Shivering, Erik stood atop the old stone bridge and threw the baby carrier over the thrashing river. A scream pierced the night and he could make out an old woman clutching her chest on the far bank. Why such a frail thing would be out at such a late hour was completely incomprehensible to Erik, but yet there she was. A witness. His brow furrowed and he clenched his teeth. As the woman dropped to her knees and began to scream, Erik quickly turned and hurried back towards the road.
In all regards, Erik Williams should have been happy. His wife, Stella, was expecting and he had just been promoted at work. His basketball team at the community center made the playoffs, and he was about to make his last car payment on the silver Lexus he drove.
The only thing that seemed to damper Erik’s happiness was the the lights. Erik would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and see little glowing pink lights floating outside his second story bedroom window.
The first time Erik saw the glowing pink lights, he had awoke in the sweaty throes of a nightmare and suddenly sat up. He caught a glimpse of the lights out of the corner of his eye, but by the time his eyes could adjust to being open they were gone. He dismissed that first encounter as nothing more than the residual drip of a fading nightmare.
It was months later before he next saw the lights. He woke slowly, having to pee. This time, he pried open his eyes and saw a gentle pink haze being cast into the room. The unearthly light floated into the room like a mist. As he sat up the lights suddenly disappeared. As he stumbled to the bathroom he noted that they did not vanish like a light would if it was being turned off. The lights actually moved away as if they were glowing hummingbirds suddenly darting away from reach.
The next day Erik began an online search into what he might be seeing. He first looked at all the medical advice sites, but no one else seemed to report any symptoms similar to his. He then typed the phrase “seeing pink lights at night” and suddenly everything changed. There were hundreds of search results based on personal blogs and such, all claiming they had seen pink lights watching them at night. A surprising number were published elsewhere in Oregon and in nearby Washington state. As Erik began clicking link after link, a strange pattern began to emerge. His stomach began to tighten and he swallowed hard. The one common thread was that everyone who saw the lights was expecting a child.
When Erik returned home from work that day, he told Stella about the things he had seen, but not about the search that he had done and it’s unsettling nature. Stella listened quietly and asked Erik if he thought he should make an appointment with their family ophthalmologist. He declined and laughed it off, saying that he was probably just predicting that their baby would be a girl and he had pink on the brain. Stella leaned over and kissed him on his forehead.
“Promise me that if you keep seeing things you’ll go get it checked out. I don’t want you dying on me, okay?”
“Me caveman. Me no need doctor.”
Stella laughed and gave him a gentle kick in the pants. “I’m serious, Erik. Promise?”
“Cross my heart.” Erik winked.
“Okay then. Now help me out in the kitchen, I need you to cut the squash.”
It was weeks later before he saw the lights again. Work had been busy, and he would often sleep through the night without waking at all. Once again, as he woke with that familiar weight in his bladder, he saw the room bathed in a soft pink haze. Erik closed his eyes and slowly turned over, so that he would face the window. His eyes slowly opened a crack, but the lights were gone. The room was cold, so he hesitantly began to brace himself for getting out of bed, and just as he was about to slide out from under the comforter, he noticed a small, floating pink orb slowly grow closer to his window.
Erik froze, fully awake now, and watched as the pink glowing thing seemed to slowly move back and forth along the sill of the window, as if it was looking for something. Thoughts began to race – was it a flashlight? Why was it pink? How was it moving like that? Is it a bug? Fireflies? They don’t live west of Kansas. Laser pointer? I should see the beam then. What is that? Am I seeing things. Are my eyes messed up?
As Erik watched, the pink glowing luminescence was soon joined by another of its kind, then another, and another. Soon, the window was alight with the soft glow of cotton candy-colored lights floating back and forth. Wonder and suspicion soon gave way to basic primal needs, and Erik suddenly sat up as the pressure in his groin was growing rapidly. The lights immediately scattered, flitting for cover to the nearest side of the window. Erik ran over to the window and watched in amazement as he saw the lights zig-zag through the night sky as if they were jets trying to shake an enemy plane. Erik’s breath started to fog up the window, and the horror stories he read on the internet earlier that day suddenly became a little bit more than just stories.
As Erik relieved himself, he couldn’t help but recall all the countless tales that he had initially written off at absurd writings from obviously disturbed people. Grown adults claiming that they had seen fairies? Ridiculous. But the way that those lights seemed to fly away acting like they were afraid of being seen..well, it was hard to deny your own vision.
By morning, everything seemed like it was all a dream. Erik got a call from one of the partners informing him about a successful bid, so he left a note for Stella letting her know he’d be home late and completely forgot about the strange incident with the pink lights as he devoured his breakfast and hopped in the car. As he sped along the highway towards his firm’s office, project proposals, permit acquisitions, and blueprints filled his thoughts, and fae creatures were the furthest thing from his mind.
Over the next few months, Erik saw the strange pink lights a few more times, but like always, as soon as he moved, they would fly away. Blaming it on the stress, Erik would slink back to sleep, castaway in a sea of dreams.
Stella’s delivery was as smooth as anyone could hope. A short labor, a healthy new son, and no complications for the mother. Erik was on top of the world. They named their new son Jacob, and the 9 pound boy was the cutest kid in the maternity ward. Even when he was crying, Jacob was adorable, and already he had little strands of brilliant blond hair sprouting from his crown.
After Stella’s quick recovery, the proud parents bundled up their new love and drove home a bit exhausted and weary, but with smiles etched onto their faces. The first night home was surprisingly peaceful. Little Jacob snored and slept through the entire night in his little crib. Stella stood over the stark white crib and smiled. Erik came up beside her and wrapped her in a blanket. Soon, the new family was asleep, the soft rhythm of their breathing ushering in the night.
The first few weeks of their life with Jacob were surprisingly easy. He very rarely cried and he seemed to sleep at night and giggle at things during the day. As the weather warmed, Stella began to take him on walks, and he would always stare out of his stroller and smile in amazement at all the magical new things he saw. He seemed to really enjoy nature and so Stella began to take longer walks that would wind through the trails in the nearby forest.
One night, a warm summer breeze rolled into town, and Erik and Stella lounged on their porch with fresh mint mojitos in hand watching the moon rise high into the sky. Jacob laid in his crib behind them, gurgling and cooing. As their drinks were drained, the couple made their way back inside. As Erik showered, Stella placed Jacob in his crib and opened the window to let the steamy air escape outside. The family slept deeply that night.
The next day, Erik and Stella awoke to screaming coming from Jacob’s crib. They rushed over to see their son red-faced and kicking. His diaper was dry and he wouldn’t nurse from Stella, which confounded the couple. The concerned parents tried rocking the little child, felt for a fever, offered teething rings and pacifiers, but nothing seemed to comfort him. It was almost as if it wasn’t the same child at all.
Stella, out of options, suggested that taking Jacob for a walk might relax him. As she began to push the stroller, Erik went to lock the door. Only then, after looking back up at their bedroom did he take a moment to pause and consider the fact that their bedroom window was left open for the first time since he had seen the pink lights.
As they got closer and closer to the forest, amazingly Jacob began to calm down. His wails slowly faded and as they approached their usual path he even began to giggle.
“It’s almost as if he’s more at home out here than at home,” Stella said. Erik nodded in agreement and Jacob looked up and smiled.
By the time the family had made their lap through the familiar path, Jacob had calmed down and was fast asleep. Still slightly confused by their son’s sudden outburst, Stella and Erik walked in silence on the short trek back to their house. As Erik looked back at the forest, prior thoughts pushed aside and trivialities previously discarded were now suddenly taking on a new importance. Expecting parents. Pink lights. An open window. Fairies. The forest.
Erik rushed to his computer and revisited his search from months prior. Hadn’t he read something about changelings? Fae offspring being exchanged for human children? While the sheer absurdity of believing crackpot accounts of paranormal child abductions seemed crazy, wasn’t it all too much of a coincidence?
As Erik opened search result after result, link after link, his suspicions and terror soon grew as more similarities began to show themselves. Every report of seeing the pink lights was close to a forest, and every person seeing them was expecting a child. Each of these children, once born, had blond hair and soon after had a change in personality.
Night fell. Erik stood over Jacob’s crib, staring at the sleeping child. He studied every minute detail. Had Jacob always had that small birthmark on his right ear? Wasn’t he a bit plumper? Erik wiped at his eyes and told himself that he was being ridiculous. Fairies didn’t exist, and Jacob was probably just teething or something. That wouldn’t exactly explain why he calmed down as they approached the forest, but maybe it had something to do with the fresh air?
“Maybe I’m just tired from the early wake-up call. We’ve been fortunate so far – maybe the shock of having to wake up and actually tend to his Jacob for once was just messing with my head.” Erik turned to see Stella already deep in sleep, and realized he was just talking to himself. He joined Stella in bed and quickly lost himself in dark dreams.
Erik woke suddenly to the sound of laughter. Dark, scornful, high-pitched laughter. He sat up in bed to see floating pink balls of light hovering above his bed. He quickly looked towards the window, left ajar in the summer heat.
“Honey.” Erik gently rocked Stella’s shoulder. “Stel, wake up!” Stella groaned, but would not wake up. “What do you want? What did you do with Jacob?” Erik continued to nudge his sleeping wife, a bit harder this time.
“We..took him.” Barely audtible, each syllable was stretched painfully long making a faint, snake-like hiss. Erik couldn’t tell which ball of light was talking, or maybe it was all of them talking at once?
“Why? What do you want? How can we get him back?” Erik was frantic now. “Stella!” She just murmured and turned over.
“Shh. Will wake..soon.” Laughter.
“You bastards, what did you do to her?” Erik threw off the covers and swung his legs over the edge of the bed to stand. His hands darted towards the floating lights but they easily avoided him. More of that taunting, hateful laughter.
“She will..wake soon.”
“Damn you. What do you want with my son?”
“Lovely child. We..like..pretty things.” The lights danced around the room, making arcs and loops. They were enjoying this.
“What do I have to do to get him back?” Erik tried to hide the desparation in his voice.
“Tend to this one. Your..medicine..strong.”
“So if we take care of this child, you’ll return Jacob?”
“Yes.” The fairie sounded like a snake being skinned alive.
“How do I know you’ll keep your word?” The fairies laughed and began to spin around the room. “What kind of medicine does it need?”
Suddenly, they all rushed towards the window. Erik suddenly leaped to close the window but the fairies were much too fast. By the time he even reached the glass pane the pink lights were already fading into the depths of the forest. Sweat rolled into his eye, burning. As he wiped at his eyes, he could hear Stella begin to stir.
“Sweetie?” Stella called out, groggily. Erik looked back towards the bed. “Did you get cold and want to close the window?”
Erik exhaled. He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath. “I…I’m fine.”
Stella approached him to embrace him. As he hands reached his shoulders, she suddenly recoiled. “Jeez, Erik, you’re soaking wet! Are you feeling alright?” Stella quickly put her hand to Erik’s forehead. “You’re burning up, let’s get you in some dry clothes and back to bed.” Erik stumbled towards the dresser, and began to peel off his t-shirt. Suddenly, his eyelids felt heavy..oh so heavy.
Erik groaned and as he tried to sit up he felt a twang of pain come from his left hand. As his eyes adjusted to the dim lights, he could hear beeps and air being released and saw a tube extending from his hand to a sack of fluids suspended above his head.
“Erik, honey? Are you awake?” Erik was suddenly aware of Stella’s presence. She sat up in her vinyl-backed hospital chair and folded up the magazine she was reading.
“Yeah, I’m up. What happened?” His head pounded, and he felt surprisingly chilly despite the fact that there were at least two blankets, maybe more, piled atop him.
“You were about to change and you just passed out. Scared me half to death. I managed to slow your fall so you didn’t bash your head on the floor, but you nearly took me along with you.” Stella smiled warmly at him. Erik managed a meek smile back.
“Guess I gotta lay off the ice cream.” Erik squinted a few times and rubbed his sinuses. “Ug, I feel like hell. What’s wrong with me?”
“The doctor said it’s a severe bacterial infection. Basically a cold on steroids. You were extremely dehydrated and feverish, thus the IV.” Stella placed her hand on Erik’s forehead its coolness made Erik sign in relief. “You’re still pretty warm, but with the antibiotics, the nurse said you should break your fever soon.”
“Thanks for taking care of me, Stel.”
“Of course, silly.” Stella leaned over and kissed Erik’s forehead. “No dying on me, okay Mr. Caveman?” Erik chuckled and closed his eyes. “Get some rest now. It’s 4am.”
“That early?” Erik shifted in his bed. “Sorry I kept you up.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just go back to sleep.”
“I love you Stel.”
“Love you too, honey.” Stella sat back down and sent a smile Erik’s way one last time before she reclined into the darkness of the hospital room.
Erik closed his eyes and tried to think of something other than the pounding in his temples and the congestion in his nose. He was surprised that he didn’t remember how he had even gotten to the hospital at all, or falling, or.. Erik’s eyes flew open.
The memories of the pink lights and their sinister little whispering rushed into sharp focus. They had given him instructions. Take care of their child, and they’d return Jacob. But would they return him alive or even in one piece? He remembered their cold, cruel laughter and shivered. Where was Jacob?
“He’s at home with Amy. As soon as I got off the phone with 911 I called mom, and she called Amy for me. I packed you up into the ambulance just as she was arriving.”
“That’s good. Remind me to send your sister a thank-you card.”
“I will. Now get some rest. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Stel.” Erik closed his eyes again. He wondered if it was all a dream. Creepy talking fairies, Stella not being able to wake up – it was all too crazy to believe. Maybe he was just feverish and hallucinated the whole thing. If he was sick enough to pass out, he was probably sick enough to conjure up all his fears into some grand mirage. Yes, that was it. He had merely created his own little hallucination after reading too many anecdotes of fairies replacing babies with their own fairy-children. Mix those stories with a crazy cold and Jacob crying for the first time and you get one beast of a hallucination. This thought comforted Erik, and soon he was sleeping once more.
After Erik was mostly recovered and back home, he noticed that Jacob was crying more and more. Even if Stella would take him for a walk through the woods, Jacob would still shift restlessly in his stroller. He also seemed to be losing weight rapidly. Their pediatrician examined Jacob and could find nothing wrong with the child. Stella and Erik were stumped. Erik’s paternity leave was rapidly coming to and end, and he wanted to figure out what was wrong with the child so Stella wouldn’t be left alone dealing with the crying baby.
As the days progressed with no new developments or ideas, Erik once again began to question the validity of what happened the night he had gotten sick. Had he really hallucinated the visit from the fairies? They did mention that human medicine was strong, but the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with the child. How could he medicate a child for some unknown illness?
Erik decided that he needed to put his fears to rest once and for all. If he could just test to see if the child was a changeling, he could simply dispel his ridiculous notion that his child had been kidnapped and get on with finding what was really ailing his son. After consulting some old books concerning the occult and fairies at the library, he determined that he would test a few mythological folktales about the things fairies hated. After a trip to the local herbalist and a long drive up to his aunt’s ranch, he was ready.
It was late and Stella was already asleep by the time Erik arrived back home. He thought it would be the perfect time to do his silly little test without her ever knowing about how stupid he was being letting himself be swayed by folk tales and blogs of anonymous wackos. Erik approached Jacob’s crib to find the child sleeping soundly. A rare occasion indeed. He slowly reached into the paper bag he was carrying, trying not to make much rustling. First, he removed a jar of dried St. John’s Wort. He quietly unscrewed the glass jar and took a pinch of the herb and held it close to Jacob’s skin. Erik shook his head as he replaced the herbs back in its container.
Erik then removed the old cast-iron horseshoe from the bag. He had read that fairies were especially sensitive to iron and horseshoes in particular. He held the cool metal object in his hand and began to move it closer to the sleeping baby. He moved slowly and tentatively, making sure that his grip was firm on the heavy horseshoe.
Suddenly, a low guttural snarl came from the crib and the child began to squirm. Erik quickly pulled back and the child was still again. A sick twisting feeling grew in Erik’s gut and he once again slowly moved the iron closer to the sleeping child. The guttural moan was apparent again. Erik swallowed hard and gently brushed the horseshoe against the child’s skin.
The thing shrieked and writhed, its eyes flashing open. Teeth exploded into the thing’s mouth where no teeth should have been, and shriveled stone-grey flesh lived where pink baby fat should have been. The changeling looked up at Jacob, it’s glowing yellow eyes burning with rage.
“It hurts me!!”
“I..I didn’t mean to, I just wanted to know-”
“What’s going on in here?” Erik looked up to see Stella sitting up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“Stel, uh, I…” Erik stammered, and quickly turned back to the changeling. The creature hissed, taking Erik by surprise. His grip on the horseshoe failed for a moment and the piece of metal fell onto the changeling’s chest. It began to bawl.
“Erik!” Stella was suddenly up and running towards the crib. She rushed past him, pushing him aside. “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”
Speechless, Erik looked back at the changeling. It was back to looking like Jacob, and a dark, eggplant-colored splotch began to bloom on its chest. Erik tried to stammer an answer but could only manage to stammer.
“Jesus Erik, look at this bruise! What are you doing to our son? Are you out of your mind? Look what you did to him!”
“It’s not our son!” Erik blurted at last. Stella inhaled quickly and sharply and stepped back. Erik continued. “It’s not our son, it’s a changeling.”
“Erik, what are you talking about? Are you feeling okay?”
“Stel, honey, I know it sounds crazy, but I was using this horseshoe- iron to test to see if it was a changeling or Jacob.”
“A..a what?” Stella held the bawling Jacob in her arms. “Have you lost your mind?”
“No, honey, I know it sounds crazy, but well. I’ve actually seen the fairies, and I know they’ve stolen Jacob and replaced him with this..this fairy baby. Let me just put the horseshoe on him and you’ll see him change into his true form!”
“Erik, you just dropped a horseshoe on our child’s chest! You could have killed him! You’re not coming close to Jacob again with that thing.” Stella stepped toward the door.
“Stella!” Erik put the bag on the floor. “Honey, just listen to me for five minutes. Put the ch…put Jacob down, and let’s just sit down and talk.”
Stella’s eyes nervously jumped around the room. She gently rocked the changeling back and forth. Surprisingly, it stopped screaming. Apparently, it was fast asleep. She looked back up at Erik, who had his hands up in peaceful surrender. “Okay, I’ll listen to you for five minutes, but after that, if I decide you’re crazy, you’ll go with me to the hospital, okay?”
“Deal.” Erik slowly stepped forward. Stella looked down at the now-sedated changeling and gently placed him back in the crib.
“ Let’s talk in the kitchen. I could use some coffee.” Erik walked towards the door, and Stella shrunk back as he passed. Erik sighed, and slowly walked down the stairs.
As he poured himself a cup of coffee, he turned to see Stella cautiously approach the table. “You want some?”
Stella shook her head. Erik noticed that she had her cell phone in her hand. “You’ve got five minutes. Go.”
“I know this sounds crazy, but while you were pregnant, I would wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and I would see this pink orbs of light – fairies, floating around outside our window. I thought I was just tired, or stressed out, or was seeing things, but it happened more than once. They looked like they were trying to get into our bedroom from the window, and..” Erik went corpse-white. “Honey, when you went to bed, did you leave the window open?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Damn it, Stella, did you leave the window open?”
“Erik, calm down, you’re scaring me. I don’t know, I..I don’t remember.”
“Goddammit!” Erik’s coffee cup shattered on the floor as he ran back up the stairs.
“Erik, what are you doing?” Stella’s cries were soon muffled as she scrambled to chase after her husband.
Erik flung open their bedroom door. The curtains were moving, floating like specters in the cool summer breeze. The distance from the door to the crib felt like an eternity, and when Erik reached it he saw that the child was still sound asleep. He picked up the child and wrapped it in a blanket. Stella was there suddenly, and she grabbed Erik’s arm.
“Put. Jacob. Down.” The fire in Stella’s eyes burned bright. Her spunk, no, her strength, was what attracted Erik to Stella in the first place. He has seen how scary she could be when she had to be, and right now she was terrifying. Erik’s gut clenched and he shrugged off her grip. He was still much larger than she was, and although Stella commanded presence, so could he. He pulled away and the blanket covering Jacob fell to the ground.
“You’re wrong. It’s not Jacob.”
“Damn it, Erik, what’s wrong with you? That’s our son!” Stella’s voice cracked.
“Stel, I know it sounds insane, but you have got to trust me. This is not our Jacob. It’s a changeling.”
“Erik, you dropped a horseshoe on our son, what if his ribs are cracked, I mean look at this bruise-” Stella gasped. There was no longer any bruise on the child’s body.
“See! There’s the proof! You saw that bruise, where did it go? Humans can’t heal that fast.” Erik bent down and picked up the blanket. He walked over to the closet and removed the baby carrier.
“What are you doing?” Stella slumped down against the wall. “Erik?” He ignored her and lay the child in the carrier and picked it up by the handle. “Where are you going?” Stella began to cry as Erik walked past her. He paused for a moment and turned back to her.
“I’m going to get our son back.”
Erik was in the forest before he knew it, and although the tree cover made it dark, the full moon shone bright and he could easily stay along the familiar path.
“Where are you fairies? Come out now!” Erik called out again and again into the darkness. He strained his eyes to see any sort of pinkish glow, but all he saw was the soft cool glow of the moon filtering through the trees. “Damn you, come out here!”
Erik quickly found himself at the far end of the loop. If he continued, he’d only find himself back where he started. He set off the trail and began hiking through the woods, stumbling towards the heart of the forest. As he moved slowly through the redwoods, the carrier was constantly jostled, but surprisingly, no complaints were heard from the sleeping child.
Erik slogged on for what seemed like hours. His voice became strained from shouting and soon he could only croak a hoarse whimper. Still, Erik continued on, desperate to find the fae creatures and get Jacob back.
The sound of a car rapidly approaching startled Erik. Lights pierced through the night and just as suddenly faded. Highway 30. Erik mentally retraced his steps and figured he was close to the Kittridge exit, which meant that he was close to that old bridge that ran over the Columbia. Erik quickly ran across the highway, and shouted back towards the forest.
“This is your last chance, you bastards!” Erik’s ragged voice seemed to hang in the air, but no reply came. He let a curse quietly pass his lips and quickly made his way past the small, nearby lake. Soon, he could see the bridge in the distance. As he approached, his footsteps faltered, but he pressed on, shoes creaking on the tiny gravel. The roar of the river began to drown out his thoughts, and he slowly dragged his feet to the center of the bridge. He looked back one last time towards the woods beckoning; pleading with his eyes, but if he expected a response, none came.
As Erik walked home, the forest seemed darker than before. Thankfully, he could no longer hear the screaming woman, and he was glad to have both hands to navigate the branches that seemed to reach out and scratch at his flesh. Looking at the moon, he could swear it was grinning at him and he felt a chill in his veins that he had never felt before. As Erik approached the edge of the woods, he saw a single pink light darting through the trees.
“You. What do you want now? Where were you when I called for you?”
Erik raised an eyebrow. “What the hell are you talking about?” The pink orb quickly spun around Erik and then slowed right in front of his face. The glow was just bright enough to obscure any small features, but Erik could see that indeed, the little flowing light was humanoid.
“Your medicine…is strong.”
“What medicine? I didn’t give the changeling anything, what are you talking about?” The fairy laughed his cold shriek of a laugh.
“”Foolish man. Your metal. It…cures us.” Erik’s lungs began to work harder and his fists tightened into balls.
“No. No, wait. Are you saying that..that iron actually helps you?”
“It is a painful process..but..yes.”
Erik wiped his hands on his pants. “Wi…will you still give me back Jacob?”
The fairy exploded with laughter again. “Silly human. We..gave him back as soon as you healed our son.”
Erik fell to his knees. The fairy cackled again as it ascended up into the dark branches overhead. Erik let his head droop to the ground and began to sob. While the approaching sirens grew louder, all Erik could hear was laughter.
The young woman called “Snow White” stood over the ancient stone table, sharpened kris in hand, staring down at the kicking, bloody, malformed infant. A vortex of sickly clouds swirled above, its torrential downpour sending rivulets of pinkish water down her ankles. Her stomach clenched to a fist. She gritted her teeth and brought the wavy blade down hard, pushing until the tip of the blade clacked against the sacrificial altar.
She could hear the infant’s heart slow, the stillness of its breath echoing in her mind. Tears mixed with the rain as she unleashed a scream towards the heavens. The heavens answered back with a deafening cacophony as raw electricity belched from the sky and found its way to the stone table, sending Snow flying back into a heap.
When Snow awoke, her hands were burnt and her hair was as white as the alabaster mask she wore. The stone table was scorched black and the remains of her child were gone. As she struggled to her feet, she realized that something had changed. Snow recovered the knife that lay next to the granite slab and prepared to wince, but found that the burns on her hands were already healing. She watched enthralled as the charred flesh melted back and gave way to soft, pink healthy skin.
She was then distinctly aware of the magic in her veins, the tingle of power coursing through every nerve. Some dark god had heard her desperate plea, and her offering of blood was received.
The nameless girl who would eventually be called Snow White was born an orphan. With no parents, she was found and raised by a travelling merchant whose sole motivation was to eventually sell her to slavery. Although fed spoiled bread and sour milk, somehow she still grew lush dark hair, and full, red lips. As the girl grew into maturity, the merchant mercifully believed a virgin slave might fetch a higher price and refrained from abusing the merchandise. Soon the merchant thought she was old enough to fetch a price that would surpass his investment and took her to the capital city of Dunklenwald where he sold her to a slaver.
The slave master found a home for her as a servant in the royal family’s kitchen, where her new home was a pile of mildewy blankets in the garden shed. She shared this bed with the other female slaves during the day, and worked throughout the night. She scrubbed pots, hands cracked and bleeding, nightly for three years until one of the other slaves, the young girl tasked with serving the king and queen’s dinner, disappeared after being caught stealing a piece of candied yam.
Finally, the girl thought that she might have found a reprieve. The king of Dunklenwald was said to prefer to be served by younger girls, and the rest of the slaves were ragged and past their prime. When she was taken to be measured for a new dress suitable for the royal dining hall, she was giddy with excitement. Upon seeing the dress she held her breath. Although modest by royal standards, the green and white satin dress seemed to her softer than a dream and the silver embroidery more alluring than gold. Finally, there would be no more rags of coarse burlap that chafed and scraped. She would have to learn the iron-clad rules of the dining hall, but even the dangers of transgression were better than her bloody fingers and aching back. As she slept that night, her sleep was untroubled by nightmares for the first time in years.
Before she knew it, the girl soon found her small hands grasping an enormous silver platter. Staring back at her was the unblinking eyes of a roast pig, a crimson apple wedged in its snout. The sweet smell of roast pork caused her to salivate, but she knew the consequences of stealing food; she was smarter than that.
As the ornately carved doors opened away from her, she imagined that they were magic doors she controlled with a single incantation, even though she knew the two servants on the other side were the real reason they opened. She stepped into the grand dining room and swallowed hard.
Lush ruby velvet curtains formed sweeping shapes on the walls, their grandness punctuated by polished marbled pillars and gigantic portraits in majestic gold frames. Ebony candelabras lined the massive table that spanned nearly the full length of the room. The candlelight glistened on the gold and silver tableware and off the dripping sauces and succulent shining meats lavished over the virginal white tablecloth.
The servant girl took another step towards the table. Her harsh footsteps on the polished stone floor startled her and she momentarily paused. She quickly began her journey again, focusing on keeping her gaze averted from the king and queen. As she reached the table, she noticed the only place uncovered by other dishes and veered toward it. Her fingers were still cracked from dishwashing, and as the platter began to bite into the raw flesh of her fingers she began to struggle to keep the heavy pig held high.
“Only a few more steps,” the girl thought to herself and she found herself at the edge of the table. She realized she was holding her breath and slowly exhaled as she leaned over to deliver the tray.
The king watched, amused, as the nervous girl bent over to set the platter down. His eyes wandered from the tiny mounds on her chest, to her full lips, to her raven locks. He licked his wrinkled lips and slid his hand under the girl’s dress.
The girl yelped in surprise and stepped away, her elbow jostling one of the ornate candelabras. The queen’s eyes shot up towards the girl, her gaze piercing as she watched the servant girl fumble with the rocking candelabra, knocking over a pitcher of wine in the process.
The girl saw the purplish bloom growing on the white tablecloth, dark liquid dripping down into a pool on the ornate rug. She watched the queen rise suddenly and grasp her purple satin dress with both hands. The queen was speaking, but everything went in and out of focus and there was no sound and the girl couldn’t make out what the queen was saying. Two armored soldiers appeared on either side of the girl and an armored fist swung into the girl’s stomach. The small girl fell to the rug with a soft “whump.”
“You stupid wretch, look what you’ve done!” The queen’s emerald eyes flashed with rage. The queen absently wove a hand towards the guards and one took firm hold of the girl’s hair and jerked the girl’s head upwards. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am deeply sorry,” the girl whimpered. She coughed painfully and tried to bow her head. The girl fought to stifle her tears, but her cheeks were already salty and wet.
“Now, now.” The king shaved off a slice of pork and suckled on it. “My dearest wife, let us spare the poor child. It is her first day.”
The queen’s eyes narrowed and her upper lip twisted into a momentary snarl. She gave a glare and a slight nod and the guards released the sniffling slave girl. The queen let out a quiet hiss from between her teeth and walked back to her seat. The girl looked up, hopeful.
“Come, now child. Don’t cry.” The king was standing now, his enormous belly jiggling as he stood. He motioned the guards over to him. “Take this child up to my study in the South tower. No need to be scared, anymore, dear girl.”
The queen snorted and took a sip of wine. She grimaced as if it tasted sour. She scowled across the table as she jabbed her knife into a slab of beef. Once the guards had departed, nearly dragging the girl out, the queen spoke.
“You’ll lose respect from the commoners if you continue with this leniency.”
The king chuckled. “You misunderstand me, dear wife.” He sliced off another piece of pork and stuck it in his mouth. “That last slave girl barely lasted a week out in the cabin. Our sons-”
“Your sons. Those monsters did not come from my womb.”
“My sons, if I must remind you, were only conjured because of your inability to bear me children the natural way. Regardless, they worked their way through that girl too quickly.”
“Just do what you need to do.”
The king and queen sat in silence and finished their meal.
That night, the king retired not to his bedroom, but to the chamber at the peak of the South tower. After entering, he closed the heavy door behind him and turned the anthracite key, the heavy stone lock ratcheting into place. He stepped inwards, navigating the dark room with ease, sliding past savage totems, dark crystalline amulets, and shelves of grimoires until he found himself at a crow’s cage deep in the far corner. He saw the servant girl curled up, whimpering like some pathetic rabbit cowering in front of a tiger.
“Dear girl.” The king opened the cage and offered his hand. He smiled. “ Come now, you mustn’t be afraid.”
The girl slowly turned her head. She had rarely seen kindness on anyone’s face before, and this strange gesture put her at unease. She looked at the king’s meaty hand and tentatively reached out. It was soft and warm, unlike the cold, hard fists that she was used to. The king led her slowly from the cage.
“I apologize for the dreadful cage, but I’m sure the guards were just afraid that you might up and run off.” The king sat on a stool in front of her. “Now then, why don’t you take off your clothes and let me have a good look at you.” His voice was not so kind now.
The girl shuddered and turned her head. The king took her by the wrists. “Let me see your body, I won’t hurt you.” With trembling hands, she tried to slip off her dress to comply. She fumbled with the ties, and she kept wiping the tears from her face. The king uttered a low chuckle as he removed his pants and beckoned for the girl.
The girl lay in a heap on the bed, bruises beginning to form on her wrists and inner thighs. She watched as the king yawned, and pulled on a robe. He rose and grinned at her. The king then turned and waved his hand.
“Quixo memnarius.” A small wooden box flew from some dark corner to his hand. The girl’s eyes widened. The king opened the box. “You’ve never seen magic in person before, have you?”
The girl shook her head. A thin smile spread across the king’s face. “It makes sense that a slave such as yourself would not know that I am not only king, but also the greatest wizard in these parts. Few wizards have even close to the number of spells I’ve learned.” The girl’s eyes darted around the room, and noticed all the tomes, heavy in both number and size, that lined the shelves, covered the desks, and lay in gigantic stacks on the floor.
The king removed a thin, white mask from the box. The mask was fairly plain, a featureless, dull white piece of stone with large eye holes and a small mouth carved into it. The king handed the mask to the girl.
“Take this to a cottage deep in the forest behind this castle. Deliver this safely, and you will have your freedom.”
The girl took the mask in her shaking hands. It was surprisingly light for being made of stone, and as she turned it over, she saw flakes of reddish brown staining the inside of the mask.
“Do you mean it, your majesty?” The girl wiped tears away with her forearm and stared at the mask in her hands.
“Dear girl, if you deliver this mask and return her promptly, I solemnly swear that I share grant you freedom.”
“I will not fail you,” the girl whispered, her voice still trembling.
“I know you won’t.” The king mumbled something the girl did not understand and a small ray of light flew from his hand and hit the servant girl in the middle of her chest. The girl gasped, yet realized that she felt nothing different, even though she now pulsed with a bluish glow.
“This spell will ensure no animal nor man in these woods will dare to do you harm. Leave now, as the spell will fade as the sun rises.” The king handed the girl a weathered, soiled calfskin map and unlocked the door. With a slight shove, he set her on her way, bounding down the tower stairs and off into the night. The king waited until he could see the girl running off into the forest. He laughed to himself and smiled cruelly.
As the girl made her way through the forest, she was amazed how all the buzzing, stinging insects would approach her, but would stop suddenly and turn away. Even a pack of wolves crossed her path, yet slunk off back into the shadows of the forest after only a glance. She smiled at the thought of the magic – if only she could have such an amazing power, she’d never have to scrub pots again! If only she had spellbooks, and could read them, she might be able to glean some sort of magic. As she dismissed what seemed like the impossible, she focused on what she would have very soon – her freedom.
The girl walked for what seemed like hours. She had no idea how long it would be until the sun rose, but she hoped to be at her destination before then. As she thought this, the sky began to lighten, and the girl found herself coming upon a clearing in the forest. Her footsteps began to fall quicker as she realized her charm would soon expire.
There was a large wooden hut with shuttered windows sitting in the middle of the clearing. Moss grew in clumps on the walls, and a threadbare stable with walls rotting away stood behind the cabin. For the first time, the girl wondered why she had been sent on such a delivery, and at such a late hour at that. Regardless, the girl let thoughts of her impending freedom brush aside her worries and knocked on the door.
No answer. The girl realized that the inhabitants might not be up yet, but she was afraid of what might happen if she didn’t return to the castle promptly and tentatively knocked harder.
A voice like metal grating sounded from behind the door. “Who is it and what be yer business here?” The girl trembled.
“Good sir, I..I am a servant on the king’s behalf, here to deliver a mask.”
There was silence. The girl then heard footsteps running from the door. She leaned in closer, but heard nothing. Then, there was a flurry of footsteps quickly growing closer. How many people lived in such a tiny, remote cabin? The girl heard locks being undone.
The door swung open and there, standing before the girl, were seven dwarves. The creatures stood about three feet tall, their pock-covered yellow skin exposed save for the grey loincloths saddled between their legs. Each had a long, coarse beard, and their faces looked as if they were failed pieces of ceramic that had collapsed and squished down in the kiln.
The young girl fought the urge to turn away from the squat beings, and merely offered the mask to them with one hand. “From the king, good sirs.”
One dwarf, slightly taller than the rest, stepped onto the stoop. He received the mask and grinned a crooked smile of brown, rotting teeth. “Thank ye, dear girl.” He gestured towards the cabin. “Now, come see your new home.”
The girl took a step back, but the tall dwarf leaped towards her and smashed the mask against her face. The girl screamed as a searing pain sent her into convulsions. She clawed at the mask, desperate to rip it off, but the stone seemed to liquify at the edges and melted against her skin. The girls screams echoed in her head as the mask began to harden once again, and soon her fingers were bloody from scraping at the stone visage bonded to her face.
The dwarf took her by the hair and led her into the cabin. Others shut the door and began to set the locks. The girl was thrown to the floor. Coarse, calloused hands soon tore at her dress as the dwarves stripped her naked. They threw the tattered dress into a corner as they kicked and beat her. As the girl lay on the floor, bruised and naked, the seven dwarves stood over her in a circle.
The tall dwarf spoke as he pulled aside his loincloth. “This is your baptism, girl. You are our newest Snow White.” As he began to urinate, he laughed. “Brothers, when we’re done with this, who wants her first?”
Snow White slunk through the village streets past vegetable vendors and crowds of women shouting over each other, her cloak trailing behind her as she danced in and out of the shadows. She slid past a silk-clad nobleman with a thick dark beard, her hand quick to liberate his coin purse before she spun and ducked into a doorway. Snow wove through the crowds like a fish dancing through water, her movements quicksilver and seamless, her nimble hands quick and invisible.
On her first venture out into the neighboring towns, she had to adjust to having seven perverse voices in her head, shouting instructions directly into her brain.
“Step left,” one voice would bark.
“Duck under the table to your right,” another would croak.
Snow’s bruised muscles strained as she would suddenly jerk back and forth clumsily, trying to match the demands that would spring seemingly out of nowhere. She quickly turned into an empty alley to try and catch her breath before she turned back into the streets.
A blast of pain, racked her body, nearly bringing her to her feet.
“There’s more of that if you go where we naught tell ye, or if ye make more mistakes.” The voice was deep and spiteful, yet Snow White barely heard it as the pain radiating from the mask seemed to burn the marrow from her bones.
The voices no longer bothered her, and by now, they were much less frequent. After five years, she now knew each of her captor’s unique tastes and needs. Fulgar only wanted gemstones, while Mirfkull loved nothing but gold. She knew instinctively what antiques Rizzen would crave, and would already be moving before Gork would bark commands to steal holy artifacts. Snow knew to steal poultry for Harkgoln’s fat belly before being told, and took every slab of pork for Sagnox. Crimore, of course, loved nothing more than to torture Snow, and now it was only him that would invoke the agonizing pain spell that once lashed her into obedience, but now only served for the dwarf’s sick delight at her pain.
As Snow left the town with her sack of stolen goods, she wondered why she had not yet had her monthly blood. Her monthly bleeding was the only time they would not touch her, for as relentless as they were about satisfying their carnal desires, it was at this time they found her smell to be repugnant.
Snow hoped she would start her bleeding soon, as otherwise it would be Crimore’s turn with her tonight, and he always liked to slap her around as a bit of foreplay. Unfortunately for Snow, she did not bleed that night, nor the next week, nor the next, nor the next.
When her stomach swelled to the point of being too unwieldy to do her thieving, she was cast outside to live in the stable behind the cabin, the few cows and pigs her only companions. She smelled funny, they had said, and Snow was grateful for this temporary respite from her daily torment.
Snow White made use of this time to explore the surrounding forest, taking long walks through the woods, but only at night, when she knew her captors would not be using the scrying pool to see through the mask’s eyes. Out of the corner of her eyes, she had once glanced into the pool when the dwarves were sleeping, and she was surprised to see that whatever her mask faced was reflected in the surface of the water. She then knew how the dwarves knew how to command her when she left the house, and also realized that escape would be impossible as long as she wore that damned white mask.
Snow charted the forest slowly, venturing out in different directions each night, slowly creating a mental map of her surroundings. Each night she would walk until the moon hung high in the sky, and would turn back early only if the path became too treacherous, or if she could hear the wolves in the distance.
The day her water broke, Snow heard thunder in the distance, and a gentle rain began to fall. Snow’s contractions began to shake her body, and she wedged her back against a wall and tore a strip of her cloak to stuff in her mouth. The birthing was long, painful, and bloody. She did her best to keep her face held high to steal any pleasure her captors might have in watching her in so much pain.
By the time the child was born, the full moon stood high in the sky, yet the black clouds blocked out all light. Snow stumbled through the forest, child in hand, pushing past the scraping branches and trudging through the deep mud that tried to swallow her feet. She was weak from blood loss and exhausted, but she knew she had to do her dark deed before the rise of the sun. The newborn screamed, but it’s tiny voice was lost in the roar of the wind and the rain.
Finally, Snow reached the altar. She knew this was a special place the moment she had found it days ago. Some sort of ancient power radiated from the stone tablet. Snow could still see the wine-colored stains on the rock even after centuries of weathering. She knew what this table was used for, and she prayed that this would work.
With the rain and wind howling, snow watched as her hands rapidly regenerated, the new flesh oozing and melting over the charred skin. She looked at the dagger in her hand and laughed as she threw it into the overgrowth. Snow smiled. She finally had magic.
Snow found her new powers surprisingly easy to control. She summoned a pack of wolves by merely calling out to them and she realized she could understand their language. She declared herself their queen, and when the pack leader refused, she crushed his bones with a single word.
She knew she would need more power to finally free herself and quell the vengeance brewing inside her chest. So Snow White endured living with the dwarves for another two years, hiding her magic, waiting for her chance to steal the necessary spellbooks she would need to further her craft.
Snow used the time to hone her skills of deception and stealth with her trips into town. By feigning resignation to her post in life, she convinced the dwarves to teach her how to read so she could at learn more ways to please them.
At night, she would sneak out of the cabin and practice her magic. She found that her source of power was finite, but she presumed that perhaps if she could find more sacrifices for whatever dark entity granted her power, she might replenish that mystic energy and even grow it. It was an easy thing to prove, as the nearby villagers had little protection of a thief as skilled as she, and after sacrificing a stolen newborn, she was even stronger than before. Her anger and hatred sent her back into town again and again, and over those short two years, the village had at least seven children mysteriously vanish in the night.
The day came when Snow realized she finally had the tools she needed. She had stolen ancient tombs from travelling wizards, and her powers were vast now. As the dwarves watched her pull on her cloak to head out to the village, she muttered “Dormantium mortatum.” Her torturers fell into a deep sleep and Snow realized that the first step of her revenge was almost too easy. As Snow stepped over the sleeping dwarves, she mentally prepared herself for the next, more complex spell.
She recited the incantation she had rehearsed in her head for so long and then dipped her face into the dwarves’ scrying pool. The mask which had bound her for so long slid effortlessly off her face and into the shallow stone basin. As Snow stood, she explored her own face with her hands, savoring the sudden sensation of air against her wet skin; the touch of her fingers along her cheeks. She looked down at the now-calm water and saw a face she didn’t recognize staring back up at her. She remembered herself as a young girl with dirt on her face, but the face peering up from the water was that of a woman. Snow sank to the floor and wept.
As night fell, Snow stalked through the forest in the one direction she had never taken before – towards the castle in Dunklenwald. No longer a child, Snow White arrived still under the shadow of night, and made her way to the South tower of the castle.
Snow stood before the mammoth stone edifice and closed her eyes. Mumbling incoherent phrases, she located and disarmed all the mystical cantrips and alarm spells woven around the tower. The king may have been a great wizard, but his years of book-learned power paled compared to the ancient, blood-fueled magic that Snow had sacrificed and killed for.
A cockroach was quickly summoned, and Snow send the creature to confirm the king’s whereabouts. Once confident he was elsewhere, Snow scaled the tower with ease, using little magic to enhance her practiced talents. As she finally stepped back into that dark lair, the odor of incense and must felt familiar even after so many years.
The candles lit themselves with a single utterance, and Snow surveyed the room for what she could use in her grand scheme. Eventually, her eyes settled on a bowl of fruit.
Snow took the apples in her hand and they glowed purple before settling back to their usual red luster. Snow smiled, and took a step back, melting into the shadows. Now it was time to wait.
The king awoke to find himself staring at a large wooden door, his wrists bound behind his back and tied to a stake in the ground. Confused, he realized that he was wearing a dress, and his body was taut and firm. His mouth hurt, and tasted like apples and blood. Snow walked into his field of vision.
“Finally, you’re awake.” Snow kicked open the cabin door to reveal the sleeping dwarves, still piled where they had fallen. “The first thing you must know, is that my spell has changed your body to that of a twelve-year old girl. The second thing is that you are also a cripple, so I doubt you’ll be useful to them besides for..their nightly entertainment.”
The king tried to speak, but only a garbled mess of sounds spilt forth.
“The third thing you should know is that I cut out your tongue, so no more magic spells for you.” Snow reached into her cloak and pulled out a white stone mask. She slammed the mask onto the king’s face and he shrieked as the mask wormed its way into his flesh.
As the king writhed in pain, Snow walked to the stable and brought out a squealing pig.
She tied the pig to the stake and knelt down to face the animal.
“You may think me cruel for punishing you for doing nothing. But while you sat like a pig and enjoyed your life while I suffered through Hell, you will continue to live the rest of your life as a pig.”
Snow turned to the king. “Say hello to your queen, and say good-bye to your tongue. I’m sure your wife will enjoy it.” Snow removed a sagging piece of meat from a satchel tied to her waist. She flung it to the pig, where it immediately devoured the bloody, pink organ.
Snow began to walk away, and snapped her fingers, releasing the sleep spell with a single word. “Have fun, Snow White. Enjoy your new body. I’m sure the dwarves will.” As Snow skipped into the forest, she cast one final spell. The king did not even notice the small, green, leprous pustule forming in the newly formed fleshy folds that lay between his legs. Snow wondered what the dwarves would do once their extremities began to rot off, and wondered how painful it would be to slowly decompose. She figured it wouldn’t nearly be painful enough, but it would have to do.
The seven dwarves yawned, and it was Gork who first noticed the struggling young girl tied to a post. “Who is that?” Gork stepped outside.
Fulgar followed. “It’s Snow White, stupid.” He grabbed the king’s head with his warty hand. The king whimpered, and Fulgar laughed. “She has the mask.”
“She is not the same as before.” Sagnox stepped forward and sniffed. “Smells different.”
“It doesn’t matter.” The others moved aside as Crimore walked towards their new captive. “No matter how they arrive, if she has the white mask, she is our Snow White.” The other dwarves muttered in consent.
“What about this pig?” Mirfkull took the pig’s leash and began to drag her inside. “Shall we roast it alive?”
“Let’s eat it raw,” said Harkgolin, smacking his lips.
“Agreed.” Sagnox grinned. “I like to hear it squeal as I eat.” He drew a long, thin blade.
“Are you sure about this new Snow White? What happened to the old one?”
“Shut up, Rizzen.” Crimore stepped forward and stood in front of the king. Crimore ripped off the king’s flimsy dress and pulled his own flaccid, bumpy member out from beneath his loincloth. “Perhaps father wanted that one for himself. As long as he keeps sending us new Snow Whites, why question it?”
Rizzen shrugged his pimply shoulders and took his place in the circle. His brothers followed.
Crimore laughed. “Let the baptism of Snow White begin.” The king screamed.
As she walked through the forest, Snow wondered where she would go. Perhaps she could travel to find the place where she was born? Would anything even await her there?
She could always change her appearance to that of the queen and rule the land. The king’s library would increase her powers even more, and her every need would be met. Perhaps with that power she might even find love.
Snow tried to laugh at the thought, but it was too painful to laugh at. Who would love someone dirty like her, a slave for most of her life, abused and tormented for the rest of it? Even though she had gotten her revenge, she still felt a burning rage that would never be quelled.
She spoke softly and conjured a mirror and she stared deep into her own eyes. They were still beautiful, but all she could see was the sadness and pain lingering just under the surface. Others might call her beautiful, but she knew that she would always be ugly.
As she peered deeply into the magic mirror, she examined every inch of her face, the subtle lines and contours that made her..who? Who was she? She was born an orphan, a child with no past. She was a nameless slave, after that a faceless thief. Even her name was one that was passed down. If she were to adopt the queen’s identity, it would just be another counterfeit life that she would lead.
Snow fought back tears. If she was to lead a stolen life, why not that of a queen? Better than that of a slave. Snow steeled her resolve. Queen Grimhilde. She could get used to that. She could get used to that indeed.
The swollen meat pie sat in front of me and the sweet smell sickened me. My stomach twisted itself into a ball and I held my arms and clenched my teeth, fighting down the mounting bile. My eyes began to water, and my father smirked.
“It’s time to embrace your heritage, my son. You will soon be tasked with leading our clan.” His hand fell upon my shoulder like a boulder, and my resolve weakened. “Don’t worry. It was no one that you knew.”
I stared into my father’s silver eyes, and I felt my will disintegrating. I suddenly found my hands clutching the knife and fork. I turned away from my father and looked down towards the pie. I could feel a primal urge overtaking me, and I began to salivate. What little will I had left shouted in protest, but some deep desire I didn’t even know I had called out to me. I licked my lips and the buttery steam from the pie warmed my face.
I suddenly remembered riding in the carriage down the cobblestone streets, watching as people would scurry away as soon as we were seen. I watched as my father’s eyes would dart back and forth amongst the crowd, looking for something or.. someone. Once, I saw a beautiful young woman with ebony hair and rosy cheeks. We locked eyes, and although her face was expressionless, her eyes screamed in terror of me and my family.
“No!” I slammed down the cutlery. “I may be of your blood, but I am not your son!”
My father laughed a cold, hard laugh. “We shall see, won’t we?” With that, he abandoned me in the tower room, locking the door as he left.
I sat up and walked over to the six-foot high windows and pulled back the velvet drapes. The snow thrashed outside, and as I peered down into the inky blackness, I wondered how much snow would be needed to break my fall from such a height. I flung open the latch and the icy wind forced its way inside, causing me to gasp in shock. The roar of the wind was deafening. I took another look back at that steaming, vile pastry, and I clutched my chest. I turned back towards the window.
It couldn’t have been more than an hour before my father returned. As he entered, he surveyed the open window, and the small pile of snow forming on the sill. He closed the window, and I saw him smile that sick, twisted smile of his. I silently cursed him and the blood that ran in my veins.
He slowly walked over to the table and took the empty plate from my hands, every single, succulent, delicious morsel having been licked clean. I felt both sickened and aroused at the memory of that first bite, my teeth penetrating the flaky crust which soon yielded to the wet, tender human parts.
As my father left the tower, I knew then that I would kill him and the rest of my family before taking my own life. Yes, I would certainly kill them all. I made a vow to myself that I would rid the world of the dark blight that was my lineage, and to show my determination I cut a blood pact into my forearm.
The crimson sigil that began to form stung, yet I could not stop staring at the lustrous rubaline wine forming on my arm. I swallowed hard. I needed to focus on the dread task at hand, yet some strange feeling, vile yet natural, stirred in my belly, and before I knew it, my arm was clean and the sweet metallic tang of blood filled my mouth.
Yes, I would slaughter my family while they slept. I would butcher them all, and then…then I would feast.