For the record, I did actually write this last Thursday during a layover on my way to Austin. Alas, I had zero time to get it posted last week, so it gets this week’s slot — the last #FridayFlash before NaNoWriMo! Crazy stuff! If you’re in the mood for more Halloween/Horror-themed stories, check out my archive. Would love any feedback anyone has to offer. Thanks, enjoy, and be sure to check out the other #FridayFlash entries this week!
HANSEL & GRETEL, ON SECOND THOUGHT
As the two children sprinted from the cottage, the aroma that had first attracted them caught their attention once again. The boy’s pace slowed until he stood, still breathing in the sugar and spice — only yards away from the prison they’d just left.
“What are you doing?” the girl asked, her voice in a shouting whisper, as if she feared the old woman might still come after them.
It was a moment before the boy spoke, as he carefully considered his words.
“It’s a shame for all of it to go to waste,” he said finally.
The girl looked at him warily. It was that sort of thinking that had gotten them into the predicament they’d just escaped in the first place.
“And now there’s even a proper meal to be had, not just dessert,” he continued.
“That’s awful…” she said. But, after gorging on sweets, she did have to admit the thought of succulent, tender meat sounded nothing short of incredible.
“Look, if she was so intent on going to all the trouble of having flesh herself, it must be worth it, don’t you think?”
“She was a witch!”
“Was she? We never saw her do any actual magic, you know.”
The girl paused. He had a point. To fatten them up for the slaughter — and then her feast — the woman had only used methods like you’d see on any farm nearby.
“Do you smell that?” he asked, interrupting her own train of thought.
The scent of the meat was now drifting toward them, and the girl began to salivate as the savory-sweet air met her nostrils. She refused to meet her brother’s eyes.
“I can see it on your face,” he said. “You want it, too.”
“It wouldn’t be right,” she said, her voice even quieter than before.
“What was it our stepmother used to say? It’s a dog eat dog world, right? Well, what are we if not abandoned mongrels?”
“Our father loved us,” the girl argued, but her words were void of passion, which had run out many days and breadcrumbs ago.
“Our father let a stranger kick us out because she didn’t want to feed us or shelter us or deal with our messes. If that doesn’t make us dogs, it certainly doesn’t make us human.”
He turned to the cottage once again. “I’m going back,” he said.
He began stomping toward it without waiting for a response. The girl didn’t move for a long while. Was her brother right? Who would take care of them now? Were they really no better than mongrel dogs running about town? Inside her, an anger grew. She would be better than dogs, dependent on the scraps of strangers. She walked toward the cottage.
Inside, she found her brother had already pulled off a charred roast, the bone still visible, as if it were nothing more than a leg of lamb.
“About time,” he said. “Of course, I’ve already done all the hard work.”
“Next time, we’ll split it,” she said.
The boy looked at her. She looked back, her eyes fierce. The boy smiled.
“How often do you think people come by here?”
“Often enough to live well, if the old woman was any indication.”
“Yes.” The girl nodded to herself. “I think we’ll do rather well here.”
The boy handed her one of the old woman’s forks and slid a piece of steaming meat onto her plate. She cut a small piece and daintily lifted it to her mouth. She took her time chewing, inhaling the meal’s bouquet to enhance the flavors bursting in her mouth. It was the best thing she’d ever tasted.