The Singing Bones
Hirito trudged down the path to his family’s home wearily. His job as a trader made good money, but it was exhausting.. It also meant that he was gone from home for long periods of time. But he wasn’t worried. While his job was tiring, he had a good life. Some might even say that it was perfect.
“Good day, Hirito-San!” His elderly neighbor Fong called from his habitual seat by his front door. “Hello!” “How was the trip this time?” “Very good, thank you! How are you and your wife doing?” “Can’t complain. My daughter visited with the baby while you were gone! I still can’t believe that I’m finally a grandfather!” “That’s very good!” “Indeed!” The jovial man chuckled. “I don’t believe that you will ever have that problem, eh?” “Heh, I supposed not. Good day!” “Good day, old friend!”
The village was remote and rather small, but quite nice. It was very traditional, but not stifling or oppressively conformist. They had nice festivals and gatherings. The fairs and market days were a joyful spectacle. Of course, the most beautiful thing in all the village was his bride.
Originally, their home had been modest but, as Hirito’s business expanded, so did their home. They had a large, sprawling home and farm that covered multiple square miles. It was a bit isolated, as it stood a ways out of town deeper in the forest, but it was the undisputedly grandest home in the village. And it was good that it was so big. Hirito and his wife had lots of children. So many in fact, that he barely knew many of them. He couldn’t wait to see Tsubaki again!
He passed through the front gates and walked through the courtyard with its blossoming flowers and gurgling fountains. While much grander than the rest of the village their home was still designed in the traditional Japanese style. Hirito knew exactly where he would find his wife.
He slid open the door of the kitchen and peered into the darkness. The kitchen was a damp, and seemingly dreary place, one where you might find a monster. “Tsubaki?” He slowly edged his way deeper into the building.
In the dim light, a young woman stood at the chopping block. She was smeared head to toe with blood and held an enormous meat cleaver aloft with an absolutely maniacal and sadistic look on her face. The area around her was splattered with blood and gore and she was surrounded by piles of mangled meet. “Tsu-Chan!” The woman turned, her weapon held threateningly and a look of utter depravity on her face. The cleaver thudded into the chopping block.
The woman let out a loud squeal. “Hitoooooo-Kuuuuun!” Like an overjoyed child, she launched herself at her husband, nearly knocking him over. “Whoa!” He struggled under her weight. “You’re home!” She exclaimed excitedly, hugging his neck.
Tsubaki was an angelic looking beauty from a faraway village. She had long, silky black hair that flowed down to her knees, porcelain skin, golden eyes, and blood red lips. She was as lovely as a porcelain doll. She was also very tall and petite, with a figure that all the women in the village envied. She had curves that perfectly accented her tiny waist and large breasts that bounced whenever she moved. With a body like that, it was no surprise to anyone that the couple had managed to bring twenty-seven children into the world.
"How was your trip, love?” She asked happily, smiling at her husband. He responded by lifting her up and passionately kissing her. “I’ve missed you.” He whispered. “Me too.” Tsubaki smiled coyly. “Where are the children?” “They are staying with your sister. They’ll be back tomorrow…” She looked at him flirtatiously.
“You know…” She traced a line down her husband’s neck. “It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to play together and the children aren’t home. We have until tomorrow… why don’t we see if you can still remember how to entertain me after all this time?” She challenged seductively.
* * *
“Mmmm…this is so nice. I’m glad you’re home, Hito.” Tsubaki whispered into her husband’s warm chest. “Me too, love.” Hirito murmured, stroking her hair as he held her. It was early morning and the first warm rays of light were dancing in through the rice-papered windows. Hirito was captivated by Tsubaki. The rays of light glistened on her long hair and bare breasts, making her look angelic. He loved her so much. Being away for so long hurt. He missed her and their children. At least they had had the whole night to themselves.
“Alright, I need to get up now.” Tsubaki said suddenly after what seemed liked forever. “Oh, come on! We don’t have to yet! Come back to bed!” Hirito complained, sitting up and grabbing her around the waist before she could stand. He kissed her neck. “Hey-hey!” She laughed and struggled. “I have work to do, you know! The children will be back before you know it and I need to tend the animals and finish the laundry and cook…oh no! I never finished preparing the meat last night! I hope it didn’t spoil!” She pulled away and grabbed a blanket, which she wrapped around herself. “Aww…!” “Don’t you whine!” She pouted. She turned, smiling. “If you act nice and help me, I’ll make you your favorite meat dish!” “Urgh!" Hirito flopped down on the bed. “Fine. You win!”
* * *
“Careful, you oaf!” Tsubaki complained as her husband playfully hugged her from behind. “I’m could cut myself!” She said, clutching her knife tightly as she cut the vegetables for curry. “Come on! Lighten up a little! You are too serious, Tsu-Chan!” “If you don’t be quiet and sit down at the table nicely, you won’t get any stew!” She threatened. Her husband quietly complied. “Thank you.”
He stared at her as she intently went about her work. “What are you thinking?” She asked casually. “Oh, I was just thinking about when we met. Remember?” Hirito could recall it as if it had just happened yesterday. “At the spring festival in your town.” “Yes, you were there to woo a potential client.” “And then I saw you. You were so beautiful. You were wearing your pink silk kimono with the cherry blossoms on it. You had a crown of pink roses on your head and a bright green bow around your waist. You were very popular in your town and were a renown cook. Everyone came to your stall to buy your dried meat and pork buns.” “Yes. I remember you couldn’t stop staring. It took you forever to finally ask me to dance that night!” “But we danced together every night that week.” “Yes.”
“Then I decided that I wanted to marry you. I have no clue how or why, but you accepted me. I don’t know how someone as ordinary as me got a wife like you.” “Hey! Quit trying to butter me up!” She snarked at him, making him laugh. “Well it’s true! You’re a hard worker. You are a loving mother and are amazing with children. You are good with animals and the farm. You are the best cook in the kingdom. You are an intelligent and wise businesswoman. You sew beautifully. You take good care of the house…” he checked off each of his wife’s good qualities on his fingers. “You sing and dance beautifully. You are funny and can have a great sense of humor, when you aren’t being a total stick in the mud!” “Shut up!” A ladle flew towards Hirito’s head, which he easily dodged. “And you are honestly the most beautiful and loyal and utterly kind woman I know.” He smiled at her. Tsubaki gave him her large, stunning smile. “I know, I’m amazing.” “And humble.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, the point is that I love you too. You are even kinder and take good care of me and the kids. Even if we are far apart, you more than make up for it with the love and care you show to all of us while you are home.” She turned her attention back to her work. She stirred the stew and took a taste from the small cup. “Mmmm! Tastes done!”
“Oh my god! Thank you so much!” Hirito cried. He had missed Tsu’s cooking so much! “Oh, quit your blubbering.” She set the bowl of dried meat stew in front of him and Hirito immediately dug in with no restraint. “Tastes like heaven!” He murmured through a mouthful of food. “Hey, Tsu-Chan?” He asked, watching her cut the vegetables. “Yes, my love?” “I’ve always wondered…why do you like cooking so much, but never eat meat?” “Is that so strange?” “Well, you are renowned for your butchering and meat dishes. Why don’t you ever eat any of it when you like making it so much?” “Well, funny story.” She giggled playfully. “Remember how I grew up on a farm less luxurious than this? Baba butchered animals to sell their meat so we’d have food to last the winter. When I was younger, I was repulsed by the blood, gore, and death. I vowed never to eat meat again. I discover my skill for butchering and cooking and I did want to eat meat but, by then, it had been so long that I had developed an intolerance. It makes me violently ill.”
Hirito though for a moment. “That makes sense, but why don’t you ever let the children eat meat then?” “It’s not that I don’t let them eat meat. I just feed them meat that’s prepared differently. They are all too young to eat stuff as rich as what I make for you. I want them to all grow up strong and healthy and I’d like our girls to stay pretty enough to get a good bride price. When you are here, I cook meat for you, but it’s easier and less work to just feed them what I eat instead of making another, special batch of meat.” “Okay. I was just wondering.” He continued shoveling stew into his mouth. Suddenly, Hirito looked into his bowl and realized something.
“Hey, how come you never serve me roast meat? How come it is always some dish where the meat isn’t whole? Why is there never any bones?” Tsubaki laughed. “Are you complaining because there’s no bones in your meat? It’s easier to cook this way and less annoying to eat.” “It makes sense.”
Hirito felt a creeping feeling under his skin. Something felt very wrong. It seemed like his home, his world, was blurred. It was like it had become surreal and shadowy. He felt a nagging feeling that something was terribly wrong. But what? He felt a profound sense of panic and a desire to run screaming away from his wife. Each cut of her knife made his skin crawl even more. Something was wrong…but what? What was wrong with him? What was going on here?
He remembered when he had first brought his new bride to the village.
Everyone had initially avoided and distrusted her. Eerily, Hirito remembered that the strange feeling that Tsubaki gave the villagers was described nearly the same as what he was now feeling. They didn’t deny that she was polite, beautiful, kind, gracious…but something within them; that primal protective fear; told them that they needed to stay away. What had won them over was her cooking. Tsubaki had made dozens of meat pies and buns that everyone had loved. They hadn’t visited her parents since before they had moved to the village, but she had made the long journey back to her childhood home and brought back the best of their beef and pork for her cooking. Her good food, her manners, and her beautiful outfit had won the village over and she had been popular amongst the people ever since. Her favorite outfit was a blood-red dress with a poufy, mid-calf-length skirt and long, billowing sleeves. The insides of the sleeves and skirt were filled with fluffy white lace. She also wore a frilly, waitress-like full apron that was perpetually stained with blood and meat juices. She also had a tasseled headband and beautiful ankle boots made of imported leather. She looked hauntingly beautiful. Wait, why was he thinking things like this? What sort of trance had he entered/
Suddenly, loud screams and children’s laughter burst out from the front yard. “The children are back!” Tsubaki yelled joyfully, throwing up the front door.
* * *
“Hey, Tsu-Chan.” Hirito called as he entered the laundry room, where his wife sat at the tub, vigorously scrubbing children’s clothing. “Ye-es?” She sung cheerfully, content in her work. “Why are there so few of our children here? I only counted fifteen. And where is Sae? I wanted to talk to her.” His beautiful little Sae. The six-year old looked exactly like her mother. She was the purest and sweetest natured little creature you could ever meet. Last time he had spent time with her, he had given her a jewel encrusted broach shaped like a peacock. She wore it pinned to a leather cord around her neck. He had played with his daughter in the pond and she told him about how badly she wanted to see the sea. He was going to surprise her with the news that he had gotten permission to take her on his next tradding voyage to the southern kingdom. But now that the children were back, Sae wasn’t among them. Even though it was hard for Hirito to differentiate between their many children, he was sure that his Sae wasn’t there. Even if he happened to forget her face, her demeanor and her peacock necklace were easy to identify.
“Oh, love, I sent her to stay with Baba and mama.” “What?” He stared. Tsubaki laughed and it sounded oddly sinister to his ears. “Remember? Oh, you fool!” She sighed in exasperation. “I have to tell you this every time. It’s hard for me to care for so many small children. I’ve been sending some of the children to stay with my parents. It lightens my workload and the fresh air out at their farm will be good for them. Besides, my parents are getting so old. Mama has always had a weak constitution and baba is starting to have problems with his legs. He walks with a cane now. They’ve told me in the letters that the children have been such a blessing to them. They are good, hard workers. You always forget and can’t remember that I’ve told you. You can’t even remember how many children you have, you dope! Maybe if you were home more this wouldn’t be an issue!” She aggressively scrubbed pink stains out of a lavender smock. He felt a ping of guilt. “I’m sorry.” “No, I’m sorry.” She replied. “I shouldn’t have been rude to you. You are a good man and you work so hard because we have so many children. Anyway-” She brushed back a lock of her hair. “-eleven children were already there. Sae makes twelve.” “Okay, thank you, love. I feel…strange. I’m going for a walk.” Hirito said as he turned and left. “I’m sorry. Maybe we should take a trip to see them all soon!” Tsubaki called after him.
* * *
Hirito stumbled and crashed to the ground, nearly missing landing in the trash heap behind the cattle barn. He felt…wrong. Very wrong. He didn’t think that he was physically sick. Was all the stress from his job making him go insane? Why did he have the disturbing feeling that something was off about his wife and his beautiful home-life? He felt like he needed to run far away; run now. He felt light headed, disoriented. Like he was in a living hallucination. “What-what is this?” He trembled, staring at the forest as he trembled on the ground. He sighted, rolling onto his back, and sighted at the blue sky. “What’s wrong with me?” he wondered aloud. Insects buzzed loudly above his head. “Wait.” He shot up into a sitting position. Those where flies!
He knelt beside the trash heap, briefly wondering if he had truly lost his sanity. There were so many flies, but he couldn’t see why. There were flies on the rotting peels and rinds, but not enough to account for the flies. He gagged, steeled his nose, and began digging through the disgusting, putrid refuse. His hand brushed something that felt like crunchy fabric. A discarded tunic? Quickly, however, he realized that something was horribly amiss. The garment was caked in red. Blood! But it was small, something that an adolescent boy would wear. It wasn’t Tsubaki’s, it couldn’t be. So why all the blood? It dawned on him that the tunic was completely drenched in blood. It couldn’t have simply been from butchering an animal. He held the tunic up to the light. “W-w-what?” He gaped in horror. The torso area of the shirt resembled cheese from the many stab holes and slashes on it. They were from a large, sharp blade, by the looks of it, too. “A…cleaver?” Hirito whispered hoarsely. He threw the clothing as far away as he could. He didn’t like it at all! He wished that he could forget what he had seen. Those holes…a boy’s shirt…. someone had been stabbed. And with a cleaver…! In horror and desperation, he dug through the pile. It couldn’t be! It couldn’t! Not Tsubaki…! Not to their children…! His hand grasped something slimy and he held in a scream.
It was a decaying eyeball. A human eyeball! He stared at it in denial and then, throwing it upon the ground, Hirito took up a large rock and slammed it into the eye again and again and again, until it was nothing but a wet splotch on the dirt. It was a tiny eye; a toddler. It was bright green, with one orange dot. All the children had brown or blue eyes, except for the three-year-old triplets; they had inherited their grandmother’s green eyes. The girl who had been born first had a distinct iris with a splotch of orange. She was one of the eleven who had been sent to their grandparents. “No, no, nooooo!” he wailed. This couldn’t be true! The secret fear he and the villagers had felt towards his wife…it couldn’t mean…! A high-pitched, cheerful laugh pierced his ear.
Slowly, in utter horror, with sweat pouring down his face and his eyes dilating, Hirito turned. His wife was hanging laundry in the courtyard while some of the children played around her. The ordinarily pure scene was as terrible and unnatural to him as something from the deepest depths of Hell. Slowly, with a diabolic look like that of a serpent, Tsubaki turned and gave her husband what seemed to be a dark, twisted smile. “Oh love, what are you doing over there in the trash?” She called, waving at him as the children turned. “Come join us!”
Hirito breathed heavily. ”A-a-a-ah-ha-ahh,” he frantically stumbled and grasped at the ground. “Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” He screamed the most horrible, frightened scream one could imagine and ran blindly into the woods.
“Mommy, what’s wrong with papa?” A little boy tugged on Tsubaki’s skirt as his father’s cries echoed off into the distance. “Oh, my little dear, don’t worry!” She pulled her young son into an embrace. The serpentine tongue spoke as her demon eyes and smile flashed over his shoulder. “papa is just tired…”
* * *
Hirito stumbled through the dark Forrest in a haze of utter insanity. Tsubaki…love…beauty…children…murder…cleaver…meat…played through his mind in a psychotic cycle. This was hell. What could he, should he, do? The panicked man slumped to the ground. “What do I do?” He whispered with crazed eyes.
Here we are!
You’ve searched for us near and far-
We aren’t at the farm nor in the grave.
thrown here where we lay!
That woman lied; an animal was not the meat that died
Long have we waited for you to learn the truth,
For we were butchered in our youth
But worry not; since our death we have been with and within you,
And with and within in you shall we ever be!
The haunting song came out of nowhere. The moss-coated forest was dark and foggy. It was so dense here that all light was blocked out. No one was there. So where…? Who…? Hirito turned around and around. The macabre ditty repeated itself. “Who are you? Answer me?” The mysterious singer repeated itself over and over. “Shut up!” He howled.
The rock! The rock!
“The rock?” He looked over at a large boulder that seemed out of place, as if it had been deliberately placed in the middle of the clearing.
The singing seemed like it was coming from the rock. He staggered over to it. He ran his hand over it.
Confused, but too crazed to understand how crazy the situation was, he pushed the rock. It was lighter than he thought it would be. The song was coming from under it.
He gapped at the hidden pit under the rock, unable to either comprehend or accept what it contained. The hole was filled with bones. Human bones. Dozens of human bones. From a dozen humans. Small bones, all thrown together. “No.no.no.no.” Hirito stuttered, tears gathering in his eyes as he fell on his knees before the hole.
The bones of the young murder victims were singing a sorry, sorrowful song of their unjust fate. “My children!” Hirito wailed with a cry that could have broken the hardest of hearts.
Something glimmered in the murky darkness caught his eye. He picked up a small, snow-white skull. Something was jammed in its mouth. He opened it. A blood-crusted peacock broach sat within. The skull sang sadly to Hirito.
The shinning sea
“Sae!” The heartbroken father sobbed, clutching the skull to his chest.
* * *
Hirito collapsed from exhaustion and grief onto the cold, hard ground. Night as fallen. Unable to accept the truth and near-insane from the horror of it, he had started running and hadn’t been able to stop. He had no clue where he was.
He looked around. Without realizing it, he had come to a decrepit old farm. Once, it had probably been a quaint place, but now it was in an advanced stage of decay. The place had clearly been abandoned for years. Something drew the weary man to his feet. There was something…hauntingly familiar about the empty farmstead. But what was it? He was quite sure that he would have recalled coming to a place this broken-looking. He wandered throughout the property, running his hand across decaying fence posts and surveying sunken barns, ungrazed pastures, and overgrown plots. Finally, he came to the small farmhouse and it hit him.
This was Tsubaki’s parents farm!
But… there had been letters! When and how had this happened? The only way that the farm could be in such a deep state of decay was if something had happened shortly after he and his wife had married. But what? Feeling a deep sense of foreboding, but unable to stop his curiosity, he nudged open the fragile door.
The front room and adjoining kitchen were in total disarray. Molding furniture had been tipped, dishes had been smashed, and ornaments had been strewn about as if there had been a mighty struggle. There were stab marks in the overturned dining table and across the walls. Everything was coated in a thick layer of grime, dust, and dead pests. What had happened to his mother and father in-law? He stood motionless.
Suddenly, his sober reverie was shattered by the lose kitchen door swinging on its hinges in the wind. Ccccccreeeeeaaak! Driven by an unseen force, Hirito slowly made his way to the kitchen. The floor and bottom of the countertop were covered in old, rust-colored spatters. The dried red was smeared across the door and there was a handprint on the side of it. One hinge was broken, as if it had been wrenched from the door. It looked as if someone had been forcibly dragged outside. He slowly followed the trail of drag marks and spatters until he reached the large woodpile. Then he understood completely.
It looked like something from a nightmare. Two skeletons were scattered about the small area. There was so much blood and evidence of violence, that it was clear that two people had been hacked to death and utterly butchered. Bits of ripped clothes and dried gore littered the woodpile. Something dull, yet shiny, stuck out of a log. It was a large, rusted hatchet. Next to it was a single rose-shaped ivory earing Now, Hirito fully understood.
The fact that Tsubaki had made so many excuses why they couldn’t visit. How his in-law’s farm was much closer to his family than she had led him to believe. How the odd letters from the elderly couple had disappeared. The blood that was always present on his wife’s favorite apron. She religiously removed all the bones from the meat and refused to let the children eat it. Her constant love of chopping things and cooking. The unusually good, rich meat dishes she made. The fact that their children had disappeared. The mass grave in the woods.
Those earrings had been his wedding gift to Tsubaki. She had lost one shortly after they moved. She had lost it when she had gone to visit her parents to ask them how to make the villagers accept her.
Hirito ran to the bushes and threw up from the knowledge of what meat his wife had truly brought home all those years ago. He emptied his stomach at the confirmation of what she had truly fed him earlier.
* * *
The house was fully dark. Night had fallen in the time that her insane fool of a husband had fled into the forest. Tsubaki tied the big bow of her favorite apron. Her favorite vendor outfit looked lovely on her. She looked at herself in the mirror as she shouldered her long meat cleaver. It was time for a game that was more enjoyable, even, than the ones she played in bed with her husband.
“Mama. What’s going on? Why are you dressed up like that?” Asked a doe-eyed ten-year-old daughter. Tsubaki smiled into the mirror, not even facing the little girl. “Oh, don’t you know that I need to be ready for the festival?” The demon said ever so sweetly. “But, mama.” The confused voice answered. “There is no festival. It’s not the right time of year yet.” “Oh, don’t worry, dear. Go downstairs and play with your siblings. I’ll be down soon. I have a surprise for you all.” “Okay,” agreed the concerned voice. Small footsteps retreated.
A vicious smile flashed in the dark. It was time for a festival of blood.
* * *
The sky flashed as violent thunder tore the night apart. The rain and wind beat at Hirito as he ran full-speed towards his home. His surviving children were in danger! He knew now what his perfect wife had done to the missing twelve young ones, her parents, and probably others. He knew the secret of her amazing cooking and love of butchering. And someone twisted enough to do those things was capable of doing anything. Nothing was too horrific for someone like Tsubaki.
“Tsubaki! Tsubaki! Children!” He screamed as her slipped and stumbled his way frantically across the courtyard. He slumped against the door and struggled to slide it open. “Please!” He called as he peered into the darkness and saw a scene so gruesome and heart-breaking that it would destroy him forever.
The stairs. The floor. The walls. The entire main room was awash in a sea of blood. It dripped from the ceiling and walls. It ran down the floor. Laying in the sea of blood was the gore of fifteen young children who had been hacked to pieces.
“Ah-ha-ha-ha! Ah-ha-ha-ha!” Tsubaki stood shrouded in lightning at the top of the stairs in her favorite outfit. Her beloved cleaver and her whole body were spattered with the blood of her children. Her head leaned back in an unnatural way, her eyes flashed with unconcealed evil and depravity, and a horrific slasher-smiler was on her lips. She was filled with utter jubilation at the sight of her family, murdered by her own hands.
Her husband stared in horror. Suddenly, filled with unstoppable hate and rage at her sin, he charged at her, screaming like a devil. He tackled her and they crashed to the woven floor. Her weapon slid away and was lost in the gore. He wrestled his wife until he had her pinned down. He sat on her chest as she lay spread out and trapped.
“Oh, please, love! Don’t hurt me! The twisted face pleaded with its large eyes. “I’m your wife and the mother of your children! I love you Hito-C-“ The wicked woman’s words were cut off by a furious scream as her husband mercilessly drove his fist into her face. Her body convulsed and her twisted mouth emitted depraved screams and gurgles. Even when the beautiful body went cold and limp, Hirito didn’t stop hitting it. He punched and punched until he was covered in gore and there was a gooey mess were the lying face had once been.
Driven mad by the gore, his heartbreak, and the horror of his actions, the man curled up in terror on the gore-drenched floor.
That’s where he remained, babbling and muttering in brokenness until the neighbors came and discovered the broken man lying in the remains of his beloved family.
* * *
“No! No meat! No meat! No children! There people in the meat! There people in the meat!” The once handsome and respected trader fought against his sister as she tried to spoon vegetable broth into his mouth. “There children in that!” He yelled incoherently at the young woman who struggled against his grip.
The man was now a disabled, shrunken shell of who he once was. He sat in his chair all day babbling at nothing, if he spoke at all. His sister and Fong had to care for him around the clock. He had sunk into insanity from the sheer pain and horror of what he had experience.
“No! No!” He panicked as hot tears fell down his face. “My babies! My babies! T-T-Tsu-Chan!” He croaked in agony. Rubbing her sore arm, his sister staggered away.
“Poor brother.” She sighed to a despondent Fong. “He won’t eat soup at all, and he’s terrified of meat. He constantly thinks that it could be from a human.” “He’s worried someone is going to feed his dead children to him.” The elderly man said sadly. At the mention of his dead children, the man started writhing in terror and screaming as his caretakers tried to restrain him.
“Stop it! Stop the voices! The bones are singing! The bones are Singiiiiiiinnngg! They won’t leave me alone! They won’t stop singing to me! Make them stop! Make them stop!” “Hirito-San!” “Brother! No one is singing!”
The screams drifted through the woods and stopped over thirty gravestones. Forever, the area would be remembered as the place where a woman had murdered and cooked her children and parents and served them in meat dishes. For decades to come, people would swear that they could hear the screams of the man who had been driven into insanity after killing his murderous wife.
Today, some even say that, if you venture into the woods at night, you can hear a haunting, sorrowful song telling this tale of horrific cruelty and murder.