'Hamlet’s Story Must Be Told'
The Sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
~ A Novel ~
“The rest is silence,” were the final spoken words of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, before his tragic life’s ending. Upon these final words, the story of all that transpired within Hamlet’s mind and at Elsinore Castle died in that final breath. Those at the castle that witnessed the circus of destruction only recall brief glimpses of the royal party’s fall.
Upon the promise to a prince, Horatio holds a story within him that the world must know. He carries the memories and knowledge that would shed light on the darkness of a collapsed and plagued empire. Now it is up to him to make sure that Hamlet's story be told to clear his name from the perceptions of madness.
In 'Hamlet’s Story Must Be Told', written in two parts, the mystery is finally unearthed with what transpires after the fall of the Danish Empire. The first part, The Elsinore Confessions, reveals the confessions of the staff within the castle, who witnessed events that were previously undocumented in the play. These candid, illuminating confessions bleed truth into what the main characters and royal family themselves may not have experienced during the actions of the play. The second part, Horatio’s Saga, tells the story, through Horatio’s eyes, of his experience to do what he was destined by Hamlet to do, “tell Hamlet’s story.” Through the streets of London, Horatio looks to connect with publishers willing to circulate his controversial manuscript containing the events from Denmark, as well keep himself alive and out of the capture of the Danish Royal Guards, and the English government, who are also entwined into the hurricane of blame.
Copyright 2013 Dan Jammal
Excerpt from 'Hamlet's Story Must Be Told'
This story must be told, as he said to me before passing on to the undiscovered country. “Report me and my cause aright to the unsatisfied. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity a while, and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, to tell my story.” These were his words, no more, yet no less than needed, in the exact uttering from his lips before those most tragic of events in the history of Denmark. And I was witness to it all, given the privilege of every look and virtue. With every instruction that left his mouth, he was correct in thought and moving. It is not enough to say that he was a most excellent man, but a man like no other. He was a gifted scholar, a loyal son, and the Prince of Denmark.
But now, the sun has set on his futures’ horizon and Lord Hamlet forever sleeps and dreams; I know not where. Did he have a proper burial? Was he honored the way that I would have honored him? I will never know.
As the sun had set on my own day, the most dreadful of days when the prince took his last breath, I received word from a loyal follower of Lord Hamlet that those still faithful to his Uncle Claudius, the brief and tyrant king, would do all in their power to keep my lips sealed and his name righteous. Even as Claudius himself was dead at those same moments and clearly shown to be a king of lies, he still has loyal followers.
In his dying request, Lord Hamlet asked of me to tell his story, to make sure that his name, and that of his family, would live long in the good health of all minds. I was to speak with the now king, Fortinbras, that same dreadful evening and disclose to him everything that I had seen and known, from the mouth and mind of Lord Hamlet. Yet, I was informed of the attempt on my life if I even went near King Fortinbras, let alone pass one word his way through sound or paper. I grew wise on a moment’s whim and fled Denmark for more familiar grounds, to spare my life and be able to tell the story I was born and prophesized to tell.
“…And I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, my heart of heart, as I do thee.” These were the words and the friendship with Lord Hamlet that I had worked so hard to maintain, as one of his significance will not be seen for generations and centuries to come. And yet, now he is no longer, and with no heir to fulfill the coming of another great soul. Thus, my call to action is worth more than money can purchase, and even more than my own life and history. It is here, in England, where the rotten Claudius once sent the Lord Hamlet to end his glorious life that I now hide to bring him back to life once again. I could not imagine if he had made it to England, what would be of his history. His story will be told, and as I am alive and breathing, all will be made aware of his dying wish and the oceans of words that will bring the tides of truth.
This dark and hidden alehouse in the deepest and most questionable part of London is musty and rank. The putrid smells quicken the pace of my heart and increase this paranoia that rests in my mind that I cannot escape. Even as London is familiar ground for me, I am still surrounded by nerves, as fears fill my hollow heart of possibly being captured by those who would do anything and everything to keep my lips sealed, and hands frozen, from spreading the words of Lord Hamlet.
I am to wait for two men who are supposed to meet me here to hopefully discuss the publishing of the almost completed manuscript of all the happenings in the last days of Lord Hamlet’s Denmark. These men are said to be fair, and publish only the most true and heralded works by men who have a voice to be heard. They have been cunning enough to publish manifestos of great importance and political significance of the rebellions, and even spread word from the richest of the rich to the smallest and poorest of the classes. Once I informed them of my arrival here in London, they made sure to send word to me about their interest in the events that unfolded in Denmark, as countries from all around are in awe at the stories and events that have been spread from word of mouth alone as one breath travels through the winds of the oceans to distant shores. If only I knew what John Heminges and Henry Condell looked like so I could be prepared to trust them within our first meeting. I can only assume they will be men of discreet appearance to hide as I hide. But their eyes will tell what their nerves are screaming, as I also cry out into the night through the black of my head’s windows.
Voices come and go all around me and I keep a constant watch for what I hope to be my salvation from this gift of knowledge, yet also a curse, within these hands. The smells of death have already touched the floors of this establishment, as I can see the stains within the wooden planks whose corners begin to turn towards the heavens repenting their own involvement in the lives that have been taken. I am uneasy, but in this situation, I do not think that I will ever know what feeling comfortable and safe may be like ever again.
The door opens and closes with a loud pop every time it is used, and this shady establishment seems to attract many patrons in these late hours. Even as the nights are cool, men still wander to their pubs to warm themselves away from their wives, whether into the arms of a pint of ale or a whore. My coat warms me well enough, as it also hides the document bag that protects what I have in ink to this point. These words lost, with my life, would be a failure to the mission I am on. Lord, give me the will to carry on and grant me even half of the power Lord Hamlet did possess.
The hour has come and passed when these men were scheduled to meet me. I sense foul play and can only assume that if interrogated, they would offer up my name and location to spare their lives. I am no one, and this story may find its way around this globe without my mind. So what is to lose, as everything is to gain when being spared their lives? I must begin to assume they will not appear, and begin to make my plan for exit so that I will not be seen. I steal a glance around the entire establishment, and see no immediate threat. No eyes gaze in my direction that I can see. I slowly stand and begin to look to see if any stand when I rise. No movement in reaction to my own. I begin to move in the direction of the door, slowly and alert within my senses, yet no one seems to be looking my way. As I near the door, I see several sketchy men look within my direction. Their eyes burn at my face as they glance so intently. What to do? Are these the men who have been waiting upon my leaving and will look to follow me into the night and take me down when the time is right and the shadows of this black evening encompass my walk? I head out of the door quickly and walk across the street to the storefront on the opposite side and hide in a shadow of a doorway watching to see who will come out the door after me. Within moments, two men exit, and look around intently. These men must be looking for me. But as soon as they peer in either direction, one man reaches into his coat pocket looking for what I can assume to be a weapon to peel away my life as they track me down. Lucky am I that I sought shelter and did not leave myself exposed to the night’s light. When his hand comes from the coat, he is holding what looks to be a smoking pipe. As his friend lifts a flame in his direction, they light it and pass it back and forth commencing in honest laughter and telling the stories of their day.
Now my decision on what I should do is a mystery even to myself. These men, Heminges and Condell, were believed to be the only men who would publish the story and were brave enough not to fear persecution, execution or a history of being labeled radicals against the government. They know not where I am staying while I am here, and I hope that they will attempt to contact me for this opportunity through the secretive channels we have engaged in. These words will need to be circulated to the world; Lord Hamlet will be heard if it is the last thing that I will do with the final beats of my heart. I will retreat for now until I can try and make contact once again with these men and try this secretive meeting once more.
These streets of London are far more terrifying than those of Denmark. Even in Denmark, when there is no one to trust, one can find a place to hide to keep from the eyes and ears of the state. But here in London, I feel as if the walls and cobblestones on the uneven ground all have eyes and ears, and observe every step I take. Then with the information they gather, they wash their thoughts to the homeless bums who drink of their waters and collect the thoughts of my existence. I know that I am being hunted by those faithful to the former King Claudius, as they do not want his image slandered. But if they only knew the words that I have almost completely writ, they would end their hunt for me and move forth to protect the new king of Denmark. I only wish I could have just lasted one more day in the presence of the Danes, as I would have told newly crowned King Fortinbras all that I had seen and was told. I can only hope that even as I have gone, that others have stepped up to the throne and shared their stories with the king and informed him of the evil man that Claudius truly was. I can only hope, and pray.
Yet now, I am here, in the streets of London, all by myself, hoping to survive with the only documented words of Lord Hamlet. And these words will be read; I will make certain of that. These streets may bring me to the edge of my sanity and attempt to push me from the cliff, but I will endure and do what must be done. There is not one human who can stop the movement of the wind.
But soft, it appears again, within my walk, cast several feet before me; the apparition. Like the image of his father that walked the night in Denmark, Lord Hamlet has now for a second time appeared to me here in the streets of London. What shall I do? The first time he appeared to me, I ran as if I were on the brink of losing all my wits, but I realized shortly after how foolish I was. I have seen the spirits before when King Hamlet appeared to me, so it should not have affected me as it did. I can only attribute the shock I experienced to the high-strung nerves and rapid pulse of my veins I have felt since being here in London. This second visitation must happen, as he needs, as I know that it is for my education.
I fall to my knees in this dark and empty alley and wrap my arms around my body to contain all that I have left of my emotional structure. Bowing my head to him, so that I may prove my loyalty and admiration, I remain still. “What is your will, my Lord, that I may command upon this still living world and do for your honor?” Peace stays still, and all I hear are distant, muffled voices that do not pose a threat to this visitation. I slowly shift my head up to see what is happening, as he is silent still. As I come close to level, I see his feet float closer to me, with movement over the air, yet when there is no movement from him. In fear, I lower my head once again, as I cannot look upon what the ghostly world may have done to him. I hold steady and wait for what could be a command, or further information that I may convey to the world. If it were not for the visitation of King Hamlet in Denmark, I may not be strong willed enough to contain my nerve and allow this to be. Regardless, I shake as if frozen, and breathe shallow, quick-paced breathes.
“Horatio… my excellent friend. I am here to warn you… that you do not have much time left. Those that would silence my history… are afoot and search for you even now.” His words enter the air as slow as the time that passes in this eternity. “I have seen it writ that you shall be with me soon, and I look upon our meeting with great honor… for what you have at hand must be done and I trust in you to keep the promise you have made.”
Silence falls and I wait for a moment to collect my nerve. Slowly I look up once again, and see that he is drifting away into the darkness of the alley ahead. As quick as I can, I yell to him “My lord, I thank thee for your advanced warning and will in all my power, do all that is within my blood and soul to make your words known to the world. You can trust in me my prince.”
As I looked up to see the beauty of his face, that would look upon me as a brother more than a friend, I catch his eyes for just one moment before he disappears into the night air. Those blue globes were not unlike the same that I saw before his life was ended. They were certain, worldly, deeper than the ocean’s depths and as solid as the universe in the sky. Even as his spirit walks in the night, I can see that there is some semblance of peace in his ever-present soul. He looked as I last saw him, dressed in nights cloak, with his beard as full to the chin as it was in the golden hew of his ancestor’s complexion.
Copyright 2013 Dan Jammal
'O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.'
~ Hamlet, Act V, Scene II
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