The Beast

by , under Fiction Prompts, What Pegman Saw

As always happens when a dictator falls, there were rumors that he had escaped. Conflicting reports of the exeution, confusing photographs, a lack of a gravesite. He had held us in his wicked grip for twenty-five years. Countless victims arrested and tortured, thousands shot or merely vanished, Romania turned to a nation of informers leaping at shadows.

As the dust of history settles, certain things are always revealed. Secrets seldom die with their keepers. A chance meeting in Paris fifteen years ago had started me on this quest, and now I stand before him at last, this infamous tyrant consigned to the history books as a mere footnote to a crumbled empire.

He has asked me here to help confer a different kind of immortality than the one he now possesses, to write a story so fantastic it will be widely read, yet never proven.

Even in the candlelight I see he has not aged a day since 1989.

What Pegman Saw

Note:

Nicolae Ceausescu ruled Romania with an iron fist from 1965 until the collapse of Eastern Bloc communism in 1989. Ceausescu and his wife Elena fled, but were captured and shot by a hastily assembled firing squad on Christmas Day at an army base near Targoviste. 

The bodies were buried without fanfare, causing many Romanians and remaining family members to doubt whether the graves in Bucharest actually contained the dictator’s remains, or any remains at all.

Is it just me, or does this man look like a vampire?

  1. k rawson

    I love how you combined your gift for history with the Halloween theme. The language and voice are superb. Loved “Romania turned to a nation of informers leaping at shadows” especially.

    Reply
  2. pennygadd51

    Written with your usual panache! You’ve managed a clever tie-in of Ceaucescu with Dracula, and (by association) with Vlad, an earlier dictator with an iron fist.

    Reply
  3. Lynn Love

    Well, I remember him and though I’m no expert, that photo does look like him and definitely looks dead.
    As Penny says, your writing and tone are impeccable as always, though an immortal dictator is a rather terrifying prospect!

    Reply
  4. 4963andypop

    Becoming a vampire seems a fitting end/beginning for this scoundrel.

    I like how you have deliberately and skillfully conflated the stories of dictators and vampires, from the original Dracula and Bram Stoker’s supposed inspiration for Dracula, Vlad the Impaler (apparently he actually got the name from a footnote,in a rather boring historical text, that said “dracula” meant “devil” in a local language. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.biography.com/.amp/news/bram-stoker-dracula-vlad-impaler-myth) to Anne Rice’s interview with a Vampire to ceaucescu and your current biographer.

    A Vampire is a great metaphor for a dictator.

    Reply
  5. Joy Pixley

    I’ll echo the other comments: excellent writing, as always (the mood of the people is palpable) and great job making a horrible history even more horrible by merging it with the undead.

    Reply

Don't just stand there.