Read Happy Ending Part 3

Happy Ending is a Webnovel made by Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds.
This webnovel is right now completed.

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Read WebNovel Happy Ending Part 3

The problem was difficult. To harm one who was mad was tabu. If he was really a G.o.d, it would be worse. Thunder and lightning from the sky would destroy the village. Yet they dared not release him. Even if they took the evil weapon-that-whispered-its-death and buried it, he might find other ways to harm them. He might have another where he had gone for the first.

Yes, it was a difficult problem for them, but the eldest and wisest of them, one M’Ganne, gave them at last the answer.

“O Kallana,” he said, “Let us give him to the _kifs_. If _they_ harm him–” and old M’Ganne grinned a toothless, mirthless grin “–it would be their doing and not ours.”

Kallana shuddered. “It is the most horrible of all deaths. And if he is a G.o.d–“

“If he is a G.o.d, they will not harm him. If he is mad and not a G.o.d, we will not have harmed him. It harms not a man to tie him to a tree.”

Kallana considered well, for the safety of his people was at stake.

Considering, he remembered how Alwa and Nrana had died.

He said, “It is right.”

The waiting drummer began the rhythm of the council-end, and those of the men who were young and fleet lighted torches in the fire and went out into the forest to seek the _kifs_, who were still in their season of marching.

And after a while, having found what they sought, they returned.

They took the Earthling out with them, then, and tied him to a tree.

They left him there, and they left the gag over his lips because they did not wish to hear his screams when the _kifs_ came.

The cloth of the gag would be eaten, too, but by that time, there would be no flesh under it from which a scream might come.

They left him, and went back to the compound, and the drums took up the rhythm of propitiation to the G.o.ds for what they had done. For they had, they knew, cut very close to the corner of a tabu–but the provocation had been great and they hoped they would not be punished.

All night the drums would throb.

The man tied to the tree struggled with his bonds, but they were strong and his writhings made the knots but tighten.

His eyes became accustomed to the darkness.

He tried to shout, “I am Number One, Lord of–“

And then, because he could not shout and because he could not loosen himself, there came a rift in his madness. He remembered who he was, and all the old hatreds and bitterness welled up in him.

He remembered, too, what had happened in the compound, and wondered why the Venusian natives had not killed him. Why, instead, they had tied him here alone in the darkness of the jungle.

Afar, he heard the throbbing of the drums, and they were like the beating of the heart of night, and there was a louder, nearer sound that was the pulse of blood in his ears as the fear came to him.

The fear that he knew why they had tied him here. The horrible, gibbering fear that, for the last time, an army marched against him.

He had time to savor that fear to the uttermost, to have it become a creeping certainty that crawled into the black corners of his soul as would the soldiers of the coming army crawl into his ears and nostrils while others would eat away his eyelids to get at the eyes behind them.

And then, and only then, did he hear the sound that was like the rustle of dry leaves, in a dank, black jungle where there were no dry leaves to rustle nor breeze to rustle them.

Horribly, Number One, the last of the dictators, did not go mad again; not exactly, but he laughed, and laughed and laughed….

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