The Dead Ed Show
Once upon a time in a kingdom far away lived a court jester named Ed. Actually, he had not started yet, and it was his first day since he was hired, sight unseen in a hurry because the old jester was bludgeoned to death by one of the footmen after uttering a few too many jokes on his expense.
The king lived in a vermicular edifice in the middle of the city. To this place Ed walked for the very first day, with a hopeful glint in his eyes.
The king had one nubile daughter, which he cared for deeply. She was present as Ed the jester entered the court to make fun. His eyes quickly caught the king’s daughter, and vice versa, much to the dismay of the king — and not just because the jokes suffered.
So the king had his men get rid of Ed. After Ed had done his thing, and was walking home from work, one of the king’s carriages drove by him, and a man inside offered him a lift, seeing that he was working for the court and all.
Ed accepted with glee, and got in. Inside the carriage were three large men. They beat Ed up, and stuffed him in a bag. They rolled far outside the city limits, and dumped the bag with Ed inside down in a stream, and he drowned, and floated into the next kingdom downstream.
There, the following morning, his body was discovered by an evil magician, who re-animated Ed. He then interrogated Ed, to get the layout of the king’s castle and information on manpower. And Ed told the magician everything he had seen, giving the magician enough info to draw a rough plan of the court and the city.
Ed, who had always been interested in strategy, found himself helping the magician plot his raid. He mentioned that the king would want a new jester and advised that perhaps he should go back to the palace with a group of men disguised as a traveling band of jugglers and cause havoc inside the palace. He was already dead, he realized, and could not be killed. The magician would hardly mind summoning some more dead to aid him. And while all the guards were rushing to the court to fight, a small army could be sent in through the main gate.
The evil magician thought this would be a great idea, and was off to the charnel house to animate some good jugglers — or at the very least some zombies who could pretend to be jugglers.
* * *
Of course the jugglers were allowed through the gate with swords. The needed them for juggling with. The excitement! Sharp objects flung in the air! This the king would pay to see, and they were hired on the spot.
In the evening the king had dinner and watched the show as he ate. Ed and the jugglers walked in and bowed. Ed bowed especially to the king, but the king did not recognize him. Ed smiled, and signalled his team. They drew their swords, one in each hand, and threw one each at the dinner guests, killing some.
The guards jumped into action, and a melee broke out between the guards and the zombies while the king, his queen and his daughter escaped.
Normally the fight would have been over in less than five minutes, but the guards were unable to kill their enemy, and their enemy knew it. Even the loss of a single limb did not faze them much, and they continued on.
Dead Ed followed the king and his entourage, and was in turn followed by half a dozen guards. But he was faster than they. But he was not fast enough and just missed the king’s escape carriage, as it barreled away. Ed chased it, but it went much faster than he could ever hope to go, so he decided to join the battle.
As predicted, most of the guards had gone running toward the court as soon as the alert was raised. Dead Ed found himself fighting back almost a hundred angry guards, and the army was being summoned from training in a nearby field. He retreated to one of the towers and locked himself in. The guards immediately began hacking at the door. But Ed did not worry. He could always jump out the window.
But it never came to that. Another alarm was being raised: an army was coming through the front gate. By then, it was too late. The guards were tired from all the running and were confused and surprised. The fight did not take too long, and far less than one in ten were killed before the attackers triumphed.
Dead Ed waited until the fighting was over before exiting his tower. He figured he’d walk out of town and go to sleep in the woods, and perhaps turn to dust like a good little corpse.
As he walked out the gate, he saw a carriage lying on its side half on the road, half off, some dead horses in a heap tied before it, so many arrows in them they resembled cactuses.
Dead Ed recognized the carriage. It was the royal coach. And there, on the ground beside it, lay the king, dead. He too, looked similar to a cactus, so did his queen, who was lying just a few steps further. Ed looked around. There, by the river he spotted a few arrows, and he went to have a peek.
The princess lay face down on the bank, with her face underwater. She had three arrows pinned in her back. Dead Ed mourned her. She had seemed like such a nice person. And Ed thought of the magician.
So Ed carried the princess to the magician, and asked him to revive her. Which he did, at no extra charge, and the dead princess fell in love with Dead Ed, and they... existed... happily ever after.
Copyright © 2005 by Bewildering Stories on behalf of the author