Happily Ever Over- Part 4

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Some people can comfort and fill the emptiness in a person's soul, but if they don't really want to help, but actually harm, they will use the foulest talents to warp someone to their will. Pretty words poured into sweet sounds saying horrible things can create images that could lead even the Pied Piper astray.





There was a song, long lost, the one the first Pied Piper had used, that was banned in all the world- except that this man had an ancient parchment with notes that bore the whole evil tune. He held it up with the golden hook that in the dirty light was not a hook on a stub of arm, but an ugly flattened mesh of fingers dipped in gold to preserve its shape. Its edges were sharpened like a knife. As the elegant words flowed, the Piper listened carefully to the things he heard and found, surprisingly, that he wasn't offended by any of the requests the man made. He said his name was Huk, and the Piper felt he had a new friend.

By the end of that talk an unfortunate series of events unfolded that changed the world forever. Sound dramatic? There isn't any other way to put it. You never know when something will turn out that way even when it starts as small as a whisper.

The nightmare begins

The Sun rose as usual, but everything had changed.

Back across the valley in the Piper's town, the morning dawned. Even though they were no longer asleep, a nightmare began for one set of parents, then another, and another, and another. The police had never seen anything like it. The children of their town were gone. It looked like they had all gotten up, dressed and left sometime early in the morning to go play. But they had disappeared without a trace. ALL of them.

A traveling salesman gave the Police their lead later that horrible day when he wandered, dazed, into town. He said he had been sleeping in his car while on a sales trip. He had been heading for the Town By The Sea by one of the back roads across the valley, and wanted to save on the motel costs, so he pulled slightly off the road into some trees to nap.

He heard a strange flute music playing at dawn and coming closer and closer. It wasn't a strong enough magic to make him follow but he certainly felt that it was magic. Bad magic. He had gotten out of his car almost against his will but his curiosity also pulled him out. He watched transfixed from the trees as a man walked by leading a large group of children dancing and laughing. When they were well past him he felt like he woke out of a dream and realized he had followed them a little ways at a distance and had become disoriented.

He noticed a small child with a crutch tried to keep up with the group and had fallen behind. The enchanted music left him unable to help the limping boy and seemed to keep him away from the group. All he could do was turn and stumble back to get help.

It wasn't long afterward that the Piper was found in his van in the park. Who else could lead things away with a flute? He had been packing to leave and was trying to pour gasoline into his van from a can with a tube. He also had a massive sum of money in the form of old gold coins. When the officers grabbed him he appeared dazed. The dazed state of mind never seemed to clear.

Back at the station the detective leading the investigation was Lenny. Lenny was famous for being the best detective in the area. His life was like an adventure book of highs and lows that hadn't ended yet. He may have been an old man but he could be intimidating if he needed, and now he needed to be very intimidating.

Another Fly on the wall heard everything that went on.

"What happened to the children?" Lenny yelled, but almost felt bad since the Piper was so thin and haggard, well he almost felt bad.

The Piper’s voice was quiet and strange. "You mean the children of the people who live in my town where they never pay me what they owe and make fun of me...? From where my own wife and child left me because of my lowered circumstances? That town? Those children?"

"WHERE are the CHILDREN?"

"I led them away and handed them over to a nice man in a mansion where he will put them to work as servants.. I think."

"Servants? What kind of servants? Did he say servants or SLAVES?"

"He didn't say."

"Then how do you know he wanted them as servants? What exact words did he use?"

Silence was the response.

"What did he say he wanted the children for?"

"He said he was having trouble collecting help, he said HELP.. yes collecting help in the numbers like he was used to, and wanted to give me a LARGE amount of money to bring him children. As many as I could. Whoever was doing it for him before wasn't doing a good job I suppose."

“You suppose?? What did he say he needed a large amount of children for?"

"I brought him the children. At least the ones that would follow me- which was more than I thought. He paid in GOLD for each one."

"Let me say something to this criminal, Lenny.” The Mayor had come for the interrogation.

“Hey you- I am the Mayor here and I used to be a cop and you are the sickest person I have ever met! Why would you just kidnap children and hand them over to someone you don't know for reasons you don't know- and cause such suffering? We hired you to do all of our office buildings! That’s a lot of work! This is how you repay us?"

Silence again for a long while, then quiet words from the Piper.

"I'll show you the mansion where I took them, if you show me the proof that you were going to pay me for that job."

Silence for awhile, again. (I am sure you could guess already there was no proof he was going to be paid. They couldn't have even faked it, because no one knew where the submitted bills were...)

Then the Mayor exploded.

"There is NO WAY that paying you, or showing proof you were going to be paid- is worth you keeping from us where THESE CHILDREN ARE! Its not equal, its not the same!"

"I lost my home. I lost my wife- she left me because we ended up living in the bug van. She took our child and told me this was no life for them. I understood. She left. I eat the bugs, you know, because I can't afford food. All of you owe me and say you'll pay and then the money never comes. Why don't YOU tell ME what suffering is and isn't?"

The silence that fell for a bit was probably because everyone was envisioning him eating bugs.

He spoke again, "Then I tried to get signatures for the gift tax payment. I needed you people to sign the petition and you laughed in my face. One day a year, bringing gifts to good children for staying clean. Clean Day.. I was going to think of a better name but... I also tried to join the town orchestra but those people didn't want the BUG MAN playing flute- a LOT of those people owed me money too- you didn't KNOW that did you? I tried so many ways..... That last winter that came, with all the snow and wind- I suffered. I hallucinated that my ancestor came to me and tried to make me do bloody things like he did and I said no. I went in the spring to get paid and got physically thrown out of Town Hall."

Lenny spoke, "I remember that day. It was unfortunate- they didn't know who you were- they thought you were a bum. But its still innocent kids- you had no right, its not their fault their parents are schmucks."

"Then it would have been okay to lead away adults? I would have if someone was paying for them." The Piper laughed a scratchy creepy little laugh. "Why would you expect me to take care of your little beasts? After what this town did to me. Those same children threw rocks at me, and their parents laughed. I delivered the children whole and unharmed to a PAYING client and what he does after is no concern of mine. He paid his bill. You people never did for honest hard work- for a LOT of hard work- YEARS OF IT! You expected me to keep working, keep taking your verbal and physical abuse. I am not a monster, I just couldn’t take anymore. I wanted OUT of here.”

"You’ll get that I guarantee it” Lenny spoke severely, “and now you really have nothing. You can help yourself a little Piper by helping us. Save your soul. You say you didn't hurt the kids, that you aren't a monster- I want to believe you. You can show us where you took them- tell us who paid you, show us so we can get the children back."

"I told you. Make the Mayor show me proof they were EVER going to pay me for just THAT ONE job. Just the ONE, never mind all the others. Show me. Then I'll take you there myself."

Silence. Then the Piper began to laugh again.

Check out the previous parts of Happily Ever Over right here.






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