"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Fairy tale "

Submitted by Jesus lizard

Once upon a time, a young boy and a little girl lived with their great family in a big, cozy house on the edge of town. One day the boy and girl went into the woods and found themselves lost. Through the shadowy wood they walked, calling out to their family and losing themselves even further. They stumbled through the unfriendly forest for what felt like an age, until all at once they saw light streaming through the trees ahead. Out of the shadow of the forest and before them was a brown sandy beach and a placid sea. This puzzled the children, as they did not live near any shore.

                After a time they forgot their troubles and played with the sea. Together the children and the water took turns chasing one another up and down the beach, and when this grew boring the sea brought strange shells and bones and jewels to take with them. As they combed the sands for treasures they saw a cave beneath the roots of a great dead tree, yawning dark and mysterious.

                The young boy and the little girl crept into the cave, though the ocean waved to them and called them back to play. In the depths of the earth they came upon many skeletons at rest, covered in centuries of cobwebs. Some were nearly buried, but all were complete and pristine. No tooth was missing or skull cracked. The children shook as they passed the sleeping dead by, for though they were shaped as human beings they were not the bones of people. Deep within the tunnel they found themselves in a vast room, carpeted in sharp rocks and soft gray dust that was undisturbed by any footprint but their own. In the center of the room there rested a wide basin of stone, surrounded by a circle of towering bones from giant’s fingers. Through the gloom, in the distance, they could see a great castle.

                In the circle there came to them a witch, and though she was beautiful and tall her skin was gray and her ears were long and pointed. “You are lost.” She said, and beckoned them closer. “The way home is fraught with terrible dangers. Live with me in my castle and play with the sea. You will be glad and without sorrows.” But the children missed their family and refused. The witch sighed and nodded, kneeling to look them in the eyes.

“Then you must follow the path through the wood and cross the stones where it ends. Only then will you return to your house in the town and your great family.” The gray lady rose and turned from them to face the spires of her citadel. “There are others who have lost their way on the path. Do not speak to them, for a monster walks among the wanderers and eats them for his food. He will try to trick you.” In a hushed whisper she looked over her shoulder at them. “Do not stray from the path. There are fairies in the deep wood.”

After this the witch and the children parted ways.

The path waited for them outside of the cavern, railed and covered by wooden planks. Over the creaking timbers the two children walked, back into the silent forest and the dappled darkness. The sea was sad to see them go. After a long time they began to pass other paths that joined with and forked off from their own, and on them they met many strangers. One bent and cowled woman pushed a carefully covered baby carriage past them and put her finger to her lips.

On their own empty path they saw a man leaning against a tree and resting. He looked up at them and smiled. “Are you lost?” he asked, giving them a friendly grin. The children quietly passed him by. They did not see him continue to grin as he watched them go. Again they saw him ahead, but this time his eyes were strange as could be and he was fat. “Where are you going?” he wheezed, smiling sharp and crooked teeth. Though they were disturbed the children ignored him.

Again the children met the man, only this time it was when they heard his footsteps behind them. They turned to see the stranger, eyes red as blood and stomach bulging – his face long and lean like a knobbly snout. “Do you need help?” he asked, another voice deep and wrong hissed beneath his speech. The children ran until it was dark, but all the while they heard his laughter ringing all around them and saw a crouched, clawed shadow with ember eyes in the distant trees.

When the children awoke, still on their weary feet, rain trickled down from the treetops above to splash their faces and clean their tears away. The monster was gone, chased off by the gray light of morning that flowed from above with the water. The planks on the path ran out, giving way to a small trail of wet sand and pebbles. The children followed it, and all day the rain poured gently down over the rocky ground. It was evening when the shower passed, and the children came to a stream. In the babbling water there were several large and evenly placed mossy stones jutting from the shallow water. “Look!” cried the boy, lifting his foot to step onto the first rock. “Here are the stones the witch told us to cross!”  “What if these are not the right stones?” His sister asked, looking around for fear of becoming even more lost.

But the boy was excited to go home and would not listen. The little girl followed him over the stones, but over her shoulder thought she saw the path curve off into the trees behind them. “We will be able to find our way back…” she reassured herself. Night fell over them instantly as they reached the opposite shore. The stream had not been wide, but it felt as if a slow eternity had crawled by while they skipped from stone to stone. The children found themselves on a snowy shore where no tree grew, as if they had walked into an empty dream. Stars twinkled all around them and snow crunched beneath their feet. A chill wind blew around them, quiet and soft but hungry to bite at bone. Their home stood before them, glimmering with light. Without remembering having entered, the children found themselves in the bedroom of their family. The big dresser, high backed chairs and comfortable bed were all lit by the soft and comforting lamps that they knew well. Relief flowed through them and they laughed and smiled. Their joy turned to panic as the voices of grandparents and aunts greeted them in the empty room.

The drawers of the dresser slid open, the silk sheets of the bed rose up with many shapes, and from every surface grew long, bony, dark arms that reached out and stretched blindly for them. The children fled back into the twinkling winter nightmare, their steps slow and the voices of their loved ones moaning behind them. Each could feel the claws at their back, clutching and snatching sluggishly at their clothes and hair. “I can see the creek!” cried the sister, her brother’s feet already splashing through the rocky stream. “Come back! Come back! Please, come back!” the voices behind groaned and cried, warbling and full of sadness.

The path they had forsaken was easy to find, and not far along it there were round flat stepping stones cracked with age and carved with faded runes. The boy burst from the trees, panting and staring up at the cozy house at the edge of town. Never had it looked more warm and inviting. “We’ve made it!” he shouted, jumping and turning to look for his sister.

But the girl was gone. He waited at the edge of the wood for her, and even swallowed his terror to go back inside to search for her. A chill swept through him. He had plugged his ears as he ran to shut out the begging voices, and so did not hear a new one join them.