's 2016 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Sabedile

The sun had sunk and the freezing north wind lashed the woods. All was cold, dark and hunger for the lost elderly woman. She walked for hours feeling the trees around her and the rock, the roots and the moss beneath her worn out shoes. She could perceive a sweet but faint fragrance that invited her closer; she would constantly lose its trace only to find it again as quickly as it had left. Her nose took her to where she could not walk further, a wall. She stretched out her arms and stroked its stones with her fingers until she reached some stairs, and up them she went. The wooden door creaked as she opened it and again as she closed it trying to leave the cold outside.

She lit the fireplace and all became illuminated. It was only a small forsaken cottage, but it was the closest thing to a home she had found in a long time. The smell that she could barely detect before became overwhelming once the fire was burning. It was a savory aroma, but there was not any food to soothe its temptation. It was a scent to be followed. It rose from the tongues of fire that reached from the hearth, which was crowned by two eyes that were painted on the rough wall. The firewood's crackling seemed like words to her, obscure at first, but with her eyes unavoidably fixated on the dancing flames, the woman began to understand them. They were words of hunger.

Hunger. She had found a solution for the cold, but not for hunger. It was twisting in her stomach like a traitor's knife. She had managed to support herself in the past, in other houses, but she never stayed for long. She was too old, too wise. Too many women had come to her in whispers for her to stay in one place. But she survived. She couldn't say much else. She had lit the fire, blazing and hungry, and that same ardor was set aflame inside her like a fuse. What was shaking in her gut was not just hunger, it was the obsessive warmth of hope. She was a survivor.

Someone knocked on the door. Two children.