The Dead Have Come Down to the River to Drink
The mailman huffed and puffed his way up the hill and told Frederick that the dead have come down to the river to drink. Frederick, unaware that earlier that evening two globs of ear wax (one in each ear) had simultaneously given way blocking his ear canals, went into a panic, packed all the food and supplies he could into a rucksack, grabbed his shotgun, and ran into the woods leaving his wife and infant behind.
Frederick was an alarmist. The mailman knew this, his wife knew this, Frederick knew this, and although his infant was still too young to conceptualize what an alarmist is, still had a hunch.
Frederick ran in frenzied terror deep into the backwoods, not realizing that the mailman had not said the dead have come down to the river to drink, rather that Ned had gone down to the river to think.
So Frederick was not running away from any supernatural voodoos of any kind. There were in fact no supernatural voodoos down by the river at all, just Ned, thinking. There were however supernatural voodoos in the backwoods in which he was currently running full steam towards.
See, that night, The Necromancer, a dubious man who had lived in mountain caves since he lost his job at the mill, had indeed raised the dead. He was able to do this by following very specific instructions outlined in a book made from human skin that he had found at a library a few villages over (currently three months overdue!) and was now instructing the risen dead on zombie etiquette. Unknowingly, Frederick was running straight into this demonic ritual.
Despite what we have learned from movies, being torn apart by zombies is a lengthy procedure involving many dogmatic practices of etiquette that if broken would be a major social blunder amongst other living dead. So it was about fifteen minutes into the feast, with most of his extremities being gobbled up by long deceased relatives, friends, and acquaintances that Frederick began to lament not cleaning his ears.
Over the years Frederick's wife had pleaded with him to improve his hygiene, especially pertaining to his ears, which were unusually hairy for a man his age. But Frederick had prided himself on the condition of his ears, comparing their appearance to a lion's mane. "I gots two lions on either side of me head" Frederick was fond of saying. As with all men, not listening to his wife would be his undoing.
This story has been recounted by fireside for centuries over blogging websites, and the most frequently asked question are: why had the mailman...
1. Told Frederick about Ned going down to the river to think? It seems like such mundane thing especially as Ned was the village's professional thinker.
2. Why was the mailman huffing and puffing? With such mundane news as Ned thinking, which was his job, huffing and puffing would seem to make the situation appear to be a crisis, which of course it wasn't.
I had these question myself, so I did some research. The mailman as it turned out was an asthmatic, hence the huffing and puffing. Also he had told Frederick this "news" because he was a terrible gossiper and Ned's profession was considered highly dubious, if not plain silly amongst the town folks.
So what can we learn? Don't gossip, listen to your wife, and keep your ears clean.
A note of interest: Frederick's infant would go on to be President Theodore Roosevelt second girlfriend...
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...