Part 6What horrors lay in wait for me? What new terrors around every corner? I rushed to the castle; the king had to be warned of the sycophants in his kingdom. Where were the police? Where were the decent people? Whom do we turn to when there is nobody watching over us?
I tripped on cobblestones and fell on my face, cutting my lip and losing three teeth, but I didn't care. If ever I had a mission, it was this-- this awful place had to be purged, had to be judged. The King had to help, it was his job; his birthright. I was dizzy with rage, my eyes bloodshot and dry. Blinking felt like sandpaper on sandpaper, like when you burn toast and shove it in your sister's face and it cuts her all over. I couldn't even cry anymore.
But then I heard laughter. Actual, honest to God laughter. It was a ray of sunshine. Someone in this cesspool was happy.
I had to be sure. I had to know that there was hope, that there was a reason to go on with this laborious quest. I crawled to the East, following the melodic song of joy in what sounded like a child's voice.
No, not a child. Younger than a child. An egg. An egg was laughing.
A new generation, perhaps a new generation of giving and love. In this young egg, I saw the glint of goodness -- that glint of goodness worth fighting for, like punching that fucking trash in the face for looking at your girl from across the room.
He was trying to get up on a wall, as if it was a game. He needed help, and if it meant bringing light into this darkness, I would do whatever it took.
I would find this egg a ladder. The king could wait -- without the future, what hope did the kingdom have? I didn't walk. I ran. I ignored the pain of my cut lip and my swollen feet and ran. I ran through the forest, twigs whipping me like a priest on his day off. I swam across ponds, peeling leeches from my skin like fruit snacks stuck to the ceiling with molasses. I didn't stop.
Rounding the corner through a particularly thick patch of underbrush, I heard maniacal laughter; not the gleeful sounds of the egg that I kept so close to my heart, but rather the laughter of a sanitarium.
Substandard housing. Why is it that the poor people always have all the kids? It was like a litter, and all of them were runts. Some of them drooled. Some of them were deformed. All of them were idiots.
The old woman didn't even look at me as I entered the house to get a drink of water. Savages.
It smelled like sweat in her cramped little den. It reeked of gruel and afterbirth, the kind of sour stench that gets stuck in the soles of your shoes so that every time you take them off it wafts up and you gag.
But there, on the table, right in front of the beat up black and white television, was a six foot ladder. I didn't even think. I just took it. I burst out of the house, and the old hag yelled at me to stop. A few fat babies grabbed onto my leg like barnacles, so I beat them against the rocks until they let go. Nobody was going to stop me, especially not a flock of mentally retarded dwarves.
I rushed back to the wall, where the egg was waiting for me. I presented the ladder triumphantly, and he took it with a giant grin.
"One second, lad," I said, "what's your name?"
He looked at me with wide eyes, gleaming in the red sunlight as it reached down to touch the range of mountains far in the distance.
"Humpty Dumpty, sir."
"Well, Humpty Dumpty, you are the future. You must do one thing for me: always have hope. Everything will turn out alright, I promise."
And that's when I snapped.