The Boy Who Cried Snizzerwit
An epic-length storypoem of cosmic horror
Illustrations by Scott Ackerman.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is the obvious inspiration for this story. HP Lovecraft is a close second. This is a grim and cautionary tale that bad boys and bad girls should heed. If not, remember that sometimes what you say and what you do is observed by the people — or things — you least suspect.
On dim dismal eves when wind blows through the boles,
whipping leaves to wet piles, lake waves to the shoals,
and flames ebb on a cold cobbled hearth,
shedding shadows sans laughter and mirth,
the following tale passes parent to child,
blankets bundled close, eyes round and wild,
as retold are the tales of a past misdeed,
replayed to remember, not allowed to recede
from the collective recall of all gathered near,
so listen close, friend, for it's one you should hear.
But if you insist and persist upon the final fell truth of it,
know that beyond all belief writhes the realm of the SNIZZERWIT!
Long ago in a village much different than now,
where the smallfolk lived by the herd and the plow,
a boy and his kin dwelt on the east edge of town
by a copse of needle pines and a steep grassy down.
The boy's name was Neb and he said it with pleasure,
but few townsfolk in truth found Neb a true treasure.
Locally renowned as an irrefutable jokester,
by nimble age nine he was a reputable hoaxer.
Plying pranks composed the boy's earliest habits,
and not simple tricks with brim hats and black rabbits,
but rather concoctions of considerably poor taste,
forced upon everyone with hideous haste.
Neb's misadventures were missions to admire,
whether ensnaring cats' paws or plots more dire,
such as binding bells to the tails of wandering dogs
and loosing them to wallow with Farmer Mog's hogs
until the whole yard rampaged with zest,
the farmers cursing Neb as a persistent pest.
He loved hiding above the bustling street market,
shooting slimy wet spitwads at each passing target,
ducking and dodging his victim's shocked scrutiny
while raining down globs of glop with impunity.
He would mock Will O'Shee with a face-full of freckles,
forced to endure Neb's hazing and heckles.
Or his younger brother David — sadly dubbed Zitty Dave —
who endlessly endured as an acne-dappled knave.
Cheap thrills and spills were a welcome way of life,
mayhap a ward against rules, boredom or strife.
Whatever the cause, Neb was a detestable fellow,
whether his mood was caustic and cruel, mild or mellow.
Further muddling this meddlesome matter
this bothersome bad boy succumbed to flatter
from an ardent advocate for salaciously sly sin,
his slight sister Bella with a gallant gay grin.
She often mirrored her brother second-skin close,
for his earnest endeavors would easily engross
her burgeoning, billowing imagination
with his exquisite examples of youthful agitation.
But even she suffered his secret intrusions,
his hideous humor, his illicit illusions,
such as sneaking scarecrows into her bed,
hoping to hear her squeal and shoot up with dread,
or stuffing fictitious creatures by the shed door
that flopped out to fright her, gyrations galore.
But Bella brave Bella, age only six,
forgave her brother's incessant tricks.
Yes, even the strawmonsters propped by her pillows,
even strangled ones dangling from wide weeping willows.
'Practice makes perfect' the wise beards say,
so Ned practiced his best every morn, night and day,
his sister giggling with innocent glee,
inevitably amused by Neb's villainy.
Neb's Mother and Father were rather less lenient,
finding Neb's actions oft inconvenient,
especially by age twelve with a new ruse on his list:
spinning lengthy lies and tall tales with a twist.
"Loose tongues," cautioned Mother, "bring only disaster,"
but Neb ignored her words from "tongues" and thereafter.
"Watch what you say," his Father warned.
"Your word is your oath and not to be scorned."
"Oh, posh," sneered Neb. "I'll do as I like.
"I'm only a child. It's my God-given right!"
"Be silent now!" his Mother hissed,
covering his mouth and grabbing his wrist.
"Don't you know of that which lurks in the night,
hoping to hear from those in your same plight?
It is said to cleave close — and this draws from old writ —
so cease this farce lest come seeking the Snizzerwit!"
But to a reckless boy of Neb's state and stance,
his elder's advice hardly garnered a glance.
"The Snizzerwit?" he scoffed. "I highly doubt that.
Fanciful fluff from fools afraid of just a black cat.
Mopish maid's tales," he stubbornly proclaimed.
"I refuse to believe it," and his opinion sustained.
Bella watched this exchange, hands clasped tight,
Wondering — maybe — if their parents were right.
"And you, young lady," her Mother firmly insisted,
"follow him no more," and her chidings persisted
long after Neb had left them alone,
stormed down the steps and begun to roam
across a town ripe for plunder
in the wake of distant and ominous thunder.
Neb continued a campaign to ensnare all who'd listen,
and many — too many — succumbed to his mission.
He pretended to plea for help from the pit of a well,
projecting his voice so that no one could tell.
He would cry "Fire! Fire!" around midnight
to rouse vexed villagers with buckets to fight
a conflagration that did not exist,
only to hear a boy's laughter eerily persist.
Neb's "Visitor's Booth" beyond the village edge
offered bogus directions from his stand by a hedge
with crudely drawn maps leading travelers astray
going in circles until the end of the day.
This led to his favorite hoax of all,
past the copse of needle pines so tall
where Neb would trudge to the fields of the town's fenced sheep,
stand at the gate, draw a breath deep,
and unleash at the tippity-top of his lungs,
"I see a wolf! A wolf! And HERE HERE IT COMES!"
Wolves in the sheep-fold were a serious threat,
so Neb's claims of invasion were immediately met
by herders and farmers armed with pitchforks and torches,
only to find sheepish stares and returned to their porches,
grumbling about a boy who lied to anyone,
a boy who thought it unabashedly, dastardly fun.
It was a stunt he sprung every few weeks
and found it worked best with occasional tweaks,
such as switching the culprit from a wolf to a fox,
haunting the hens despite gates, guards and locks.
But one day Neb and his sister did spot a wolf in the pasture,
its edgy eyes aglow with ravenous rapture.
"Help! Help! It's a wolf!" he yelled,
but no one in earshot seemed particularly compelled.
Not Mother or Father tending dinner nearby
who had learned by now to ignore his cry;
not Zitty Dave or even Will O'Shee,
who turned their backs on Neb's decree.
But stubborn Bella had glimpsed the predator too,
and her trilling shrieks roused the villagers anew.
Mother and Father snapped up from their sups,
dropping their plates, cracking the cups,
and bustled out the narrow back door,
clambering, scrambling toward Bella's uproar.
Farmer Mog arrived there first,
hoe in hand, honed for the worst,
and hurled the tool at the leering lupine
and sent it howling with a withering whine.
"Thank ye, young miss," said Farmer Mog with cheer,
then less kindly to Neb, "She's the true hero here."
This unexpected praise hurt Neb's ego,
and he later addressed his sister with a sudden veto:
No longer could she follow on his excursions,
engage in his games, forays, or diversions.
She could not watch his tricks or partake in his schemes.
She must entertain herself by more mundane means.
These words wounded the girl — she didn't understand —
and to her enduring credit she tried to demand
that Neb at once accept her back into his fold,
but he impassively said, "Just do as you're told."
Neb soon embarked on a new stint of transgressions
that became anarchic, indulgent aggressions.
His mother tried to curb him with talks and demands,
his father with weighted words and bare open hands,
but Neb was incurable and resisted correction;
naught in the real world could change his direction.
Two weeks passed after the lupine prowler.
Neb's attitude worsened. His antics grew fouler.
The blackest of moods absorbed his days,
festered inside, bound his heart in malaise,
as he found himself past the hill by his home
in the wilds of seclusion to ramble and roam.
On this particular eve, at the time of the owl,
the moon clove the sky, the cloud's scudding cowl.
Fog draped the forests and mist wrapped the moors,
as Neb as expected neglected his chores.
But his schemes of mischief were stunted soon
by a singular shadow that silhouetted the moon.
Wings like a bat braced that bright silver orb,
a dangling emblem of evil to wholly absorb
every inkling of fear in his watery bones,
and then it dropped down like a load of stones.
"Go away!" rang Neb's voice over the dale,
but if his cries were heard they failed to prevail,
except to entice the fiend lingering overhead,
gliding gracefully as something that heaven had shed.
Neb sprinted faster than ever in all of that year,
springing gaping holes, banks slippery and sheer,
bypassing springs all twisted like ebony snakes,
skirting chortling cricks and reed-riddled lakes.
But the hunter above flew arrow-fast and true,
and wherever Neb floundered the horrid thing knew,
until Neb finally collapsed at the crest near his home,
glimpsing firelight nearby where salvation shone.
But flapping leather blew a breeze through his hair.
Something settled nearby with crackling flair.
Neb was too stricken to turn and look,
so plastered in place, he shivered and shook
as teeth-chattering chills chased up his spine,
wracks of despair like a cold grasping vine.
"What are you?" he croaked, his throat hoarse and raw,
and the creature responded by outstretching a claw,
and spread its wings to blot the moon's gibbous gleam,
while Neb huddled, befuddled, and prayed it all a bad dream.
"NOT A DREAM," quoth a voice from his soundless confider,
silkily spun within his soul like the spinnerets of a spider.
"I'VE WATCHED YOU," it rasped, hobbling nearer,
creaking, clacking, clearly superior,
a shadow of maliciousness detached from space,
steaming frostily from a still-featureless face.
"YOU HAVE YOUR GAMES," said the voice, "EACH JUBILANT JEST.
I'VE WATCHED. I'VE LISTENED. I KNOW YOU THE BEST.
MEN'S THOUGHTS FLUTTER TO ME LIKE A FEATHERED RAVEN
AND I SNATCH THEM UP, ENCAGE THEM AND SAVE THEM,
UNTIL SUCH A TIME AS A WINDOW IS OPEN
AND I REVISIT THOSE WHO'VE UNWISELY SPOKEN.
BLAME ONLY YOURSELF, AND THEN BE DONE WITH IT.
QUIVER AND GIBBER, FOR I AM THE SNIZZERWIT!"
Neb screamed shrilly, words torn from his mouth,
and his rousing release spilled duly down south
to the cozy quaint cottage where he had been born
and Bella bolted up as if she'd heard a harsh horn.
She leapt to her feet with a prayer to the Lord,
gazing aghast to darkness abhorred,
but saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing odd,
yet began to ascend the steep grassy knob,
sure beyond doubt that she'd heard Neb cry,
the pitiful plea of one soon destined to die.
"What do you want?" asked Neb, struggling away,
but cruelly sharp claws compelled him to stay.
"JUST YOU," hissed the virulent voice,
"MY FONDEST, MY FINEST, MY FAVORITE FIRST CHOICE."
"But why?" the jaded juvenile wailed,
but even to him the answer availed.
"I THINK YOU KNOW, MY STELLAR STUDENT.
MY PUPIL, DISCIPLE, THE ANSWER IS LUCENT.
BUT HARK! HERE ARRIVES SOMEONE TO SAVE YOU!
SO CRY OUT! SHOUT OUT! PLEASE STRUGGLE ANEW!"
So Neb loosed the scream lodged in his throat,
but his loathsome captor continued to gloat.
"NO ONE CAN HELP YOU MY NEFARIOUS YOUNG FRIEND.
THIS IS THE FINISH, THE FINALE, THE FOREGONE END.
KNOW THAT WHAT ONE SAYS DEFINES WHO YOU ARE,
AND THE DEEDS ONE EXHIBITS CARRY YOU FAR.
YOU'VE DONE QUITE WELL, BUT WE'LL TEACH YOU MORE.
WITH US YOU'LL SKULK BY THE SKY'S STARRY SHORE,
ATTENDING TO WHISPERS OF EACH EARTHBOUND LIE,
AND HERE ONE DAY YOU'LL DUTIFULLY FLY
TO INFLICT THE SAME FATE YOU'LL SOON KNOW,
SO WATCH CLOSE THIS GREAT AND SECRET SHOW."
Neb began to beg, plead and whine,
attempting anything to anchor more time,
but the hunched hulk seemed immune to barter,
and to Neb's benumbed ears it chuckled even harder.
Bella brave Bella still trudged up the slope,
drawn to desperate sounds of struggling hope,
until she saw a shape that no setting should yield,
an oily black angel crouched by Neb in a field.
Its face was nothing more than featureless smooth slate,
missing eyes to spy or a mouth to spout hate,
just two jagged horns twisting up from its head
to frame a skeletal skull betwixt twin arcs of dread.
Neb saw his sister, and her eyes sought he,
interlocked o'er the meadow in abject empathy.
"Bella!" he screamed. "Do something quick!
The Snizzerwit's here and this is truly no trick!"
He stretched out a hand, but too little too late,
for Neb foolish Neb had invited his fate.
Crooked wings unfolded and with its new acquisition
the thief launched skyward with uncanny precision,
Neb dangling like a fish in its heinous hooked claws,
convulsing with fear, condemned by his flaws,
acutely aware of Bella wailing below,
hurling up the hill as if hoping to stow
upon the Snizzerwit's slick gleaming back
and retrieve her brother from its tenuous track.
But quickly too quickly the winged thing escaped,
dwindling, dwindling, its form unshaped,
in skidding clouds layered lush, thick and low
that illumed the moon in a milky halo.
Bella, grieving, turned her face from the sky,
and with nothing to stop her, she started to cry.
Such was the fate of the boy who cried Snizzerwit,
and to any who doubt I suggest you not to dismiss it.
Few folks regretted Neb's abrupt disappearance,
the boy who'd spread dread with such perseverance.
Farmer Mog assumed he'd been eaten by a bear,
wiped his hands clean, said that wasn't so rare.
Pretty Peg McPratt might have missed his presence,
but took the tidings with quiet acquiescence.
Will O'Shee and Zitty Dave couldn't help but fret,
and stayed inside before the sun had set,
fearing that Neb lurked beyond death's door
waiting to torment them worse than before.
Neb's Mother and Father mourned nearly the most,
lamenting Neb's loss, his unhallowed ghost,
but for months young Bella fared far the worst,
suffering night terrors as if incurably cursed,
barely uttering a word, peep, or glimmer,
withdrawn in a room ever grim, dim and dimmer.
Only once did she speak of the thing she'd seen:
the razor claws, the no-face, the blackest black wing.
When asked what had happened to the older boy,
she told them straight-faced absent passion or ploy
that the Snizzerwit had risen from the heart of the night
and abducted her brother on its nocturnal flight.
It was assumed she followed the route of her kin,
a path of lies, misdirection and salacious sly sin.
But the opposite was true: Bella trod a straight path,
never to forget the Snizzerwit's wrath.
She never told a fib nor condemned other's flaws,
never laughed at misfortune or snickered at laws.
She never spawned cruel tricks on neighborhood pets,
never burdened her parents or doubled their debts.
It was a lesson she had learned, however harsh,
that ended a trend of fallacy and farce.
So remember that your deeds are seen high and low,
both honest endeavors and ones you'd rather not show.
Neb learned the hard way that life is not always fair,
and Bella treasured the last gift her brother did share.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading the story above! If you enjoyed it, check out some of my other work below! And please don't forget to hit the ❤ button below and subscribe!
About the author
I am a writer, artist and poet from North Carolina. I recently self published a children's/YA book called Harold and the Dreadful Dreams. You can learn more about it at my blog https://jmhauser.com, as well as other projects.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme