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The Whimpering Little Skeleton.

(A Mythological Tale)

The Two Sisters.

In a far-away corner of the earth
there once lived two sisters.
One was called Evenindu and the other one Mornindu.

Evenindu, the eldest, was a child as cool and settled
as an Autumn eve. And when she spoke
her voice was as delectable as taffy stretching out to infinity.

Eveningdu had lovely black hair which flowed over her shoulders
as quietly as if Darkness itself
were weaving rivers of shadows enfolding the moonlight
(for her skin color was extremely pale).

Then there was Mornindu, the youngest.
Her voice was precious but a touch less sweet
than tart. Her laughter almost as wicked as a wink,
Morningdu was rosy, well tanned, and
a more restless child than her older sister.

Mornindu loved to run after everything
she so much as caught a glimpse of. And to be as free
as the light at dawn... to flood over the fields, hills
and valleys before her (her frisky yellow tresses waving behind her
like the everywhere-wandering feelings of the newly risen Sun)
... so it's no wonder she was always getting herself
into all kinds of trouble.

Because Evenindu was the oldest, Mother had given her
the chore of putting the Garden to bed at Night.
This meant that Evenindu sometimes stayed up as late
as she wished and always as late as she had to.

There were nights when Evenindu would stay up
so close to midnight that she was lulled to sleep by
the strange dream-like strains of a far-away music
coming closer and closer like a floating mist
--But a misty music which made her gasp
as if she were choking on it!

It always happened just as Evenindu was falling asleep,
though, and she always fell completely asleep before
the strange misty and choking music
came close enough for her to make out
whether it was real or simply some horrible dream...

Still, in spite of the fact that she spent her time frolicking
among the shadows and strolling
between the rays of the moon,
Evenindu was quite the bright and happy little girl:

She was always happy to finish her chores
as soon as possible. And to do whatever else
Mother might ask of her: No one
ever heard Evenindu complaining much about anything--

Her little sister, Mornindu, was the complainer in that family:
It took her forever to finish anything she started
(as if she had all day to do it). But above all
Mornindu did not at all like the fact that
she was the youngest of the two sisters.

There was no way anybody could talk her out of
the conviction that that was the only reason
her older sister was allowed to stay up as late as she did.

It didn't matter to Mornindu
that Mother had to get her to bed as early as possible
because, just as Evenindu was in charge of
putting the Garden to bed, Mornindu's chore was
to get the Garden up and running every morning (and thus
the nicknames by which they were known, for
Evenindu's real name was Eve
and Mornindu's real name was Dawn):

Mornindu hated getting up early
because that meant that she was usually bundled off to bed
even before the scents and smells of supper
had been given a chance to empty out
of everything in the house that had absorbed them.
As Mornindu often liked to point out to Mother.

But, "It's always easier," Mother would point out in return,
wanting Mornindu to understand that of the two jobs,
hers and that of Evenindu's, Mornindu had been given
the easier one (as she was the youngest):
"It's always easier to wake up someone
than to try to find a way for sleep to sneak up on him or her
night after night, especially
when those who must be lulled to sleep
are always on the look out for it."

None of it made sense to Mornindu, of course:
Using Mother's own reasoning against her,
Mornindu would argue that as the younger of the two children
it was harder for her to fall sleep
and harder still for her to get up as early as
she was now getting up.
So there was no end to her complaining.

Nevertheless, every evening without fail
Mother marched little Mornindu upstairs to bed
as early as possible (which was always a lot earlier
than Mornindu herself thought she ought to be going):

"I'll never fall asleep!" she'd complain every single time.
While Mother insisted every single time
that it was all for her own good.

No use, though, because, unfortunately,
the truth was that Mornindu was just plain
jealous of her older sister:

From her room Mornindu would hear
her older sister serenading the night foliage out there
in the moonlit Garden... gently lulling to sleep
the bushes and the trees while Mornindu herself was
struggling under her hot and muggy blanket
in that dark room of hers (shut up behind
the heavy plank of wood used to close and lock the window
so tightly that even the breeze found it a tight squeeze around it).

"Why can't Sister wake up the Garden?"
Mornindu protested, ignoring the fact that
others also had important duties to do.

"I'll put the flowers to bed!" She told Mother,
thinking how wonderful it would be to
'play' all night long out in the cool moonlight.

"Were it not for your sister," Mother told her:
"Who knows what terrible things
the flowers might see slinking between the rays of the moon!"

But regardless of all explanations (and Mother's patience),
as far as Mornindu was concerned the problem was
that she didn't know what things filled the night,
and she was simply dying to find out.

Then again, she could never believe
that there could be things in the night as terrible as all that:
Sometimes, out of frustration, Mornindu could come out
with a very disconcerting: "Would it hurt the flowers so much
to get up at noon for once?"

"Yes, dear!" Mother said: "It would! Besides,
where would the bees and the butterflies go for their breakfast?
Oh no." Mother was very definite about this: "You must never
fail to go to bed as early as possible, so you can
rise early enough to wake up the Garden at dawn!"

 From Eve to Dawn.

"No doubt--" No doubt everything was exactly
as Mother said it was. But it was still hard for Mornindu to accept
that her older sister was permitted to go to bed 'at all hours'
(and a never-ending source of wonderment
that she actually went to bed at all--because
had Mornindu herself been given the chance,
she would have stayed up all night long... if not longer):

"Even so very way past midnight
that I would still be awake early next morning
to get the Garden up and going!" Mornindu told her sister
one evening while in the young girl's room.

"Hush!" Evenindu pleaded with her younger sister
when she heard her saying that.

Evenindu shook like shattering teeth
at the mere mention of anyone staying up past midnight.
(As if it were the most shocking thing she had heard in her life.)

"You have no idea what you're saying!" Evenindu warned:
"No one ever stays up past midnight!"
Something which struck Mornindu as
the oddest thing her sister had ever said to her.

"Why not?" She immediately asked Evenindu:
"I know if I had Mother's permission to stay up
as late as I wanted to, I'd certainly stay up past
midnight--and well past midnight at that!"

 But her words only frightened Evenindu even worse.

"Why, what's the matter?" Mornindu asked her sister,
seeing how pale Evenindu had become (even though
Evenindu was normally as pale as Mornindu was rosy
and well tanned): "You're chilled to the bone as well!
Won't you please tell me what's troubling you?
What did I say that was so bad?"

"You have no idea," Evenindu finally calmed herself
enough to speak--recovering enough of her warmth and hue
after covering herself with her young sister's wide and warm blanket,
which she wrapped around her body
as if trying to protect herself from some deadly chilly draft
that had touched her like a ghost:
A terrible chill she alone seemed to be aware of.

"You know so little about the things that come out
in the night!" Evenindu said, shivering as she spoke.

Mornindu jumped up as eagerly as if she expected to hear
the most exciting tale she had ever been told: "Then tell me!
Oh, please, tell me what it is about the night
that has you so excited!"

"Not excited--" Evenindu corrected her: "Scared!"
Although the terrible word didn't even faze the little girl:
She wanted to hear all about it all, the best of it,
and even the worst as well! And the sooner the better.

"The worst things?" Evenindu hesitated,
reluctant to reveal to someone as young as her sister,
"All the terrible things that call the night their home?
Do you really want me to tell you about the evil
that takes over the world when all of the good people
of the town are safely asleep in their beds?"

"Yes, please, sister!" Mornindu cried out,
thinking that if there was anything one needed to be afraid of
in this world it was being taken by surprise
by things one knows nothing about:

Evenindu's Story.

Mornindu was seldom allowed outside the house
except in the good company of the first rays of the sun,
so she really knew little about things frightening or otherwise
to be found outside the house after the sun went down...

Being older and having seen so much more of the world,
Evenindu tried to keep her younger sister from finding out
more than was good for her to know at such a young age.
All of, "The terrible beasts that come out when it's dark
(because that's when they can see you and you can't see them)."

She tried to impress her little sister with, "Such awful
animals as wolves and owls, tigers and snakes, bats, spiders
and all sorts of other creatures that crawl and hunt
in the darkness with claws and fangs
for things to eat (exactly like you and me)."

But nothing could impress Mornindu enough
to make her give up her curiosity about the night
and all that moved about in it:

No matter what manner of beast Evenindu warned her
prowled behind every night shadow... it only made Mornindu
even more eager than before to hear about it:

"All of it! Don't leave out a single beast
you might have seen or heard of,"
the deadly curious little girl insisted:
"Not even the worst beast of them!"

It was no use trying to frighten Mornindu with tall tales,
either, no matter how near the truth they might be.
So Evenindu finally broke down and reluctantly
began telling her sister of the monster-like creatures,
snakes, lizards and rats, bats and spiders
that come out when it's dark outside.

She quickly went through every deadly beast
and poisonous plant that grabbed you and ate you right up,
and had almost run out of every other night horror
to talk to Mornindu about
--But still the little girl wanted to hear more.

That forced Evenindu to speak about the Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls that parades
by everybody's houses after midnight--Something so horrible
that Evenindu had always hoped she would never
have to talk about it to Mornindu at all:

"When both hands of the Grandfather Clock
that stands at the foot of the stairs leading up to the bedrooms
reach the top of the clock face, then," Evenindu explained
with a chill in her voice: "Then the ghosts and the ghouls
of the town come out of their tombs and their graves
--to dance away the night until dawn!"

Mornindu told her sister how the ghosts and the ghouls
from the cemeteries on the south side of town
went to visit the cemeteries on the north side of town.
Then, on the following night, how all
the ghosts and the ghouls from the cemeteries
on the north side of town returned the visit... all the time
dancing back and forth down the streets of the town
under each and every window of each and every house therein!

"Dancing?" Mornindu asked, amazed. Marvelling
that ghosts and ghouls should be so sociable
(and full of spirit): "Why do they dance?"

"Because they're happy to be free
of their dark and cold tombs, I expect!"

Evenindu was quick to point out that this was only a guess
on her part and she was only retelling the odd secret
some now wilted flowers (which had forgotten to close their eyes
one night long ago) had told other flowers they had seen
--before they'd all wilted (the flowers which had seen
the thing itself and those which had only heard about it)...

Although, "Not before they too told other flowers
who eventually mentioned it to me."

The Whimpering Little Skeleton.

Creepy-crawly deeds indeed!
But Mornindu refused to believe any of it:

After a pause to think the whole matter over
Mornindu laughed out loud at her sister's 'silly tales'
of wilted flowers having seen something as horrible as all that
in the dead of the night, convinced that Evenindu
was simply making up the whole story to frighten her
into staying quietly in bed at night.

"You may laugh," her sister told her, seriously:
"But you don't know the worst part of it, because
I haven't yet told you about the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

"'The Whimpering Little Skeleton?'"
Just the sound of that spine-tingling name
captured Mornindu's attention right away.

"Haven't you ever wondered why it is,"
Evenindu asked her sister, "why it is
that the good people of the town always shut and lock
their windows and doors without fail
every evening before going to bed?"

Then Evenindu told the little girl
how the Whimpering Little Skeleton is forever
doomed to wander at the tail end
of the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
which haunts the streets of the town just before dawn.

"What," Mornindu was very eager to find out:
"Or who is the Whimpering Little Skeleton?"

"Neither a what nor a who--" Evenindu corrected her:
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton is neither alive nor dead.
Some people believe it was once a living person like us
who refused to go to bed when he or she was told to.
While others, mostly the flowers, are just as convinced
that the Whimpering Little Skeleton is all that remains
of the very first nosy person who dared to look upon
the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls!"

"Why would anyone be punished just for looking
at a parade?" Mornindu asked: "After all,
aren't parades made to be looked at?
Especially one in a carnival!"

"Not this parade," her sister explained:
"This parade is more like a Halloween funeral.
And it's so private that only the dead may take part in it
in any shape, manner or form!
Never under any circumstances sneak even the tiniest peek at it,
or stay up late enough to hear any of its music!"

"Why?" asked Mornindu even as
--Was it her imagination or were the lights growing dimmer?
No matter: The little girl would not stop asking for more,
the more she was told:

"What would happen if somebody who is still alive
had something to do with this funeral parade?"

"Why," her sister answered, mysteriously:
"That's where the Whimpering Little Skeleton comes in,
of course! Even if the only thing such a nosy person does
is sneak the quickest peek at it or but listen to it as it passes by."

Mornindu couldn't get enough of this. So,
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton,"
her older sister was obliged to tell her,
no matter how reluctantly (especially now
that the once glaring lights in Mornindu's room
had become as dim as the last few flickers of a dying candle):
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton
is always the last ghoul in the parade."

    "Then it's not a ghost?"

"No," she was told: "It is the last ghoul
to march in the parade, and makes sure
that no trace remains of the midnight festival of the dead
for any living creature to find in the morning.
Most important of all, it also makes certain
that if any living person has anything to do with the parade
itself... that person, whomever he or she might be,
never gets a chance to tell anybody else about it!

"It is well known by all who know this,"
Evenindu concluded: "And now that includes you.
It is well known that there is no escape for anyone
who catches a glimpse of the Carnival of Dancing Ghosts
and Ghouls: Child or adult, male or female,
the Whimpering Little Skeleton will come after you
and force you to join the nightly funeral
as it goes back and forth, to and fro across town forever.
And remember: The Whimpering Little Skeleton
never gives up until you're caught and dragged away."

The Ever Disbelieving Child.

"Well!" Mornindu listened carefully
to the tale her sister was spinning
but she found it hard to believe that any of it could be true:

"Awh!" She complained, mockingly:
"It's just a 'story' somebody made up!"

Evenindu shook her head from side to side sadly,
pitying how lightly her little sister was taking
what she was telling her --for her own good:

"You'll either be wise," she warned Mornindu, "or
sorry--But you'll never be both, that's for sure!"

"Well," Mornindu replied without the slightest hesitation
or even a hint of a worry in her voice:
"Does the Whimpering Little Skeleton dance as well?"

It made Evenindu so miffed that for a time
she even refused to say anything at all.

Mornindu wouldn't be put off
until her sister had agreed to tell her all
she knew about the no less mysterious
than ridiculous 'Whimpering Little Skeleton.'

"No!" Evenindu insisted even after a lot of begging
and urging, wanting first to make it clear to the little girl
that the thing was nothing to laugh at:
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton does not dance!
It just, well, whines a great deal like some old crone of a witch
in a very high-pitched voice while following the Midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls," Evenindu told her sister.
And, "Well, no wonder its voice is so thin
--After all, a skeleton is about as thin as a body gets."

A comment which didn't do much to impress Mornindu
with the seriousness with which her sister wanted her to take
the warnings she was giving her.

"Because the Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
is swept off the streets by the first rays of the sun
like dust being ushered out by a broom,
the most important thing anybody can do
to avoid having anything to do with any of it
is to stay in bed until the rooster has called out at dawn
that the Sun is clearing away all that belongs in the darkness."

And, "It whines?" Mornindu was still marvelling
(her mind wandering): "It whimpers?!" As usual with her,
ignoring the really important things she was being told.

"Well, it's not likely to be a happy camper--is it!"
Evenindu answered: "Of course it whines.
Wouldn't you! The terrible ghoul whines:
'I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton! Make way
for the Whimpering Little Skeleton,'"
making her voice strained and high-pitched
like that of an old witch, "all the time it is sweeping away
all traces of the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
--Only it never dances at all," she assured Mornindu:

"Remember, if ever you hear, 'I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Make way for the Whimpering Little Skeleton' while it is still dark,
then it's a safe bet it is still much too early for you to be out of your bed
--So go right back to sleep immediately!"

Then both girls glanced at the window,
just to make doubly sure that the locking bolt
was still securely set in place. It was.

"But," Evenindu continued: "If ever you hear:
'I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton! Here comes
the Whimpering Little Skeleton,'" speaking in that high-pitched
nasal way she used to imitate the whining voice of the monster:
"Then don't hesitate for a second! Run for your life!
Because the Whimpering Little Skeleton only whines like that
when it's after somebody who has had something to do
with the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
--Even if it's only sneaking the slightest peek at it
or listening to its music!"

"Goodness!" Mornindu cried at this. Then she too
covered her legs with her wide and warm blanket,
because for some strange reason it had become rather chilly
(of late) in that completely closed and tightly sealed room:
"Well, at least it's decent enough to give warning that it's coming!"

"It doesn't cry out to warn those it's after to run,"
said Evenindu: "The terrible ghoul does it because it is so sure
that no one can escape it--no matter how hard they run
or where they hide. And why? Because
the ghoul has all the time in the world to get you!"
Adding that some flowers were of the opinion that
the entire midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
was made up of people whom the Whimpering Little Skeleton
had caught sneaking a peek, "And there's thousands
and thousands of them in it already."

"Oh!" It all sounded frightening enough. But,
suddenly Mornindu threw her head back and started laughing
as wildly as if Evenindu had been telling her
the biggest joke in the world!

It amazed her older sister no end:
"You may laugh," she warned the skeptical little girl,
"as long as you're safely tucked away in bed
under your wide and warm blanket
and the hands of the Grandfather Clock
at the foot of the stairs haven't yet reached midnight.
But it doesn't matter one bit to the monster whether
a person looks upon the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts
and Ghouls on purpose or through some innocent mistake
--the terrible ghoul will come after everyone
who has anything whatsoever to do with it!"

"Such nonsense!" Mornindu could hardly stand it any more;
and she let her sister know exactly how awfully silly
she thought her for taking such 'stories' as seriously as all that
--If she really did and wasn't just pulling her leg.

Off To Bed!

No doubt Mornindu would have said even worse things
to her sister, but Mother came in just then
(as she always did about this time
--always so terribly early, as far as Mornindu was concerned)
and she hurried off the little girl to bed
... protesting every step of the way, exactly as she always did:

It wasn't all that late, but it was already too late for Mornindu
to be up. "And hardly likely to get earlier!"
As Mother explained. Well, Mornindu always obeyed Mother
(at least, as long as Mother was there to see to it that she did).

Mornindu protested with many more words
(certainly than Mother thought were really necessary to do so),
but Mother didn't take any steps other than those that led
her daughter straight to bed (and
since it was Mornindu's bedroom her bed was already right there).

Going to bed meant brushing her teeth, gargling,
combing her hair and going through all her other preparations
before actually jumping into bed, including
finding and getting into her loose-fitting pajamas
with the fuzzy warm slippers to match (slippers she flipped off
almost as soon as she had put them on once she got into bed).

Normally, Mornindu would have asked Mother
whether any of what her older sister had told her was true.
But she was too embarrassed to risk that Mother would think
she took all those silly ghost stories seriously--at her age.

No doubt asking Mother would have also made her older sister
wickedly glad to see that all the tales she had put in her head
had succeeded in frightening Mornindu enough to
go crying to Mother! So Mornindu said nothing about it.

After having been bravely marched to bed
(protesting every step of the way), Mornindu at least
wanted to put on the pretense that she was too grown up
to take seriously all her sister's malarkey about,
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton --indeed!"

Mornindu would have never admitted
that all the time she'd been preparing for bed
it was almost impossible for her to think of anything but
that doll-sized skeleton her sister insisted hounded
that just-as-dreadful parade... of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls:

"Heavens!" If it weren't for all the ghosts and ghouls
going about dancing--of all things--Who knows: Maybe
she might have become concerned over the whole mess!

But, quite unconcerned now,
Mornindu hopped into bed at the usual hour.

Only, lying there tossing and turning
under her hot and muggy covers while all stretched out
like a corpse, Mornindu quickly discovered
that no matter how hard she tried to fall asleep
she couldn't do anything except think about that Whimpering
Little Skeleton her sister had tried to fool her with--

As hard as Mornindu tried to convince herself
that her sister had only been pulling her leg,
and as certain as she was of it (well, at any rate, as fairly sure
as she was that it was all a crock),
Mornindu still couldn't seem to dismiss out of hand
Evenindu's ridiculous 'stories.'

Sometimes the whole thing would strike her
as hysterically funny. Then Mornindu was certain that it was all
a made-up story and she would chide herself
for doubting it even for the smallest instant.

But at other times, especially after Mother and Evenindu left,
turning off the lights behind them, and she found herself
staring at nothing but darkness grabbing at itself about her
with choking clammy hands... maybe even crawling
on all of its claw-like fingers like tiny spiders
over her stretched-out body there in that dark, dark room--

Then Evenindu's creepy story would strike her as weird
and twisted, and altogether quite a different kettle of bones
brewing in her thoughts all right.

The Night In Bed.

That night, instead of leaping lambs
and all those frisky little sheep and animals
that are supposed to make you jump straight to sleep
without even batting an eyelash... eerie dark visions
of doll-sized skeletons with lit candles
inside their red glowing eyes
danced in front of Mornindu's tightly shut eyes.

"Well, after all," she thought in that crawling darkness:
It was true that ever since she could remember
all the windows and doors of the house (and of
every other house in town) had been as closely shut
and securely locked as coffin lids
before everybody went to bed!

Then again, a nagging thought kept creeping about
in her mind like a snake: "Why," oh, why
was that Whimpering Little Skeleton forever doomed
to follow after the parade of Ghosts and Ghouls
while not being allowed to dance with them!?

"It couldn't have been a very nice person while it lived,"
she was soon trying to reason it out, all stretched out
in the dead of that cold darkness under her overly warm
and muggy blanket: "How horrible
that tiny skeleton must have been (when it was a person
--if it ever was) to be doomed now to so awful a fate!"

The ticking of the Grandfather Clock
at the foot of the stairs sounded as solid
as if Time had been climbing the stairs second by second,
and, in spite of herself, Mornindu found that she
couldn't help keeping an ear out for--exactly what
she knew not. But definitely for anything and everything
she might yet hear in that dark house, or outside--

"Brrr!" Every stick of wood in the walls, the floors,
the furniture seemed to be crackling and popping
louder that she could remember it doing before, "Egads!!!"
It was as if the entire house were crying out for help
as it slowly settled and sank into
the colder spaces and hollows of the darkness!

Outside... dogs, cats, crickets, and all the dark birds
of the night (the toads and frogs singing to each other,
and whatever else liked to whistle, bray or howl
at the moon), all seemed to be doing so a lot closer
to her window than on any previous night!

Every now and then watching, and always listening,
and then listening and watching, Mornindu lay stretched out
in her bed with but her little blue eyes sticking out
over her wide and warm blanket, listening and watching,
and watching and listening... as the ticking
of the Grandfather Clock downstairs slowly measured
the passing of time... so slowly that it was as if
the Night were stuck and refusing to budge,
standing forever where it was--as frozen as a corpse!

Then there came a moment when it had become so hushed
that the soft and, really, almost musical sounds
of the Grandfather Clock seemed to Mornindu to be
rattling the house with huge hammer-like blows!

"Oh!" What a horrible trick her sister had played on her!
Mornindu suddenly broke out into a very angry mood
over having let her sister fill her head with those terrible
ghost stories--And right before going to bed, too!

"And such awfully silly ghost stories at that!"
She was yet doing her best to convince herself of it
... listening and watching, watching and listening
as the ticking of the Grandfather Clock
made the darkness around her feel as if it were creeping
and crawling to and fro as eerily as if it had been breathing.

Against the horrible feeling of house and world closing in
around her Mornindu battled back with the only thing she could:
"The Whimpering Little Skeleton indeed!"
A stubborn refusal to give in to the possibility
that there might really be something to the story after all.

  * * *

At Ten O'Clock by the Grandfather Clock
Mornindu was convinced that everything her sister had told her
was either pure bosh or at least tainted bosh.

At Eleven O'Clock she was beginning to have her doubts,
although, little by little (doubt). None of which
she would have admitted (even to herself).

But by Eleven Thirty: "Goodness!"
By Eleven Thirty it was a toss-up whether it was all lies,
the truth in part, or the truth entirely
and nothing but the truth:

When Eleven Forty came around: "Oh!"
When Eleven Forty came around, Mornindu sank deeper
than bottom into her wide and warm blanket.

Down there Mornindu twitched in terror
along with every one of the Grandfather Clock's tick-tocks
... her nervously wide-open eyes and ears watching and listening,
listening and watching as the room, the house,
and even the earth hiccupped with each tick-tock
of the Grandfather Clock as if it had all been
a living and beating heart!

Before she knew it, it was already nearly ten minutes to midnight
--and she still hadn't been able to sleep
even a quarter of a portion of a part of the tiniest wink!

Mornindu tossed and turned over every inch of her bed
like a flipping and flapping fish
trying to find one single spot under her warm and muggy blanket
that was still cool and dry enough for her to fall asleep in
--Preferably before those ten minutes left until midnight ran out.

 But it was no use: No use at all!

Suddenly she couldn't get the thought out of her head
that instead of fighting it, it might be worth holding out
for those final ten minutes to settle once and for all
whether her sister had been joshing her or not.

Does Curiosity Kill The Cat?

And, well... "Yes!" Why not? Slowly,
as the hands of the Grandfather Clock continued to creep
dangerously closer to the big 12 at the top of its clock face
(ticking its way up like a tap-dancing spider)
Mornindu pulled back her wide and warm blanket
and searched the cold floor with the slick big toe
of her mousy right foot for her fuzzy warm slippers...

She had been cowering too long under her wide and warm blanket
like a big hot and muggy chicken. Now
she was determined to brave that so-called Carnival
of Ghosts and Ghouls which danced down the streets
at midnight--to see for herself
whether there really was such a thing or not!

Frankly, the suspense had worn her down to such a fidgety state
that she felt numb and no longer cared
whether she came face to face with every night monster there was:

Now she only wanted to be able to laugh at her sister's
ghost stories the next morning to her face
--To show her that she hadn't been frightened even one bit.

Of course, she still had no intention of actually peeking
at anything which might be passing under her window
--No: It would be enough for her to press her right ear up
against the great heavy plank of wood that covered her window
and listen for any odd noises which might come through
all the way from the other side.

She did have to admit it made her nervous
to be creeping about the darkness like that, even if
it was only from her bed to the window
(and even if the window was tightly bolted and shut)
... knowing that down at the foot of the stairs
the Grandfather Clock's Minute Hand had at that very moment
begun making its final climb
up to the large 12 at the top of its clock face.

But once Mornindu made up her mind to go ahead with something
she rarely turned back--Just plain stubbornness or not,
'Whimpering Little Skeleton' or no, Mornindu was determined
to find out whether midnight really brought with it
the deadly Halloween pageant her older sister had told her it did:

Hidden safely behind her tightly shut and bolted window
Mornindu listened with her ear glued to the thick plank of wood
over the window while the Grandfather Clock's seconds
slowly ticked and tocked their way to midnight
as steadily as if each one of its tick-tocks had been
a tiny rung in a ladder... straining to hear any 'carnival' sounds
that might possibly be passing under her window...

 And then it was midnight!

The Grandfather Clock said so very clearly
... with twelve long and softly mournful bongs!

Suddenly Mornindu couldn't hear anything at all stirring outside
... all the frogs, crickets, twittering night birds and fluttering leaves,
all of the living beings that had been merrily whistling,
braying, howling, snapping and crackling in the moonlight
--everything just up and fell as quiet as if the earth had
been swallowed in one gigantic gulp by just plain nothingness!

Not even the slightest whispering breeze could be heard
sighing by now: Nothing, nothing! Nothing until,
that is, until she finally heard... Something!!!

  * * *

At first it was like the gentlest hint imaginable,
as if the chimes of the Grandfather Clock had been trying to
remember a melody from miles away: So soft a song, in fact,
that it brought to mind the midnight dust being ruffled
and massaged by the rhythms of the very moonlight!

Then it began to turn into a twitching, repeating rhythm
like hard pieces of metal and woods shimmering over each other:
A rhythm of hollow sticks and hanging metal strips
rubbing and rapping together... in time!

This was followed by drums... drums over whose tightly drawn skins
long and tough fingernails were nervously gliding and dancing.

Right away a chaos of hanging metal objects of every description
and size was heard clanging as if rough, slick breezes
were pushing powerfully through them,
making the hanging forest of metal odds and ends
knock and brush together in time to the music!

It wasn't a harsh music, though.
Nothing like the grating and frightening sounds
of the ghosts and the ghouls Mornindu was expecting to hear out there:

On the contrary, it was the lovely music of
ordinary street musicians playing together like the best of friends
in the ever more exciting parade
that seemed to be passing right under her window.

Slowly at first, then faster
the wonderful band came down the street
as if straight for Mornindu's front door!
Its melodies growing louder
and blending together like waves at the beach.

There could no longer be any doubt in Mornindu's mind
that she was listening to a very solid and lively
street full of musicians... on the other side of
the heavy plank of wood that kept watch over her window
like a barrier between herself and all that fun out there.

So inviting and brilliant did it all sound
that Mornindu could hardly keep herself from flinging aside
the heavy plank of wood over her window:
"Oh!" To be able to drink it all in with her eyes as well!

She was convinced there had to be a whole street full
of merrymakers out there under her window (so tightly shut
against those joyous 'people' out there
having the time of their... lives):

The sounds were like a party favor paper tongue tickling
at her ears! Finally... she had to, she just had to take it all in
--so wonderful was the music of those unseen musicians
that they themselves had to be as wonderful to look at.

Above all, Mornindu had to see with her own eyes
the magical, marvelous instruments
weaving so wildly delicious melodies.

Those heavenly crafted tools of harmony filling the street
with their bubbling art sounded too irresistible
... so, in spite of every one of her sister's warnings,
Mornindu now believed there was a splendid carnival
going by under her window even as late into the night as it was,
instead of the dreadful funeral
her sister had tried to convince her took place after midnight.

Her sister must have made up all that ghost and ghoul business
to keep her from discovering that midnight was really beautiful
and full of all that joyous music out there.
And there could be no other logical explanation
than Evenindu simply wanted to keep it all to herself:

"That has to be it," she said. And, unable to resist the urge
any longer, her hand reached for the heavy metal pin
that kept the great plank of wood over her window locked in place.

"Just a brief little pug of a peek through one of the tiniest slits,"
she promised herself, pulling back the protective bolt:
What could that hurt?

"That wouldn't offend anybody! How could it?"
No doubt the merrymakers would never even bother about her
at all. After all, "It sounds like they're having such a wonderful time
and must all be in a really splendid mood!"

Saying that, Mornindu finally pulled back the locking metal pin
and let the heavy plank of wood over her window swing aside
--only a little bit at first, naturally, just enough
to make a crimped cranny between it and the frame of the window sill
wide enough to allow the pupil of her right eye
to peek out through that tiny gap--

       And what do you think she saw?

The Midnight Carnival.

"Oh!" Cried Mornindu suddenly,
astonished by everything she saw out there:
"Why, it's... beautiful!"

Where she might have expected to have to look upon
really horrible things, Mornindu instead found
herself staring at dozens of colorful carnival revelers
dressed in their finest enjoying themselves all over the street!

Even the moonlight had taken on the hues of a rainbow
and was showering brilliant colors over the whirling dancers
passing under the overhanging foliage
of the huge trees that lined the street, every one of which
strung its leaves like million of strips of colored paper
over the marvelous parade like a canopy!

It was easily the most spectacular carnival
Mornindu had ever seen (even though it did have
a strong flavor of Halloween about it):

Splendidly dressed 'ladies' and 'gentlemen' danced merrily
with each other or all by themselves as they moved along
the brilliantly lit lanes of the street in front of Mornindu's house:
the entire parade looking like a spring shower moving
to the rhythms of the music over a glass-smooth creek
(only it was everywhere bursting with hues
instead of just dropping white silver droplets).

Along with the marchers came a never-ending number of
perhaps even more outrageously made-up musicians
frolicking as they played
as marvelously as if they had been the grandest
and most fun-filled orchestra any carnival had ever paraded to!

"Oh!" What music they all danced to!
Mornindu couldn't get enough of it:
She was instantly swept away with the ringing spectacle
as banjos and bells, silver and gold chimes and triangles
sparkled as brilliantly as if they had been mirrors sprinkled
with water and shimmering under the dazzling moon:

The musicians danced as they played and the merrymakers
filled the night air with lacy bandannas and Panama hats
fluttering like wildly flashing blossoms and blooms
come alive before Mornindu's widely-open eyes!

Fiddles and tweedledums tested themselves against each other
as snappers and castanets followed the fifes and tom-tooters
along with clarinets and saxophones, uplifting oboes and whistles
of every description rattling and roaring with such life
that they could have easily gone on playing just by themselves:

The very music jumped with the sheer pleasure of being music
amid the ladies' goose-neck arms waving and weaving
as they went around and around the gentlemen's swift-twirling bodies.

Oboes, bassoons and trumpets, silver-coined tambourines
and snares blazed on like raging flares, rolling and swirling
like breezes through fields of flamingo-necked grasses!

While above it all: the drumsticks and the fateful rattlebones,
lots and lots of those
knocked rhythmically together like quickly beating wings
and kept the parade tumbling along in time from end to end.

Mornindu couldn't believe her eyes!
Everywhere floated ghostly spangles of silver and gold,
reds, greens and oranges around the women's dresses.
While, following them, handfuls of shiny bony buttons
danced in bunches by themselves
holding up invisible suits moving through the swirling moonlight
... every 'man' and 'woman' there visible only because
the moonlight was shining through them
while winking cinder stars of light fell silently around them.

Even the dark ebony edges and shadows
of the dizzying costumes sparkled dappled
... dazzling with their greens, blues and reds
like a bubbling quicksilver rainbow.

Mornindu couldn't have imagined a more fanciful ballroom
full of costumed dancers had she been looking upon
the highest heights of the greatest carnival ever,
and from the very best placed balcony to watch it all from:

Each mottled musician and dancer seemed to catch and hold
the splendor that brushed over them
with a quite personal touch, making sparkles and baubles
out every captured gleam, glint and beam of the moonlight:

Cat-like shadows performed calico twists and somersaults
among the shiny dark pearly revelers, joining with them
to make beautiful twisting figures stretching almost into infinite forms
as they mirrored each other's thrusts and parries
with even more wonderful parries and thrusts of their own!

Mornindu found the sight mind-boggling
and soon lost all track of time, of where she was
and what she was doing... and finally
thought nothing at all of throwing open her window
the rest of the way
so she wouldn't miss even the smallest
or quickest wonder parading outside.

  * * *

For what seemed like hours
Mornindu stayed by her wide-open window
enjoying the brilliant Halloween Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls.

Soon she was waving and being waved at (and
even tossing kisses at the merrymakers and musicians
while catching the kisses many of them tossed back at her),
and otherwise having as much to do with the carnival
as she could--and they let her.

All along she'd suspected there were beautiful sights
and sounds in the night, but she never dreamt
they could be as wonderful and as magical!

Here was proof finally, if proof was needed,
of how right her suspicions had been all along
that her sister had been lying to her!

Mornindu couldn't decide whether the music
or the dancing was the more spectacular.
But she was convinced both were tons better
than anything she had ever seen or heard before.

Now that Mornindu gave it the thought it deserved:
Naturally it all had to be such fun
--This was probably all the fun the poor ghosts and ghouls
were allowed to have now in their 'lives!'

And now she couldn't wait to tell everyone
who might not yet know about the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls exactly
what they were missing--Wouldn't you?

  * * *

The wonderful parade in the street below Mornindu's window
continued lively as ever until
it started to get very nearly close to dawn.

But then, suddenly, a drying wind whipped up.
And it was immediately followed by a bone-chilling breeze
that licked its way sloppily past Mornindu's open window
spreading a mysteriously cold mist
like a powerful deadly perfume--

Mornindu buttoned up the little jacket that made up
the top of her pajamas. But it couldn't keep her from
sneezing a bit at the cold feel of it.

The Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
was on its last leg now and dying away so quickly
that before the little girl realized what was happening
a great hush stuffed her ears
and the music turned into a droning hum far,
far away (and getting farther with every passing moment)...

The number of dancers passing under her window
dwindled to just one old couple that seemed almost to be
dragging a leg between them as they went along
(and they weren't even trying to pretend they were dancing).

Then there was little else rolling around down there
except for that great ball of a hush pressing against her ears,
and the same old darkness which had filled the world
before the parade began, making the street seem
like a murky river... as even the moonlight dwindled
to a ghost of its former self!

The Monster Cometh!

Mornindu became aware of an eerily distant mumbling,
somewhat like a wordless whispering far, far away
slowly coming closer with every breath she took:

"What was it?" As hard as she tried to make out the words
... it yet remained temptingly outside her grasp.

But ever so slowly it grew, coming toward her,
even if for the longest time it was as if
it weren't moving at all!

Yet whomever (or whatever) it was... certainly kept coming,
until Mornindu was finally able to hear the words being spoken
--distinctly enough:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Make way for the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

The terrible whining, high-pitched words scared Mornindu
so badly... she shut her window with a loud banging crash.

Then she locked it as tightly
as a window has ever been locked before!

Only then did she stop to listen
... hoping it had only been her imagination playing tricks on her
and all she had heard out there was the breeze
playing with the dust the ghosts and the ghouls must have kicked up
as they passed her house--

Mornindu couldn't help remembering
her sister had told her that people who were caught
having anything to do with the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls were dragged off
to make sure they never told anyone
anything about what they'd seen:

"Oh my!" Just the thought of being taken away
to live among ghosts and ghouls scared Mornindu so much
that she jumped back to her bed in a single leap
--almost all the way from where she had been standing
behind the closed window!

As much fun as it had been to watch the marvelous Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls,
Mornindu was certain she would much rather spend
the rest of her life quietly tending to the Garden
--rather than parading between cemeteries
back and forth across town every night.

Then, definitely outside her window,
Mornindu again heard the terrible whining:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Make way for the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Only this time it sounded a lot closer:
The horrible words were so real she could no longer deny
the Whimpering Little Skeleton was indeed coming after her:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

The eerie chanting seemed to be coming
directly from the other side of the heavy plank of wood
over her window (as if the Whimpering Little Skeleton
were standing right up against it out there):

"That is the Whimpering Little Skeleton!" Mornindu cried,
certain of it, remembering her sister had told her,
"That is the way the monster lets the ghosts and ghouls lagging behind
in the parade know that the Sun is coming up after them!"

But there was also a different way
the Whimpering Little Skeleton whined whenever it came after
anyone who (like herself) had peeked at the midnight Carnival
of Ghosts and Ghouls. And that was exactly
what Mornindu was now hearing from the other side of the window:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

It was definitely not the breeze
or the dust rubbing up against the moonlight, either!

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Came the terrible words--themselves like ghosts
--sifting across the heavy plank of wood
over her window as if it hadn't been there at all:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
  Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

What a shock! That was exactly the way
the Whimpering Little Skeleton put it whenever it was coming after
anyone--And she was the only one there, after all:

Mornindu flung herself under her wide and warm blanket
as if her bed had been a swimming pool
and she a deep sea diver looking to hit bottom all at once.

Down there, in the deepest regions of her bed,
she fumbled with sheets, pillows (and every other scrap of cloth
in a mad dash to get her whole body safely covered)
until she was finally buried under everything there.

Only then did she again try to hear
what might be going on outside her bed covers.

She had a very hard time hearing anything (all muffled up
as she was). Besides, her heart was pounding with such fury
that even her ears began to feel as rattled as leaves in a hurricane.

The Grandfather Clock's once gentle tick-tock ticking
made it even harder to hear because, even from downstairs,
it now sounded more like a hammering against time
than simply the signalling of its passing.

She was also panting pretty loudly too,
feeling totally out of breath--Even so
Mornindu eventually got hold of herself
and managed to shut it all out:

She opened her mouth all the way (to breathe more quietly),
and muffled her pounding heart with a soothing hand
over her chest... and strained as hard as she could
to try to hear any sounds out there.

And, yes, indeed... "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"
Mornindu heard the terrible ghoul whining
in its high-pitched voice:
"Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"
Exactly like the crackle of a witch
(even through the heavy plank of wood that covered her window
and all the folds of her wide and warm blanket above her).
Only it now sounded closer still:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

The horrible high-pitched voice crackled
--so clearly that it was as if the monster were whining
right up against the heavy plank of wood over her window...

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Although it was too late now, Mornindu now knew
that her sister had not been lying to her
--Certainly not about the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls,
and definitely not about the Whimpering Little Skeleton!

Going All To Pieces.

Scared to death, Mornindu tried to dig herself deeper
into her bed under her wide and warm blanket:

She pulled her bed covers over her head
so suddenly that her feet popped out into the cold darkness
for a brief second or two down at the other end of herself
and then she had to struggle with everything on top of herself
under that hot muggy blanket (while everywhere around her
the cold darkness tried to get her) for some time
before she finally got both ends of herself
back under the 'safety' of everything on top of her:
"What a mess!"

Meanwhile the awful crackle of the monster whining out there
on the other side of the closed window continued:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

"Go away!" She cried out, unable to stand it any longer:
"Oh, please go away!" Oh,
why couldn't everything Evenindu had told her been a lie!

Was she sorry now she had stayed up so late past her bedtime
instead of going straight to sleep as Mother had asked her to!

The Whimpering Little Skeleton would have none of pleas,
excuses, or explanations, however:
It had no ears, you see, so it was utterly deaf:

"I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!" It whined
louder and louder: "Here comes
the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"
Repeating the phrase almost between every tick-tock
of the Grandfather Clock!

It frightened Mornindu so much
she thought she would die there and then!

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

There was no escape for her
--If her sister had not lied even once,
Mornindu could be sure that there was not
even the ghost of a chance
anyone alive could escape the monster once it came after you!

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

"Oh!" The words seemed to crawl into bed with her
like slimy sticky worms searching and searching
until they found her trembling and shivering feverishly,
and made everything in that entire bed clammy
with their deadly cold touch!

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Unable to run (or hide any better than she was already hiding),
all Mornindu could do was to tremble and shake
under her hot and heavy bed covers, sweating so feverishly
that it wasn't long before she felt she was melting.

The bed started to dance all by itself
to the rhythms of the Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
(long after that strange parade was already dead and gone).
And that was when the window (Mornindu was sure was bolted
and tightly locked) suddenly burst open!

  * * *

The heavy plank of wood over her window suddenly
swung aside without 'anybody' even touching it!

At the sound Mornindu popped her icy eyes out
from under her wide and warm blanket
--scarcely able to believe what she was looking at:

Smack in the middle of the open window stood
in all its glory the tiny skeleton
(for it was no bigger than one of her own toy dolls,
however lean and mean-looking)
smiling at her with a crooked toothy grin!

It wore a monk's hood
as sheer and scant as rotted gauze peeling off a mummy
while it stood there over the window sill,
the moonlight glowing against its back
and making the monster look like a giant
as it slowly started to step down into the room itself,
all the time it kept whining and whining:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Then the monster was down off the window sill
and walking over the wooden floor towards Mornindu's bed,
making blunt thumping noises whenever its bony heels
knocked against the wooden floor.

"You must come with me, my dear!"
The Whimpering Little Skeleton said unexpectedly
to Mornindu in that crackle of a high-pitched voice it had...

And, "Oh!" What a mistake it was
for Mornindu to look directly at the monster!

Morningdu immediately closed her eyes tightly
and pulled her head back under her bed covers
shivering and shaking, although sweltering
and sweating as well.

"You have seen the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls!"
the Whimpering Little Skeleton told her:
"And now you must join them,
so you will never reveal to anyone it really does exist!"

"Oh, please!" Mornindu pleaded heatedly
from the bottom of her bed covers:
"I won't tell anyone! Really, I won't!"

"Everyone says they won't tell,"
the little monster answered her in its high-pitched crackle:
"Here, in the darkness," without having heard her pleas
or expecting to hear an answer: "But
once the sun comes up,
and you can again smell the daytime flowers
dancing in the breeze, then it's quite another story.
Then it's not as important whether you tell,
or whom you tell. And we ghosts and ghouls prefer
to keep these midnight matters... to ourselves!
You understand, don't you, my dear?"

Just the way the monster spoke frightened Mornindu
so much that on top of sweltering and sweating feverishly
under her wide and warm blanket... she began dribbling,
trickling and draining away into nothingness
(practically) in a dramatic way now--

The Whimpering Little Skeleton laughed at the poor girl
(like the mean old witch it was): "You are the price charged
--And you are the prize I have come to collect!"

Then it started to move deeper into the room
as if it had every intention of jumping into the bed
where Mornindu was shivering and shaking,
sweltering and sweating--and grabbing her!

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Closer and closer it came to her bed
whining and whining, rapping and clacking her feet
against the floor with such an awful sound
that Mornindu's teeth felt like ice
being raked over by a million scrapers:

It made her sink deeper into her bed weeping with fright,
sweltering and sweating feverishly
with the unbearable heat under her wide and warm blanket
--and yet shivering and shaking,
flinching and cringing in horror.

  * * *

So much did Mornindu weep, wheeze and swelter
feverishly, blubber and sob under her wide and warm blanket
that by the time the Whimpering Little Skeleton finally
got to her bed and drew back the bed covers to get her
... all the monster found on the bed was
endless and endless tears, sighs and the suds
and misty little droplets of sweat and of everything else
that had once been Mornindu... every bit of it
so finely fizzed that it just gurgled
and seethed at the little ghoul like so much sparkling soda
--because Mornindu had apparently gasped, wept
and sneezed, sniffled and sniffed, and sweated
and sobbed herself right down into the 95% water
every person is made of!
And all that remained of her besides
was but a tiny bit of dust.

The Promise.

The Whimpering Little Skeleton was left with nothing
to take hold of and take with it
except a lot of soggy little (tiny as a mist) moist droplets
sprinkling back and forth all over the hot and muggy bed!

This was the first time anything like this
had ever happened to the Whimpering Little Skeleton
(not to mention to Mornindu):

"Oh!" The ghoul of bones tried its best to scrounge up
as many of the bouncing and sloshing droplets
of the misty Mornindu (that just moments before
had been a real live girl). But it was no use:

Mornindu had vanished into sheer moisture
and was now spread all over that very wet bed
like no one has ever been before
in all of the history of going to pieces.

The Whimpering Little Skeleton would not be able
to fetch Mornindu away with it that night:
The little girl simply trickled through its bony fingers
as easily as if its hand had been a sieve
no matter how many times the ghoul tried
to gather up the misty droplets.

It was also getting dangerously close to dawn now
(and ghouls are not permitted to walk the world
when the sun is out): The clouds in the sky
were already glowing brighter and brighter through the open window
as they greeted the approaching rays of the sun
over the far horizon!

Then the Whimpering Little Skeleton heard
the song of a rooster and was forced to concede
that for the first time ever it was going to have to leave
without the person it had come to fetch
(at least for that night), so it immediately began to exit the room
--the same way it had come into it, right over the window sill.

But as it slowly backed out of Mornindu's tearfully
misty bedroom, the Whimpering Little Skeleton went out
angrily whining a most solemn promise--that it would return again
the following night... when it would finally be able
to catch Mornindu in a more cool (and collected) mood,
and then it would fetch her away once and for all.

And if it could not fetch her that following night,
the Whimpering Little Skeleton promised it would come
after Mornindu the night after that one,
and the night after that one as well,
and for all eternity if necessary--

Then the little skeleton slowly slipped out
through the gaping frame of the window
... and the huge plank of wood slowly closed behind it
as the monster vanished before the first rays of the Sun
--as quietly as a knocky little bag of bones
like the Whimpering Little Skeleton could manage it.

How Mornindu Collected Herself.

The next day, as the first rays of the sun
began to warmly feel their way back into Mornindu's bedroom,
it almost seemed as if the earth itself
were waking up from a nightmare.

As if by magic, the wind brushed together
a little bit of dust in Mornindu's bedroom
as soon as it was let into the house downstairs
by Mother's opening of the front door
... and it took Mornindu all of but the smallest portion
of a bit of a moment to fully collect every last
misty droplet of herself (from everywhere
on that very wet bed) and then she became a little girl again!

Mornindu put on her morning face, as best she could,
and rushed out to tend to the Garden (where
swarms of bees and butterflies were already out
waiting impatiently for her to rouse the flowers from their sleep):

This was the first time Mornindu had ever been late
to wake the Garden. But because neither the bees
nor the butterflies, the flowers or the trees and bushes
snitched on her: Mother never found out.

After she rushed through all of her morning chores
(in the Garden) Mornindu found the time to ask herself
whether the Whimpering Little Skeleton had really
visited her room or she had only dreamt about it:

Had she really seen the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts
and Ghouls parading all night long out in front under her window
... or had it all been a dream?

She was certainly tired enough to have stayed up all night
(if it wasn't because she had spent the night
tossing and turning in bed with that nightmare).

The questions kept drumming in her head all morning long
like a pounding headache:
So quickly had the evil little monster vanished
that almost as soon as it had stepped out the window
and into the night it was as if the ghoul had never been in her room
at all--So it was hard for Mornindu now
to even be sure it had visited her.

It seemed so impossible now (considered in the light of day
--exactly as the Whimpering Little Skeleton itself had said
it would): "Oh!" What a harrowing experience!
If only she could forget it! But she couldn't.

At least Mother and Evenindu never had anything to do
with any part of it (or, at any rate, neither one of them
said anything about it if they did know).

Waiting Out The Day.

For a long part of that unending morning
Mornindu considered running away from home
--certain the Whimpering Little Skeleton would return
to get her exactly as it had promised it would.

But the monster would probably get her
no matter where she ran to.
And the thought of having to face the terrible ghoul by herself
and far away from home
certainly didn't appeal to her in the least!

She did think of telling Mother and her sister,
even if they laughed at her and called her a liar to her face
--Which she was sure Mother wouldn't, anyway,
nor her sister, maybe:

But the more she thought about this,
the less inclined she was to do it (even if
Evenindu certainly deserved to be told the terrifying story
so she might be made as frightened as she had made her)...

But if she told them it was as good as telling Mother
that she had stayed up all night (even way past midnight):
This was something to think over carefully.

Worse still, telling Evenindu meant
that she would probably have to sit still
for every one of her I-told-you-so's.

Given all this, maybe it was better that Mornindu not tell
anyone about the visit of the Whimpering Little Skeleton,
if for no other reason than... once told of such a spectacle
taking place outside one's house every night,
who would have the strength of will
to sleep soundly through it all night after night
without sneaking at least one tiny peek at it
--no matter how much they might be warned against it?

Then again, if she didn't keep quiet, Mother
and, yes, even that I-told-you-so-ing sister of hers,
would both probably insist on staying up in her room
to keep her company (so they could be there to defend her
--that's just the way mothers and even older sisters are).

Then they too would catch sight of the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls and the Whimpering Little Skeleton
would come after them--So no,
Mornindu just couldn't see how she could allow her family to risk it
just because she herself had used such poor judgment:

If only she hadn't been so curious!
But that was in the past now.
Boy, how she wished the ghoul she was going to have to face
wasn't as ugly--as the Whimpering Little Skeleton!

But even as horrible as it all was,
it would be a lot worse
if the monster were also coming to drag her family away!

  * * *

All the rest of that day, while she waited nervously
for the nighttime to return, Mornindu was in a dreadful state
of mind; and not simply because
she'd had so very little sleep the night before:

Every time she saw her sister or Mother around the house
it was all she could do to stop herself from running up to
either one of them
and confessing all the trouble she was in.

Mother did mention how nervous she seemed;
and Evenindu even tried to make sport of her red, red eyes
(which was rather upsetting, especially when she called Mornindu
a 'little devil' because of them).

Yet Mornindu was able to get through that long day
without revealing the terrible truth
about the Whimpering Little Skeleton's expected return
that night.

Night At Last!

As unnerving a day as that day was
for Mornindu, it was still a piece of cake
compared with how badly she started feeling
once it began to get dark. Then
even all the lit lights in the house couldn't keep the night away.

"Ah!" The darker it became,
the closer it came to bedtime!

When the Grandfather Clock got around to telling
everyone that it was 7:30, Mornindu again
had to begin taking the stairs to her bedroom.

Going up those creaky wooden stairs that evening
weighed as heavily upon Mornindu as if she had been
carrying a great big block of granite on each leg!

 She still went, though: What else could she do?

Outside the house Mornindu could hear her sister playing
in the moon-lit foliage, sweetly kissing the flowers to sleep
as the night was approaching the Garden. While inside it
was a great struggle upstairs in Mornindu's bedroom
for her just to get into her pajamas!

Then it was an even greater struggle for her to reach her bed
--especially since Mornindu wasted more time than usual
that evening checking and rechecking the window
to make sure everything was tightly closed
and strongly bolted shut. It was.

Even so she still popped her head out
over her wide and warm blanket ten or twenty more times
after she was already in bed
... to check whether the window was still secured.

As hard as she tried to fall asleep
(and you can be sure she really and truly tried,
for she had already faced the Whimpering Little Skeleton
awake once, and she was very eager to give facing it asleep
a try), unfortunately, working it all out in her busy little head
under those hot and heavy bed covers
only added to her not being able to fall asleep--no matter what!

"Oh!" What wouldn't she had given
to be able to believe that the Whimpering Little Skeleton
had been lying through its rotten little teeth
when it promised to come back for her
as many times as it had to!

Even this early in the evening the wind tasted of rusty metals
mixed with blood. And decay seemed to be the scent
in every breeze that sneaked in by every nook and cranny
that wasn't tightly stuffed up with
whatever Mornindu had been able to get her hands on
before finally jumping in bed...

The Grandfather Clock was no help, either
--It kept pushing and pushing the night towards midnight
as if it had been a droplet of water
on a hot and tilted frying pan:

"Nine O'Clock!" said the Grandfather Clock
as unexpectedly as if it had yelled behind her back: "Boo!"
(The nine individual bongs
banging in on Mornindu all at once.)

"That late already?!" thought Mornindu,
shivering under all the layers of bed covers
she had piled over herself (in spite of
how warm and muggy they were making her).

Well, "Ten O'Clock!" the Grandfather Clock seemed to reply
to her shivering thought--almost at once!

Then, just as she had begun to convince herself that
time was slowly falling asleep
and would never manage to get up anywhere near
midnight: "Eleven O'Clock!"

"Oh!" Naturally, it was all downhill from there:
"Eleven Thirty!" It came up
quicker than the tail after its dog!

And, "Eleven Forty-Five!" but a couple of seconds later
(although not late even by a fraction of a fraction
of an instant). After which, right on the heels of
that bunch of galloping seconds:

    "Eleven Fifty!"

And so it went... with midnight holding back
for nothing or anyone.

The Monster Returns!

When it finally got to midnight,
the Grandfather Clock made no bones about it
... letting go twelve loud, long, bed-rattling,
room-shuddering (and flesh-and-bone-shivering) bongs
like it couldn't care less who knew about it.

If Mornindu had been jittery before, now she really got going
--shaking like a motor while she listened
(hoping she wouldn't hear anything, actually),
listening for the 'familiar' sounds in the distance
... of the phantom fifes, the tooters and fiddles,
the ghostly tweedledums maybe
or the most rattling and rapping tambourines
and mellowest shimmering metal instruments, of
nervous drumsticks, and of rhythmically fateful rattlebones
--lots and lots of those!

If she heard them... it would tell her
that it wouldn't be long before the Whimpering Little Skeleton
would be returning to keep its word. And the thought of it
rattled Mornindu like nothing before.

So fiercely grew her fretting and shaking
that by the time she actually began to hear a faint hint of
that now 'familiar' rhythm which so horribly cried out
that the Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
wasn't going to miss that midnight, Mornindu was already
about to explode like a bomb at the least anything!

When the horrible music actually began coming closer to her house
the whole bed itself seemed to some alive with a rattling
that echoed every rhythm of the musicians parading outside.

  * * *

For what seemed like forever Mornindu lay rattling
in her sputtering bed, flapping about and fidgeting, and
diddering, wiggling, weeping and squirming
under her wide and warm blanket (and all else
piled on top of it)... quite feverishly sweating out
the seemingly never-ending music in front of her house
as the revellers and dancers in the midnight parade
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
shivered and shook pretty good themselves out there
until the whole thing finally started to thin out--

That's when Mornindu again heard it
... as clear as never until that very instant:

"I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!" came
the dreadful words Mornindu would have preferred never
to have heard again for the rest of her life:
"Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

 "Oh, my gosh!!"

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

It was obviously... that now familiar high-pitched whining
voice crackling ever and ever closer to her room!

Well, if Mornindu had been shaking and rattling before,
now she was really gripped by it, and whipped herself up
to a bluster of trembling fear
--really something incredible to see.

Even the walls began wobbling and trembling
in a fussy flurry as Mornindu's night terrors spread from herself
to her bed and from her bed to the room itself
--Then from there even to the night around her:

Mornindu's shaking seemed to branch out to the whole earth
around her as the fluttering shivers and flickers of her fear
churned and fretted in waves, forcing the air itself to twitch,
twiggle and dance with each ghastly spasm
of her terrible fright!

Mornindu buried herself under her wide and warm blanket
and covered her ears with her pillows
to hide from the creature she knew would very soon be coming
into her room after her
--no matter what she did to try to prevent it:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Oh how she flipped, flapped, and sputtered
at those words! Mornindu fidgeted and fretted, shivered
and whisked herself worse than if the world were coming to an end.

Then she twitched, squirmed, sweated and sweltered so much
under her hot and heavy covers that, like the night before,
when the Whimpering Little Skeleton
finally flung open the window to her room...

 Bang... scheeesch!!!

Scared-to-bits Mornindu again became totally unglued
(like a bomb) and went to pieces
before the Whimpering Little Skeleton could even
stick a bony cold toe inside the room,
unable to face the tiny monster cool and collected.

This time Mornindu splashed herself silly
a lot worse than the previous night, too:
Absolutely nothing remained of her
except jillions of misty, unimaginably itty-bitty droplets
(and not a speck of dust)... all of her fingers and toes,
her eyes, lips, legs and ears, and all the rest of her
... knees, arms, knuckles and nose--even her very belly button
and every other least bit of her
to the very last hair on her head... just went: "Puff!"
Like that--and turned into mere moisture!

Then she was gone!
And all that remained of Mornindu was the misty fog
of the mystery of exactly what had happened to her
to make her become all-wet!

Like the night before, the Whimpering Little Skeleton found itself
with nothing but handfuls of misty moist nothings
(really) running through its fingers:

Since the monster didn't have the means to gather up
every last little misty bit that had once been Mornindu
(what with those bony fingers), nor the time to wait
until Mornindu collected herself of her own
(dawn was already nipping at its bony heels):
Like the night before, the Whimpering Little Skeleton
was again forced to go back out of Mornindu's bedroom
without her.

Off it went through the window muttering mad as a demon
and angrily promising every step of the way
(in that whimpering, whiny way it had)
that it would return the next night.

And the next night after that if it had to.
And, if it had to, it promised to return every night from then on
until it finally carried Mornindu away with it
to join the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls!


Thunder and lightning blazed around the exiting doll-sized monster
for an instant instead of the moonlight.

Then the window closed behind it and,
ever so gently, the beautiful rays of the sun began to filter back
into the room, filling it with every warm joy
and golden feeling of hope in the world.

Dawn At Last.

As the living sunshine and the roosters' songs
let Mornindu know that the cold-hearted Whimpering
Little Skeleton had once again failed to fetch her,
she became a human little girl again:

"I guess there's something good in everything after all,"
she thought: "Even in being scared to bits!"

Then she started jumping about
(and not just on top of her bed),
jumping for joy all over the room.

Well, having come so close to being fetched away
from all that she loved of home and family,
that day was for Mornindu as if it were the first day of her life.

She made up her mind that, come what may,
she would always enjoy every moment she lived from now on
as if every moment she lived was going to be her very last one
and she would have to stuff a lifetime of joy, love and fun into it!

Mornindu washed up (almost just with her joyous singing alone),
changed into her work clothes with twice the enthusiasm
changing clothes really called for, tended to the Garden,
and then went downstairs to take breakfast with her family
as if nothing had happened. Only so happy was she
that Mother and Evenindu wondered whether she might have
skipped her chores in the Garden that day...

But, no. Not only had Mornindu been only too happy to wake
every flower and tree and bush in the garden, that morning
she also did the same for every plant and flower growing
outside the Garden itself: Mother and Evenindu had to admit
they had never seen the living green things of the earth
filled with as much life as they were that morning.

  * * *

So it was that from that day on...
Mornindu never again passed up even the smallest chance
to enjoy every last moment of her life
(as if it were indeed to be her last one),
and she never again missed an opportunity to tell
those she really loved how much she loved them.

So it has remained too... at least so far:
Every morning, as soon as the sun comes up,
Mornindu collects herself and goes on to enjoy that day
as if it were to be the rest of her life wrapped up into one
single span of twenty-four hours.

Although ever since then... when it starts getting later in the evening
Mornindu again begins to get scared (as she waits
for the Whimpering Little Skeleton to return).

Then she starts shaking, shivering and fretting,
sweltering feverishly... and sweating so fiercely
that by the time the Whimpering Little Skeleton finally
bursts into her room again (as it always did
and always will) just before dawn... the tiny doll-sized skeleton
always finds Mornindu gone all to pieces. Yes,
absolutely perfectly unglued and scattered about everyplace
one could possibly imagine a little girl could scatter herself!

All true indeed: "The Whimpering Little Skeleton never gives up
once it's after you!" Nor comes by earlier than just before dawn
(for it has to wait until the Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
have finished parading).

Then again, the monster also cannot stay in Mornindu's bedroom
for even one tiny second longer than it does,
because the sun would be its end
--This also was true (exactly as Evenindu had said it).

The End?

As far as Mornindu was concerned, all things being equal,
it was a good thing that everything was as true as it was
(every last bit of it and not just some parts):

As more and more days of pure joy and nights of sheer terror
came and went, with the Whimpering Little Skeleton showing up
in Mornindu's bedroom before dawn and trying (in vain,
thank you) to fetch her away every night from then on
... Mornindu's fright grew worse (even as her joy at waking up
every morning to find that she was still alive also grew stronger):

Her coming all unglued and going all to pieces also grew
--in proportion--night after night.

Until so vast is Mornindu's nightly explosion of feverish fright
now, and so great her coming unglued (since first
the Whimpering Little Skeleton began to make its nightly visits
to her bedroom) that today Mornindu can be found
mistily scattered in every corner of the earth
when the sun comes up--and not just inside her bedroom
... as she escapes with her life
during one more nightly return of the tiny monster.

But you needn't worry (if worried you are)
about that astonishingly gushing little girl, Mornindu:
The terrible experience has also taught her
exactly which things in life are the ones that are truly important,
and now she lives every moment of her life to its fullest.

Besides, so far, the Whimpering Little Skeleton
has never been able to catch Mornindu cool and collected
enough to take her away. And Mornindu always
patches herself up just as soon as the Sun rises.

You needn't take my word for it, either:
No matter where you live you too can check the truth of
what I'm telling you by taking a quick look outside
as the rays of the Sun begin to mop up
the darkness remaining from that night.

By doing so you will instantly know whether
the Whimpering Little Skeleton
has finally succeeded in carrying off Mornindu
or must try again--Because, no matter where you live
... if you find Mornindu mistily scattered outside at dawn
then you can be sure she has escaped the Whimpering Little Skeleton
(at least one more night). Then all the flowers of the earth,
and all its trees and bushes will awake
with a very happy-to-be-alive Mornindu greeting them
with her joyous kisses.

But if you ever fail to find Mornindu scattered about
in the world, it just may mean that the Whimpering
Little Skeleton has finally caught her cool and collected enough
to carry her away to the midnight Carnival
of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls!

( Although there's really very little chance of this ever happening,
because, you see... Mornindu IS such a fraidy cat, you know! )

  * * *

And as silly as this tale may sound out in the light of day
when every boy and girl is playing out in the sun,
it will always be quite another story once you are all stretched out
on your cold, cold bed on a dark night--and just try it:

Especially when the Grandfather Clock's hands slowly begin
creeping up to the great big 12 at the top of its clock face,
and a choking wind outside begins to make a soughing sound
(as if some impossible carnival was coming closer and closer
down the street)... and maybe somebody still awake somewhere
(hiding under a wide and warm blanket of his or her own)
begins to hear a high-pitched whining and whining voice
coming out of the darkness and growing louder and nearer,
crackling and crackling:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Make way for the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"


Believe me, this is the last thing you want to hear
when stuck in the dead of night:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Make way for the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Although it may be the last thing you hear on earth!
Unless, of course, unless it's only some mean older Brother
or Sister, or Mother or Father playing a trick
on those children who refuse to go to bed when they're told to
... whining from under his or her own wide and warm blanket
in a high-pitched thin voice, only pretending
to be the Whimpering Little Skeleton:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

And, unless you don't hear it coming from outside
--If you do: Don't hesitate for a second, but run for it!
Because the Whimpering Little Skeleton only whines like that
when it's after somebody who has had something to do
with the midnight Carnival of Dancing Ghosts and Ghouls
--Even if it's only sneaking a peek at it
or listening to its music!

Naturally, don't take my word that it's only a trick:
It could be the REAL Whimpering Little Skeleton
outside your window getting ready to come in
... while whining and whining:

 "I am the Whimpering Little Skeleton!
Here comes the Whimpering Little Skeleton!"

Who knows?... I certainly don't.
But you could find out--If you dare.
Now, goodnight everyone!

 And to everyone a very, very warm:

Sleep tight!