Hi all! Been a little while since I posted anything. This here’s a new story from a collection of horribly depressing children’s stories I want to write. Hope you find it appropriately bleak 🙂
Once upon a time, there was a little boy called Ivan.
Then Ivan died.
His family mourned, the village sang the dirges of death, then they drank all through the night as death was not uncommon there and they, at least, were still alive.
It was some surprise to Ivan, then, when he woke up the next morning. He scrawled out of the earth, scrabbling through it like a grub-nosed dire mole, his limbs full of strength he did not know he had.
Not knowing what to do, he dragged his drying husk of a body back towards his village. When he got to the spiked palisade, he knocked as best he could. The palisade’s wooden frame shook and Ivan’s fist scraped against one of its many pointy spikes, but Ivan felt nothing.
The guard on duty approached with bleary, blood-rimmed eyes and started when he saw they boy.
“Ivan, is that you?”
“I think so.” Said Ivan, his tongue rasping, paper-dry.
“What foul sorcery has brought you back, Ivan?” Spluttered the guard.
“I don’t know.”
“Was it some fell magic?”
“Probably.” Sighed Ivan, who was not stupid. A single tear rolled down his cheek, leaving a trail of gore down his too-pale skin.
“Hey, chief!” the guard called, “Ivan’s been brought back by probably dark arts!”
“Well don’t let him in you wanker!” Yelled the chief, striding purposefully over. “He’ll likely kill us all.
“Sorry, Ivan,” she continued, “you understand.”
“Yes.” Said Ivan, quietly. “I understand.”
And Ivan walked alone into the cold, biting snow. But he felt nothing.
Ivan wandered on shambling legs through the wilds. The wolves ignored him as they didn’t care for the taste of corpse meat. A carrion bird began to peck out his eyes, but Ivan reached up quickly and snapped its neck with too-strong arms before it did too much damage.
He walked for many days and the bitter cold stopped decay from sinking its claws into his body. He was grateful for this, as he would not have liked to have his soul trapped in a prison of rotting flesh. A prison of frozen flesh was definitely preferable, even if it did make his limbs hard to move.
When he came to the next village he barely resembled the boy he had been and the guards were not so kind.
“Get away, dead boy!” They shouted. “We don’t want your taint here.”
And Ivan would have cried, if only the viscera that filled his tear ducts had not frozen solid.
“Please.” He croaked. “Please help-”
The first arrow took him in the shoulder and twisted his body down onto the icy ground. The second hit him in the arm and sizzled as its flaming arrowhead extinguished itself in his frozen meat. Ivan felt nothing.
He shuffled off before they could try again with fire.
He walked through the frozen wilds for a long time and saw many things. He saw the great waterfall of the north frozen in mid flow, its tumultuous essence captured in a single moment – he saw his face reflected in its rippling ice and felt something flutter in his chest. He saw the great beasts that slumbered beneath the dirt begin to stir as they tasted the first gusts of spring upon the sharp winds. He saw the old woman of the forest, sitting outside her yurt of bones on a rocking chair made of shadows ande even she shrank back from him.
When he finally came to the third village, they were suspicious at first, but the village’s chief was young and soft of heart and he took pity on the little frozen boy and thought that just one night would not hurt. Ivan sat by the fire, which spread its warmth through the ice of his body and he reached out with his hands to grasp more of its nourishing warmth.
“Careful!” Said the chief. “You wouldn’t want to burn yourself!”
But Ivan felt nothing.
That night, as Ivan’s flesh began to thaw, so too did the death that lived inside him. It stretched itself out and flowed down through Ivan’s unused veins, letting its corruption trickled down through every inch of him. It moved the little boy’s limbs like he was a puppet, pulling him out of bed in short, jerky movements. Ivan tried to control pull himself back, to take control of his rebellious bones, but they were stronger than he could believe.
Ivan left a trail of gory tear-stains all the way from his bed to the village’s gates.
In the morning, when the sun speared its rays through the morning’s frost, Ivan looked about him.
He saw the village’s gates splintered off their hinges.
He saw the village’s wards, smudged and splattered by his bloody tears.
He saw the village’s people, laid out in broken piles on the uncaring ground.
And Ivan felt nothing.