“Despite my Ghoulish Reputation, I Really Have The heart of A small Boy. I Keep it in a jar on my Desk”
Would you steal a human heart if you had no heart yourself?
There were those days that the Hulgri attempted to steal little children’s hearts. These vicious creatures-often charged for smuggling the precious silver coins from Prince Axel’s towers in exchange for a heart or two down the Greinfait River across Mount Orage- were ugly as they were cruel. Dark-moss-green skin tone, sunken black holes, no eyes. Their nails were made of tar; their teeth razor-sharp and sticking out. They were proportioned like humans-in height and built- but were heart-less and wild.
Similar to those myths.
That night, the air was tinged in smoke; the fog droning out the sight in most humans. But not the little boy. No, this little boy was special; he had the ability to foreseen what most can’t. He was quick and agile like a winter-fox, the one thing that will topple the hierarchy.
“I am ready, morons! FACE YOURSELF.” He was unafraid, bold.
Those morons, the Hulgri appeared before him. They slunk slowly-with neither agility nor even, pace- all with scythes and swords in their hands….
The little boy paces himself: he blocks their gaze, their swords, their scythes. He chops off heads, slices hands.
However, the Hulgri only ever increased in numbers. With every few he’d kill, ten other identical clones of each appear before him.
The fight was pointless.
The Hulgri were enjoying themselves; mocking the little boy’s snares and just using his attack as an opportunity to go in for the kill. The kill that was his heart. After a few more minutes, the Hulgri have made their population evolve into millions.
It was a feast for the few of them. The little boy was later mocked by the rest of them by being hanged up high from a tall coconut tree. His neck is purple, his head has rolled across the blades of grass. His face is still dazed, and his tongue stuck out, purplish-red. The Hulgri slice his chest out-and as the knife is drenched in blood- they poke at his human-heart.
And, after this heart is roasted over a fire, it is safe to say: Bravery can only get you so far.
---- --- --- --- --- --- -- ---
It is December 21, 1925.
Ten years past, and the Kingdom of Uxiya after the incident of the little boy’s tragedy, is a ghost town amidst of the hustle-and-bustle of the city of Vrisgend. A girl with the name of Kathleen Vanneste walks around the city of Vrisgend during its annual Harvest Festival with a huge grin across her face. Her big cerulean-blue eyes glimmer that day, as I admire her from afar. Her long grey dress pairs perfectly with her burgundy cocoon fur coat. Gold locks stream down past her shoulders, a cream-colored felt cloche hat placed perfectly on her head.
But I guess it has always been this way: she was always-and will always-be so much more than I will ever be.
I, Tobias Palmer will always be the pauper.
“Tobias dear, send these crates of newspapers to Mr. Morris, will you?” Mother tells me this, and hurriedly makes her way out of the flat to catch the trolley.
I look at the piece of paper- in mother’s perfect penmanship- and hop on my bike to the address of Mr. Morris’ store.
As I passed the various flats and petting pantries around the city, I catch a glimpse of Kathleen herself; we make settle eye-contact, before she disappears. But it was such a glorious day.
Why would she leave so sudden?
“Ah, Mr. Palmer! Fancy seeing you here again! Here to pass off them newspapers off for kale, yeah?” Mr. Morris seemed rather Jake today; round-a-bout happy and energetic; his usual self. He was a tall and willowy old man, nearing his late 60s, but had the ability to remain a youngster forever. Nether less, he was a nice man, always having this dincher in stuck between his yellowish teeth; the type who’s trying too hard to be the “cool man”.
Similar to that time that he asked me if I’d like to have a jorum of skee-when I definitely was not of legal age to do so- and I politely said no, he started having this fit.
“You’re are a growing man, Tobie! Ain’t a swig of alcohol gonna do you more help than harm?” He was dead ossified at that time, so I couldn’t blame him.
But good thing he wasn’t feeling drunk today.
“Yes sir. Mother says that I need to help ya with these newspapers otherwise, I’d end up a dewdropper.” I say sarcastically, just to please the old man.
“Atta boy! That’s one way to put it” He claps me on my back and goes to the back of the shop to get the newspapers.
But all is interrupted, this bright and sunny day.
Outside, the horns toot and the trolleys skid to a stop at the sight: Prince Axel and his knights are bearing ahead, in personal carriages filed by ponies.
A burly guard with an unkept mustache stands on the podium and announces: “Good afternoon citizens of Vrisgend. I hereby declare on behalf of his majesty-Prince Axel- that today’s announcements are to be centered around his citizens as a warning. This warning is addressed to all those who have heard of the little boy’s tragedy at our neighboring kingdom of Uxiya. If anyone has witnessed a Hulgri nearby, please tell your findings at the Hingham Castle. That is all! Thank you for your time!” The guard rolls up his parchment of announcements. And, with that, the Prince and his knights-and guards- are making their way back to the castle.
I try to ignore the squeals of women and girls as the young Prince rolls by; and try to focus on what was just said.
What was he talking about?
Who were the Hulgri?
“Are you okay there, Tobie?” Mr. Morris says, in concern. He has the crate of newspapers in his arms, and he looks as if he didn’t know.
Know what was just announced.
Not like he cared, though.
“Sir, do you know what is a Hulgri? Also, why would the Prince and his royal guards come all the way to this city to tell us that?” My eyes are wide in curiosity; something I wish that I never have asked.
“I don’t think you want to know about those vicious creatures, kid.” His voice sounds annoyed.
But, did I know?
“Sir, I do want to know.” I say, pushing his patience.
He grunts, and then finally says, “Then, follow me. I will show you.”
As I follow him out the door and into the back of the store, I see the cage.
It is a six foot by eight foot black-wired cage. Covered by a black cloth, smoke spewed out of the cage-holes. I look back at Mr. Morris: his eyes are gleaming in pride. But, why though?
“This is the reason why I don’t want to tell the Prince.” He says this with a smirk.
“Tell the prince…. What?” I ask him.
“Have you ever heard of the story of the lost girl?” He sits down on a wooden rocking chair and motions me to sit on the stool next to him.
I shake my head, as to say: no.
He continues: “There was once a girl named Quetzal. She was a young Aztec girl living in Mexico during the 1500s. Now, this was the time in which the gold coins of Cortez were well known around the little town of Telajara. Now, this girl had made it a habit of going around the town at suppertime with a pail of stale sourdough bread. She wouldn’t give the bread to anyone but-instead- she would go to the graveyard near the abandoned church.
‘Take my bread, take my bread’ She would wail to the dead. The dead would refuse to take her bread, because it was stale. She was a lonely girl; always glaring at the crypt keeper who would fill the dirt holes with dead people.
One day, as the little girl was laying on the grass at the graveyard, a lonely woman with the name of María asked for a piece of her bread. The little girl was delighted: at last! Someone has asked for her bread! The woman then tells her, ‘Little girl, where are your parents?’ The little girl says, ‘Woman, I have no parents. After my papa died during horseback at the Sierra Madre, mama drowned herself in a lake.’
‘But, dear child, did your parents love you?’ The woman asked her, feeling her pain.
‘No. My mama loved my brothers more than me.’
‘Then, you understand my pain.’ The weeping woman says and leads her across the ocean.
The naïve child follows her, and the woman, is revealed as La Llorona.
‘Child, you are so kind! You offer me your bread, and then you follow me into the ocean! With this, I will offer you a deal: If you drown yourself in the ocean there hija, I will give you the opportunity for revenge in your next life.’ La Llorona says, white veil wisps, white gown flowing.
The little girl, however, wasn’t as naïve to fall for such a trick. She has heard of the tales of La Llorona, the ghost who mistakes other children-like herself- for her sons. And, would drown the children in oceans or rivers.
So, the little girl refuses.
‘You evil child! You bastard!” The woman wails, ‘I thought you-of all people- would understand me!’ La Llorona pushes the child into the river, along with herself.
The lost girl, as many have said in the legends and folktales is a girl who would lurk near the ocean near the graveyard and ask women to taste her bread. This girl would angrily cry out,
‘Take my bread, take my bread!’ And, if you refuse to take her bread she’d go into your soul and haunt you until death.
She is called the lost girl because she often took the lives of lost children and women and kill then slowly. However, unlike La Llorona, she would haunt, not kill immediately.” Mr.Morris ends the tragic tale with a sigh.
“Sir, are you telling me that this story-…” I start and Mr. Morris cuts me off and says, “ Dear boy, I am telling you this story because it relates my reasons: as to why I caught a Hulgri.
He takes the black cloth off the cage: and the revelation of the creature is shared.
The tar-nails, the black sunken-no eyes- holes, dark-green-moss skin, naked body. The creature whimpered, and there was something about the creature…..
That caught me off guard.
The same blue eyes.
Just like Kathleen’s.
It couldn’t be.
“You see, Tobie, I was at the forest Camset the other day, and I see a lone Hulgri limping near a boulder. So, I immediately shot the thing with my new rifle and brought it back to the shop.” He was grinning deviously, his eyes beady in excitement and strife.
“You see, pal, this thing-if sold to the right person- can earn me tons of big bucks for the shop!” He continued, as if there wasn’t no harm in hurting a being.
But, it’s not like it was human.
The way the creature whimpered; I noticed the bloody gnash on its right knee. She was a beautiful creature, one with teary blue-eyes and long dark green locks. She had the same built as Kathleen, the same sad smile.
“Help me! Help me! “She said sadly.
“Can I hear you?” I ask her.
“Yes, you can.” She says.
“Who are you? Why do you remind me of Kathleen?” I ask her. “Why are you here? Why can I hear you? Why?”
“Enough with the questions. I am a Hulgri.”
It’s funny how life can trip you off sometimes; just like the girl named Kathleen.