A Wonderful Life

The farmer walked into his small, cramped house after a long day of hard labor. Finally, at nearly ten o'clock in the evening, he sat down to have his cold, dismal supper. He had been hoping for a hot meal waiting for him, but when he talked to his wife, all she said was, "I'm finally done with all the housework for today."

"What housework! All you do is sit around in this pitiful excuse for a house while I slave away!"

That's what he wanted to say. But instead, he just silently turned away and went to the kitchen to fix up something to eat.

As he was eating his cold sashimi, his son came in to say good night. The farmer ignored him, and as the small child walked away, he couldn't help wondering if the child was really his. His wife strolled into the kitchen.

"Oh, Grape, that looks delicious!"

Grape tried not to shudder at the sound of the accursed name he was bestowed with.

"May I have some?" said his wife, and right before his hungry eyes, ate the rest of his supper.

"Sure Celia," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "I'll just eat this dirty weed I picked up from the yard."

"All right dear," said Celia, not listening to him like always.

She went to bed immediately, without so much as a kiss on the cheek. Grape sighed discontentedly, and wondered how his life had come to this. Grape's father had once run this very farm, but Grape was sent away to boarding school as soon as possible. He was in his second year of receiving a college education when the news reached him that his father and mother had died unexpectedly. More unfortunate than that however, was that Grape's father had put in his will that he wanted Grape to run the farm. Grape always knew that he was wanted to run the farm someday, but it still came as an unpleasant shock. One minute, Grape was living the good life, surrounded by friends, beer, and living it up on campus, next thing he knew, he was in a ramshackle old farmhouse in a tiny, rural village. Forget me not valley was situated near a mining town, and was full of the uneducated simple folk you might expect. The village comprised of two farms, an inn, a bar, and one stately mansion, along with a few houses. Grape came to know the inhabitants well, and over time, came to detest and scorn them. After he was pulled out of college, he found out that the ramshackle farm was desolate, with nary a crop or farm animal in sight, just a few dusty old buildings. It was just him and the old farmhand Takakura, a Japanese immigrant with strange habits. He had a mysterious past and spoke little. Grape would sometimes go days without seeing him. Grape's father had bequeathed him all of his money, but it was not even enough to buy a sheep or a couple of apple trees. Grape learned that he was meant to grow crops for profit, and eat what he could afford to.

And that, Grape thought, was where his troubles really started. The only supplier of seeds was the other farm, run by a stout, harsh, masculine woman named Vesta. Of course, she had to introduce her brother and farmhand as well. The brother, Marlin, had a decidedly shady air about him. Grape soon found out he was selling other plants in addition to vegetables. The farmhand was a girl who was pleasant enough, it seemed, and was around Grape's age. Now, Grape considered himself a rather handsome chap, and thought the girl, Celia might have a liking for him. He bought his seeds after a lecture form Vesta, and walked the way home to plant them. Takakura gave him the only tools that were left. A decrepit old hoe, a small watering can, and a rusty old sickle, that Grape continuously sharpened. Grape trudged away to his field, and planted all the crops he had bought. The spring breeze did not help as he scraped the heavy hoe against the ground. The planting took hours, and the watering still more. The primitive farm implements were a burden, and his hands were sore and calloused, unused to hard labor. He drunk from he well, and cursed the fact that these old fashioned, ignorant people had no machinery. Grape's first day at the farm was a grim indication of what his future would be like. The only food he could find was a couple of roots and weeds, which he had choked down before sleeping in a hard bed with musty blankets.

Grape shook his head, trying to forget that fateful day. He wished that he would have just taken the money and abandoned the farm. Then he wouldn't have been trapped in this horridly stagnant life. He knew nothing of the outside world anymore, and was confined, practically imprisoned in the valley. He finally went to sleep that night, and had nightmares about crops, villages and sickles.

The next morning, Grape went about his daily duties with his usual resigned despair. He watered the crops, fed the animals, and tirelessly cut hay with his all too familiar heavy old sickle. As he did this, he began thinking that his life here wasn't always so unpleasant.

The first few weeks that he lived in the valley, he learned everything about he little village. After watering the crops each day, he would wander around the village, pulling up roots to eat and flowers to sell. He quickly met all the villagers. Back then, they had seemed normal, almost friendly. Now he knew better. But back then life had seemed promising. He had met the couple who owned the inn. Tim and Ruby, who often bragged about their foreign trips and who Grape mistakenly thought would turn out to be well educated travelers. Their son, Rock, was obviously adopted, and seemed to be the perfect candidate for a friend. He was Grape's age, and was rather friendly, even though he dressed as if it were the 70s. The only guest at the inn was a strange girl, also Grape's age, named Nami. She all but ignored him and seemed a bit stuck up. The first house in the village belonged to a small family. The father, Grant, was a worried looking businessman who obviously didn't do too well. The mother, Samantha, wore oddly fashioned clothes, like much of the villagers, and was polite, but also mind numbingly boring. The young daughter was a somewhat rude little pig, ironically wearing pigtails. In the small house next door lived a very elderly yet enthusiastic couple. Grape was afraid one of them might break a hip at any moment. In the other house was another small family. The man was obsessed with exercise, and Grape wondered if his hyped up annoyingness was a result of steroids use. The wife obviously wore the pants in the marriage and seemed to have some sort of business in town. Their son was already a perfect replica of the father. Grape ran quickly to the bar after meeting that family, hoping the drinks were good. Sadly, they were out of his price range. The bartender, Griffin, wore a shirt that revealed too much of his repulsive chest hair, and the barmaid, Muffy, was an empty headed girl who could only giggle stupidly. He quickly left the bar and spied a strange looking hut in the distance. All of a sudden, what looked like a drugged leprechaun emerged. Grape decided he had met enough people for the day, and had gone home to think about his strange new life.

The leprechaun man turned out to be a strange hippie who carried a guitar and would burst into impromptu singing sessions with his horrible voice. The hippie was soon lost in a trance, so Grape had ventured farther that day. In a strange corner of town, he met three wackjobs. One was a huge black man with a strange sense of fashion, who tended to grunt instead of speaking. The other two weirdos were Kassey and Patrick, twins who looked like demented Mario Bros. They were short, chunky, balding, and made fireworks in an old little shack. After meeting them, Grape thought he was ready for any amount of weirdness. Then he met Darryl. Darryl was a mad scientist, emphasis on the mad. His lab was full of freakish experiments, and Darryl seemed somewhat incapable of intelligible human speech. Grape had hurried out of there and gone on to the last house in the village. It was at the top of a hill and was a stately old mansion. Grape was rather interested, because he thought he would finally meet some people with class, or at least literacy. Instead, he met a rich old woman named Romana. She seemed very nice at first, but Grape soon found out that she repeated the same things to him every day, indicating her senility. There was also an elderly butler, who creepily sidled into every room Grape entered. Ramona had in her care her young granddaughter Lumina, who could play the piano, which luckily drowned out any conversation.

Those were the days, thought Grape. Three years of living in the village had opened up his eyes. Within a few short months of arriving, Grape was advised to think about settling down like a good farmer should. However, Grape only had three choices for a wife. Celia, the quiet farm girl, Nami, the emo girl with no family or friends to speak of, and Muffy, the trashy girl at the bar. Grape made the obvious choice, and quickly and easily won over Celia. At the very least, he had thought, maybe I'll get a discount on seeds from her old employer.

Then something happened that to this very day made Grape doubt his own sanity. He somehow found the abode of three fairies in a tree. Tiny, creepy, fairies. The things gave him a feather of all things, to propose to Celia with. He was most disturbed (had they been spying on him?), and that was when he had begun to suspect that the village was not quite what it seemed.

He had gotten married after knowing Celia barely a year, and only then by talking to her at Vesta's farm. Grape had assumed she would make a great farmer's wife, by helping out with the animals and crops. He was badly mistaken. She hardly ever came out of the house, and after their son was born, she lost interest in Grape and the outside world. Three years had gone by, and Grape had grown countless crops, ad raised farm animals galore. He had made plenty of money, and unfortunately, a few acquaintances.

As Grape reminisced about the past, a new hope sprung into his heart. He had a veritable fortune, enough to live on for many years. In fact, he had over a 100,000 G in cash right now. Well, he thought to himself, if I make a few more G, I could be out of this town and set for life.

As Grape planned his future whilst working in the fields, he wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead. This summer he had been staying outside, toiling under the hot sun almost all day, to avoid his wife and the other villagers. The village doctor had warned him about the implications of heatstroke, but Grape could only think of the plants that would bring him a few more G.

Thus Grape went on in the last weeks of summer, toiling long hours outside, and selling everything he didn't need. He could practically taste his freedom.

One day, whilst Grape was working the fields, he saw someone emerge from the henhouse. It was Murray, the town hobo.

And he had an egg.

Even in the midday sun, Grape grew cold with rage. In his fury, all he could think about was how a few Gs could mean the difference between staying in this living hell or getting out. He hefted his trusty sickle in his hand, and walked purposefully to where Murray stood. Murray, feeling Grape's shadow looming over him, turned around, and seeing the look on Grape's face, began stammering,

"Moi moi, please-"

But he words were cut short as Grape raised he sickle above his head, and with one fell swoop, brought it down on Murray, killing him instantly. Grape's cold fury was immediately replaced by a sick terror. He had just murdered a man in broad daylight.

No, he thought to himself, he had just killed a worthless thief, and nobody had seen him.

Quickly and methodically, Grape wiped the blade of gore, grabbed the body, and disposed of it in the nearby swamp.

As he came home that night, he had a strange feeling of elation in his stomach. He finally knew what he would do. The sweet taste of revenge was within his reach. He had a sickle and a town full of worthless wretches. In a week, all of his crops and animals would be sold. He would be ready to not only escape this accursed town, but also exact his revenge.

The week passed, and Grape grew absolutely giddy. He had made arrangements to travel back to his college town, and had a fortune at his fingertips. He was prepared.

The dawn broke on that fateful day of freedom. Grape sharpened his sickle and set out for the nearby farm. Vesta and Marlin were already working the fields. As Grape approached, they called out in a friendly manner. Without saying a word, he took his sickle, and with calm and precision, cut them down as if they were the grass in his field. After ensuring they were dead, Grape simply walked away, leaving their blood to soak into the dirt they had once tilled. He had lots to do today.

He went through the town methodically, leaving a trail of gore behind. He slaughtered the hippie easily, then he attacked the large black man from behind as he was meditating peacefully. He left two twin sized holes in Patrick and Kassey. Then he worked his way through the town, killing all horribly and mercilessly. At the scientist's lab, he destroyed all the research and work before Darryl's eyes before disemboweling him. Parents and children were treated the same, no one escaped his sickle. Finally, he went up to the mansion and after cutting the inhabitants throats, he remembered to loot the house and take the large sum of money he found there. Finally, his work was done. His sickle and clothes were drenched in blood, and the feeling in the air was oppressive. It was time to go home. It was still early in the morning. Several of his victims had been sleeping peacefully when he broke down their doors. A few had even tried to resist, futilely, of course. He went to his barn and left a note and package. Then he took his considerable fortune, hopped on his horse, and dashed away. Later that day, his son went into the barn and saw the bloodied weapon and clothes. After a cry of alarm, his wife and Takakura cam in and read the note.

-50,000 G. Grape

Sure enough, the package contained the money that was enough for them to live on, but it was a small consolation for what they would find later that day.

As Grape rode off toward the future with the sun warming his back, he smiled, imagining he could almost hear the cries of horror as his family discovered the massacre in the village. Ah, he thought to himself, it's a wonderful life.

THE END