly ended after the ineptness of a drunken skipper and a storm at sea. It was no great loss. Her father had always been too busy with his young receptionist to pay her much attention, and her mother was prone to too many gin and tonics in the middle of the day. She reassured herself that she was better off without them, and she let it go.
Her pensive thoughts were then inexorably drawn to her younger sister, Anna. Beautiful and loving, but free spirited and prone to hallucinations brought on by her chronic LSD consumption and recalcitrant dabbling with synthetics. She had become convinced that snowmen held the meaning of life and was repeatedly asking Ulcer to help her build them. Ulcer thought back to that fateful day in the banquet hall, so many years ago. Anna had been flying high. Higher than ever before. Frolicking around the room in a chemically induced, winter wonderland. With a dazed smile and eyes that could no longer focus, Anna had turned to Ulcer, clutched her by the shoulders, and begged her to build a snowman. Ulcer had snapped and head butted Anna square in the face. Mad, snowman-obsessed bitch. Who did she think she was?
It pained Ulcer greatly to recall the sight of her sister falling backwards, as if in slow motion, and the loud crack as her head bounced on the stone floor. For a long time she couldn’t help but replay this moment over and over again in her mind. The ice helped her to block it out, only for it to rear its head at times like this.
The blow to her head had robbed Anna of the last of her sensibilities. The only words she had now were, “do you want to build a snowman?” A phrase she repeated over and over again to no one in particular, in Hodor like fashion. The guilt of it all had threatened to overwhelm Ulcer plenty of times, but with the help of the ice she had always managed to let it go.
The memory of that fateful night, along with the cold ache of her cravings brought her mind back to the present. She realised that her tenuous grip on reality was slipping. Almost inaudibly she repeated her mantra to herself, “conceal don’t feel.” As she did so, Ulcer cursed inwardly. Where was that fucking snowman? She’d created Olaf after Anna’s unfortunate ‘accident’ in an attempt to placate her guilt. He didn’t hold the meaning of life, but he was a useful lackey, and a good conversationalist to have around while she was coming down off a bender.
She’d dispatched Olaf to meet Kristoff hours ago and he hadn’t returned. Probably flirting with that fucking reindeer again she mused. There’d been a weird tension between the two of them ever since they first met. Olaf had been admiring Sven’s antlers, and had offered him a warm hug. Ecstasy often had that effect on Olaf. It allowed him to open up to others and at the same time, forget his shortcomings, of which he had plenty. A carrot-like nose. Beady eyes. A rounded paunch, and twig like arms that made the snowladies turn up their noses. But this time with Sven was different. Instead of ignoring Olaf like most people did when he was off his dial, Sven had responded with a playful chomp on Olaf’s carrot nose. Since then there had been a bizarre chemistry between the two of them that was impossible to ignore.
Ulcer cursed again. She should have gone to see Kristoff herself, rather than sending that cuddly but unreliable snowman as her mule. It was her paranoia that held her back. Convinced that Prince Hans of the Southern Isles was conspiring with the Duke of Wessleton and the CIA to engineer her downfall, she preferred to lay low in the ice palace and let Olaf do the legwork on her behalf.
Her thoughts turned to Kristoff. Devilishly handsome, he was a two faced bastard leading a double life. Publically he was the hard working sledman and loving partner of the moderately brain damaged Princess Anna. God only knows how he put up with her crazy ramblings, but the relationship gave him status and prestige amongst the social elite of Arendelle. Behind the scenes he was the undisputed king of the ice. The Heisenberg of Arendelle. He sourced it. He cut it. He transported it. He distributed it. Using his tribe of indentured trolls as a source of cheap labour, he was able to produce more quickly and in greater quantities than any of his rivals.
Although Ulcer was crowned Queen of Arendelle, Kristoff was the one that really held the keys to the kingdom. She would gladly hide in her ice palace and have nothing to do with him, except that by virtue of the family connection, he afforded her a direct line to the purest, coldest and cheapest ice in the kingdom. He was the only one who knew about her penchant for ice. Except for Olaf of course. The threat of an electric hair dryer had been enough to ensure his silence.
She wasn’t worried about Kristoff sharing her secret. She had held the upper hand ever since she had walked into the stables at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna and found him and Sven in a lover’s embrace. It was the threat of this knowledge reaching Arendelle’s high society that ensured her supply line stayed open.
The door to the throne room suddenly flew open and Olaf bustled in, jolting her from her thoughts of Kristoff, and dragging her back to the present.
“About fucking time!” she growled.
Olaf knew better to argue when she was like this. Better just to let it go. Besides, he didn’t want her to see the reindeer hoofmarks on his back after the quicky against the rock face outside the palace.
Ulcer snatched the ice from Olaf, dismissed him with a casual flick of the hand, and turned up the doof doof. The track was a high tempo re-mix of an old favourite. It sounded vaguely familiar, but in her frantic state she couldn’t place it.
It’s time to see what I can do,
To test the limits and break through
No right no wrong no rules for me,
She sank back into her icy throne and let the music carry her away. The numbness quickly spread from her backside through the rest of her body as the ice took over. She let it go. Her thoughts, her fears, her regrets. All of it. While the snow swirled around outside, and the wind howled its anguish as it threw the snow against the walls of the palace, Ulcer let it go. It should’ve been cold. But when she was in this state, the cold never bothered her anyway.