Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the last book I ever read (The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, excerpt fifteen)

from The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates:

So heavy was the pall of damp and lassitude upon the Bog Castle, the nights were spent in joyless carousing, and the playing of draughts; but, as an elderly bent-backed servant informed Todd, the game was no ordinary game of draughts of the kind played by persons in civilized lands, but a most ingenious and deadly species. For the winner was not only privileged but required to chop off the head of the loser in full view of the assembled court!—which feature the Master had initiated upon his return from the East some years ago, that the ennui of the castle might be stirred. And now all were mad for the game, and had acquired an insatiable desire for blood—the blood of others, that is. “When you hear a bestial roar erupt in the early hours of the morning,” Todd was told, in a lowered voice, “it’s the response of onlookers to yet another ‘execution.’ And nearly as horrific a sound to hear, as it is a sight to see.”

Todd would have liked to question the man further, but he thought it most prudent to remain speechless. For some reason, it is human nature to speak more openly to one who appears to be mute.

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