Thanks to a Humpty Dumpty-themed discussion on Facebook, I was inspired to post “The Eggman Falleth,” from Everything Has Teeth, here on the rarely updated Free Story page of my site…
“The Eggman Falleth”
Copyright 2017 by Jeff Strand
Humptin Dumptin, who hated being called “Humpty Dumpty,” sat on a stone wall, gazing out at the land beyond the kingdom. It was a very high wall, and he’d heard the whispers of those who suggested that an egg-man should consider a different sitting spot. He didn’t care. He knew the risk and accepted it. There were few pleasures in the life of a giant egg, and Humptin would not let fear take away this marvelous view.
He was born to human parents. When his mother laid an egg, his father accused her of infidelity and bestiality, then left in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. His mother cradled the egg to her bosom and promised her unconditional love to whatever creature might hatch from it. When the egg did not hatch, but rather grew arms and legs and developed a face, she too left in the middle of the night.
The king, a stern but fair ruler, declared Humptin to be a child of everyone in the kingdom, which meant that nobody had to help raise him for more than seven hours. He grew from a small egg to a medium-sized egg to a very large egg. He couldn’t contribute much, being an egg, but since he did not eat nor drink nor produce waste, he was not a drain on society.
The wind was beginning to pick up. Humptin reluctantly decided that it was time to leave his perch and find something else to do. Perhaps he could watch cows being milked. Or perhaps he could watch hay being baled. Or he could just walk the cobblestone streets, pretending that nobody was staring at him.
But they always stared at him. He knew they did. Even in his stylish hat, his custom-made shirt, and his delightful pants, everybody stared at the giant egg-man. How could they not? If somebody else in the kingdom had been born with the misfortune of being a walking, talking egg, Humptin knew he would gape at them, too.
A sudden gust of wind blew him off the wall!
He plummeted four stories, shrieking in terror.
“Noooooooooo!” he wailed, as the ground seemed to rush toward him with hostile intent.
His white shell broke into dozens of pieces. Yellow, glistening yolk sprayed from the wounds as if in slow motion.
Humptin gaped at his insides in horror. The pain was worse than he could ever have imagined. The pieces of shell with his arms and legs were gone, as was his left eye. His mouth had a horrific crack down the center.
“Help me…” he gasped. “Please help me…”
He’d been warned that he could have a great fall. Why hadn’t he listened? Oh, God, why hadn’t he listened?’
He just lay there, oozing.
They’d fix him. They had to fix him.
An eternity later, he heard a voice from above: “Humpty Dumpty has fallen from the wall! Open the gates!”
An eternity after that, the gates to the kingdom opened. People began to run outside, soon forming a tight circle around the shattered egg.
“So he does have yolk inside!” said one man. “I’d always wondered!”
“Scrambled or over easy?” said another man, who was glared at by the others and told that it was too soon for such wit.
“I’m dying…” said Humptin. It didn’t even sound like his own voice anymore.
“Don’t you worry, lad,” said a young woman with three teeth. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men are on their way. You’ll be right as rain in no time.”
Humptin stared at her with his remaining eye. What the hell were the king’s horses going to do to help him? And why did he need all of the king’s men? He only needed the ones with proper medical training.
Moments later, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, which was a significant number, emerged from the gate.
Humptin screamed in agony.
“Fools! The horses have trodden upon Mr. Dumpty!” somebody shouted. “He was a lost cause before, but now he’s even worse!”
Humptin watched egg white drip off hooves, unable to believe this nightmare was real.
Men and horses continued to accidentally step on his shell exoskeleton. Crack. Crack. Crack. The sound of each crack sent a horrified shiver down Humptin’s crushed back.
“That horse is licking up his insides!” said the woman with three teeth. “Make it stop before there’s nothing left!”
A knight leaned down and placed an armored hand on Humptin’s face. “Humpty, can you hear me?”
“You’re going to be all right. Just stay with us. We’ve got the best men here, and we’ll put you back together, better than ever.”
Was it nighttime already, or was his vision going dark?
“So cold…” he said. “So sleepy…”
“Don’t you give up!” the knight said. “I don’t care how much you want to close your eyes, don’t you do it! Don’t you dare do it, Humpty Dumpty! We can fix you!”
A horse picked up a large piece of shell in its mouth and wandered off, happily crunching away.
“Get these goddamned horses out of here!” shouted the knight. “Somebody get me some glue! If there’s none available, make one of the horses into glue! We’re not going to let Humpty Dumpty die!”
But Humptin looked up at the knight. “It’s all right,” he said, voice barely a whisper. “The pain has already faded. Everything is numb. I’m ready to let go.”
“Even if you put me back together, I’ll never be the same. I’ll be horribly disfigured. I’ll be a burden on the kingdom. I don’t want to live like that.”
“You’re speaking madness! I vow to all of the gods that we will not let you die!”
“Please,” said Humptin. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready.”
The crowd gasped and parted as King Tiberius himself walked through the front gate and over to the carnage. The King placed his hand on the knight’s shoulder. “It’s time to let him go,” he said, softly.
The knight nodded. He tried to wipe a tear from his eye, but couldn’t get at it through the helmet, so instead he stood up. “You are a brave egg-man, Humpty Dumpty. You die with honor and will be forever remembered.”
And then the darkness overtook Humptin Dumptin, and he was no more.
Though he was dead, all the king’s men tried to put him back together again, so his shell could be placed in the kingdom’s library as a glorious, if macabre, reminder of the very odd citizen they’d lost.
But they couldn’t do it, so they settled for a nursery rhyme in his honor instead.
He will be forever remembered.
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