The Singing Heart

image from pixabay

The crowd stared at the naked young man, at the heart beating outside his skin, as it had since birth, and at the well behind him, from which he had been extracted by the elders. Twenty years ago, when he’d gone missing, an inhuman singing began here at the well at the center of the village. A chanting in the night.

The pastry chef, who was awake at odd hours preparing his sweets, heard it first and woke his wife. She told the neighbors, and soon everyone was listening in the dark, losing sleep.

By God’s grace, a small hunting party returned from the woods with news of demons–demons with hearts beating outside their scaly chests, singing a cryptic but pertinent riddle for the discerning:

Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?

{This was inspired by a prompt from Sanaa at dVerse for Prosery on May 10, 2021. Unfortunately, I’m much too late to join in, but I wanted to credit the source of the prompt. Prosery is a regular feature at dVerse that requires participants to create a piece of flash fiction of 144 words or less, using a line of poetry that is provided. In this case, the line is from “Heartbeat” by Rainer Maria Rilke. The line: Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things? must be unaltered and included in the total word count.}