"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

"The Rose Eater"

Submitted by Tom Turnasella

Another one gone
Snatched up in the night
To the townsfolk’s dismay
And the witch’s delight

Age five and a half
Sweet Emily Sloane
Plucked from her warm pillow
And carried away from her home

The people all knew
With no doubts in their mind
The Rose Eater had come
And left naught but her sign

A thorned stem with no color
Stripped of its petals red
Was lain very careful
Across the missing girl’s bed

Hung by her thin ankles
The small child bled dry
From a thousand careful cuts
‘Til dawn pierced the night sky

From precious warm blood
The twisted hag drank deep
Reveled in phantasmagoria
And dreamt without sleep

A carved wooden doll
For each child that died
While black sorcery held
Their souls trapped inside

Fear gripped the poor town
Fifty years to the day
To what ends the witch worked
None surely could say

With each child consumed
The power inside her grew
‘Til at last she desired
To taste something new

Something rare, something pure
To power her corrupted art
She hungered for aged innocence
A wedded virgin’s heart

Just as the new hunger
In her black soul did arise
So too came wicked thoughts
And a plan she devised

Not far from the crone’s hut
The royal castle did wait
For the princess to arrive
And her wedding celebrate

Yet the princess delayed
Then came not at all
And the kingdom was wrapped
In misery’s pall

The newly wed prince
Venturing out on his own
Tread deep into the forest
Without word to the throne

He sought and he searched
But no trace did he find
Of his lady, sweet and pure
In the dark, looming pines

But then, a thunderclap
As if just underground
He readied his dagger
At the great booming sound

Black fire blazed high
Rose petals rained down
And the old witch stepped forth
In her long, tattered gown

Her cloak, once pure white
Stained fully in red
Dyed deep in the seams
With innocent blood she had shed

Pulling back her torn cowl
Her dread mask now was shown
A most fearsome visage
Of carved wormwood and bone

“I have what you seek…”
The hag spoke with a rasp
“But a trade you must make
Ere my offer you grasp.”

“And what do you wish?”
The prince sneered in retort
He smirked without fear
To challenge of any sort

The Rose Eater cackled
“A tribute most grim.
But offer it quickly.
Your bride’s fate is my whim.”

“Flesh for flesh is the bargain
With no compromise.
Grip your blade, bold prince,
And carve out your eyes.”

The young man was aghast
At such a vile request
But in her tone he discerned
No levity or jest

“Come now, make haste,
And with this act declare
Your true love and devotion
For your sweet lady fair.”

The prince knew the Rose Eater
The old stories were true
Her cruelty was legend
He knew what he must do

He gripped-sure his blade
And thought of his wife
He grit his teeth with a groan
And plunged in the knife

Gore dripped from his wounds
The gruesome deed done
But the prince knew with this pain
His bride’s freedom he had won

Knelt with pain, blind and bleeding
The prince reached without grace
His weary heart leapt in joy
As he touched his lady’s face

He embraced her and laughed
But with his kiss returned doubt
The princess was silent
There was blood in her mouth

The prince moved his hand slowly
Fear gripped him now, once again
As he touched the gaping wound
Where her heart should have been

He screamed and he cursed
As the witch vanished from the hill
The prince searched, but found nothing
Cursed to wander there still

Though the Rose Eater vanished
The people sometimes still find
A thorned stem, plucked bare
And hear screams of the blind