Deleted Stories: The Terror Of Sanson
“Wake up, Sanson. Wake up!”, said the voices, in unison, from the darkness of his chamber.
Sanson opened his heavy eyelids. They had come, just as the old Viscount had said.
Then he heard the snapping. Snap! Snap! Snap! Like mousetraps springing all around him.
“Who are you?”, he cried out in fear, “What do you want of me?”
But he knew. Sanson knew all too well.
It was during the final days of that time which people rightly call “The Terror”. Fewer citizens had gathered in La Place de la Revolution, that morning, to watch the noble heads roll. Gone was the cheering and the bloodlust of the crowds and the cackling old ladies in their phrygian caps with their clacking knitting needles. It had become an altogether more sombre and quiet affair; the work of Madame Guillotine.
Sanson, the executioner, had been like granite. He’d seen so many with their necks locked in the lunette; pulled the handle, called the declic, so many times and heard the thunder of the heavyweight, the mouton, and the oblique edged killing blade fall from the crossbar, divorcing their heads from their bodies that he, or one of his assistants, would then pick up and hurl into the red basket beside the scaffold.
“Before I die, Sanson. Let me tell you where I hid my fortune. I hid it in…”.
The blade fell once again, shearing the head of a viscount from his shoulders before he could finish his sentence.
“Imbecile!”, Sanson had thought angrilly, chastising himself and slapping his own forehead with the flat of his hand, “He was about to reveal to me where his fortune was hidden”.
Gaspard; one of his assistants picked up the head and was about to hurl it into the red basket as usual, when Sanson noticed it’s lips slowly moving, still whispering its secret.
Sanson had, for many months now been locked under a blade of his own. Mounting gambling debts that he hadn’t a hope of paying off.
Pushing Gaspard to one side, he seized hold of the Viscounts decapitated head.
“Eh? I must inspect it”, he mumbled, holding the moving mouth of the severed head up to his ear like some gruesome sort of seashell.
At first the dead Viscount just seemed to be laughing, although Sanson was no lip reader and without lungs for air, no sound was being produced by the Viscounts mouth and yet Sanson felt convinced upon inspecting the moving lips closely with his eyes that the old man was saying something; something that looked like “We will come for you”. Then, as Sanson was holding the head close to his face, he felt the burning of the Viscounts teeth biting hard into his nose.
“That Viscount”, Gaspard had said, trying to restrain his laughter, as Sanson clutched his bleeding nose, “They always said he was a bit of a joker”.
But it was no joke and the strange snapping in his darkened bed chamber was getting louder and more menacing as Sanson lit the oil lamp beside his bed and saw the heads of his many victims, floating like a ghastly armada in the darkness, even the pale and rotting crowned head of Louis XVI, snapping their jaws like nutcracker dolls as they drifted slowly closer.