Alas, it is the last day of the October Frights Blog Hop, but I hope you’ve had fun. I leave you with an excerpt from my WIP story collection, Fairy Tales and Nightmares, which I expect to publish in 2023. The tidbit is from my Hansel and Gretel retelling.
The Witch’s Apprentice
Gretel huddled in the corner, her wide eyes fixed on her semi-conscious father who shifted and moaned in his bed. The hovel stank of sour vomit and stale urine, and brown stains of excrement discoloured the rank and rumpled bedclothes. Suppressing screams, Gretel focused on the rustling mattress, and her father’s jerky movements, wincing in time with his weak voice. A whimper mewed behind her, and she glanced at her brother Hansel hiding under the table. She wanted to reach out, but dared not bring attention to herself or Hansel, not with her mother so close, sitting at the bedside.
Her mother Bechte pried open her father’s mouth, shoving a vial between his lips and forcing liquid down his throat. “Drink it. Drink and have it be done.” He fought her, spitting and gurgling.
Gretel trembled, fingers curling into fists, willing her father to refuse, to not drink.
Spit it out. Fight. Please fight.
“Drink it!” Bechte commanded, holding his mouth closed, pinching his nose until her father’s throat contacted and the concoction slid into the wretch on the bed. Bechte’s hands eased and minutes later he choked and convulsed, his body spamming in the last throes of life. Gretel’s mother stood.
“It won’t be long now.” She turned and smiled at her daughter. “You and your brother will have some digging to do.” Laughing, Bechte walked outside. The slam of the door sent a shiver down Gretel’s spine.
She stared at the door, the urge to flee strong, before looking at her brother, who wept.
I can’t run. He needs me.
Gretel pressed her hands over her ears, but it didn’t block out her father’s choking death rattle or her brother’s sobs.
All I want is to be free of her…
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