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Re: [May 2016] - Well known fairy tales from a different POV - Submission Thread Peter and James Learn How to Fly
1500 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Peter and James Learn How to Fly

This is the story of Peter and James. The closest companions. Grown-ups would mock them for being tied at the hip; so much so, Peter often checked himself for black thread snaking between their skin.

They had abandoned their parents young, learned to live in the trees and the parks in the wilds of their city. But it wasn’t their city, it should have been, but the boys knew it could never be. There were far too many grown-ups for that. They were tall and dour and mean. They smelt strange and spoke in a monotone manner.

Peter was the older sibling by ten months, so was naturally the leader. He would take James on adventures, “Grand adventures” Peter would exclaim. He thought of the world as his playground, and everyone in it his toy soldiers to play with.
He would drag James to the tops of the highest branches, bare feet scratching and knees scraping at the leaves and twigs; they would disturb bird nests, and James would laugh when Peter put one on his head, flapping his arms like wings. Peter would often pretend to fly.

“I’ll jump one day, and the world will catch me!” he told James; the grown-ups would watch him soar above their heads, hats toppling like black dominos. Peter would laugh at them and feel the wind in his ears, light and free with no one able to stop him.

James would snigger and poke him in the side, mocking his dreamy boasting with a higher pitched squeak. “But why would it catch youuuuu” he said. Peter thrust his arms against his sides in a pose and smiled widely, yelling in his brother’s face.

“Because I’m a boy silly!”


One night, Peter pointed to the top of a building, a blackened grotesque hanging over the edge of a house. “I can climb up there” he said, “faster than you”

James shook his head boldly, but felt dizzy when peering up at the terrifying height of the statue. He followed Peter up the side of the building despite himself, bare feet slipping against pristine glass windows with a rubbery squeak.

James clutched at the grotesque desperately, disturbed by the curling tongue of the demon. “But how will we get down?” he said, calling up to Peter who stood proudly on the head of the statue, arms pressed to his sides like a Captain on his ship.

“We’ll fly!” Peter said with a beaming smile, “All you have to do is believe you can”

James shook his head but was hauled to the tip of the crumbling grotesque by Peter’s grasping hands. He held his brother’s fingers and leaned over the edge, toes slipping against the cold stone. The two boys fell; the street hungry for their small bones and gangly limbs; the air rushing past their ears and streaming into eyes.

Peter believed and James believed in his brother. They soared into the air and circled around the park they lived in. They were higher than the trees! Taller than the tallest building on earth! They whooped and cheered as they flew together, flying higher and higher into the sky and further and further away from London below. 

After flying all night, they found a place known as Neverland. There were more boys there, abandoned by parents. They covered themselves in leaves and ruled the world on their little island. Peter was their leader. The boys following his every word. He was enthusiastic, screaming fun in the other boys’ faces. They all hallooed and leapt up joyously at his words.

But soon, James found himself tiring of the fun, even irritated by Peter’s boasting every time another Lost Boy (as Peter called them) suggested something and he took credit for his marvellous idea. “I’m just so clever!” Peter would say to them all, as the boys nodded enthusiastically, “We have such awfully big adventures!”

James began gritting his teeth every time he heard that little catchphrase. There were differences between him and Peter and the Lost Boys now. He was having to look down at them, his legs taller and thicker. When Peter led them on an adventure to a waterfall another Lost Boy had already found they all stripped and dived in, yelling and splashing each other. James realised how pink they all were, how freckled Peter’s round face as he grinned and played his makeshift flute, badly.

James would look at himself and see black hairs in strange places; he was embarrassed by them. No Lost Boy had ever been embarrassed. He slunk away into the forest, and felt alone.

Why was he so different than them?

He sulked into the jungle and heard voices beyond; a small cove with golden sands and gentle blue waves lapping at its edge. He saw grown-ups. They had beards and long hair. Except one; a younger boy with a shaved head, he was about James’ height. He dropped the crate he was carrying and stared at James hiding in the bushes. James crept out slowly to him.

They soon realised they were like each other; not a boy anymore, but not a grown-up either. James felt calmer with him, the word ‘normal’ entering his mind. He did not mention the Lost Boys, or Peter. The other pirates saw him and came over with gruff voices, jokes and hot breath stinking of beer. James shrunk behind the other boy as he explained to them where he’d found him.

James went with the pirates, marvelling at the size of their great ship; creaking wooden beams and crisp white sails towering above his head. The other boy smiled and patted him on the shoulder, giving him a guided tour. He felt happy again. James had found somewhere he belonged.

But Peter spotted the pirates taking James away, and declared to his Lost Boys his brother had been kidnapped! They must rescue him! “It would be an awfully big adventure” he screamed, as the boys stamped their feet in the sand, high pitched voices filling the jungle air with a heavy screech.

Peter flew onto the ship in his attack, spreading his arms wide like a hero. He pulled out his wooden sword and smacked one pirate over the head, knocking his hat flying as he swept through the air with ease.

His Lost Boys attacked the ship. They flew covered in a glittering, golden dust; laughing and erupting with screams as they kicked the faces of the pirates as they flew past. A few were grabbed, hauled to the deck with meaty hands. Peter kept laughing. “An awfully grand adventure this is!” he yelled above them, snaking between the flapping sails above the water.

He swept down and grabbed James, struck dumb with horror as he saw more Lost Boys plucked and smashed to the ground, heads cracking against wood or tossed overboard into the waves.
James held on desperately as they barrelled downwards, Peter unable to hold his weight up much longer. They splashed into the cold sea.

James spat out salt water and retched. He saw Peter fly out like a salmon and hover above him, hands on hips. “I rescued you James!” he said, dancing in the air effortlessly. James shook his head and bit back his fury, pointing to the ship desperately.

“The Lost Boys!” he said, spitting at his brother, “You killed them”

Peter frowned and shook his head. “But I saved you from the nasty evil Pirates James, it was an awfully big adventure too!” he said, flying above James bobbing in the water and swooping high into the air, “A grand adventure” he yelled before disappearing back towards the jungle. James splashed and crawled onto the shore, collapsing in pain. His head hurt and he wanted to be sick. He could hear Peter flying in the distance yelling to himself about adventures.

James swallowed and felt searing pain in his wrist. He turned to see a crocodile peering at him, its jaws consuming his hand. He screamed and called out for help. He tugged and tugged and kicked at the animal. It hissed, hauled its great body back. Its jaws tore at the skin and bones of James’ arm. He cried out again and collapsed in a heap; the pain too much to bear, blood seeping down his arm in a river.

James woke in a dark room to swaying floors and creaking sails. His friend stood over him, a sad smile painted on his lips. He said he was sorry for the hand.

James looked at his right arm, feeling nothing but numbness. The bloody stump of his elbow was all that was left. He wept silently as he stared at the metal hook they had tied round his lost hand.

James would be known as Hook now, he knew, with tears in his eyes and fury itching at his skin. He cursed Peter’s name, and realised he had forgotten how to fly.


May 07, 2016, 01:42:32 AM
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Re: [May 2016] - Well known fairy tales from a different POV - Submission Thread Here is my May entry, coming in at 1,498 words. It's titled...

How I Met Your Mother


Spoiler for Hiden:
How did I meet your mother? You want to hear that old story. Are you sure you won’t be scared? Yes, you can sit in my lap. But if you fall asleep, I’m taking you straight off to bed.

Once upon a time, seven dwifes stood weeping around a crystal casket in a forest glade. Yes, that’s the right word: dwifes. Are you telling this story or am I? Inside the casket was the handsomest prince in the whole world, Stormwhite.

I’m starting at the wrong place? Alright. We'll go farther back.

Stormwhite was born during a blizzard such as no one had ever seen. Snow peaked as tall as mountains. Stormwhite’s father, the king, was visiting a remote village when the storm struck, and every soul there froze.

When the queen heard that her husband was dead, she tried to throw herself from the tallest castle tower. The servants held her back, but she was so stricken by grief that she began to waste away. At last, they sent for a wizard who lived in the dark forest to see if he could help their queen. He arrived in a cloud of ravens and examined her. “I can help,” he said. “But if I do, you must let me make her my wife. I will be king over you all.”

That is what happened. The queen married the wizard. The wizard became our king.

In those years, I hunted wild game to feed the castle’s ovens. What happened inside that mass of towers didn't concern me much, as long as I was paid and left alone. But even I noticed the ravens. They filled the halls, and screamed at the servants. They pecked the dogs and terrorized the cats. The queen was nowhere to be seen; and Stormwhite, who was by then a rambunctious little boy, was left to run wild.

One day, I knocked at the kitchen door to drop off game, and found no one there. I wandered through dusty corridors under the beady gaze of the wizard’s birds. I heard voices, and went silently up a graceful staircase. The wizard-king stood before a huge, gilt-framed mirror. He wore the king’s crown on his head and the queen’s circlet on his brow. Stormwhite played with chicken bones on the bare floor at his feet.

The king raised his hands and commanded: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

Golden clouds filled the glass, and a woman’s face appeared. “You, oh king, are my fairest flower. If you ever loved me, free me to feel the sun on my face and your kiss on my lips.”

“Love is fickle,” replied the king. “Love is weak. Only strength survives, and only strength makes beauty thrive.” He spun toward the doorway where I spied. “You there, come out!” Though I hesitated, I didn’t run. “As you see, the servants have all abandoned us. You are now my chatelain, my cook, and this child’s keeper.” He waved dismissively at Stormwhite.

Such was the power of his voice, that what he said came true. I spent my days hunting, my nights and mornings serving. Stormwhite followed me everywhere. The child was starved for love. He was a sweet boy - love was easy to give.

Each and every morning, the king stood in front of the mirror and asked the same question: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” The sad creature answered the same way every time: “You, oh king, are fairest.”

On Stormwhite’s sixteenth birthday, the king stood before the mirror as always. But this time, the mirror declared, “You are the fairest king, it’s true. But Stormwhite has grown fairer than you.” The king turned purple with rage. The ravens screamed and hurled themselves about the room.

“You!”  he ordered me. “Take Stormwhite into the woods and kill him. Bring back his heart so that I know the deed is done!”

Such was the power of the king’s voice that once again I had to do his bidding. Though Stormwhite had grown tall, I was stronger still. I grabbed an axe, and we left the castle. The sweet boy begged me to stop, but it was only when we’d gone deep into the woods that I could resist the spell. “Quickly,” I said. “Leave me before I strike you dead. Go, and never return.”

When Stormwhite was well away, I slew a deer, carved out it’s heart, and bore it to the king, who made me serve it to him with turnips and potatoes.

Stormwhite wandered the forest, hungry and lost. He came across a little cottage up against a hill. Inside, he found seven chairs around a wooden table set with seven plates of gold, seven spoons, and seven knives. There were seven fiddles by the fireplace, and seven beds and wardrobes. Stormwhite ate what he found in the pantry and fell asleep on the softest bed.

He woke to find seven little dwifes staring at him from seven suspicious sets of eyes. Each had a pretty beard but was womanly formed in every other way. The tallest demanded, “Who are you? Why have you eaten our food, and slept in my bed?”

“I’m Stormwhite,” said the lad. “My step-father sent me into the forest to die, but fortune brought me here. If you let me stay, I’ll cook and clean for you, and make things comfortable in every way.”

“He doesn’t look like he’d be much good at cleaning,” said one of the dwifes. “Look at those soft hands.”

“Doesn’t look like he’d be much good at cooking,” said another. “You see an ounce of fat on those arms?”

“Well,” said the leader, “I’m sure we can find some use for a strapping young lad around here, don’t you, ladies?”

Stormwhite learned many things from the dwifes, and was very happy there.

Back at the castle, the king stood before his mirror again. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

The mirror answered, “You are the fairest king it’s true, but Stormwhite in the house of the seven dwifes is fairer still than you.” The king smashed the mirror, then stood weeping and raging among the shards. The ravens took him up in a roiling cloud, off, and over the hills.

Stormwhite was standing at the kitchen sink, yawning, and puzzling how to work the fawcett, when a knock came at the cottage door. An old woman stood there with a basket of apples. “Hello,” said the king - for it was the king in disguise, of course. “Will you buy an apple from an old woman?” He held out a beautiful red fruit.

“Of course, Grandmother,” said Stormwhite. No sooner did Stormwhite bite into the poisoned apple than he fell into a deep, deep sleep.

The king laughed and danced, dropping his disguise. He didn’t notice the dwifes returning from the mines. They took one look at Stormwhite, and realized what had happened. The leader grabbed a gem from her pack and cast it at the king’s head. He tried to prepare a spell, but a second stone took him in the temple. Then another struck, and another. The king fell to the ground, where they crushed him with their shovels.

Leaving the king to the ravens, the dwifes rushed to Stormwhite. They tried every remedy they knew, but nothing roused him. Finally, they made a casket from their finest crystal and placed the boy inside.

This was how things stood for many months. The dwifes visited Stormwhite frequently. As for me, I watched from the trees, ashamed to draw closer.

Word spread of the sleeping prince. As happens, the truth grew more confused the farther the story traveled. Sometimes the sleeper was a beautiful princess; sometimes a handsome prince. So it was that in a distant kingdom, Princess Charming heard there was an enchanted girl and decided to see her for herself. She journeyed many miles, before she reached the place where Stormwhite slept.

Let no one tell you that there’s no such thing as love at first sight. I stood in the shadowed trees,  pulse pounding at the sight of the princess. I did what I hadn’t done in years. I reached inside my shirt, and unwound the wrappings that bound my breasts, un-hid my womanhood. I stepped forward, and met your mother.

As for Stormwhite, your mother’s and my embrace was so ardent that we bumped over the crystal casket. Stormwhite rolled onto the ground, and a piece of apple lodged in his throat came free. Racing to the clearing at the sound of breaking glass, the dwifes greeted the waking lad with joyous cries of “Dwusband!”

It’s time for bed now, sweetling. The moral of the story? Alright, if really you need one, remember this. “Love is treasure. Love is sweet. Only love survives, and only love makes beauty thrive.”

May 08, 2016, 02:25:10 PM
1
Re: [May 2016] - Well known fairy tales from a different POV - Submission Thread weighing in at 1493 total words, i present Sweet Release -- a story that not only is from a different point of view on hansel and gretel, but it'll hopefully change your perspective on the original story.

Spoiler for Hiden:


Sweet Release

She swooped through the boughs, leaves and branches rustling as her wings beat them to the side. Alighting on a low oak perch, she spied a child skipping his way down the trail toward where she sat. She started preening her feathers.

Not now, she told Theo, I need you to be ready for the child. The white crane squawked and refocused its attention on the boy, now poking a stick into a rabbit hole.

The minds of birds were fickle things and tended to wander.

Back in her candied cabin, the witch rocked in her favorite chair and reveled in the child playing.  Her own sightless, red eyes closed, she relied on Theo's for the hunt. The boy, plump and well-fed would be a perfect treat.

From her cottage, Rosina twitched a finger and in the trees, the bird, Theo, plucked one of the sweets from its harness pocket, and dropped it to the trail near the boy.

She saw the youngster pause, blink, trundle over, scoop up the sweet, and pop it into his mouth.

Perfect.

Theo had half a dozen of the confections lashed to his body. The boy would be hers within the hour.


"What's your name, child?" The witch, nearly sightless and with her head cocked, posed the question through a crook-tooth grin. They sat at her little lunch table.

"William, ma'am."

"That's a lovely name. William, don't you think my home is marvelous?"

"Yes, ma'am. It's very nice. I'm sorry I ate part of the shutter. I just couldn't help myself. Did you know it's made of gingerbread?"

"I did indeed. Don't worry, William, we can fix it later. What matters most is what you thought of my secret gingerbread recipe."

"Oh, I loved it. I did!" The boy clapped his hands, excitement shining as he eyed the glaze-and-candy fireplace. William, now confident he wouldn't be scolded, turned back to the old woman and licked his lips. "May I try some more, please?"

"Such a polite boy." Rosina turned and hobbled, half-blind with her wooden cane tapping the way, towards the rear of the sugar cottage. "In fact, I need your help clearing out a few treats and making some room in the candy cellar. Would you like to follow me?"

"Of course!"

The two exited the witch's small home, walked past the vegetable garden, and approached a single, iron-banded door, angled as the entrance of a stone cellar. Rosina produced a key from her pocket and fumbled the lock open.

"This way." She beckoned William to join her in clacking down the hewn steps and into the sputtering shadows below. "I have to keep the sweets deep in the chill of the cellar so it won't melt."

One last glance around the garden, a quivering smile, and William entered the thick door behind the old woman.


The witch Rosina sat at her table, a platter of fresh-picked vegetables in front of her. Centuries spent living in a house constructed from candy had destroyed any sweet tooth she might have possessed. Her cravings ran more along crunchy cabbage and radishes, and she left gulping down fish and the scattered critters to Theo.

As if on cue, the white crane stabbed at a herring and swallowed it whole.

She cleaned up her lunch and prepared William's. Cake, tarts, candied pecans, gingerbread and chocolate sandwiches, all washed down with maple-laden milk -- filling a plump little boy's wildest desires as well as his belly. He'd avoided the treats the first day he was in the cage, but hunger finally pushed him to devour more and more each day since.

Taking his tray down in the cellar, she slid aside the little iron access door and slipped the platter through the slot. William tore into the sugary snacks, devouring the chocolate first. She'd discovered it was his favorite.

"Don't worry, dearest William. As soon as you finish helping me clean out all my leftover treats, I'll release you." She bent, her gnarled teeth showing through the snack door as she spoke. "You're the only one who can help me."

"I'm helping, I'm helping." Tears streaked down round, ruddy cheeks as he pushed a frosted cake into his mouth.

She hadn't lied. She needed his help. Securing the cell again, the witch turned and descended deeper into the candy cellar.

Spiral and torchlit, the stony stairs looped into the darkness. As always, on the trip down, she remembered her first descent down to the pit. It had been as an apprentice to the old witch charged with caring for the candy cottage before her.

She shuddered remembering the first time she'd seen what dwelled at the bottom of the stairs. To this day, herself now the old witch in the gingerbread house, luring children with the promise of sweets and chocolate, it was a memory that often woke her screaming in the night.

Rosina unbarred the door, though she wasn't sure why she barred it at all. An iron bar wouldn't stop them. Nothing would stop them. Well, almost nothing.

She pushed through the door.

The door opened to a rock outcropping, upon which sat a hate-carved stone alter. An immense hole, grave black and spattered with glowing red like hell extinguished, yawned before the offertory.

Rustles and shrieks crackled in the pit's darkness as she scanned the ledge floor where she stood, rough-counting the scattered bones. It appeared they were finished with the sweet, young girl. She began gathering the pieces of picked-over skeleton, gleaming a sharp yellow-white in the light of her torch.

The witch, arms loaded with bone, glanced one final time over the edge, at the burning embers below, before she made her ascent. With her red eyes, she alone in the world knew they weren't hot coals in the dark.

They were the eyes of evil. Devourers of the sinless. Birthed in hell.


Light from the moon shone through the clear sugar panes of her windows and Theo squawked. William had been cooperative, desperate for release. Desperate to see his mother and father again.

Back aching, she pushed herself up from the rocking chair and, once again, with the rising of the full moon, she would feed a child to the World Demons. She would save humanity from their worst sins made flesh and razor clawed. For each of over 2000 full moons, she'd sacrificed the babe-flavored innocence of one child so that many may live torment-free for another cycle.

Even so, those sacrifice tore at her. Tore at her like demons born of another ilk. The eager thought of her estranged children's descendants living to see another moon because she fed young flesh to monsters -- Even that comfort failed in making the duty lighter.

Walking to the window, she gazed out the sugar pane, imagining the ethereal mist giving way to bright moonlight, and envied the quiet peace of the forest. She craved its simplicity.

"What do you think, Theo? Would it be better to just quit? To allow the hell beasts to open their jaws and shred our age?" She glanced over to the crane as it speared, then gulped down another herring.

"I thought you'd say that."

Rosina felt around the edge of her little table where her cane leaned, grabbed it, and hobbled to the back door.

"Fly, my friend." She called over her shoulder, "Begin your quest to find the next."


It was dawn when Rosina emerged from her cellar. She was dirty and sweat-smeared from feeding the coal fires, mentally exhausted from blocking out the screams, glad for the forest breeze clearing out the stink of roasting hair, heartened by birdsong replacing rending wingbeats and vicious shrieks.

Because of her, the teeming farmlands existed, unrazed and unaware. There was comfort in the thought after a night of misery.

She crossed the garden, plucking a pear for breakfast, and entered her sweet home. Eager to rest for the remainder of the day, she put on the kettle and crumbled a handful of dried alfalfa and violet leaves.

A long trill rippled through the silent morning forest. Theo had already found another lost child.

Relaxing her mind, Rosina focused on her Birdsight and found the perched crane. He'd found not one, but two children wandering her path. Brother and sister, she could tell. Her first thought was to the small victory -- it would be two months before she had to disrupt another family. Some mother would have an extra month with her child.

She watched through the crane's eyes as the boy bent and scooped up the stick of licorice.

"Gretel," he called. "Over here. I've found another one."

"Wait for me, Hansel. Please don't eat it all. I'm hungry, too."

Leaning back in her rocking chair, the witch sighed. "Yes, children. Follow my Theo and I will feed you for the rest of your life."


May 11, 2016, 10:52:22 PM
1
Re: [May 2016] - Well known fairy tales from a different POV - Submission Thread I wasn't sure I was going to get a story in for this month (I have been so bloody busy) but I managed to bang something out last night. It should be obvious from the context the story I'm twisting, but just in case it's not, here's the wikipedia summary. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapunzel

Twitter at @TEricBakutis

Coming in at precisely 1,500 words (excluding section break characters, and THE END), here's this month's submission. Hope you enjoy!

The Strangled Heart (1,500 words)

Spoiler for Hiden:
The blood rites were finished, the words of power chanted, and the potion prepared. A drop a day would save the afflicted babe, but Ana felt ravaged from the inside out. This spellwork had stolen years of her life, but what alternative did she have? If she did nothing, she might as well murder the baby herself.

The sobbing parents arrived at dusk, motivated, Ana assumed, by fear. Everyone feared Dame Ana Gothel, and Ana bore the loneliness without complaint because the alternative was chaos. Her words of power would be used to kill, her runes to imprison, her magic plants to plague and poison.

No one else remained to protect the Walled Garden from men.

When the miserable couple reached the edge of her verdant estate, the mother’s sobs matched her babe’s. The smell of rotting leaves rolled off this mother, the stench of despair. Ana understood despair – she understood the pain of losing her only child – but this mother would not see her child die.

The father stank of frustration and regret, the stench of a bog mixed with the smell of iron and blood. He blamed Ana for this, of course, but Ana’s focus remained on the babe, on the squalling her parents assumed was natural. It most certainly was not. This babe was in agony, spiky roots tightening around her heart.

The mother wailed and clutched her newborn daughter to her breast. “Why must you steal our child, Dame Gothel? How have we wronged you?”

“The babe was never yours.” Ana maintained the stately pose she had cultivated to hide doubt and pain.

“I carried her!” the mother wailed. “I birthed her!”

“If you believe our bargain unfair, your quarrel is with your husband.” It was the greed of this father, after all, that sentenced his child to death.

“A bargain is a bargain.” The father motioned, impatiently, to the mother. “Give her the child, Nan.”

His emotions now smelled like spoiled oranges - guilt. Ana knew then he had not told his wife what the stolen rampion had done to their child in her womb. Men like him did not admit fault.

“All we took was a plant!” the mother wailed. “Why must I trade my child for a plant?”

“Ask your husband.” Ana stared at the man until his eyes fell.

“You’ll kill her!” the mother shouted. “You’ll sacrifice her in some blood rite! I won’t let you!”

“Your daughter dies already. Do you not hear the truth in her cries?”

The mother gasped. “You ensorcelled my child?”

“The rampion you stole from my garden did that. The plant you so foolishly gorged upon is strangling your child’s heart.”

“That can’t be true!” The mother’s eyes welled as she glared at her husband. “Eddard! Tell me it isn’t true!” The smell of her betrayal hung on the air, sickly and sweet.

The father’s downcast eyes damned him more than any word from Ana ever could. Ana stared at the mother. She stared at the dying babe. And with one more sniffle, that babe was hers.

* * *

Fortunately for young Rapunzel — named, Ana decided, for the enchanted rampion wrapped around her tiny heart — drops of Ana’s potion slowed the plant’s growth and kept the baby alive. As years passed and the babe grew into a young girl, who grew into a young woman, Ana began to hope this child — her child, now, because she could no longer think of little Rapunzel as anyone else — would one day venture beyond the Walled Garden. If Ana could find some way to unwind those hungry roots from her heart.

The answer came on a fresh spring day, Rapunzel’s twelfth birthday. As Ana helped her daughter trim the ivy choking their garden’s walls, she saw its true nature. Tendrils around Rapunzel’s heart.

As ivy grew in the direction of water and light, so might the roots of the hungry rampion. Ana could not destroy the rampion, but she could lead its growth elsewhere. Ana would coax the magical plant out through her daughter’s brilliant blond hair.

That night, after Rapunzel slept, Ana returned to her mother’s tower. She carved, and scribed, and chanted, sacrificing decades of her life so her daughter might one day be free of the rampion curse. Ana knew when she was done, breathless and quivering with pain, that this blood enchantment would draw the rampion out of her daughter — but only if Rapunzel remained in the tower until the healing was complete.

Given enough years in this enchanted tower, the roots strangling her daughter’s heart would grow into luxurious blond hair, strong as hemp rope and long as the ivy clinging to the Walled Garden’s stones. Why strangle a heart when you could spread your blond roots, drinking in sweet sunlight and fresh air?

Ana would not live forever, certainly not as long as Rapunzel, not now. She had sacrificed so much of her life, and when she died, who would conjure the potion that kept the rampion from strangling her daughter’s heart? This tower was her only daughter’s salvation.

Some day, Ana would make Rapunzel understand.

* * *

The moon was bright when the prince climbed the strong blond curls that had once strangled Rapunzel’s heart. When he saw Ana waiting for him, he almost fell right off the tower, and Ana was sorely tempted to let him fall. He was the reason her daughter hated her.

“Dame Gothel!” The prince’s eyes narrowed as his hand brushed his sword hilt. “Where is Rapunzel?” Like all outsiders, his first solution to conflict was violence.

“Not here,” Ana said.

“Foul enchantress! What have you done with her?”

“I haven’t made her pregnant, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I’d never..." the prince began, but his flush gave him away. “We didn’t … we only…”

“Rapunzel is gone, you fool.” The air shimmered as the rage Ana restrained writhed inside her. “She hates me, and will always hate me, but she is now free.” This prince had filled Rapunzel's head with lies, seduced her, used her, but he would not kill her. “You will never see her again.”

“You imprisoned her!” The prince pointed an accusatory finger. “You kept her in this tower against her will!”

 “I saved her life, foolish boy.” Ana’s grief and despair smashed against her mental gates, shaking the tower and forcing the prince a step back. “I loved her, protected her, taught her, and now you have poisoned her heart against me. Yet you failed to kill her. I stopped that.”

“What do you mean? Why would I kill her?”

“If you had dragged her from this tower before her healing was complete, the decades I’ve sacrificed would be wasted. I sheared Rapunzel’s fatal curse from her head this morning, even as she shrieked at my cruelty and demanded her release. I love her, I will always love her, and so I set her free.”

Rapunzel's curses and threats had ruined Ana worse than rampion around her own heart, strangling, crushing, feeding. There was no pain like the hate of one’s own daughter.

“Where is she?” the prince demanded.

“Why do you care? You’ve already sown your wild oats.”

“I love her, Dame Gothel!” The sincerity of his emotions rolled off the prince in waves. “We are betrothed!”

His love was the smell of cherry blossoms in bright spring, a fresh rain on clean grass. It might not ease Ana’s grief, but it could ease Rapunzel’s. “Prove it.” Could Ana save her daughter one last time?

“I will do anything to find her. Anything! Please, help me.”

The prince craved magic. They all craved magic, just like Rapunzel’s birth mother craved that stolen rampion. So be it. Ana was done protecting these fools from the garden’s magic, done sacrificing her life for people who feared and hated her. Her own daughter had cursed her and left her alone, to die.

Ana clapped her hands and said the words.

Where once a prince stood now flapped a bird, small and blue and chirping with outrage. As Ana approached, it fluttered and squawked around the room. Ana spoke loud enough for the bird to hear.

“Fly to your Rapunzel, little prince. Fly far. If you truly love her, and if you can find her, her touch will restore your form. Find your betrothed and bring her, and her child, the happiness I never could.”

The transformed prince fluttered to the window sill, glanced back. Then he was off and flying before Ana’s legs gave out, before she collapsed on the cold stone floor, exhausted. Her life drained.

Dame Ana Gothel would never see another sunrise. She had given everything for Rapunzel, and now her tower, her garden, and her legacy would crumble to dust. She would die alone, wrapped in her daughter’s hate, but Rapunzel would live on with her prince, happy and alive.

If Ana left nothing else to the world that hated her, she left that.

THE END

May 24, 2016, 06:39:14 PM
1
Re: [May 2016] - Well known fairy tales from a different POV - Submission Thread The Magical Lamp (1490) words:

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Magical Lamp

    An old man traveled across the desert and arrived at a small town. He asked for water and food, but no one helped him. A woman offered him shelter, and he accepted. She had three sons, all in their early teens.
   “Who’s this dirty old man?” said the tallest one.
   “A traveler in need of shelter, son.”
   “Is he gonna pay us?” asked the youngest.
   “To your rooms! Now!”
   The boys begrudgingly obeyed and slammed their doors shut. The woman sighed. “Sorry about this. They lost their father in the war last year. I wish he had never left, so we could have remained a happy family.”
   At dinner, the boys mocked the old man, despite the mother’s protests. One boy said that gold was the most important thing, the other it was power and the other said it was women.
   This got the old traveler’s attention and he offered to tell the true tale of the magical lamp and about people’s greed. They mocked him again, but agreed to listen to the story.     

            ***

   A long time ago, djinns and humanity fought a war and the humans won with the help of the gods. All djinns were killed, except for one. His wrists were locked in golden manacles and a lamp was his prison. He was sentenced to realize humans’ wishes, a mocking punishment for the attempt to destroy the gods’ greatest creation.
   His first master was a rustic man. “Djinn, give me the most powerful weapon in the world so I can be the greatest warrior of all!”
   The djinn then forged an unbreakable scimitar, it’s blade able to cut through rock and metal, and gave it to the warrior. He went to battle right away and was killed right away by his first opponent. The scimitar was gifted to the sultan and no one knew the name of the warrior.
   Because he wished for the most powerful weapon, but not for the skill to wield it.

   An scavenger found the lamp and summoned the djinn. “I want so much gold that I will become the richest man in the world!”
   The djinn then dug a giant golden nugget from the mines of the gods themselves, a nugget taller than a tree and larger than a river; it shook the earth when it fell from the heavens. The scavenger embraced it, dreaming of everything he would have, but his treasure was too heavy and he could not move it. He spent days trying, and soon the entire kingdom knew about the treasure and fought for it.
   The sultan had an army, easily claimed the gold and moved it to his palace. The scavenger died in the battle and another spent his wealth.
   Because he wished for gold, but not for the strength to carry it.

   The vizier came into possession of the magical lamp. “The sultan has the blade of heavens, all the gold in the world and his daughter is the most beautiful woman to have walked the earth. Grant me power, djinn, so I can take all that as mine.”
   The djinn visited the guardians who watched over the volcanoes, oceans, mountains and skies of the world, received their blessing and granted the vizier command over the elements and inhuman strength and speed.
   Now a powerful sorcerer, he attacked the palace with lightning and fire and fought dozens of men by himself. The sultan fled the capital.
   On the first day ruling, the vizier married the princess and declared all the people were now his slaves. As he was taking the princess to his chambers, he felt a sharp pain in his chest and fell dead. The sultan returned, restored everything back to normal and the vizier was left to rot on the desert, as nobody cared to dig him a grave.
   Because he wished for power, but not for the longevity to abuse it.

   Now the sultan had the magical lamp. Barring sorcery, he was the most powerful and rich man in the world, also regarded by his subjects as just and wise. He spent a month talking to religious leaders, philosophers, teachers, doctors, soldiers and common people, and another month meditating on what he had discussed. Then he said his wish:
   “Great djinn, I concluded that the greatest enemy of men is time. Gold, power, wisdom… all this and much more can be obtained by anyone, given time. I want to be free of this restraint. I wish to live forever, so I can see and known all the world has to offer, now and forever, and to also continue to serve and better the lives of my people and kingdom. I wish for immortality.”
   The djinn searched the gods themselves for this request. Amused, they gave him their blessing and the djinn bestowed upon the sultan the gift of eternal life.
   The sultan was elated, becoming even more generous with his people. He funded artists and scholars, doctors and builders, he himself became immersed in books and scrolls from all over the world.
   But years, then decades passed and the sultan felt more and more tired, his sight grew blurrier by the day and his ears required great effort to hear the loudest of noises. He became ill of body and mind; he had difficulty feeding himself, discussed with viziers he did not remember appointing and slept alongside wives he did not remember marrying.
   Finally, he could no longer take it, and asked to be killed. But even beheaded, he would not die. The viziers put his head inside a jar and hid it away in the dungeon. Then they waged war upon each other. With the kingdom weakened, a foreign king invaded and razed it, and it would never rise again.
   Locked and buried even further beneath the sands of the desert, the sultan despaired at his eternal damnation.
   Because he wished for immortality, but not for the youth and health to enjoy it.

   During that war, a slave fled the kingdom and carried the magical lamp. He was not born a slave, but was the prince of a kingdom the sultan conquered. He asked the djinn’s story, the first to do it. Learning of what happened to those who had wishes granted, he asked the djinn:
   “What is your own wish, granter of wishes?”
   “To be free, to avenge my kin and enslave your kind as you did to us, to control this earth, as you, creatures of mud and dirt, are unworthy of it.”
   “But then you will be no different than us.”
   “You dare compare me, born of the smokeless fire, to you? Why is that?”
   “Because you wish for freedom, but only to imprison the whole world.”
   The djinn raged, but admitted the hypocrisy. The prince had no land to return, no family or loved ones still alive and so, he traveled to distant lands, doing his best to show the good side of the humans. Slowly, the djinn’s fury quenched and even started liking the humans. They were not all hopeless.
   “I was a slave, but that would not last forever. You, however, are bound to eternal servitude. My wish is for your freedom, and you will remain free as long as you never harm a human being.”
   The djinn accepted, and his golden manacles fell to the ground, and he flied with joy. The gods allowed this, but forbid him from ever approaching the prince again. The djinn was sad, but learned years later that his golden manacles were sold and that allowed the prince to build a home, a family and live happily until the end of his days.
   As for the djinn, he traveled the land, some said he still granted wishes, but only to good people he liked, for he was now a master of his own life.

            ***

   The boys all thought the story was ridiculous, mocked the old traveler and went to sleep. The mother apologized on their behalf and prepared a place for the old man to sleep near the fire.
   At morning, the woman gave him supplies and wished him good luck. The youngest son gave him a spare set of clothes. The oldest gave nothing, but said he was going out to look for a job. And the other brother was cleaning the house. The mother furrowed her eyebrows at this.
   When the old traveler turned a corner, he looked back at the house, and saw a man approaching it. The woman and the children ran to him.
   “Father?”
   “Husband? I thought you were dead.”
   The man shook his head. “I got lost in the desert after the battle. Had no idea where I was going, but today I woke up and the town was right ahead of me. I can’t believe I didn’t saw it before.” Then they hugged each other and cried.
   The old man resumed his path, satisfied with himself.
   Because he wished for hope, and repaid it with kindness.

June 01, 2016, 09:55:16 PM
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Re: [Jun 2016] - Random Wikipedia Article - Submission Thread Random Wikipedia Article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Hindson

Ed Hindson - an American Christian TV Evangelist, host of the show The King Is Coming.

The King is Coming
Word Count: 1483

Spoiler for Hiden:

The King is Coming

He is pointing at me again, stabbing a porky finger right to my nose. ‘He is coming. You are all doomed. Flesh will be seared from bone, blood boiling in your veins! Your eyes will swivel inside your head and melt into liquid and dribble from your sockets at the mere sight our Lord’s rebirth. You must praise the King.’

The pink man was sweating now, as he always does, staring at me with his puffy little face and rotund belly like my very presence was demonic to him. Perhaps we are. Though if our little village, Chinua, is touched by demons then I fear what the Preacher’s soul is slick with.

I shake my head slowly. I knew he must be crazy. The wives had tutted pitifully at the man’s chants of doom to our supposed unclean souls; I just didn’t believe it was true until now. I dared not touch him, save the diseases he might spew from his stale breath inhabits me. The strange, foreign sickness we had not known existed until his kind brought it here. Whole villages shrunk to their bare bones at a mere cough from a pink man – but Chinua had stayed strong, we let the healthy and abandoned from their now ghostly villages shelter within our clean walls.

Chinua would always survive. No stink breath and foul boils of foreign man can take the land we grow and sow from beneath our feet. It’s ours and not his. Whatever his King might say, or do.

He talks of this King all the time. He is coming. Apparently.

I walk away from him, fearing I may catch more than just his ills. He has built his little nest in a white shed on the edge of town – painted it himself, placed his wooden symbol above the doorway and would desperately welcome any to his ‘paresh’. Whatever that is.

I’d presumed all we had to do was swish our tail and he’d fly away, like the flies covering our cattle, buzzing about his King. But now - I worry. Not for him, but this King. We need no King here, no one does. We are majesties of ourselves – each and every one safe in their own kingdom. There’s been delicate talk on the villagers’ lips.

He was coming from somewhere, reborn or resurrected. A zombie? ‘No’ – an elder had said, punctuating it with his puckered face and waving his wiry arms like sticks – ‘A Crown. A Golden Man in a Pretty Chair of Gold.’

I do not understand why he speaks of such things with awe and wonder. He had too much life of the world before perhaps – before he came to Chinua and understood the way of the world. But if this King of the pink men be a zombie with a crown or a golden mortal in a chair – there was no room here. Not for them. Not with our own Lord to protect us.

Chinua would fight back. I knew it would not be long. I just had to wait; I let the afternoon sun settle over me as I shelter beneath the big green leaves of the black tree in my yard – in my hammock, dusty feet, old feet now, dangling over the edge. I shake my head and shut my eyes for a sleep.

I opened my eyes to a dying orange sun. There were folks talking in huddles nearby. The hum of tense chatter pulsing in the thick air of the early evening. The Woman was banging her crooked staff into the cracked ground, like she was digging for gold like the Spanyard’s who swarmed across the hills in our lands. I toppled out of the hammock and strode over to them – she had her face downcast, deep frowns buried into her leathery face.
‘He is Coming.’ She said, eyes watery and shimmering like pearls.

I nodded and gestured for the crowd to part; after much grumbling I was left alone with The Woman, our oracle and guide – a teacher of the past and future. ‘There is blood in the streets. Fire in our homes. Death in the bones of us,’ shaking her head as if to throw the images from her mind, ‘He is sleeping and shall wake. He must.’

I turned away and sheltered my eyes from the setting sun, the shadows settling across that single white shed among our houses at the edge of the village – the pink man shaking himself out there now, a hand raised to the air, his echoes crying faintly on the breeze as he preached of his Coming King.

The King.

He would not be reborn, not here. Not in Chinua.

I felt better now, not happy. For I knew it would mean his death – but I tugged the strings weaving from my conscience to my heart. It would be a better place with him gone. The King could not come here.

I rested a gentle hand on The Woman’s shoulder and turned her about to lead her home. Her tent – lying in the cool shelter of the gum trees – was safe there. The King would not harm her.

I rested my gaze on the pink man for the last time he would be sane.  ‘The King is Coming.’ He yelled into the sky. ‘The King is Coming.’

I ignored him, trudging up my steps and closing the shawl across the doorway, securing any searing heat and light from entering the cool walls. There was only one Great King. He.

He would protect us. Like He always did. No one needed the pink man’s golden zombie king.

I waited all night, sheltered in the dark and carving my mask. We need not wear them. He did not expect it of us. But I consider it a respect. A standard to show Him, Chinua is in peace and servitude to his slumber. I hear the bells now, the humming in the air. The bugs and the animals alert and wary.

I slip the mask over my head, embracing the great eye sockets and feel the wooden snakes tumbling from the face in my fingers. He is already screaming. The night has shattered to a greater blackness, a shining beacon consuming the pink man’s shed in an impossible crater. He is on his knees outside. The Chinua folk are coming now, one by one. We stand together to protect ourselves from the world – the world that wants us dead and perceives us as nothing but a bug beneath their boot.

I stand before the pink man, wrapped in his white sheet, bawling like the child he once was.
‘You are heathens! Demons. Sinners. Evil incarnate!’

I shake my head, the rest of us following suit.

‘No sir. We are good here. Good Honest People. We do no harm to others cos we know the truth of this world. We do not need your false prophets – no white man’s lies. The Sleeping King. He knows our plight. Wraps us to his bosom sir. He will wait for us all, in the end.’

The pink man screamed as he felt the bones in his face crackle and break, skin stretching from his face to tear away from flesh. He cried out and let the juice from his eyes settle in the back of his head and wept blood from his sockets, smearing down his pink face like tears.

‘The Sleeping King will wait for those chosen to inherit this world with him.’

The abyss opened up to him, its sheer endless terror writhing into his very soul.

‘But not you.’

The portal shuddered black and swam in a thick liquid – a watery world opening itself to him, an impossible place.
A towering city of glass under the sea. A throne at its centre, a crown for the Great One. A Sleeping King – taller than mountains, its sheer size a horror to the small man’s gaze – he could feel acid bubbling on his tongue, his innards willing to exhale themselves from his body at the mere sight. A grand creature writhing with its power.

Asleep. Waiting. Protecting.

The pink man slithered away into the night, his soul departing into the shimmering blackness before us. I watched carefully and breathed in its power. Every time He appears I feel drawn to Him, desperate to step inside and embrace his rest on the throne beneath the depths of our world. But there was too much to do, too much life to live, still.

Chinua had to be protected. He would make it so, love us as much as we feared and loved him. It was the right way. I remembered the pink man’s words to me, his thick lips betraying his sour soul. If we are truly demons here, the men and the women outside, determined to break and stamp their will upon our lives – must be sheep wrapped in devil’s clothing.


June 09, 2016, 12:02:45 PM
1
Re: [Jun 2016] - Random Wikipedia Article - Submission Thread This month's story is The Voice of the People, and is my shortest ever ay 988 words (excluding the flash fiction month, but that doesn't count.) It may also be the fastest I've ever written.

It was inspired by this Wikipedia random link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_parliamentary_election,_1984

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Voice of the People



Sister Patalinghug enjoyed sweeping the front stoop of the church. The scratch of the straw across the stone was the sound of work getting done, even though the dirt and pollen would gather again over the long, hot course of the day. The sound swept across the quiet street and echoed off the plate glass window of the facing shop with a satisfying crackle. Sometimes, she heard it bounce off buildings beyond. Just so did the Word of God spread about the world, each little prayer, each little work, impacting on things unseen.

Many days, the air of Manilla was like a mat of leaves, so humid that while higher pitched sounds still traveled, voices barely moved.  These were days she could speak her thoughts out loud and trust that no one would hear. No one except the saints, the Virgin, and her crucified Lord. But she was speaking to them, so that was alright.

"Blessed Mother, Sister Margaret wet the sheets again last night. You must stop her from doing that, because it makes her so embarrassed. But God's will be done. The pharmacist's daughter has gotten herself pregnant. Saint Lucia, find her a husband fast. But God's will be done. And Holy Jesu, there is an election tomorrow if you didn't notice. I pray there will be no fighting, and not too much cheating, and good weather, and a wonderful defeat for the President. Your will be done."

With each prayer, she swept dirt from the stone and heard her work reverberate. And then she didn't.

Sister Patalinghug paused, puzzled. She scraped the broom on the stone again, then looked across the street, expecting to hear the sound returning. Nothing. She squinted in the morning sun. A shadow squatted before her.

"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle -" she began, but the sound was swallowed up. Then she was.

.........

President for Life Ferdinand Marcos folded his arms across his chest and let his gaze touch on all the millions of rooftops of the sprawling, bawling, fetid capital city, and all the myriad of islands, villages, bays and forests of his Phillipines. It is good to be me, he thought with great but humble satisfaction. It is good that I am a generous and charitable man. I am only taking away their voices, not their souls.

He could take away all their souls. The shadow had offered that. But he chose not to. Only a few  would go to feed the spirit's hunger; the rest he spared.

Marcos hovered in the air a thousand feet above the Presidential Palace, content that all his people could see him and wonder.

Even now, the shadow would be making its way to the dismal house of that irritating woman, Aquino, a no-talent housewife completely in over her head and possessed of only one virtue for politics, that of being the widow of a corrupt saint cut down in his prime. Marcos rather regretted having ordered that assassination. It had caused much more trouble than it was worth. Who would have thought that the man's wife, this Aquino woman, would have become the focus of a so-called people's revolution?

Let's see what they do without a voice.

I am a blessed man, thought President for Life Marcos. God has surely blessed me.

.........

Cory Aquino was eating toast, and worrying about a tooth. It had begun to bother her the night before at the rally. She'd been speaking, yelling really, surrounded by thousands of cheering Filipinos, missing her husband and feeling a headache coming on. The headache started in her jaw and slid up the side of her face. The thing must be impacted. She chewed on the other side.

The election is tomorrow, she thought for the thousandth time. The crowds are in the street right now, and I have to go back out there with a rotten tooth. Life was unfair in many ways.

She didn't really want to be President. She wanted her husband back. She wanted her children by her side, a little bit of money, and peace and quiet. But she'd married a politician who'd gone up against a tiger and lost. Well, she might be a woman, but she'd found a tiger inside herself.

All night long, she'd been hearing the low roar of the crowds in the great square a mile away. Now it was oddly quiet. It must just be the calm of morning. There would certainly be a storm.

She set down her tea spoon with a clink. Well, actually, she set it down with a --- nothing. She lifted it, and tapped it on the porcelain cup. Or tried to tap it. She felt the resistance, the zing of metal on ceramic through her fingers, but not the little ring of honest sound. A chill crawled up her neck and through her scalp.

Something was watching her. She breathed in, banishing the fear, imagining herself that tiger, and turned to look it in the face. "Have you been sent for me?" she asked the thing that crouched at her garden window. The sound of her voice vibrated in her own ears but nowhere else. "Good," she said. "We've been expecting something like you." A scent of jasmine filled the air around her, a bloom of purity and power.

A news reporter had said that the people power movement was on the side of the angels. She'd decided to take him seriously.

.........

Unsupported, Marcos fell. First Lady Imelda watched it happen. The crowd around the palace found its voice, screamed, then cheered. It wasn't fair, thought Imelda. All I ever wanted was a little home, a little money, shoes on my feet.

Curse the people, thought the soon-to-be former first lady. I will see them all in hell.

She sensed a spirit by her side, and an offer.

June 21, 2016, 02:56:03 AM
1
Re: Contest Theme Ideas
Did someone suggest "Cheesy Erotica"? No? What a pity.  ;D

Cheese erotica? Kinky
Roquefort on the Floor
Foot Feta-ish
Ricottaging
Gorgeousonzola
Brieding in the Woods
Giving Cheader
Red Hot Leicester
Bashing the Stinking Bishop

My work here is done.

June 29, 2016, 08:24:38 PM
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Re: [Jun 2016] - Random Wikipedia Article - Discussion Thread
Can I de-submit my entry?

July 01, 2016, 08:59:11 PM
1
Re: [Jun 2016] - Random Wikipedia Article - Discussion Thread
@Lanko, if you don't stop watching the game and come post your story, I'll lock the thread NOW :P 8)

Damn, I'm still only 600 words in... I think this time I won't squeeze a story in the last minute...
Well, if you ask nicely...
It's still a few hours until the end of day 1 for you, right?

I stand with coffee in hand, working on my piece of art
So I can offer it to ScarletBea,
The Lady of Passion, Courage, Joy and Heart

And when she makes another wondrous cake
May she remember my story
For a laugh to take

I guarantee from this you will have some kicks
But for this, the number I need is six!
____

First attempt at poetry  ::)

July 01, 2016, 10:23:46 PM
1