This is my #FridayFrights. The theme for September is Zombies, Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes. Oh, this is going to be fun...
An Un-Dead Tale
The Queen glared at the image staring back at her from the mirror. It was her image, but the her staring back had a bored look to her face, not the angry one she knew she was projecting.
“What do you mean I am no longer the fairest in the land? Revise your statement or I’ll shatter your cursed reflection to nothing but tiny shards.”
Her double yawned. “Do it, please. I get tired of the same question, day in, day out. Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? You really are quite vain you know. What’s wrong with being the second fairest, or the third? You’re the Queen, my dear. There is no one more admired in the kingdom than you.”
Regina leaned forward, her eyes misting. “Really? They admire me?”
Her reflection laughed, snorting pig like. She covered her mouth, looking embarrassed and then snickered again. “No, I lied. They despise you.”
“You are a bitch.” Regina picked up a paperweight she kept on her desk and raised it, ready to throw it at the mirror. She held her hand there a few moments, actually considering doing it, but in the end she just set the intended weapon down and sank into her chair, defeated.
Regina’s double sighed, her disappointment showing in her face. Mimicking the Queen, she sank into her own chair. “For a moment I thought you were going to do it.”
“And set you free? Not a chance.”
“Regina, leave the girl alone.”
Regina ignored the mirror. She stood and paced the room, thinking.
The Queen’s only response was to reach up and release the drape hitched to the side of the wall. It fell, blocking the mirror and the image trapped inside. Then she pulled another cord, summoning her steward.
“Yes, your Majesty?”
“Send me the Huntsman.”
“This way, Your Highness.” The Huntsman held out his hand, helping the princess through the forest. On the outside he appeared calm. He’d told the girl he was taking her to pick flowers… a bouquet to welcome the King home with. Inside he was waging a war with his conscience. The Queen had ordered him to kill the princess. He didn’t want to, but if he failed, the Queen would send someone else to do it… and she would have him killed as well.
“No sense two of us dying,” he thought. But he still didn’t like the idea. The princess was the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on and the queen, well she was hideous. At least on the inside. The outside, there was no denying she was beautiful, but he had no doubt that was an illusion. He’d heard that she bathed in the blood of virgins, which was why when he’d caught her admiring his daughter’s fair complexion and blond hair, he’d made sure to arrange for her immediate defiling. She’d pleaded with him not to make her… “I’m waiting for marriage, daddy,” but he’d paid Tom Foolery to take her virginity and he wasn’t about to change his mind.
So lost in thought was the Huntsman that he didn’t notice the tree root sticking up from the ground. He tripped over it and went sprawling.
“Oh, are you alright?” The princess dropped the flowers she’d been collecting and ran to help him to his feet.
“I am fine,” he said, “just embarrassed to be so clumsy.”
“It’s not your fault,” Snow White said. “That root is nearly hidden by the shrubbery and you have been being so kind, making sure I don’t fall.” She looked around. “This looks like a nice spot for a picnic. Why don’t we sit down and rest a bit?”
“I brought some sandwiches. Cook made them this morning.” Snow opened her satchel and pulled out some bread. “It’s not much, the Queen is planning a great party for father when he gets home and most of the food is designated for the ball.”
The Huntsman bit into one of the sandwiches. While he ate, the princess sang and his heart grew heavier. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and he started to cry.
“My dear Huntsman, what is the matter?” Falling at his knees, the princess wiped the tears from his face.
“I am sad,” he explained. “The queen has asked me to do something terrible. She wants me to kill someone that has done nothing wrong.”
“Are you sure?” Snow White asked. “That doesn’t sound like the Queen. She’s always been so kind to me.”
“She puts on a front for you, but she is evil.”
“I don’t believe you!” Snow White stood, angry at the Huntsman for lying. She clenched her fists, ready to demand that he take her home. The sunlight reached through the branches and reflected off of something in his hand. Realizing he had a knife, the princess screamed and fell back as he lunged forward. She raised her hands, expecting him to attack, but instead the Huntsman leaped over her, aiming for something behind her. She turned and saw that he had plunged the knife into a small boar.
The Huntsman looked up from his kill. “She wants me to bring your heart back. I can’t do it. She will probably kill me, if she finds out, but you are innocent and I cannot kill you.”
“What… I don’t understand.”
“It’s you, she ordered me to kill. Run, Snow White… RUN!”
Terrified, the princess turned, running as fast as she could. Behind her she heard the Huntsman urging her on, but also admonishing caution. “There are things in the forest,” he yelled, “dark creatures that the queen has created. If she finds out you are alive, she will send them for you.”
The princess ran for some time and lost track of where she was. Hopelessly lost, she found herself in a clearing with a small cottage. She knocked on the door, but no one answered. The sun was setting and she was afraid to be alone in the woods at night. The Huntsman’s warning about dark creatures echoed in her head. She’d heard rumors, but she’d always thought they were just stories, meant to keep children in at night, tales of un-dead creatures that lived in the forest. She knocked on the door again. When no one answered, she pushed the door open. She gasped at the mess inside.
“Who lives here, trolls?” She stepped inside and then shut the door behind her. There were seven chairs around the table and seven bowls of… something moldy. She wrinkled her nose. Who would live like this?
“Well, whoever it is, they are terrible housekeepers. Maybe they’ll let me stay here if I clean the place up.”
A few hours later, Snow White looked around the cottage. The dishes had been washed and she’d scrubbed the floors. She’d even managed to find something edible in the cupboards and was cooking a stew over the fire she’d stated in the hearth.
“Maybe I’ll take a quick nap.”
She stretched out across one of the beds… they were so small that she was sure it was a child’s bed… and fell asleep. She dreamed that she was being chased through the forest by invisible monsters. She ran and ran, but never seemed to get anywhere. When she woke, she sat up screaming. Next to her, other voices joined in, moaning with her screams. Aware that she wasn’t alone, she looked around and saw that there were seven small men surrounding her bed. Only these men were falling apart. She squinted, sure she was mistaken, but one of them was leaning in, leering at her. His breath reached her nose and she gagged at the stench that attacked her. His skin was putrid, black with rot and his nose was hanging on by the tiniest of threads. Then the small strand of skin that was holding it in place, broke and his nose landed in her lap.
To be continued next Friday.