Short fiction

Children of Hamlyn

This one was for a creative writing class, where we were to intervene on a traditional fairytale and give it a bit of a modern twist. Enjoy!

 

Children of Hamlyn

She stared at her reflection, practicing what she hoped was nonchalant menace. She closed her eyes as the stereo overflowed, flooding the room with blissful rhythm – dense and frantic yet somehow perfectly calculated. She felt the vibrations, pure music, pushing against her abdomen; a black metal heart beat inside.

Her eyes flicked open. Head tilted slightly down, she looked into the mirror through strands of peroxided hair – the same way he did in the video. She mouthed the words, perfectly in sync with his monotone.

“Father,” they spoke together. “Father, you made me what I am.” She paused, her eyes closing again as riffs sank into her bones. Open. “A monster.”

*

She knew every word to every song, and so did her fellow Children. Every melody, intake of breath and silence of Hamlyn’s back catalogue was stored in their brains, continuous soundtracks to tormented lives. They were not just fans – they were disciples, religiously purchasing each record, shirt and poster, and attending all events. They loved the musicians more than their own families.

They raised Piper, the vocalist, to the highest pedestal – a god among Hamlyn’s demi-gods. Long Aryan hair dropped in curtains around his angular face – strong jawline, cheekbones too sharp, as if they would break the skin. Then those eyes – arctic, silvery, emotionless. He accentuated them for their shows, blackened sockets and lips against a stark white face. Sometimes he applied blood in beautiful streams, like tears of torment. The warpaint represented defiance against normality.

But his poetry betrayed real feelings – his lack of control, strong anti-Christian beliefs, an abusive father and obsession with occult folklore. He was perfect.

She loved him, more than her fellow Children ever could. They had practically the same history, same fascinations; she and Piper were intertwined. They had spoken briefly once, over the refreshments table at a Children of Hamlyn collective in Oslo, lavish offerings spread over the pentagrammed tablecloth. He complimented her hair – dyed white blonde, as he had instructed. She was certain they had connected.

At meetings the Children solemnly listened, enraptured by their leader’s preachings on how to live a better life, a life by his music.

*

Finishing her eyepaint, she affixed a studded choker and buckled her leather platform boots. The Children had been waiting for this show for months; devoting hours to its preparation, they displayed their commitment to the band and against society.

An underground theatre in Oslo was transformed into the Hall of Hamlyn – gorgeously dark, all black fabric and crushed velvet, the colour of stale blood. A pentagram stood tall and defiant. The Children’s sweat of anticipation filled her nostrils, deepened with ash and incense and leather. The barrier pole pushed up under her ribs, lovely pressure from the crush of the crowd.

She felt like she wanted to burst and jump and vomit with love when he strode on stage, elated by the sudden push as others surged forward. But she kept a steady face – real Children did not show excitement.

Wearing head to toe black, a long necklace hung down his chest, heavy with chalky bones. Vertebrae, she wondered? Or finger joints? He struck the first chord on his golden guitar, and in perfect synchronisation, tall stakes either side ignited. With beautiful déjà vu, she realised it was the same song they had sung together only hours before.

“Father,” they dueted, eyes shut. “Father, you made me what I am.”

Open. “A monster.”

She wanted to clutch on to every moment, file it away. Finishing the set, Piper looked out upon the congregation, eyes blank.

“Tonight we take it to a higher level.”

Two blackened figures brought out a cage and set it down, a huge rodent throwing itself at the wire. He opened the latch, grabbed the animal solemnly at the neck and presented it to the crowd.

“This is our offering. Hamlyn’s, the Childrens’. Mine, yours. Ours.”

With a slick swipe of metal, he silenced its screeching. Red, redder than she could fathom, flooded over his hands. He lifted it above his head, crimson staining his Aryan mane as it spasmed in his hands. Finally it wilted in resignation. Piper laid the animal softly at the foot of his microphone, exiting a black and crimson shadow.

The best show of their lives, they agreed. They were truly united now, family tied by blood; a Father and his Children. She slept deeply, satisfied and sure of her future. With him.

*

But morning brought devastating uncertainty. She picked at her herring on toast – filled with such adoration, food seemed trifling. Then she looked up and nearly choked. Piper stared back from the front page of the paper, hair still reddened with sacrifice. The smug headline proclaimed: SATANIC PIPER JAILED. Snatching the paper from her father, she began to read, numb with foreboding.

Piper Angzt, infamous vocalist for anti-Christian metal band Hamlyn, has been charged with gross mistreatment of animals, following the on-stage sacrifice of a live rat at last night’s Oslo concert.

He has not met bail and will be detained until next week’s hearing.

The fish began to swim back up her throat. This wasn’t possible. The pigs just didn’t understand. He did it to bring them together, to make them kin. What was one rat for so many people? They would fix this, her and the rest of his Children. They would bring him home.

*

She waited outside the courtroom, ear and sweaty palm pressed against the door. She could feel the weight of the air through the pine, laden with bureaucracy and ignorance. A single pound of a gavel, then the clap of heels and PVC business shoes as those inside began moving to exit.

She waited as they pushed passed her, all pencil skirts and Blackberrys. As her eyes searched for him in the emptying room, she saw a cuffed figure being led away, swathed in black with limp blonde hair trickling down the back. She could’ve sworn her heart stopped.

Guilty as hell, she heard someone say. They’re setting an example – sending him back to Iceland.

The Children were naturally distraught. Some sat on the courthouse stairs, unable to move, grief suddenly atmospheric. Others paced. Others still sipped burning consolation from paper bags. She sat alone, running through their options. Iceland? A separation like that would rip her apart.

“This isn’t acceptable,” she said to her brothers and sisters. “They think they can oppress him like this, send him away with their ‘laws’ and ‘regulations’?”

The Children regrouped, nodding in consent.

“Do you remember what he gave us, in case this ever happened? If they ever tried to tear apart our family? We have to make a statement, show the world the Children of Hamlyn stand together, or not at all. ”

More heads moved, tears dried by black sleeves.

“All we have to do is wait,” she reminded. “I’m sure he’s got one too.”

*

Next morning’s paper confirmed it, rejoicing: STRAIGHT TO HELL ANYWAY: Satanist takes own life in custody to avoid deportation.

This was all she needed. She sent a group message out through the Children’s Facebook page: Courthouse steps, midday.

*

The Children gathered promptly, dressed in black with faces white and bloodied; mirroring his outfit at the last show. Funeral uniforms. With a shared nod, they slid earphones into place.

Screens glowed to life, each poised to start the same song. She raised a hand, and they all pressed play. As the first bars battered her ears, louder than she could bear, she lowered her fist.

The Children bit down on the pills in unison.

Father, she thought, as she fell towards the stone steps, Father, you made me what I am.

This short story was an intervention on the fairytale The Pied Piper of Hamelin written for a creative fiction class.

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