Through the cold ice we trekked, the Reaper and I.
His face an ever-shifting grin, oscillating between joy and malice...
With quick, light-footed steps, he lead me to a warm green meadow.
A small hut in the distance, a little garden beside.
Where a hunchbacked man, covered in boils and open wounds;
Bearing a crooked jaw and gnarled hands, tilled the earth.
"Egh yew ooh wha gu wan!"
I was so startled by the hunchback's sudden outburst,
That I jumped and gripped the Reaper's cloak in fright,
Yet as soon as he had seen me, the hunchback's eyes glazed over;
He appeared to forget about our presence...
I had to admit, I was very curious
And I wished to move in close so I could inspect him.
Reaching out with my hand to clasp his own;
I was assailed by horrid visions.
In one instance I was a collector of night soil,
Abuse hurled at me like stones and I the accepting target.
For to speak was to open this torn mouth of mine
And that would merely draw a mocking laugh and looks of fear...
In another vision I was placed in a moving chair,
Unable to speak, but allowed to cry; strapped in as my limbs flailed.
I could not understand the looks of those around me, but I understood pain;
Pushed to the ground with force, my limbs jerking in shock.
I dangled helplessly, caught by the belt, my misery a whimper...
But the last was the most terrifying, for it felt utterly real.
A simple loaf of bread clutched in my hands,
As I was pinned to the ground and pummelled by many men.
Their joyous shrieks and entertained guffaws,
Rang hollow in my ears as I picked the crushed pieces of bread -
From the dirty floor...
What else can I do?
I have nothing to eat.
"Eb-yu Eb-yu, 'Op!"
The yell of the hunchback brought me out of my painful reverie
And whilst I'd been lost to the world; the sky had grown dark...
Thunder crackled and lightning cackled, as trees burnt and the ground cracked.
Faceless men emerged from beyond the greenery,
Spouting hateful words that buzzed through the air.
It was the mere sound of these vulgarities, regardless of their meaning,
That caused the heart to clench as forgotten wounds reopened...
For hours I watched as they beat the hunchback;
Raining abusive blows like a swarm of angry bees;
They hurled a vulgar verbiage, mixed with excited bleats,
As they forced him to spit his teeth and cough up red...
Body shattered, badly battered;
On the cracked ground the hunchback crawls...
Seeking, in the distance, a simple flower.
A tiny symbol of hope, a glowing sun;
Burning brightly - but soon crushed by a heavy boot.
Laughter filled the air as the hunchback wept,
His boils bursting open and covering his body.
Wracked with pain, the flower was medicine
And so he screamed; incomprehensible words
"Eg-yu! Eg-yu! Agh-ah Eg-yu!"
The Reaper smiled at me as I watched the tragedy unfold,
"As it was given, so too shall he beget,"
On his hands and knees, the crying hunchback crawled;
Reaching out and grasping at my leg...
"Ehu eg-yu, ehu eg-yu"
As he muttered those pitiful words,
He grasped my boot and touched it to his forehead,
Clearly pleading - though I knew not what he wanted.
"A punishment made to fit the crime," said the Reaper,
"Yet pardon does require sacrifice..."
He smiled coldly, "would you like to present a gift my lord?"
I nodded solemnly as I ruined my thumb,
Canine teeth tearing into the nail and flesh,
As blood leaked from the maimed finger;
I spread it across the hunchback's forehead...
"Thus will I anoint..."
-Chen Yuan Wen, 12th January 2013