Stumbling into his room, he nearly collapsed into his bed when he noticed a bottle of beer on his bedside table. He grinned stupidly and was about to chug down the contents, when he realized there was no beer inside, but instead a curled up sheet of paper. Frowning and bewildered, he tried stuffing his fat wrist into the neck of the bottle, but to no avail. “Oh for the love o’ Jones,” he groaned. “Moses!” The black raven flew in through the window. “Eh, here, eh, Moses! Eh, open, I, uh, mean pull this, er, note out, if you will.” The bird cocked his head. “PULL THE NOTE OUT YOU IDIOT!” He shouted, losing his control, not to mention footing, and falling back onto the velvety sheets of his four-poster bed, where he lay, arms and legs flailing like a flipped-over beetle. The bird said nothing and simply extended its neck and stuck its slim beak into the narrow opening, gingerly pulling out the paper and dropping it on the blanket next to the struggling source of its subjection. The overweight tyrant had, after much tossing and turning, managed to upright himself, somewhat retaining dignity. He blew his rosy nose, and straightened his hat over his floppy ears, then brushed off his coat. At last noticing the coiled page, he ripped off the scarlet wax seal and noticed at once his name, written in large, curling script, “ Dear Comrade Napoleon.” The rest read as follows:
“I was born a piglet under the cruel dictatorship of Farmer Jones. I struggled through my life, with little to eat, feeding off of the faint hope of justice. The elder pigs knew of a song telling of a golden future when the cruel Man had been annihilated, where the beasts of the earth would rule with a firm, yet affectionate hand. Before I departed this world, I sang this very song to you, Napoleon, and our Comrades. I sang of a joyful era of beasts, where no Man would set foot. I told them that cruel whips no more should crack; yet it is not whips you carry now in your trotters? I helped them envision riches beyond rich; yet are not their sides now thin as to expose their ribcages? I convinced them of a sweet destiny, where the world was brightened by the ubiquitous presence of beasts; yet is not the brightest light they see the bleak, impending shadow of your savagery? I persuaded them to take all risks to help achieve this paradisiacal heaven, even if it is not reached within their lifetime, and they have, Comrade, they have. They have strived to accomplish the near impossible, from the moment of the first harvest, to the rebuilding of the windmill. We sang that joyous night with discordant, yet harmonious vigor. I was compelled to believe that one could survive on hope so strong. Unfortunately, I was right, for hope now is truly the sole source of existence for the animals on Manor Farm. I watched when you all as a group painted the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the wall of the barn, and witnessed how you slyly altered them in your favor. You, Napoleon, are slowly but surely stealing away with that hope, leaving devastation beyond measure in your wake. What are you, Napoleon? You are surely not a just a selfish swine. What have you become?
At those last words, Napoleon was shoved to the back of the bed by an invisible force. He stepped quietly off the mattress, and dizzily walked about, grasping for support. He suddenly stopped in his tracks, his face as pale as that of a ghost’s, the paper shaking in his trembling hands. He rasped, “A, a monster.”
Lucy MacGowan, Age 13, Grade 8, Trinity School, Gold Key