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The Death of Hemlin - Retelling Short Story

By Novella_vialli All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Horror

Retelling of the Pied Piper of Hemlin

He was dying. He knew as much, but had not found a way around his ill-timed fate.

His eyes roamed feverishly around the room, looking for the slightest clue that would end his soon-to-be journey to the grave. A single vein protruded from his neck and his twig like fingers tightened their hold around the goblet. The wine sloshed from side to side as his body started to convulse with rage. His eyes, the colour of the night sky seemed to darken further and suddenly he threw the goblet. It resonated with a sharp clang and its contents stained the wall of the meeting room. His advisors winced at the sound and stepped out of the way.

“Are you trying to tell me that you have no way out of this? You dare come before me with no solutions at all!” The king growled. The advisors kept silent with their eyes downcast, fearful of facing the wrath of the tyrant king. “After all I have done for you! Is it too much to ask, when all you have to do is find a way for me to live a little longer.” He spat out. The anger revived the tic in his eye and made him repeatedly blink his eyes. “Get out!” He ground out. “You disgust me.”

Soon he was left alone with no one but himself for company. There was no one he could trust, not even his family. His many wives hated each other and seethed with envy every time they were in the same vicinity. His children, even though he loved them, were far too young to understand the predicament of the situation.

“It seems death finally has me concerned.” He whispered to himself. “Death seems to be the answer to every thing.”

Suddenly struck with a thought, a malicious grin broke out on his face, “Death!” He screamed as if it were the answer to all his problems and ran out of the room.

His indigo robes bordered with a thick gold lace flew behind him as he quickened his pace. His unruly hair and ill-kept beard made him seem ferocious just as if he were a lion hunting its prey. He was a man on a mission. He entered his bed chamber, locked the door, and drew all the curtains, so that the room was enveloped in darkness, the only source of light being a single flickering candle.

From within his tightly shut cupboard he took out a small box. Almost immediately he was engrossed with its beauty and his fingers felt every inch of it, from the carved decorations to the intricate symbols. Shaking his head, he snapped out of his trance and proceeded to unlock the box.

The box creaked open and a strong stench filled the room. The king shuddered with disgust when he saw what lay before him. The decaying heart of his brother. His wish for power had been granted when he took his life.

He placed the box on the table and took the heart out. It had long ago stopped beating and now lay blackened and prune like, just waiting to disintegrate. Before he could have any second thoughts, he took a bite and swallowed without chewing. He repeated the procedure two more times, ultimately leaving only a sticky feeling on his fingers. Almost immediately his body rejected it all and out it came. When it was all over, he wiped his mouth and waited.

The candle started to flicker uncontrollably. A great roaring fire took its place and out from it came Death. He wore a hooded cloak and carried a scythe. His skeletal fingers were the only part of his body that was visible to the king. 

“You dare call upon Death!” With a voice menacing and threatening, he pointed his scythe towards the king. The king in fear backed up and bowed at Death.

“M-m-my apologies, my Lord. I simply call for a favour.” The king stuttered from his position. 

“A favour!” Death screamed. “You dare to still ask for a favour? Have I already not granted enough for you? And when is it that you plan to repay them?”

Filled with a semblance of confidence, the king looked up and said, “Soon, my Lord. Very soon. All I ask is a thousand more years to live and you shall have all the death you desire. I’ll wage wars. Have people murdered. Anything so that you can feed on their souls.”

“You are already overdue, and I simply do not have the patience to wait any longer. So instead, all you have to do is say ‘yes’ to me killing anyone I want and I’ll grant you your thousand years. What is you answer?” Death proposed with a wicked smile on his face.

“Anyone, my Lord. They are yours. You have my word.” The king cried in joy, not realizing the depth of the demand he had just agreed to. 

With that said Death disappeared with a loud cackle and left behind the dying flame of the candle.

The king pulled apart the curtains and smiled at the city below, but what he saw tore him to pieces. For it was Death feeding on the souls of all the children in the city. He cried out in protest, but Death only raised a finger to silence him.

“A deal is a deal, dear king.”

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