Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
The Séance Scoundrel
(Containing the spooky tale of Sam the Scoundrel.)
Once upon a dreary midnight, at the very edge of the scariest street of the scariest town on the planet Earth there stood the scariest building you could ever imagine. The building seemed haunted and made noises that made no sense but were quite frightening.
In the middle of the night, King John the Cute’s chariot of butterflies brought him to the scary door of the scary house. With a great flutter of their small wings, the butterflies dispersed in all directions and melted in with the scary garden, where scary lamps cast scary shadows.
King John the Cute knocked.
The house creaked in response.
Shortly, a small and stocky man answered the doors. His face was tired, as if he had not slept well in days.
“Yes?” said the tired man, opening the door. Then, glimpsing the king with the crown of gold on his head, the tired man sighed. “Oh, no. Another king.”
“That is correct,” said King John the Cute. “How many kings have you met?”
“Are you a ghost?” the tired man asked, appearing insulted.
“I am not a ghost,” answered King John the Cute. “I am a fairy tale.” For during his journeys on the planet Earth, he had learned his true nature.
“Wonderful. A fairy tale. Isn’t that original!” Once more, the tired man appeared more insulted than surprised.
“My name is King John the Cute. Does King Charming the Fourth reside in this building?”
The tired man’s eyes widened in surprise. “King John the Cute! You mean you’re real?”
“As real as a fairy tale, yes.”
“I’m not imagining things? There actually is a King John the Cute? Who gave you that name, anyway? What kind of name is that for a king? And why would they name you King John the Cute? That name does not agree with the way you look. Why not King John the Troubled?”
“My dear man,” said King John the Cute. “You have heard of me, and I know nothing of you.”
“Oh, yes, yes, please come in.” The tired man moved aside and allowed the king to enter. “I am so glad you’re real. I’ve been waiting for you. But maybe to understand what’s going on, I need to tell you the story of who I am.”
“I would love to hear it.”
The tired man told the king to sit down and offered him drinks. Then, he began to tell his tale.
“My name is Spooky Sam. That, at least, is the name everyone has known me by for the last twenty years. I am a charlatan.”
“A charlatan?” King John the Cute did not recognize the word.
“A con man.”
“A con man?” King John the Cute had never heard the phrase.
“A man who lies.”
“Ah. A scoundrel.”
“Yes. A scoundrel. That is who I am. I have made a living from holding things called ‘séances’. These are events in which I talk to ghosts that have passed to the other world. There is, of course, no such thing as ghosts, but people want to believe in them so much that they will believe everything I say. They need to speak to their dead and gone, and so when I tell them I can see and hear they dead, they quickly believe me.
“Over the last twenty years I have made a very good living lying to people. They paid me to communicate with their dead loved ones. I would do a little research about the family first, then I would tell them things everyone wants to hear: that they are forgiven, that they are loved, and so on. To add ‘truth’ to my claims, I had this house built in as spooky a way as possible. The house creaks and moves, the pictures sway, the wind blows when the windows are closed, and there are recordings of strange whispers in every corridor.
“In twenty years I have ‘spoken’ to more than two hundred and twenty ‘ghosts’ and I have become quite rich. And yet, I have never actually seen a ghost.
“Until last year.
“Suddenly, in front of my eyes, an apparition appeared.
“He stood tall and regal. He was old, but his face was soft, beautiful, and charming. He had a crown just like yours. No, in fact it was your exact crown, with the same scratch right there. He wore the garments of a king. And he said his name was—”
“King Charming the Fourth!” exclaimed King John the Cute.
“Exactly. King Charming the Fourth. No one else could see him but me. No one else could hear him but me. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was seeing a ghost. But this ghost could not exist. There has never been a person in all the countries, in all the world, who was called King Charming.
“We had many conversations, the king and I, because he would not leave me alone no matter what I did and how much I begged him. He told me stories of his youth, stories of his land. And the more he told me, the more I knew that this man could not exist, because none of his stories could be true. He spoke of dragons and princes, of maidens and witches, of spells and curses, and none of that – none of it! – exists in the real world! I was seeing the ghost of a fairy tale! I thought I was going crazy!
“Then the king began to ask me about my world and its stories. And once he learned more things about the planet Earth – rather than this other Magicland – he said that one day a person would come to Earth, and his name would be King John the Cute. And that when he comes, I must hold a séance, a real séance, in which King John the Cute will talk to him.
“Now it was his turn to beg me to put an ad in the newspaper for every day until this other king responds and comes to see me. And, lo and behold, here you are! So it turns out I wasn’t crazy. It turns out I do have a knack for seeing ghosts, just not Earth ghosts.
“I do not know how fairy tales can exist. But maybe we can finally have the séance, and the damned King Charming can finally leave me alone and let me sleep!”
King John the Cute stood up, a light of bright hope in his eyes. “Yes!” he cried. “I must talk to the king! Let us begin this séance now!”
Spooky Sam sighed. “All right, all right. We’ll begin the séance now.”
This has been the spooky tale in which Spooky Sam learned that he was not imagining things.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)
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