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Page name: Once Upon a Birthday [Logged in view] [RSS]
Version: 1
2007-03-03 06:53:36
Last author: Ravendust
Owner: Ravendust
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This is just a short story, even has a real ending, lol.

Once upon a birthday it was a wet and gloomy day. Certainly this was the day that young Asterforth had been born, but alas it was also the day that his murdered father was to be buried. Instead of a day of celebration the air was full of melancholy. They were awaiting the priest, who was nearly an hour late. Each one of them dressed warily in black, and a few shades in between. They stood solemnly over the rectangular hole in the muddy ground. The sleek surface of the coffin gleamed darkly at Asterforth- and being the youth that he was he began to imagine that he saw the lid quaking occasionally. Of course this was impossible, but he was after all only eight years old.

He fancied that there was a stifled pounding and scraping coming from within, as though something were trying to escape. Asterforth began to perspire heavily, though of course it was unnoticed in the heavy rain that was descending from the heavens on this most sorrowful of days. “Asterforth dear, run out to the car and grab mommy's umbrella, will you?” His step-mother turned falsely tear filled eyes upon him and he swore all the vengeance of the hells upon the murderous bitch.

Of course he only nodded at her blotchy red, tear stained face before taking off at a leisurely pace towards the tall iron gates. He cringed as he passed through them, gazing warily at two tall guardian-like gargoyles. They stared icily back at him as he made his way through the maze of cars that were parked along the side of the street. He finally approached the one that had belonged to his father and opened the driver's side door.

Asterforth felt a moment's urge to climb fully in and just drive away, but he was only eight! He could hardly even look over the steering wheel, let alone reach the peddles. So after a moment's debate he grabbed the aforementioned umbrella and slammed the door behind him. He crossed the threshold once more into the graveyard and felt the oppression of the dead descending upon him with the rain. It was almost unbearable to deal with, but he had to make it back, he had to see his father properly sent on his way into the afterlife. “Where is that bloody priest!” his step-mother, Gythera growled, stamping her new shoes into the puddles at her feet, she didn't even thank Asterforth as he handed her the umbrella, “I'm soaked and chilled through!” Her manicured nails tightened their grip on Asterforth's offered hand, digging into its tender flesh until he finally released an exclamation of pain, “dear child, quit complaining!” She snapped at him as he backed away coddling his injured hand.

He sighed heavily and turned to look once more at the coffin. Again he heard the strange pounding and scrapings beneath the lid. Nervously he inched closer to it until his palms were pressed flat upon its surface. Asterforth jumped back in surprise as the thumping continued beneath his hands. Slowly he reached forward as though to lift the heavy lid and relieve himself of his quarrelsome fear. Instantly Gythera was at his side and snapped the lid back in place. She knelt before the quivering boy and snatched his arm in a death like grip. “Listen here you little nit wit.” She hissed angrily, “You leave that coffin alone.”

“I just heard a strange scratching noise,” Asterforth said bitterly, hardening his eyes towards her, “I only wanted to see what it was.”

“Probably your guilty conscious.” She smirked, her painted lips stretching into a grotesque mask that frightened the boy dearly.

“M-my guilty conscious?” He asked, astounded.

She growled at him and threw him to the ground, “get away from the damned coffin and go play among the tombstones you little bastard.” A hint of savagery entered her voice, “or so help me when we get home tonight...” She trailed off, letting his imagination play on the idea, “Oh, Asterforth!” She said loudly and affectionately, picking him up off the ground, “you poor dear, falling in the mud like that.”

There were a few approving sighs from the guests, thinking that she was only helping the young boy get to his feet after a bad slip on his part, “are you okay, sweetums?” She pressed her lips to both of his cheeks in turn.

“I'm fine.” Asterforth said snappily, shaking off her hand and stalking away.

“Why do you just let that boy push you around like that?” Sathie questioned, “why, if that were my boy I would take him somewhere and give him a good spanking.”

Gythera shook her head, “the boy is merely grieving his father. Such a pity that the man be buried on his son's own birthday.”

“Anyway, Gythera, I'm going to head out. I've got supper on the stove at home.” With that she left.

Asterforth was soon too far away to hear what they were saying, and quite frankly, he could care less. “Well, happy bloody birthday Asterforth.” He muttered to himself with a sigh, “it's such a beautiful day too.” He said sarcastically.

His heart wasn't much into wandering, and shortly he found himself back at the coffin, staring at it with a thumping heart. Asterforth could not help but think that something was wrong. Gythera was acting more cruel and strange than usual, something was wrong. Slowly he inched towards the coffin, hoping that that Gythera would not notice him opening it.

Asterforth had to see what she was hiding, why she refused an open casket funeral, and most importantly: why it had to be a mere day after his death. “Asterforth Frigita Suthbe.” Gythera called from behind him, “What did I tell you?”

He turned to see her standing poised with her fists on her primped hips. “Sorry, ma'am.” He said sarcastically, bowing his head, “but is it to much to want to say goodbye to one's own father?”

Gythera sneezed and she released a cry of outrage, “Damn that priest, I told him six 'o' clock! I hope that he has a good excuse for being so late. Lylette, watch Asterforth for me for a moment, I'm going to make a phone call. And please keep him away from that damned coffin. I swear this boy is just trying to make me miserable.” The last part she muttered as she raced for the parking lot in hopes of getting out of the rain for at least a moment.

“So, Asterforth.” Lylette began, “I hear that you've turned eight today!”

“I have, but so much for it being a cheerful day.” He said glumly, glancing sideways at the coffin.

“Oh, poor boy.” Lylette patted his head lightly.

“Would you let me say goodbye to him?” Asterforth asked slyly, “I just want to see him one last time, and you can even be the one to open the coffin so that you aren't breaking your promise to her.”

She bit at the pad of her thumb thoughtfully, obviously not wanting to break her promise with Gythera, but wanting also to appease the boy's sorrows. Finally Lylette consented and stepped over to the coffin. Slowly she removed the lid, what she saw shocked her so much that instead of only opening the coffin a little bit- she opened it fully and allowed the lid to fall with a 'schluck' into the mud. Lylette's fingers moved to her lips and she slid to the ground in horror.

Asterforth stepped up to it immediately and looked at his father's pale face. The man's fingers were bleeding and his knuckles cracked, but he was no longer moving. “Father!” Asterforth exclaimed, “she meant to bury you alive, oh that foul, black-hearted woman!” He grabbed at the older man's suit and wrenched on it, “wake up, please father.”

“Nnn.” Lylette moaned as though she were about to vomit, “what's going on? Was Gythera really planning on burying her husband alive? Oh Farrele, if only I had known what was being plotted against you, if only I had realized it sooner.”

“Don't talk as though he were dead!” Asterforth sobbed, “father, father wake up. Please wake up!”

Farrele's eyes fluttered open slowly and he took in a shaky, yet surprisingly deep, breath of the fresh air that swirled where only moments before there had been none. He felt something clamped to his suit and looked down in surprise to see his son heaving great sobs into his jacket. “Gythera.” He muttered huskily, “where is that bitch who would have stolen my fortune from me?”

Asterforth looked into his father's eyes joyfully, “she w-went to call the priest who was supposed to speak at your funeral.” He said, allowing only a few more tears to slide down his gaunt cheeks.

Slowly, as though heavily tranquilized, Farrele sat up, inevitably tipping the coffin so that he spilled into the rejuvinating mud. Asterforth stood back in surprise as he was splashed by a small wave of water. Anger flashed in his eyes and he turned towards the gargoyle protected gates in blind rage. He had known it was her, he had always known. But what could a mere child say that a woman such as her would not brush off and say that that was his way of dealing with his father's death? And even the coroner had said that Farrele was legally dead. There was a strange clicking sound from nearby, and then a shot was fired, followed closely by another.

Asterforth turned in time to see Lylette collapse into a writhing heap, blood spilling from her shocked lips as she convulsed. “What did I tell you Asterforth?” Gythera seethed, “I said to stay away or else. Well, you little bastard, for ignoring mommy's orders, you must be punished.” She cocked her small hand gun again and aimed it at the boy's frightened and heaving chest.

“Gythera.” Farrele growled, pulling himself almost drunkenly to his feet, “you will not harm my son.”

“So you didn't suffocate yet?” She snarled in his direction, changing her aim from son to father.

Asterforth saw a shape approaching the threesome slowly and with confident strides, he kept this knowledge, however, to himself. Farrele chuckled, “just how do you plan to cover up three deaths while you alone survive?”

Asterforth's eyes were glued on the figure that approached them, noticing that he quickened his pace considerably. He felt relief, perhaps they would be saved from Gythera after all. His frown deepened just a small bit. “I cannot believe that you would be so cruel.” He murmered softly, almost so that he was saying it to himself, “Why are you doing this?”

“Why?” Gythera screeched, “because I want power. I want money. Do you think that I would marry a man such as your father otherwise?” She sneered at Asterforth who cringed backwards at her grating voice.

Gythera was quite suddenly tackled to the ground, much to hers and Farrele's surprise. Neither of them had seen the priest approaching them. “Farrele.” The priest said with a light smirk, “aren't you lucky that you hired me before your wife tried to murder you?” He chuckled and looked down at Gythera, “He knew of your plans to kill him, and now so will my captain. Your partner, the coroner, Javie Madre Afthy has been apprehended and has confessed already. It would be wise to do the same. Gythera Jenova Astirie, you are under arrest for first degree murder, and the attempted homicide of Farrele and his son Asterforth. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

“B-but you're a priest, you can't arrest me!” Gythera stuttered in terror as he wrestled the gun from her white-knuckled grasp and slapping a pair of handcuffs on her tightly held wrists.

“I'm not a priest. My name is Detective Najei Tehri.” He glanced up at Farrele who immediately helped him lift a snarling Gythera.

Asterforth watched all of this in shock as Gythera was led away, and shortly after a set of sirens could be heard distancing themselves from the graveyard before Detective Najei returned and helped Farrele to cover Lylette's bleeding body while they waited for an ambulance. “F-father?” Asterforth stuttered, pale-faced and queasy as he watched the blood flowing from Lylette's body, covering the sheet that they had placed over it.

“Asterforth,” Farrele stood swiftly, and embraced his shivering son, “it's alright.” He pulled away and chucked the boy's chin playfully, trying to cheer him up as much as he could, or at the very least distract him from from Lylette's corpse.

Asterforth buried his face in his father's soaked suit, “I'm so glad that you're okay!” He sobbed, “I thought that you were dead, she wouldn't even let me see you to say goodbye.”

“Hush now,” Farrele soothed, running his fingers through the boy's hair adoringly, he looked at Detective Najei, “do you think that we could go now?”

“Of course, I'll wait here and somebody will be sent by your house later to get your statements.” The detective smiled wanly.

For the final time that day Asterforth passed through the gargoyle guarded gate and slid into the vehicle with his father. The entire trip home was spent in silence, and Asterforth went directly to his room to change the minute they reached the estate. Later that evening, after the police had come and gone, he sat at a quiet dinner with his father. Farrele brought a small parcel from beneath the table and handed it to the boy, “Happy birthday, Asterforth.” He said simply, Asterforth heaved a great sigh and tore the wrapping paper from the parcel.

Inside was a small, delicately hand-crafted knife that he could conceal easily within a pocket. Immediately his eyes lit up, “thanks, father!” He said meekly, fingering the tool, “but you know, nothing could be a better gift than the fact that you aren't dead and that Gythera is now behind bars.”

“Heh, I'll drink to that!” Farrele quickly downed his glass of ice cold milk, chuckling as Asterforth attempted to do the same. And this is how young Asterforth spent his eighth birthday. It was the best, and yet the worst, day that he would ever witness again for the rest of his long life.

End

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