In the town of Mainz the sun shone undauntedly upon the burning flesh of the beggars in the town centre. Casual and fanatical, the crowd watched as the fires gradually enveloped the skin of the suffering. It was a hot afternoon for those being blistered, and those watching the blistering alike; there was little else for the villagers to do than observe people being burned alive. Later many would go home and fornicate due to the unchanged lack of general activity. For the time being however, watching people being burned would pass the time contentedly.
Archbishop Hatto looked upon the scene with coolness and disinterest upon his face, yet upon his heart danced a fervent awareness. He saw the bubbling of flesh and the blackening of bone; heard the screams of the beggars growing more incomprehensible as their bodies grew more disfigured. Some carcasses shrunk with the heat, others still barely alive fought against their restraints. The flashes of fire licking at the heels of the persecuted reflected in Hatto’s eyes, and suddenly he could not control himself. He had burned these men, and they were leaving this life in a horrific and violent fashion. He rose to his feet…
‘Listen to my mice!’, he exclaimed with delight, ‘Listen to my mice squeal!’
The night brought with it dreams of fire and demise. Rolling in unconscious ecstasy, Hatto recalled the screams of the beggars as their skin grew tighter and burst, exposing their innards which trembled under the incredible heat. He dreamt of their faces melting and their mouths, dripping with skin and blood and fear, trying to scream, and producing only gargling noises as the acid from their stomachs boiled and rose into their throats. Hatto yelled at the crowd to hear his mice squeal, his subjects to listen to his rodents die in a fit of fire and anguish; ‘Listen to my mice squeal! Listen to my mice squeal!’. Utter pleasure, unmitigated joy! But then another dream… Hatto felt the drone of the town square fall further into the distance and he was pulled backwards into the very room where he slept. He heard scurrying at the door, hastening and frantic. All of a sudden the mice were upon him, clawing at his face and gnawing at his clothes. There were hundreds of them, perhaps thousands, and he ran- not to escape the mice, but to feel the excitement of the chase; the cheap thrill of his impending doom.
Hatto ran to the tower in the middle of the Rhine and began to ascend the stairs. Behind him he could hear the violent scurrying of his pursuers. He slowed as he reached the top, afraid that they would not catch him, but he need not have worried. They swamped him at the final step, engulfing his body in the warm embrace of a cruelly delightful end, fabricated with teeth and claws.
And alas, Hatto sharply awoke from his dream, but in a haze of nausea and satisfaction. He would say that punishment of the body rectified the soul for the union with God. The lewd smile upon his face told of other intentions.
The next day the Archbishop gave the order for the tower in the Rhine to be coated with pigs blood; an unusual request by most standards, but logical when weighed against the peril of burning. The servants climbed to the very top of the tower, slitting the throats of pigs and allowing the blood to ooze down the stairs. The servants found themselves swathed in blood, and many slipped and fell to the bottom of the tower. Death awaited them here, nestling in the blood of swine. Hatto did not find reason to have their bodies removed. They were dead, they would attract the mice faster. They would serve their purpose in death more so than in life.
As evening fell, the servants were ushered from the tower. Hatto remained at the top, heart palpitating with the knowledge that soon his body would be ripped into pieces. His torch illuminated his platform- the cold tower below his body felt like a stage from which he would make his way into death, into everlasting life, into an eternity filled with pain and misery. The servants left the doors to the tower open as they left, displaying the inner sanctum of the tower filled with blood and the bodies of their fallen friends. Many wondered about the intentions of their Archbishop, and many knew that the blood would attract the mice, almost too large in size and ferociously hungry for human fatality. They waited patiently for the piece to commence.
By nightfall, the hordes began approaching from the sewers and from the barns. Attracted by the scent of blood and decaying organs, they made their way to the foot of the tower. The doors had been left wide open and the stench of death had made its way across the town. The villagers did not shut their windows in disgust, but instead watched with morbid curiosity; they had finished making love, their appetites were ravenous for death once more.
Atop the tower Hatto had fallen to his knees, looking down the staircase with eager anticipation. He could hear the mounds of mice crawling in, such as in his dream, crushing the bodies of the fallen with their tiny feet amplified by ten thousand. He lay himself down where the trail of blood ended, and waited. And here he waited, eyes so awake and resting upon the moon which flew above him, soon to be clouded by the gentle ripping by fur of death.
And so an hour passed, yet the mice had still not come. Numb from the cold night air, Hatto found his feet and peered into the tower, yet the darkness had made it so that he was unable to see the glorious wreck of human life which lay at the bottom. Knowing that should he approach the hordes himself that his dream would not be realised, Hatto took his torch and threw it down the centre of the tower. The villagers watching intently from their windows would see flashes of light as the torch descended, though the slits in the tower’s exterior, punctuated by intervals of cold stone. And upon reaching the bottom, all including Hatto could see the grotesque display: thousands of gorged mice, feasting on the remnants of the deceased. Their eyeballs ripped from their faces and lips torn away and devoured. Little remained of the bodies, and those rats which had gorged themselves first had fallen lazily to the bottom and had been crushed by those above; exploding casually and combining into a great mire at the bottom of the tower. Those mice still alive were too engorged to climb the stairs and instead lay in the repulsive soup of human organs and mice remnants. Hatto’s position revealed to him a great, writhing mass of death that he so wanted to be a part of. The villagers instead saw a pool of innards and blood, pieces of hair and skin, and bile and fat congealing and trapping alive mice; their rampant squeals not unlike those of the burned beggars. To them, it was exhilarating… the torch suddenly ignited the pools of human and mice fat which swamped the tower, setting the entire scene ablaze. The tower was alive with the burning irony of death. Many of the villagers applauded.
Hatto felt nausea overcome his body and he backed away from the apex of the staircase, unable now to watch his glorious death being decimated. His reality had not lived up to his fantasy, and suddenly this impossible realisation had caused the Archbishop‘s soul to become troubled. He staggered back in the dark, and without the glow of the torch now eradicating the bodies of thousands below him, he found his way accidentally to the very edge of the tower. Here, he teetered and wrestled with his great weight, unsure of whether he had ever woken up from his dream; the Rhine below him was welcoming and unforgiving. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to fall backwards, dreaming of a death that was long and sorrowful. This was his dream. This had been what he had lived for. As his body smashed on the rocks below the tower however, his death was cut short. A sharp crack to his skull caused his brain matter to seep out onto the rocks, attracting the gulls and other scavengers of tragedy. His fantasy was not realised, even in his very last dream. His death had come too quick.
The mice had driven him to his death, and for days the villagers crowded around the tower and watched his body decay upon the rocks. Their executor and architect of murder had gone… and by this, they were greatly saddened. But still, his body provided a means of entertainment during the hot summer weeks.
Once he had decayed completely, they would go back to fornicating.