Prologue: The Beginning
“Papa, tell me a story.”
Henry Goldman crouched next to the bed where his daughter lay fidgeting between the sheets.
“A story?” Henry scratched his chin, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a book instead? I think there was one in the car...”
She shook her head. “No Papa, I want a story from you. Something special! Come on please? Pretty pretty please with cherries on top!” She raised her eyebrows and showed her teeth with a gigantic smile.
Henry sighed and scratched his head, “Oh, I don’t know, Julia. I was never very good at telling stories.”
Julia’s smile slowly faded and was replaced with a large, forced frown.
“But Papa,” she whined.
Henry looked at her big, blue eyes and was powerless to resist. But what to tell? He hadn’t been lying when he told her he wasn’t good at telling stories. His eyes wandered around the room, searching for inspiration.
The lamp beside her bed dimly illuminated the room, creating shadows on the white walls and reflecting off the smooth floor. Blue curtains swayed in the warm air coming from the heater below.
Henry glanced back at his daughter who was looking up at him expectantly. As usual she clutched her large, brown teddy bear close to her chest. Ever since she had gotten the bear for her seventh birthday the two of them had been inseparable. The right ear of the teddy bear had been ripped off by the family dog, but Julia decided it made him look better and didn’t mind in the slightest. Beside her, lying in a crumpled heap, was her “blankie.” She had the habit of chewing on the corners of the red and gold fabric when she was nervous, and as a result the cloth was well-worn and ragged.
Henry looked around the room for a few more moments. He lowered his head to gather his thoughts. He scratched his stubbly beard, and then, a giddy smile grew like a flower in springtime on his face.
Henry excitedly leapt to his feet, “Alright Jules, I think I have a story for you. And boy is it a doozy so strap in.”
Julia laughed, “Doozy? What a weirdo.”
“I know you are but what am I? I’m serious though Jules, this is a good one.”
She smiled, “Really? What is it about? Are there bad guys and monsters?”
Henry mimed seriousness and lowered his voice, coming closer to Julia as if sharing a secret not meant for others. He whispered gruffly, “Oh the baddest guys of all, and monsters too. A story about a man so powerful and so evil, that he tamed Death himself!”
Julia gasped in horror and excitement, bringing her blankie and teddy bear closer to her. “Well does it have good guys in it too?”
“What would a story be without good guys to fight the bad guys, huh? But this story is very special, as I believe you requested, so you must pay very. Close. Attention.” He emphasized his last words strongly. “Are you ready?”
Julia vigorously nodded her head in response.
“Good.” Henry sat in the chair and scooted closer to the bed. “It starts like this...”