An Undead Hymn
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You find a scrap of parchment with what appears to be part of a rudimentary script for a mid-budget play. The topic is unclear at first, although it is titled "An Undead Hymn; a skit for a half hour and a skeleton crew".

The forest is cold and damp. A soft yet clear voice is heard, casually chatting with a scratchy and sour voice. The scene is dark, but illuminated with a mild fire and surrounding were-lights. The playwright suggests the careful manipulation of shadows through floating lights or a central fire.

"Tell me a story."

"Gurgh. Most of the good stories I know are in a sort of poetic form, and my throat isn't as it once was. I thought that was apparent—"

"But you keep bringing up how 'the tales from the Other Side are the only cultured thing left, and they're not even for the living", and you never tell us any of them!"

"Arjck. Fine. But don't blame me if I stop because a vocal chord snaps…Hmm, let's try this one…"

William proceeds to recite a memorized poem by the fire. This section can be sung like a hymn, or spoken with rhythm as poetry with meter. The playwright suggests careful selection of the actor, modification of lyrics, or use of voice recordings, if needed. The mood is dramatic, perhaps unnecessarily so.

"…In silent plea for Winter’s end,
A dogged shadow drops again.
At rest, at peace, until the sight
Of the darkest moon or living life1.

"During times as such, they say the most
About fervent wraiths or severed ghosts,
And while the warnings they bear
Make sense to hear,
The real dead2 threat
Is of a different flesh tier:

"Where yellowed flesh falls from bone
And where rage and sorrow seep through stone
Would there lie a motive still fresh
Then would bring back rotten, stiff flesh!
Imbued with the power of a mind long gone,
Imbued by the Afterlife, a return gone wrong.

"Stories poke fun at returning from Hell:
'The Other Side', the 'Door of Death', the 'Underworld'
But what they miss is a ring of a bell3:
Clear, piercing, a sound of warning.
So thus do they lose its sense of weight,
To shocking, to draining, to already boring.

"But Man will soon not forget, nor leave it 'food for thought'
As the dark times come, and skeletal hands reach for a familiar God…"

The audience can tell that Ellie has remained still this whole time, whether because of the frost or the chilling themes of the poem.

"Wow. So…What does it mean? Do you know when "the dark times" will come…?"

"No, and I hope it will never be found out as long as I live. Uh…"

Beat. William can be heard attempting to raggedly catch his breath from his performance. His lungs don't work like they had when he was alive.

"Okay…Well, do you think we'll be safe, then? From all the other scary monster things?"

"If we find the others, we should be fine. Speaking of such, follow. It is nigh time that we begin searching, and we have been near the comfort of the fire for too long. Are you well rested?"

"Yes, I'm ready to go. Lead the way, Will."

"Ock! 'Will.' What an ironic nickname. Because—"

"Yeah, I get it."

Exit.

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