The Story of the Beast, the Baker, and the Bell

“Another story,” begged the child, “I want to hear one more!”
The father said, “That’s what you told me after the last four.
And now my limbs grow heavy, and my eyes are feeling sore.”
The child would not be satisfied. “I want to hear another.”

The father stretched and sat back down, and said, “Oh very well.
It just so happens that I have one more story to tell —
About ‘The Story of the Beast, the Baker, and the Bell.’
But if you hear it, I must warn you, you may not recover.”

“What do you mean?” the young one asked, becoming more excited.
Said Dad, “It’s not a tale for those who are easily frighted.
I’ll tell it to you only if you’re totally decided.”
The child said, “Yes, please tell me, Dad! Now – I can’t wait to hear it!”

“The story is so gruesome, child, that when it was first told,
The very air inside the room began to grow quite cold,
And people screamed and quaked, no matter whether young or old.
Are you sure you’re ready?” Child said, “Please! I do not fear it!”

“The next time it was told,” said Dad, “It had become more scary.
The room was filled with shadows cast by monsters huge and hairy,
And no one there could sleep for weeks, they had become so wary.
I really shouldn’t tell it, should I?” “YES!” the child did yell.

“But after folks had heard it twice,” Dad said, “They couldn’t stand it.
They quickly got their government to pass a law that banned it,
And anyone who told it would be swiftly apprehended.
I’d get in trouble!” But the child said, “Please, I’ll never tell!”

“One day, a father (much like me), he told it to his son.
The lights grew dim, but Dad went on, until the tale was done.
A burst of flame, a puff of smoke, and then – the Dad was gone.
I’m scared the same might happen!” But the child said, “No, it won’t.”

“The police searched and hunted through the room where Dad was taken.
They found a note, which said, ‘Three times, the monster world has shaken.
The story’s been told three times. On the fifth time…we awaken.’
Perhaps I should stop telling now.” The child demanded, “Don’t!”

“Well then, of course, as you can guess, the tale was told once more.
The room shook, and the lights went out, and flames leapt from the floor.
The fires spat, and curled into three words: ‘That makes four.’
So if I told it now, that would be—” “Five,” said child, “I get it.”

“The people fled the town and all the stores there quickly folded.
That was two hundred years ago.” The child cried, “Wait, now hold it!
How can you know the story? You weren’t born the last time they told it!
You never knew the story! All this time, you were just toying!”

“Of course I haven’t heard it,” said the Dad, shaking his head.
“I just told you about the story, which is all I said.
And now I’ve done so! So, my child, it’s time to go to bed.”
The child smacked him with a pillow. “Geez, Dad, you can be so annoying.”

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