dVerse — Haibun Monday 93 — Ashes of the Dead

In time of war and unholy pogrom, the young boy’s loving parents left him in the care of the old woman who lived on the outskirts of town and raised chickens and a few meager vegetables. Until she died, sitting up, with her feet in a basin of water. He waited and waited for her to come and wake him that morning as was her routine. When day turned to evening, he came to find her staring upright corpse and knocked over the still-burning oil lamp in his surprise discovery. The place burst into flames. He escaped with what he wore and took to the dirt road.

He wandered into a village. He was called devil’s spawn and beaten, spit on, rolled into a flour sack, and taken to the local wise woman-healer. She inspected his body, nodded her head, and said in a syrupy gravelly voice, “He is definitely a vampire. I will buy him from you.” He followed her back to her hut.

He traveled with her as she made her rounds of the sick, carrying the basket that would hold the payments of bread, root vegetables, and other things. One day they went to a village where the bodies of the sick were covered with spots. The healer looked at the village leaders and shook her head. A bonfire was built and a tall stack of corpses flamed to ash. The boy got gravely ill from it. She fed him special herbal concoctions that smelled of earth and pungent leaves. Then she dug a deep hole, which she placed him in, upright, then filled the hole until just his head was above ground.

He woke from his fever to find a murder of crows surrounding him. The biggest crow was facing him, looking into his eyes. A sound was made by the crow and they all came closer. The boy, fearful, yelled to shoo them away. It worked. They stayed near in the sky, circling, until the leader made a sound. They swooped down and all began to tear at the boy’s head with their beaks. Their noises and the boy’s screams brought the old healer out and she drove them away. She undug the boy and saw the fever was gone.

Orphaned in grey skies
filled with ash of the dead, Halloween
is everyday.

As Frank has given us license with our haibuns today to write fiction, I grabbed the chance with gusto.

I just finished watching a movie called, “The Painted Bird,” an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Jerzy Kosinski. The tale is set in Eastern Europe during World War II. My haibun is based on parts of the movie. It is a highly acclaimed international film that one of my blogmates (thanks Benn!) blogged about. It is available on hulu for free and can be rented through amazon and other online streaming services.

image link here.

Frank J. Tassone is today’s host of dVerse.  Frank says:
Write a haibun that alludes to Halloween.  Channel your inner paranormal, and write your blend of prose poetry and haiku, with allusion to Halloween. If inspiration arises, you may even write a fictional prose to get in the mood!

56 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow. Good one, Jade! I was glued to the computer screen. Really good writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Susan I lifted the story from the movie and appreciate your nod on it, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rivrvlogr says:

    Yikes. This would seem be a case where the remedy is worse than the curse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      It’s a troubling film all the way around, but at the same time, I’m SURE based on actual events. To watch it or read about it is haunting enough. Knowing others went through it…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucy says:

    Wow, this gave me the heebie jeebies. The gothic setting and vampires are very apt for Halloween. As always, your work is extremely well-written and highly enjoyable. I would love to see a continuation of this piece of fiction. It’s intriguing and quite haunting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Lucy, the story is lifted directly from the movie and is based on Kosinski’s book. You might take a look at one of them. It’s a haunting tale to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. merrildsmith says:

    I’m not sure if I ever saw the movie, but I read the book years ago. Definitely nightmarish. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Merril.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh what a terrible cure… but it seemed like just another part of his ordeal growing up…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes! But he was still alive, and that is saying something.

      Like

  6. Gillena Cox says:

    Wow lucky him she dug him out those birds nearly outed him
    Thanks for dropping by to read mine

    Much💛love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you and you’re welcome. She was a wise old bird herself.

      Like

  7. A fierce and chilling tale, indeed! Excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Frank, thank you.

      Like

  8. kim881 says:

    Thank you for introducing me to a new movie, Lisa, I love foreign films, and it was a good idea to base your haibun on parts of it. It gave me the shivers. How frightening for a child to find an old woman dead with her feet in a basin of water – and what a narrow escape from the fire – sadly into a hole. The image is so creepy. I love the line ‘orphaned in grey skies’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Kim, thank you. It’s one worth seeing but be prepared for more of the same. I never wanted to save a child more than I wanted to save this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The fever was gone and he was traumatised for life! The kind of story that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Jane, I would advise against you watching the film. It’s a story meant to leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

      Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, the stuff of nightmares!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, it’s me. I don’t know what made me anonymous!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. msjadeli says:

        Ah! WP has a hiccup from time to time. It’s happened to others as well.

        Like

  11. rothpoetry says:

    Wow! You wrote a story fit for Halloween!! Scary to boot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks, Dwight. It is a haunting one isn’t it.

      Like

  12. Most unfortunate that some had been disadvantaged. In all forms of human conflicts, the innocents are the ones who suffer most. Very good write Jade!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Hank, thank you very much, yes they do. This kid was a complete innocent!

      Like

  13. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    I have not yet seen that film; must look it up. Sounds like a Gothic tale, but WWII is a grand story line. But if you want pure horror, check out THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I have heard of that one but haven’t seen it. So many atrocities committed by those who have been given permission many times by the silence of others. Glenn it is cinema at its best despite the horrific subject matter. I agree with Benn, it may be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, as much for what it says as for what it doesn’t have to say.

      Like

  14. robtkistner says:

    Happy Halloween Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Happy Halloween!

      Like

  15. -Eugenia says:

    This is spine chilling, Lisa! Superb writing, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Eugi.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sadje says:

    This is very good writing Li, but what disturbing imagery

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Sadje, the whole movie is that disturbing, based on atrocities committed in WWII (and elsewhere in the world at different times and places.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        Must be a hard watch.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Ron. Lavalette says:

    Fine work indeed, Lisa. Now I gotta see the movie…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I hope you do, Ron, and will be interested in hearing your thoughts afterwards.

      Like

  18. Wow! That is a haunting story! I love it! Glad it is fiction. The boy in the striped pajamas is chilling, as Glenn says.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes it is haunting and I’m sure it is a composite of atrocities really committed during WWII. I will have to recover from this movie for a bit and then plan on taking a look at the striped pajamas one.

      Like

  19. Roshni says:

    The boy would have gone through quite a trauma, maybe even after being physically healed…. excellent writing 👍 a special mention for “Orphaned in grey skies
    filled with ash of the dead, Halloween 
    is everyday….”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Roshni. Yes the boy was forever changed from that and the other traumas he went through in the movie 😦

      Like

  20. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Great Halloween story Lisa! That is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Max.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Ingrid says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this gripping but disturbing tale! I want to see the movie now. Your haiku at the end was just perfect. For some people, Halloween really is everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Ingrid. Yes it is and not in a good way 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Chris Hall says:

    Gosh, Li, you had me on the edge of my seat there! Great job. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      🙂 Thank you very much, Chris. It was a harrowing film to watch. I kept thinking two things: 1) what will happen to him next; and 2) I need to save that poor kid!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. calmkate says:

    Sounds a bit sinister Lisa, you certainly captured the mood!

    Lovely music

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks Kate. I did a little research. Kosinski, the author of the book, said it was an autobiography, but later that was found to be untrue. It is, however, similar to what happened to Roman Polanski in his childhood. The music is from the movie’s soundtrack, or at least that song is, not sure if it is by that performer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. calmkate says:

        you really did research it, well done … we’ve all learnt something!

        Liked by 1 person

  24. memadtwo says:

    Suitably close enough to reality to be all the more chilling. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Kerfe.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Goosebumps on top of chills! Very spookily Halloweenish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Boo! Thank you, Sara. The movie is all of that.

      Like

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