Black Parade, Forward
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When I was young, the travelling circus was a big festival for me. The entry parade was the biggest event of all, attracting a larger crowd than the circus itself. In that crowd were my father and me.

Many freaks walked in the parade. There were hunchbacks, dwarfs, giants, and a three-armed man carrying a man without legs.

My father would tell me as he saw the parade.

“Son, when you grow up, you must be a man who can accept twisted beings like them.”

I was too young to understand, but I nodded sincerely to my father’s words that were serious than ever. I grew older since then, and my father passed away.

And in front of my eyes, there is a woman called a witch burning to death.


A woman is tied to a pole on a stack of firewood.

I know her; she was the hermit who lived alone in the mountains. I came across her rather frequently while I was hunting with my father. Torches were ready to fall around that woman.

It was witch season.

I don’t know why she is called a witch, but I know my friend’s mother was released yesterday. This was her only hope of evading the witch trial. I do not resent them, but neither do I like them.

One of the townsfolk told me they found the witch who killed my father; I saw a boar hitting my father, throwing him off a cliff. Tied in the square where I was dragged to was that woman. If she didn’t block the bore rushing towards me, I might have ended like my father. The townsfolk said they found my father’s grave in her backyard. While I was crying on the cliff, unable to retrieve his body, she told me she would do it for me.

That was one year ago.


The fire rose high, and so did the witch’s voice. The townsfolk threw stones at her. When a stone flew into the fire, the screaming stopped for a moment. But for me, all the images and sounds felt so distant from me. Ironically, it was a silent execution for me.

When the fire died down, people returned home. I turned back hesitantly. They said her corpse would be left there for a week to serve as an example. I just stood there, doing nothing until the execution ended.

“Are there a lot of demons?” Young me asked.

“Of course. They stop you when you should act and make you act when you should stop.” Father said.


I went to see her in the empty square at dawn. The rope burned down, but her body was still intact, tied. She was black. No, everything, including her, was pitch black.

I knelt in front of her silently. Her corpse looked so big as if it was pressing down on me. I let both of my arms down, succumbing to that weight. A calm wind blew by my ears.

However, there was no wind. It was then when her chest started to move a little.

Without any other thought, I stepped on the firewood and approached her. My God, she’s alive.

I cut the burnt ropes and carried her on my back. Her body was surprisingly light and cold. But I could hear her breathing under her faint voice.

“To my home… To my home…”

I carried her up the mountain.


I arrived at her house after 10 minutes. Usually, it took me 15 minutes. I cautiously laid her down on the bed. She was still black, but she looked less skinny than before.

“Thank you for coming back.”

Her voice was clearer, and her breathing became more stable.

“You saved me. My dad would have taught me to save you, too.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but I am a witch.”

“All the more reason to save you.”

She turned her head and looked at me. Soot was disappearing from her face, and I could see flesh regenerating on her cheeks.

“Interesting. Why is it?”

“Father told me to be a man who could accept any twisted beings.”

She sat up on her chair. All of her body but her torso was back to normal, including her clothes.

“You have a good father. He saved you.”

“What? What are you…”

“Everyone in the village will die tonight, except you. Oh, don’t get this wrong; I’m not the one who’s going to make the killing.”

“…”

“There will be a war, and this village will be the stage of the first battle and massacre.”

I stood up. The townsfolk needed to evacuate fast.

“Where are you going?”

“The townsfolk need to know. I can’t let them die like this.”

“That’s their destiny. Let it be.”

“I escaped. There’s no reason anyone else shouldn’t.”

She didn’t say anything. I walked to the door.

“You’re going to die if you go there. Would they like you if you told you listened to the witch?”

I paused and looked at her. She looked back at me as if she knew everything, but I didn’t stop. Be a man who can accept all twisted beings.

Snap, went her fingers, and “I’m sorry.”

“What the…” I started feeling dizzy, my vision blurred, and my legs started shaking. I collapsed, holding the doorknob.


The town burnt like her. The townsfolk went black like her. But I survived.

Tremendous guilt subtly pressed down on me while she looked at me subtly.

“Is this what you wanted? Killing those who killed you? This place was my everything! My family, friends, neighbours! Don’t tell me this is nothing to me! You may be happy from revenge, but you threw me in endless pain! Is this how a witch pays back? You should have let me die!”

The witch stood sadly, quietly. We just stood there, on the rubble, ashes, corpses and silence. She spoke with a heavy voice.

“I’m sorry you went through this. But you were destined to die horribly from the moment you escaped your fate of death. This was your best option.”

She pulled out a shepherd’s cane from her sleeve. It was too big to fit in there, but I was beyond being surprised at this point.

“Guide the dead with me. The fallen will aid you as helpers and assistants.”

Before I could ask, the bodies started to stand up. Black people stumbled into a line behind the shepherd’s staff as if they were marching.

The witch pulled out another staff from her sleeve. My hand picked it up on its own. I noticed what I just did and tried to let it go, but it didn’t budge.

“That is your only destiny.”

“I should have left you to burn.”

“You’ll thank me once you saw the other futures.”

Half of the black figures gathered behind me.

“We’re invisible to people. But sometimes we need to show ourselves when lots of them die, so let’s be careful not to get caught.”

I frowned as she condescendingly told me. She smiled at me as if I was funny. I turned back and started walking, disgusted by her expression. I will escape someday. Someday.

“Oh, don’t try to escape! We must go forward!”

She shouted.

“Get it! We must go forward!”

Someday. Someday.

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