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Oberman, the Footnote

The Snow White tale retold by Mike Walsh

Section 4: The Dungeon

Dungeon life was about what I expected only it hurt more. It’s tough to prepare yourself for extreme pain. You just never get used to the beatings and the torture sessions. It’s as if you experience them the first time every time, no matter how many times you’ve been beaten or tortured.

After a few weeks, conditions in the dungeon suddenly improved for me. I began receiving preferential treatment. I discovered through discussions with several of the guards that news of the Queen’s attempt to do away with Snow White and my refusal to consummate the plan had become common knowledge. Apparently, there was a silent swell of support within the ranks of the dungeon guards in my favor, and my torture sessions all but ended.

However, I had to be chained, dirtied, and dressed in dungeon rags whenever the Queen came to call. Once the Queen heard that Snow White was alive, she quickly figured out what had happened. She also came to realize, to her extreme disgust, that I had actually fallen in love with Snow White. Therefore, I was tortured in the Queen’s presence if she requested it. In fact, she engaged in the torture herself on several occasions, having a go at me with the whip or cranking even further on the rack, all the while demanding that I renounce what she referred to as "my foolish emotional transgression" with Snow White. Naturally, I refused.

"I gave you everything, power, money, even my body," she shouted, "but you rejected me when you fell for that conniving twit."

I tried to ignore her, but it wasn’t easy.

"Do you think that Snow White would actually fall in love with a paunchy, middleaged crackpot spewing foolish political gibberish to everyone within earshot?" she asked. "And don’t you think it’s suspicious that she survived in the forest? The King probably had someone waiting a few hundred yards away to dash her off to the dwarves’ place for safekeeping. She strung you along like a puppy, you loathsome little cur. One kiss from the twit and you’re dreaming of taking all the power for yourself, you miserable swine!"

I must admit that I hadn’t considered these possibilities. Nevertheless, I railed and cursed against her. I spat at her. My antagonism got me nowhere, for the tortures were multiplied. Ironically, the Queen kept me apprised of her continued attempts to wrestle power from the King and to do away with Snow White.

"Snow White will die," she promised me more than once, "even if I have to kill the odious little wench with my bare hands." Then, holding a whip in a threatening manner, she would ask, "You got a problem with that, Mister?"

She had secretly been injecting the King with insulin, but to her considerable vexation, the old bugger wouldn’t kick-off. About Snow White, the Queen had sent some of her most trusted guards into the forest to snuff her, but from all reports the dwarves had killed many of the Queen’s men. The cocky little bastards even had the nerve to return the heart of one of the unlucky guardsmen to the Queen.

The Queen had become so desperate and irrational that she had attempted to kill Snow White herself. She had ventured through the forest to the midgets’ house during the day while they were mining and, disguised as a peddler-woman, had attempted to asphyxiate Snow White with an absurdly tight bodice. When that failed, she evidently tried some hair-brained scheme involving a poison comb.

"You’ve got to be kidding," I shouted at her from the stretching rack. "A murderous bodice? A poison comb? Who in God’s name is giving you this advice, the court jester?"

"At least he’s not a gullible old fool."

"These foolhardy campaigns are sure to bring about your ruin. The army could revolt. You could be killed in a bloody coup." But she wouldn’t listen. Instead, she stared into a small, hand-held mirror that she carried around and ordered more torture if I continued to berate her.

"For the love of God, listen to reason," I shouted. "Patch things up with the King. Bring back Snow White. Be satisfied with the power you have."

"Yes, and what should we do about the poor, pathetic, detestable Oberman?" she asked, tightening the rack.

I screamed in pain. Believe me, that rack hurt like hell.

"Should we release the lecherous failure, so he can betray me again?" She punctuated the remark by poking me in the ribs with an electrically charged cattle prod.

I later heard of another of the Queen’s crazy plots to murder Snow White, this time with a poison apple. When I questioned the Queen about it, she simply said, "Snow White is no longer a problem. Let us discuss more pertinent issues."

"What have you done to her?" I screamed.

Enraged by my outburst, she looked me in the eyes and said, "We could’ve had it all." Then she pressed the hot embers of her cigarette into my chest and left, the words "Go — to — hell" trailing in the air behind her.

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Email: walsh@missioncreep.com