April 30, 2012 1 Comment
[For previous chapters, click here.]
The Prince’s Ghost – Chapter 5
Wilbur jumped up and shouted, “Adam, you can’t do this! You mustn’t!”
“Relax, Wilbur,” Adam responded casually. “Do you really think Triba would let me do something that he wouldn’t want me to do?”
“No, but I also don’t think that’s Triba.”
Lord Faulty had apparently overheard them and he said, “It’s okay, Wilbur. You can doubt me. But just because you doubt me doesn’t make me any less real.”
So Adam slowly walked up to the spring, though Wilbur couldn’t tell if he was timid about what he was about to do or if he were savoring the moment. In truth Adam was really just suffering from stage fright as he felt very uncomfortable having all those eyes staring at the back of his neck. However, he continued to proceed forward toward the formerly forbidden spring.
“What’s going on up there?” mumbled some people from the back of the crowd. Steadily the voices grew louder and then there was pushing and shoving coming from the shorter people in the back who could not see. The crowd moved clumsily forward as one of the short people fought their way to the front of the crowd.
But when the little ones popped through to the front, one clumsy squirrel stumbled a few feet and knocked Adam to the edge of the spring causing him to nearly fall in and the crowd gasped. But luckily he was quickly able to regain his posture and save himself from embarrassment.
Once the crowd resituated itself and Lord Faulty nodded with patience, Adam took these as his queue to proceed.
Wilbur stood by and watched with anticipation. Now that the deed had been committed to, he found himself actually wondering what would happen to Adam once he drank from the spring. To be sure, his curiosity had trumped his sense of duty to protect everyone. It was as though the entire world had stopped moving in order to catch a glimpse of the drama that was about to unfold.
Adam kneeled down at the edge of the spring and dipped his hand in. The crowd collectively held its breath and when Adam seemed unfazed by touching the water it let out its breath. Then Adam raised his cupped hand to his mouth and sipped.
The world stood still as it longed for results. The collective heartbeat of the crowd stopped so as not to miss a second of this outcome. But Adam stood up and looked just as he looked before. Strange, but there seemed to be a slight disappointment in the crowd. Somehow they expected a much more climatic result. Then someone asked the question everyone was wondering:
“So how does it taste?”
Adam seemed to ponder this question then said, “It definitely tastes sweeter than the water from the river.”
“Really?” asked a dwarf. “Then step aside, I want to taste it.”
“No, you can’t do that,” said Adam, unexpectedly.
“Because it’s mine. You get the whole river to drink from, but this spring is mine alone.”
“But you said it tastes sweeter,” the dwarf pressed, stubbornly. “I want to try it, and I’m sure everyone else does too.”
The dwarf attempted to move toward the spring but Adam, in a motion swifter than anyone had ever seen before, grabbed him in a headlock, picked him up off the ground and submerged his head in the spring. “You want a drink, then take it!” he snarled.
The crowd watched as the dwarf’s feet kicked wildly up and down and his whole body struggled, but no one knew what to do. In fact, they thought Adam was being generous by giving the dwarf a lot more than he intended to take. But his eyes didn’t show any hint of generosity. It seemed as though his eyes had gone black and he was emotionless toward the dwarf’s struggles. But the crowd didn’t know why the dwarf was kicking and flailing about so, for they had never seen – or even heard of – a drowning before. The very idea of water being in the least bit dangerous was absolutely unheard of. To them, water had only meant wonderful things like swimming and drinking and splashing, but no one had ever died by it before. In fact, dying was a concept that was completely foreign to everyone.
But soon the dwarf stopped struggling and his body lay limp by the side of the spring, his head still submerged beneath the surface of the water.
“Is he asleep?” someone asked. “Why won’t he get up?” someone else implored.
It was when these questions were being asked that Wilbur felt fear for the first time. Suddenly he knew something was – what’s the word? – wrong. Nobody ever fell asleep with their head in the water. And besides that, what was it that Adam kept calling the spring? It was a strange name he had never heard before.
He remembered that when he had said it his eyes grew narrow and a strange look had spread across his face. No one knew it, but that look was a scowl, and Adam was feeling deep contempt toward the dwarf and anyone who wanted to take a drink of his spring.
Suddenly there was a strange, unearthly cry that erupted from the crowd. It was the sound of a scream but completely devoid of any sort of merriment. This was an ear-piercing shriek that was uncomfortable to all who heard it. Everyone turned toward the sound. It had come from a grown man who was holding his arm and his eyes were red and water was dripping down his cheeks. Feeling pressed to explain himself he said, “A bee stung me. I don’t know what made him do such a… a… mean thing.” And that’s how the word “mean” was coined.
Next, a unicorn heard the faint, threatening sound of a growl rumbling near his ear. He turned and saw a wolf staring lustily at him, with his lips curled back, revealing sharp teeth. “I’m hungry,” he said, as he licked his lips. “I need something other than fruit a cake.” That young, yet ugly feeling of fear arose in the unicorn’s heart, which prompted him to run. He galloped away as fast as he could into the trees while a herd of wolves followed close behind, snapping their teeth at his heels. The unicorn was never seen again.
And then, all at once cries of anger and lament arose from the crowd.
“I don’t like you for some reason.”
“I can’t lead my house properly anymore.”
“I don’t want to go to work!”
“My head hurts.”
“Look, the grass is yellow. Weird.”
Wilbur turned all around trying to take in the whole scene, while fighting off his own sudden weakness. He just wanted to run away and hide. He had hidden from people before, but in order to be found by them during games. But this time, he wanted to hide in order not to be found ever again. He felt like this was all his doing. All this pain, and – what’s it called? – sadness, and heartache – he felt it was all because he didn’t stand up to Adam and stop him from drinking from the spring.
As awful as he felt about this terrible sensation of bad things unleashed into the world, he couldn’t help shake the feeling that this was going to be life for everyone for a very long time. But as we continued to look around, he noticed someone was missing: