A story.

“Tell us a story,” they said – the voices of children, squeaking and squeaking like pigs sprawled out in dirt and squalor.

“Fine. I’ll tell you the story about a girl who became a hero and touched the sun.”

“Eww! No, no, no!” they squealed, tightening the bonds around its neck. It choked and choked, spitting blood and words that swam up and up and up until they popped in the mud that engulfed them all. “Tell us a story,” they said.

“How about the tale of a bear who became a hero and saved its children?”

“No, no, no! We don’t want to hear about bears.” Nails and claws scraping against hard soil. The mud was cold, but the entrails of its body were warm. So very warm, it burned.

“Tell us a story.”

“No.”

“Tell us a story.”

They formed a circle around it. Pigs. Pigs, pigs, pigs. The children squealed and the monster scrawled unlucky things on the soil that soon were washed away by mud. It lashed out, but the noose only tightened and tightened.

“Monster! Monster! Monster!”

Its head was a world of tales. An eternal tapestry of time – little girls who swung swords and touched the sun and died, mother bears who fought guns and died, heroes, villains, plots of thread and raffia and wires – madness, madness, too much.

“Monster! Monster! Monster!”

The delightful children. The wonderful children.

Pigs, pigs, pigs.

Nothing.

“Tell us a story,” one of their fingers brushed its chin – cold, fat and white, with a fingernail trimmed to the limit. “Tell us a story,” a pudgy hand on its thigh – nails raking across bitter skin. “Tell us a story,” a hand on its chest, curling into a fist.

Bright, yellow eyes.

“Tell us a story,” they whispered. “And we don’t want to hear about heroes.”