This is the story of what really happened that day in the woods.
By Dan Dillard
“Lost?” she said and dropped another handful of the breadcrumbs.
“Most definitely,” he replied.
He put his hand on one of the thousands of ancient trees as if feeling its pulse, then looked up into the canopy. The sun struggled to reach the floor of that forest, sprinkling the bed of dirt, moss and leaves with light patches that moved with the breeze. Then his gaze shifted to her as she walked ahead.
“I think we’re okay. These will help us find our way back,” she said and dropped yet another handful onto the ground.
“Breadcrumbs are a lousy idea. All manner of creature will eat them. There’ll be nothing left to follow.”
She looked at him over her shoulder. A devilish, flirty glance.
“Faith, brother. Do you not trust me?”
He smirked and then hurried to catch her. Hours they walked in that way, taking jabs at one another, arguing as siblings do, checking for landmarks, but finding none. Then, as the sun was at the peak of its daily arc, he stopped.
“I smell something. Smoke, and ... food,” he said. “Do you smell it?”
She lifted her head and inhaled through her slightly turned up, button nose.
“I do,” she replied, a smile spreading across her face.
“I’m famished,” he said.
She nodded. His pace increased, searching madly for the source of the aroma. It was like meat and spices, a stew perhaps. There was another layer, fruits and sugar. A pie, or perhaps some sort of jam or candy. His eyes bulged and his stomach growled. She ran ahead of him, stopping behind a large evergreen to peek into the distance.
The cabin wasn’t far off, and wasn’t large. A curl of fluffy smoke lifted from the roofline into the ceiling of tree limbs. Both sets of eyes settled upon it as the pair thought of their next move, the breadcrumbs long forgotten. She put a hand on his shoulder and repeated the flirty, dangerous look from earlier. He nodded, and the pair walked casually through the woods, finding a path worn in the brush that led to the door.
“I’ll do the talking,” he said.
“Fine by me.”
He strolled to the front door and knocked. The scent of the meal that lie within was overwhelming. His stomach gurgled, audible to his partner, and hers responded in kind. The door handle rattled, twisted and then the hinge creaked, begging for lubricant. An old woman in rags, a hunched back, and a wooden cane stood there, shielding her eyes from the day’s light. He saw that the shade of the forest was considerably brighter than the inside of her dwelling.
“Well, I’ll be,” the old woman said. “Haven’t had comp’ny in years.”
“I find that hard to swallow, given these heavenly aromas,” he said waving his hand to his nose as if he could scoop up the smell.
A charming smile was firmly planted above his sculpted chin. The old woman answered with a hearty chuckle.
“Jus’ some rabbit stew with a bit of herb. I’d be happy to share with such a lovely couple. Come in. Come in and join me, won’t you?” the woman said.
The younger girl smiled and he let her enter first, following the older woman as she shuffled to the table and chairs, the only furniture in the tiny hut aside from a makeshift bed. She lay three tin bowls on the table, along with spoons. Then she picked a small kettle from the fireplace with a hooked piece of iron and set it in the table’s center upon a flat stone. Dunking a ladle into the kettle, she filled the first bowl.
“That isn’t necessary,” said he.
“Oh?” the old woman asked. “But I thought you were hungry.”
There was only one tooth on her lower jaw, and it shined in the firelight as she stood, mouth agape, waiting for his explanation.
“Oh, we are,” he said.
The girl’s chest heaved, her eyes growing wide, and turning black.
The woman’s face melted into a scream and she raised her cane for a strike just as the young man was on her, his teeth sinking into her neck and tearing away the dangling, turkey-like waddle that had hung there moments before. Blood poured from the wound and coated his face. The girl joined him, ripping away the tattered tunic and tearing at the loose skin and meat of the old woman’s left arm, then her breast. Screams turned to gurgles and wheezes and silence. Soon, all that was left was the smacking sounds of the two animals as they consumed their prey. Somewhat feline in appearance, but pure canine in style.
When the bloody meal was finished, the young girl curled up in his lap, lying her head on his shoulder and placing a hand on his chest, stroking it as a lover might.
“Delicious,” she said.
He leaned in and kissed her, licking deeply in her mouth, tasting her, and the blood of their victim. Their hands found the backs of each other’s’ neck and the kiss grew passionate. When, at last, they broke apart, he growled with pleasure, his form again human. Her form followed suit.
“We must clean up,” he said.
“And get our story straight,” she added.
“A witch, I think?” he said.
“Yes. She lured us with candy, and tried to eat us.”
Her sultry, vicious grin was back. He washed the gore from his face with a piece of the bed clothes a small basin of water, then tossed the cloth to her with a chuckle.
“Tried to eat us. Priceless, sister. Simply priceless.”
“So we did what?”
“So we knocked her over the head, and she landed in the fireplace.”
“Excellent. And we ran in terror.”
She faked a shudder, licking her full lips.
“Absolute terror, brother.”
He lay the bloody piece of cloth over the woman’s remains and dragged the carcass over to the fireplace. With the hook from the kettle, he drug out one burning log and lay it across the dead body. It smoldered a moment, drying the cloth out, then began to smoke and finally, to catch fire. His sister pressed herself against him and kissed him once more, then started out the front door with a giggle.
“I’ll deal with you soon enough,” he said, and smacked her on her posterior.
“Don’t wait too long, brother,” she said.
They left the hut as it began to blaze, the curl of fluffy white smoke turned to black billows. She darted ahead, filling the air with laughter, and he followed, playfully.
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