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Slagar the Cruel
November 1st, 2002, 12:06 PM
Not only is this the first post in the Writer's Block... ;) it's also my slightly overdue Halloween story.


The Telltale Tail
by Slagar the Cruel

TRUE!!!... I am a little offbeat at times, especially for an average cook at the peaceful Abbey of Redwall; but why MUST you call me mad? This affliction sharpens my perception of things - it doesn't dull them. My hearing gained the most from my condition. I heard all things in the world. I heard many things in the Dark Forest. Some of these things were beautiful, others horrible, and some kind of stung my ears. Does that make me mad? Listen, and you shall see how calmly I can relate to you my tail. Er, tale, rather.

It is difficult for me to tell you how the thought first entered my mind, but, once it was conceived, it became more and more appealing to me. I had no real reasoning behind the act I was to commit. I was fond of the young squirrel that was my kitchen helper. He was always very helpful. In the kitchen, that is. He always had a kind word to say about someone, and he never wronged me wrongly, or slighted me even in the slightest way. It was his tail! Yes, it was this! His tail had strange markings, white streaks of fur that strongly resembled a face. Whenever my gaze fell upon it my blood ran cold. It seemed to mock me - yes, his tail was the one that wronged me! - and so by degrees, I made up my mind to end the life of the kitchen helper, and thus rid myself of his vile tail forever.

Now, you fancy me mad. Madbeasts are wild, and act without pretense. But you should have seen how wisely I proceeded with foresight, caution, dissimulation, and foresight I went to work! I was never kinder to that kitchen helper than on the week before I killed him. To him I would speak with gentle words, such as "good work", "brilliant", and "throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity". And every night about midnight I opened the door to his room oh so carefully. Then, when I had made an opening large enough for my head, I put in a dark lantern covered up so that no light escaped it, and then I thrust in my head. I moved in very, very slowly, oh, so very, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the kitchen helper's sleep. And then when my head was through the door, I opened the lantern cautiously so that a single thin ray fell upon the tail. But yet I could never kill him, because his tail was always hidden under his blanket. Upon seeing this, night after night, I would always curse my luck very loudly, after which I would remember my cautiousness and rush out of the room, mortified. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that.

By the eighth night I had perfected my plan. Unfortunately, that same night I was feeling rather groggy. Forgetting my cautiousness and assuring myself that the kitchen helper was a deep sleeper, anyways, I simply pulled the door open and threw my head inside. Looking back this was a bad idea. I was about to open the lantern, when the squirrel whose tail bore a face jumped up in his bed, shouting, "Who's there?" I kept still and quiet. For all of an hour I did not move an inch, and yet I didn't hear him lie down. He was standing on his own bed, listening. It gets tiring standing around like that after a while. But that's not important.

Just then, I heard a groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. Yes, I knew the sound well, and I felt sorry for him although I laughed in my heart. I knew that he had been half-standing awake since he heard me enter. His worry had been growing since then, and though he tried to dismiss them, he could not. I knew that he had been saying to himself, "the sound was nothing more than the wind," or, "it is just my imagination," or, "did I leave the lights on in my car? No, scratch that, I'm in a mideival setting." Yes, he had been trying to reassure himself that nothing was amiss; but he had found it all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, I TELL YOU!!! For his death drew ever nearer.

When I had waited a long time with great patience without hearing him lie down, I decided to open a tiny crevice in the lantern. So I opened it - and no man (or mouse for that matter) has ever opened a lantern so stealthily - bit by bit until a single ray of light shot forth from the lantern and fell upon the wicked tail.

When the kitchen helper had jumped up in his bed, his tail had fallen upon his pillow, and never before had it seemed more like a face - laying upon a pillow. And I have told you, that which you mistake for madness is but an over-acuteness of my senses? Now, there came to my ears a deep, slow voice, such as a voice that would be used by a drunken vermin. I knew that sound well too - I had heard it before, but thought it only in my mind. It was the voice of his evil tail! It was mocking me!

"Hey, stupid!" it cried. "Yer ugly! I'm a talkin' tail! Hey stupid! Yer ugly! I'm a talkin' tail!" and so it went, over and over. It's voice grew louder, I say! Louder every moment! The voice of the tail caused me to become exceedingly frightened. Yet for several minutes longer I stood still. But the tails voice grew louder, louder! Then it struck me - the tail would be heard by the other Abbeydwellers in the dormitory! The kitchen helper's time had come! Swiftly, silently, I threw myself towards the kitchen helper with my knife in hand. He didn't have time to scream long, as I quickly slit his throat. His wretchid tail turned to me. "Aw, why'd y' go an do tha'?" it asked. And so then, with a shout, I severed the tail from the kitchen helper's rump, and with a cry of anguish the tail died. Yes, the tail was stone, stone dead - the stoniest dead possible. It would trouble me no more.

Well, do you still think me mad after that? ...okay, don't answer that, just listen to the rest of my tale. Now what happened next... oh yes! I disposed of the remains!

I plied up three floorboards of the chamber, and deposited his remains in the very floor. I then replaced the boards so meticulously, so perfectly, so spectacularly, so awesomely, that no human eye could have detected anything wrong. Um, did I say human? I meant... Redwaller. And no trace of blood sat upon the floor. The perfect murder!

The following morning, I arose to prepare breakfast. As I casually added constituents to my skillet, I was approached by two mice - one was the Abbot himself. They came to me with looks of concern, telling me that they could not find the kitchen helper. They asked if I knew what had become of him.

I smiled brightly - for what had I to fear? The kitchen helper, I said, had embarked on a Bobbatan Quest for a Weary Nod, telling only me the previous night. The Abbot nodded gravely, telling me he understood. But still, I insisted that I help them search. I suggested they check his room for any clues. For again, what had I to fear?

When we came to his room, and they could find nothing, I proposed we sit and chat a while - and I, in my arrogance, sat on a chair I placed right on top of the tail's final resting place. And we three mice chatted of familiar things, of the Abbey, of seasons past. But, ere long, I wished our interlocution to END. My skull throbbed with pain, and there grew a ringing in my ears. But still they prattled on. And still the ringing continued and became more definitve - and finally I found that the noise was NOT within my ears, nor was it a ringing!

I talked more fluently, with a squeaky voice. Yet the noise steadily increased - and became more definitive - until I could hear it clearly. IT WAS A VOICE THAT WOULD BE USED BY DRUNKEN VERMIN. "Hey stupid! Yer ugly! I'm a talkin' tail!" I gasped, sweated, and grew pale, and yet the other mice did not respond to it. I stood tall and shouted about trifles (and other dishes) in an angry voice, striding about the room, throwing my arms into the air; but the voice remained. I could hear it's insults clearly now - why would they not be DONE with our conversation? I foamed at the mouth! I swore! I lit curtains on fire! I whacked my head upon the wall! Still the voice shouted of my ugliness above all. And still the Abbot chatted pleasantly. Was it possible they heard not? No, no, NO! They knew! They suspected! They KNEW! And they were making a mockery of my horror! Mocking me just as the tail was! Anything was better than this horror! I felt that I would burst! I felt as a raven, shouting "nevermore"! And yet the tail's voice grew louder, louder, louder, louder, louder, louder and louder, until it WAS LOUDLY LOUD!!!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "quit it! I admit it! I did it!" I tore up the planks and held up the kitchen helper's TAIL! "Here, HERE! IT IS THE JEERS OF HIS HIDEOUS TAAAIL!"

Actually, maybe I am mad.

~THE END~