The Book and The Housewife

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A housewife and her husband tries to change the husband's fate, but in the process create a far worse one.

Submitted: January 19, 2008

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Submitted: January 19, 2008

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The book’s first victim was a housewife and her husband in medieval times. It was almost entirely blank when one of her three children brought it to her after having found it lying in the middle of a field. The only writing was a short uncreditted quote: “All stories follow a single path, and follow it they must. Straying from that path may find one in worse resolutions than they imagine.”

Although the book had no other writing within it, it had plenty to tell. Its origin was unknown but it became obvious it was special. The wife kept the book and intended to use it as a journal, but upon opening it the next day, found writing in it, her writing. She did not remember writing it herself and she was sure it had nothing written in it beside the unusual quote only the day before.

Reading the book, it was apparent it served as a journal but of events yet to occur. It wrote as if through the bearer’s perspective, even with the possessor’s handwriting. At first she doubted its minor predictions of weather or injury to one her children even though the book appeared to be writing itself. But when those events occurred, exactly as the “journal” foretold, she was beyond doubt.

One day, it told her of how her husband and their family began to prosper within the village. So much so that they moved to within castle walls. He was considered a wizard in those days, but in reality a medicine man, and a wise one at that. He would develop new formulas and medicines and become renowned for them. He would seem capable of curing any illness or injuries he was faced with. It would reach a point to where he joined the king’s private counsel, becoming the king’s personal doctor.

The book continued to write, but of less desirable outcomes. It wrote of how the king’s oldest son would grow ill. The husband would be summoned and do all he could, but to no avail. There was nothing that could be done, and the doctor would come to accept the prince’s inevitable death. But the king would not and demanded an impossibility, a cure. With no alternative, the husband treated the son extensively until death came to the boy. When the king heard, he sent the doctor to the gallows for his incompetence and banished the remaining family, sending a dishonored widow and her children with nothing back to their village.

At reading this the woman grew worried and hysterical, begging her husband to stop his work. And as many men would in that time, he ignored her. She told him of his sudden success and his duty as the king’s personal doctor, but never of the ending and his death. He disbelieved everything she told him.

Over time, everything happened precisely as the book predicted and the husband confronted his wife, demanding how she knew of their fate. He had already become one of the king’s closest men but the son had not yet shown any signs of sickness. His wife explained and surrendered the book, hoping the husband would believe and confront reason.

The husband saw little choice in the situation. To keep his wife and children safe, as well as himself, he must flee the castle with the king having no knowledge of his intentions. But on the day of their planned escape, a messenger arrived at their door, summoning the doctor to aid in treating the king’s oldest son. The prince had been struck with a sudden weakness and intense fever. If he were to go with the messenger, there was no way his family would ever see him again. The king would not allow the doctor to leave his son’s bedside for a minute. But he could not deny the messenger either for it would only bring about a quicker death.

And so the husband hesitantly accepted, claiming he needed to gather his supplies before making his way to the prince’s chambers. He told his wife of the occurrence and they quickly decided what must be done. The family gathered their essentials and made their way on horseback to the city gates, desperate to escape.

News of the prince’s illness had, however, already spread throughout the castle guard and the men patrolling the gates found it odd that the king’s renowned doctor and his family, each with horses packed with belongings, were heading away rather than towards the castle courtyard. They stalled the husband and his family from passing while sending a messenger to inform the king of the doctor’s actions.

When the king received the message, he became infuriated. It was obvious to him that the doctor was intent on fleeing. Abandoning your post at such a time was unthinkable and punishable by death. He ordered for the doctor to be brought to him at once.

Awaiting the doctor’s arrival, the king was frenzied with rage as he paced his chambers. How could this man abandon him when he needed him most? And why? He had been only good to the doctor, had invited him to dine with his family, had paid handsomely for any services. So why had the wizard betrayed him now?

A thought had struck the king and he ordered the horses to be thoroughly searched. One thing that may make a man flee in desperation is greed, he thought to himself. The doctor must have stolen or adulterated, must have done something terrible to merit his fear of further service for the king.

The husband was brought to the king while the wife and children imprisoned and the horses searched. The king was furious but demanded that the doctor treat his son, and perhaps he would spare the man’s life. Knowing that treatment was hopeless, he denied the king and asked only that his family be released in return for his life.

The king gazed into the husband’s eyes, searching for answers to his questions, when he was interrupted but one of his aides. A short and stocky man entered hurriedly and whispered into the king’s ear. The wizard knew what had been said by seeing the expression on the king’s face drastically change. The prince had died.

The king yelled and screamed and cursed and threatened, but the man would not cower. He wanted only his family to be safe and begged for mercy towards them.

Although the king may have showed mercy in the past, he showed none to the wizard and his family. Each was sent to the gallows, one by one; the wife after the children until finally the husband. He was forced to watch his family die, until he himself was noosed and the boards gave way beneath him.

That night the king sat alone in his chambers, saddened by the loss of his son but satisfied in his resolution. He stood up and paced the room in agitation, confused by the feelings surging within him. He was angry and mourning, but his revenge was fulfilling. Spotting the family’s bags of belongings on his desk brought in by his guards earlier that day, he began to dig through them for something, anything to get his mind off the day’s events. Maybe something here could tell him the true nature of the doctor’s betrayal.

He found nothing relevant and gave up his search with a loud sigh. The corner of a thick book protruded from the side pocket of one of the wife’s bags. Thinking perhaps a book could take his mind off of things, he grabbed it and headed back to bed, opening to the first page with writing.

“All stories follow a single path, and follow it they must. Straying from that path may find one in worse resolutions than they imagined possible.”

Note from Author

Only first draft, wondering mostly if you guys like the idea. And I know the title is crappy, just needed something :) Thanks in advance for reading and feedback!


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