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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Haunting Herod - A Christmas Horror Story





I sleep but do not rest.  I sleep but I fear to dream, for when I dream I see those whom I’ve killed, those I’ve killed with my own hands and by the word of my command.

The first of the dead to come to me were Aristobolus and Kostobar, my conniving brothers-in-law.  Aristobolus, who was drowned, appeared with runny eyes, red with petechiae and his open mouth spilling watery bile down his chin.  Then came their beautiful sister, my precious Mariamne, who betrayed me.  Her long dark hair trailed behind her as she walked calmly to her execution. Behind her, our two sons, treasonous wretches, executed before they could put their plans into effect.

But it’s not the molding corpses of my murdered family that haunt me now.  No.  Their ghosts I could tolerate; those I loved, and despised, and feared.  I could see their shades and laugh because they all wanted me dead and I have survived them all.  No. The ones who haunt me now are far more disturbing and much more demanding.

They defecated as they died.  Their swaddling clothes are stained with the excrement and blood that flowed as they were ripped from their mothers’ arms and run through with soldiers’ swords.  My soldiers.  My orders.

They’ve crawled up the six dusty miles from Bethlehem to torment me, toddling on their fat rotting baby legs.  No one sees them. No one smells the stink of their decay.  No one but me, King Herod the Great, hears them crying for the comfort of their mothers’ breasts.

I sleep but I do not rest for the slaughtered innocents haunt me and, what is more, another slaughtered innocent is yet to come. I fear him most of all.



I wrote this a few years ago.  It was published in the British horror magazine Twisted Tongue (Vol. 12) in 2008.

The music was newly created specifically to accompany the reading of this short story. I used a couple of sounds from the Freesound Project:
Ghost of Tilly Whim 
Sobbing 

If you like the song, you can download it here.

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