Preface: This was for my British Literature class, where we had to write a story in the style of the Canterbury Tales, from the perspective of a modern profession. This is mine.
The Author’s Prologue
As I understand it from all these tales,
The human race continues to hypocrisize,
And others still are high and mighty.
Though some of them have shown some promise,
I’m largely disappointed in the human race.
I think I’ll give the elves a try, they seem to have it right.
I’m sure from just that opening you can see
That I am not a harmless madman.
If you’re not but an idiot, I’ll call you out.
If you have no hypocrisy, then that is fine,
But no cause for celebration.
Smart and sincere should be the default,
And only mentioned if one is not.
If you do not try, you are to blame and no one else.
Now, do not take this as insult;
You’re no worse than anyone else.
I’m just as happy on this bus as if I’m off.
I accuse anyone of their hypocrisy, given the chance.
The fairies, they’re alright, but any besides.
I just seldom get the chance to rant
Against the madness of humanity
To the mad humans themselves.
The best I get are imps, and they always listen.
But I’ll not dwell on that much longer,
People tend to yell if I keep at it.
Not that I mind the noise, the dwarves,
They make enough with their incessant hammering,
But yelling leads to hitting, and I’ve enough bruises.
Instead, I’ll tell a tale I think we all will understand,
Of the sloth of man and man of sloth
The Author’s Tale
I start my tale with a man named Lex,
Who as many do, but not too much,
Was oft found on his couch, doing only,
As those of Aegria would do in modern times,
Lay and watched TV, day in and day out.
It did not matter much what it was,
So long as it had a lot of action.
He couldn’t bear to hear the news,
Far too boring for the likes of Lex,
And who needs to know what the world’s about
When you have The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad?
I hope you all are well aware,
That slothfulness is next to devilness,
Or so the saying ought to go.
This man was the worst offender,
The laziest of all humanity,
But do not let that stop you, I’m sure you’ll try
To outdo him in his slothfulness.
But first, hear me out, for before nightfall
He’ll have some visitors you’ll want to know.
Much like Scrooge on Christmas Eve,
Three ghosts he’ll see, but not of time.
They’ll be of warning, no need for sight-seeing.
A rerun of The Walking Dead,
Interrupted when the first one came.
Just after three, the TV crackled and shook about,
But Lex could not be bothered to get up.
Eventually the ghost had given up,
And decided to try another way.
Now the TV came back to life,
With his ex-wife upon the screen, or rather,
Just her image, as this ghost did tend to do.
Lex gave a start, but did not get up,
And then her mouth began to move,
And spoke in a voice like hell itself,
‘Sit up, old lump, and listen well,
This afternoon may be your last
If you don’t heed my warning call.
Tonight’s the night, I’ll let you know,
That wraiths and ghosts are rising
To tell who they meet of their great fortune,
And you ought to know by the image you see,
It’s not good fortune that I bring.
For if you stay at home, upon that couch,
You’ll see another ghastly figure yet.
One last warning for you to hear,
Before the last of three you’ll see.
And if you see the next, then fear,
For Death is knocking at your door.’
With the message said, her face did go,
And back to Walking Dead, Lex went.
He did not heed her warning.
Surely it was but a trick by his ex-wife,
One last try to change his mind,
But he was firmly set upon his ways.
He’d not get up but for a can of beer,
Or maybe an antique bag of chips.
I’m sure by now you people see,
That my story does not cling
To anything you see as real,
For I am part of a bigger game,
One that involves much greater things,
Than tricks by exes and silly wishes.
The ghosts are real, you must have seen them,
But your dull minds just won’t accept them.
Don’t you see, in your eye’s corner,
A glimpse of something not quite there?
It’s men of fae, avoiding eyes.
And all that ringing in your ears,
Is only dwarves, who fashion spears.
Smells you can’t quite place,
Are Kobold kids, cooking considerable cakes.
But back to Lex, not that he’s moved
He’s still on the couch, and now it’s four.
The TV doesn’t change this time.
This time there begins a knock upon his door.
He yells at whoever may be knocking,
‘Go away, I’m not buying!’
But then a shadow creature does appear,
And crosses before the TV’s light.
‘Out of the way, and who are you?’
Shouts Lex, with just a bit of dismay.
‘The second ghost, which you were warned of,’
Replies the ghost in silky tongue.
‘The door is knocking, won’t you answer?
Or do you know it’s Death out there?
He’ll be in here soon enough,
Doors don’t hold him very long.’
Lex did neither want to believe this man,
Nor did he want to die tonight,
As the knocking kept on coming,
So, carefully, he asked his question,
‘If what you say is true, then how do I avoid it?
I don’t believe that Death is here,
It’s just an elaborate trick, of course,
But just in case you tell the truth
What is it that I do to live?’
The shadow laughed its silky laugh,
And shook its blackened head.
‘The only thing to do for you,
Is run away from here at once.
If you’re not here for Death to find,
You may escape his foul mind.
But then, of course, you’re you,
And you don’t run for anything.
You seldom walk, and hardly crawl,
Save for some form of food,
That would make you fat.
I’m sorry, Lex, but for you I know,
Of no way to save your soul.’
With that the shadow did fade away,
But the knocking on the door continued.
Lex did try to move his legs,
In such a way as to run away,
But he never moved them quite that fast
And tripped and fell into the mess
Which filled the room in which he lived.
His femur snapped, and spine collapsed
His neck did crack, his skull, cave in.
Death did not need to enter, for Lex
He came to Death. He sealed his fate
When he had eaten far too much,
And burned that off far too little.
Now you see what folly it is,
To sit around and seldom move.
Sloth is but the second of the worst,
Since the first might cause my death,
But it is still a worthy cause.
Don’t be lazy, be crazy, and run!
There’s an awful lot of running to do.