The Scream

This was my English homework from a while ago based on Edvard Munch's painting. Hope you like it.

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1. The Scream

The Scream

 

          It was an old, decrepit bridge, over a vast ravine. Most of the people who laid the soles of their shoes on its worn but stiff planks were either very brave or very naïve.

          Today, however, only a young couple crossed. They saw a figure, in flowing black robes, but whether or not he heard their footsteps, he didn’t turn around, or acknowledge them in any way. Suddenly, the woman slipped, her foot stumbling of the plank for barely a second.

          The figure in black reacted shockingly. His body tensed. He clapped his small, weak-looking hands to the side of his face and dragged them down, as if he were trying to tear off his pale skin. His bald head jutted forward as an animalistic sound erupted from his throat.

          It was the howl a wounded animal made as a hunter closed in for the kill. It was the yell a man makes as he experiences more fear than he has ever felt in his life. It was the scream every person dreads hearing, the scream that makes children scurry home in fear, the scream that tells everyone and anyone who hears it that their time is up.

          The scream of the banshee.

          As the heartrending sound reached their ears, the young woman stumbled again, and she couldn’t right herself. Her foot came off the rough wood and she fell, screaming, breaking the stout but old barrier as she went. Her hands flailed, and one was suddenly grabbed by her companion.

          “Don’t worry,” he told her, “you’ll be safe.”

          The banshee turned around, shaking its head, as its wild, unblinking eyes locked onto the pair. As its head shook again, it opened its mouth, and a second scream burst out from its airway, his vocal chords overflowing with the sounds of pure pain, loss and sorrow.

          The second the sound came, the man was straining to his extremities, and all of a sudden it was too much for him. His fingers lost their grip on the weathered bridge. They fell, their terrified pleas echoing off the walls of the steep canyon as they plunged into the abyss.

          The banshee turned his back on the doomed lovers. His eyes, all white and black, no iris, just a pupil, scanned the surroundings, and as suddenly as he was there, he had gone.

 

*  *  *

 

          Wilhelm Shriek returned to the Bansheedom. The mythical congregation of all banshees, led by the High Screamer, was in session, and Wilhelm had been waiting for his chance to ask for release. His life as a banshee was awful. How many people had died from his screeches? How many had suffered? How many had to lose their lives before he regained his? Tonight was the night. Tonight was the night he stood before the banshees and demanded an end to his curse.

          The Bansheedom was, as ever, filled with noise. Banshees from all over the country met in the deep, dark, dank underground cave. Wilhelm went to the giant rock that barred the entrance and shrieked, his sound acting as a password. He thought, as he went down the tunnel to the cave, about how he had become a banshee.

          He’d heard another of the creatures, the one he now knew as Edvard M. Scream, howl for his death, and he’d run after the banshee, pleading for his life. Edvard had turned to him, and hissed,

          “The only way to escape the scream of the banshee . . . is to scream the scream of the banshee.” He’d understood, and followed Edvard to the chamber of the congregation. He’d screeched the oath and been inducted into the ranks of the accursed dead.

          Now, he was sick of it. He would demand freedom and finally be laid to rest as a human, not one of these horrible beasts.

          The yells, screams, howls, shrieks and bellows filled his ears, but he heard them the same way an ordinary human heard the buzz of work in an office. As he took his place, the last banshee arrived. Old Yeller, an ancient, wizened fellow, came in, leading behind him a nervous, sweating man. The High Screamer looked sharply at him.

          “Who is this, Yeller? Why have you brought an outsider into our abode?” The old creature looked up, almost smiling.

          “A recruit, Your Howlness! I screamed for him, and he begged for his life, as they do. He shall be called—” The Screamer cut him off, looking questioningly at the man. He seemed a good addition – weak black beard, bald head, thin and tall. Sweat rolled off his brow. Suddenly, the man pulled out a mobile phone, his thumb arcing toward the camera button. It was intercepted by the most horrifying scream ever.

          A cacophony of lost souls howling for the dead man echoed through the rock. Terrified, the man’s only thought was of escape. He turned, panicking, and ran for the exit. Before he reached freedom, however, the screech became too much for him. His mere human heart gave out and he collapsed to the floor, stone dead.

          The High Screamer cut off the noise, spreading his arms wide to prevent another noise from bursting loose. Wilhelm and the other four hundred and ninety-eight banshees in the chamber, plus the High Screamer, turned their accusing gazed on Old Yeller. A single word slipped out of the Screamer’s mouth.

          “Traitor.” Yeller raised his hands in fear, but the High Screamer howled. A screeching, screaming, shrieking sound flew through the cave. The High Screamer’s scream had such power that Yeller not only died, he disintegrated beneath the torrent of pure sonic terror, turning into dust and scattering himself on the wind to the four corners of the earth.

          Wilhelm was terrified. However, this was the night, and he steeled himself for his demand. He gave a short, sharp squeal and the High Screamer whipped his head in the direction of the one who had dared talk.

          “Begging pardon, Your Howlness, but I have a request.  I request a return to my human form, and a human death.” The High Screamer inclined his head, thinking.

          “You demand a lot, Wilhelm Shriek, but since you have been such a loyal subject I shall grant your request . . .” – Wilhelm felt a little surge of happiness – “. . . once you have performed one last operation. You must kill this man.” The Screamer closed his eyes, beaming a face and an address to Wilhelm’s mind, and Wilhelm resigned himself to his fate.

          One more job, he thought, one more job.

 

*  *  *

 

          Stanley McIntyre was asleep in bed. The fever had pervaded his body and attacked his immune system. He was, however overly suspicious about his farm. He felt something as he slept, and snapped awake. He grabbed the heavy rifle in the corner of his bedroom, sneaking down the stairs as he loaded it. As he reached the pigpen, he saw a tall, pale figure in black. He raised his gun and yelled.

          “Stop! Or-or I’ll shoot you!” The figure turned.

          Wilhelm Scream was ready.

          The dreadful howl started in his stomach. It rose up, gaining volume and feelings of pain and loss. It rose through his throat, beginning the terrible screech. It finally rose through his thin, pale lips, erupting from his mouth as a tortured scream, not just sorrowful but devastated, as if the screamer had nothing left and was screaming the animalistic scream of pure mourning. The banshee’s desolate noise, a barren voice, not devoid of emotion but filled with depression, despair, fear, horror and death. It washed over the hapless farmer, tearing at his ears like a starving lion at a carcass, filling him with the sound of his own passing.

          And then Wilhelm was dying. He fell to the ground, a bloodied hole in his chest from Stanley’s final act, to send a bullet into the intruder. Stanley was already dead, dead of trauma, dead of sickness, and dead of the pure shock of hearing a banshee head on.

          But now Wilhelm was dying.

          He screeched again, but feebly, weakly, as he knew it was for himself. Wilhelm Shriek’s last scream died on his lips.

          “One last job . . .”

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