Tales from the Kingdom of Grim

By Shelley Miller All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

The Man Who Disliked People

"Soon, very soon, I'll find it....

What it takes to make the perfect human."

There was once an elderly man who had a great disliking for other people. He considered humans to be a dreadful race, for it was only humans who lied, cheated, stole, and killed without thought. In all his years, he never found a human being who was truly good and pure, and so lost faith in others.

This man was an inventor and spent a great deal of time cooped up in his shop, surrounded by gears and pulleys, creating wonderful machines. One day, an idea occurred to him. If he could make his inventions that made life so much easier, perhaps he could make a better kind of person, and the world would be the better for it.

So the man barricaded himself in his shop and set to work on how to create a human as one would create a machine. He studied long and hard on how humans worked and tried to replicate the process through mechanics. The work was difficult and often fruitless. Each of his failures, however, did not dampen his spirits.

"Now I know how NOT to do it!" he would say to himself, with a grin, and he would start over again.

Bit-by-bit, the man's work was starting to pay off. The "people" he created were soon able to move, then walk, then preform small tasks. However, they could not speak for they had no tongues. They could not think or retain memories, for they had gears and wires instead of brains. Despite these things, the man was happy with the progress he'd made thus far.

One day, word of his project reached the ears of the Ash Queen. She took an interest in this man's pursuit and sent for him to come to the castle immediately. Her soldiers showed up at the man's shop and demanded he go with them.

Knowing of the Queen's horrific temper and fearing refusal would lead him to the chopping block, the man accompanied the soldiers, grumbling at his poor luck, and the soldiers taking one of his inventions with them.

Once they got their audience with the Queen, she asked for a demonstration of his invention. After the man reassured her that the machines were a work in progress, and not at all finished, he activated one of his "person" for her. The "person" took a shaky step toward the Queen and was made to bow before her. After it preformed several such tricks for the Queen, she clapped her hands and laughed with delight.

"How charming your creations are!" she exclaimed. "I simply adore them. Very well, Inventor, I've decided to aid you in your pursuit. I'll provide you with gold and fresh materials to work with and you will create these wonderful things to serve me around the castle. Will that do?"

The inventor was filled with dread. He distrusted the Queen and knew of her malicious nature. The last thing he wanted was to become one of her insufferable lackeys! Still, to refuse her what she wanted was to court death, and the offer of gold and tools to use for his creations was too much to pass up. Against his better judgement, he agreed to work for the Queen. He was granted a new, bigger workshop in the castle itself and was free to help himself to the castle's resources.

His freedom, however, did not last. Time usually set aside for eating and sleeping was getting cut shorter all the time. He was soon no longer allowed to leave the castle at all. The tools and objects the Queen provided for him were strange and foreign to him and did not know what they were for without her written instructions. The Queen, it seemed, had completely taken over his work, and his life.

The only good thing was that the automated "people" were making vast amounts of progress since his move. What had taken years so far was know happening in a matter of days. The "people" could now preform the most complex motor activities including writing and even weapon handling. They understood orders and obeyed every command given to them. They could recognize colors and shapes and were soon mastering basic speech.

Instead of pleasing him, these progressions filled the inventor with even more terrible dread then before. He knew the real success to these developments were due to whatever strange methods the Queen was insisting on, and he started to get very anxious.

Soon, he noticed something else going on at the castle. Young servants were starting to go missing. Stable boys, gate keepers, even a young butler had all vanished during the inventor's stay at the palace. Alarmed, but determined to get to the bottom of these mysteries, the inventor dared to venture out of his workshop to investigate.

He happened upon the Queen standing over one of his automated "people". The "person" was using its sharp teeth to rip through what appeared to be what was left of one of the royal dogs. When the "person" turned its blood-stained face toward the Queen, the inventor noticed, to his horror, that it had the face of the missing young butler.

The inventor had been making automated people out of REAL people!

He'd seen enough. He went back to his workshop and burned all of his notes and dismantled the few "people" he still had. The inventor then tried to flee the castle but was happened upon by two guards.

The inventor took a heavy mallet out of his bag and beat at the guards, but it seemed they felt no pain. They did not move nor flinch at his attempts to hurt them. It was then, he realized, that they were some of his own automated people! Everyone, save himself, who worked at the palace had been replaced by his own creations!

He was taken to the dungeons below the castle for his attempt to escape. He was flogged and tortured for hours and hours until, finally, the Queen came to pay him a visit.

"I have you to thank for my wonderful new servants, Inventor. I think, for that, you have earned a slight reprieve. You can go now, Inventor. Go on your way and thank you ever so much for my wonderful charming new soldiers."

"I'll never stand for this!" the inventor snarled. "I've destroyed all my notes! These things won't last forever. You won't win!"

"But I already have, dear," said the Queen, patting the shoulder of one of the stiff automated people. "I've made all my own notes, you know, in case you tried such a stunt. And, I assure you, they will last. Stronger and far more obedient than real humans, I can make as many of them as I want and they'll all serve me without the slightest hesitation. It seems we both got what we wanted, Inventor. You created the perfect human being...and I get the most perfect army!"

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