Thursday, August 25, 2005

Henry and Gillian

The old woman shuffled from one end of the kitchen to the other, tea kettle in hand. She smiled as the steam wreathed her face in a pleasant moist heat. She paused, letting herself enjoy the moment. By this point in her life, the small pleasures were the only ones she had left.

Until today, of course. Today would be a day of large pleasures. She smiled again, busying herself with the two cups of tea. She did so love having visitors. Of course, living so far out in the middle of nowhere, she could hardly expect them too often. But, she held out hope. She knew how to attract the right kind of people. She set out two plates, placing a cookie on each. She already knew the children liked their sweets.

Henry and Gillian were their names. They had just moved to town recently from the city. She knew the type. Well-to-do parents, professional people, fancy apartment in the city. Then one day they wake up and realize their children are going to be teenagers soon, and they'd rather they weren't teenagers on the city streets. So they sell their fabulous apartment, liquidate some assets and buy a nice little house in the country. One usually goes into consulting, the other generally opens a business in town.

She truly did enjoy these urban transplants. They were always so trusting, so quick to assume that horror and violence were unique to the city. So utterly dismissive of the provincial locals that they never count on finding monsters in their pleasant little getaway.

Never count on finding people like her. Or, more to the point, people like her finding their children.

It was the candy, of course. The candy and the dense forest. City children were all the same. All they knew of nature were city parks, or maybe the odd overnight at a campground. Sooner or later, they'd go out "exploring". And then they'd find out what nature really was. By the time they found her house, they were so desperate for food and someone to help them that their normally wary city instincts were buried under a child's instinct to seek comfort.

And what could be more comforting than a sweet old woman who keeps candy on her front porch?

She usually let them eat for a while before she'd come out, surprise them, then put their minds at ease when they thought they were in trouble. She'd invite them in to rest. She had no phone, but she'd usually offer to show them the way back to town, but would they like some tea and something more to eat first? They usually did, and these two were no exception. They seemed a bit older, maybe 12 or 13, but at that age the veil of maturity is thin and as easily torn aside as their urban sophistication. She dropped the pills in the tea and put everything on a tray to carry out to the parlor. They usually woke up in the oven, just as it was heating up.

She backed into the room, tray in hands, pushing the door open as she came. "Here we go, Henry. Gillian," she said, turning around. "I want you to drink all this tea down and--" The tray fell from her grip with a crash, the drugged tea soaking in to the carpet. A cookie was ground under Henry's boot as he moved in to punch her again.

She grunted as she hit the ground, just before Henry's fist smashed her face a second time. He kneeled on her chest, hitting her again. He stood and stepped back, but it was only to allow Gillian to move in and begin kicking the old woman repeatedly in the ribs before stomping on her chest. The old woman screamed for as long as she was able, eventually reduced to a keening gurgle.

She was dying. Blood filled her lungs and darkness fell across her eyes. Her ears filled with the rasping wheeze of her dying breath, so she only heard her ostensible victims' conversation as a muted buzz through her death rattle.

"You think she got any money?"

"Fucking better," Henry told his sister. "I ain't working at Mom's fucking fag shop for meth money."

"Well, if you think I'm sucking Russel's cock again, you can forget it," Gillian said. "This old bitch don't have money, you can suck the greasy hillbilly's cock."

There was a pause, then Henry grunted out a rough chuckle.

"What?" his sister asked, going through the old woman's pockets.

"I love how easy it was to sell her on the lost little kids routine."

Gillian laughed as well. "Yeah." The old woman felt hot breath on her cheek. It brought a memory of the steam back to her, but not pleasantly. The young girl screamed in her ear, "Never heard of GPS, you stupid old redneck bitch?! Huh?! Huh?!" The old woman wanted to turn away, but couldn't. All she could manage now was a spasmodic twitch.

Gillian stood, delivering another savage kick to the old woman's ribs before walking away.

The old woman lay there in agony for a time, moaning softly.

But not too long a time.

She was dead before the kids had finished looting her bedroom.


Hope-So said...

You are so wrong and twisted....freakin great. And wrong!

Kat said...

Wow. New millennium monsters kill the old-world monsters.


Rae Ann said...

Kat said it perfectly! those old world monsters might become extinct.

Chris said...

Thanks guys. For some reason, I really liked this one when I finished it. Glad you all did too. :)

And special thanks to Kat for summing up the theme so succinctly. That is exactly what I was going for with this one.

And Hope, I was hoping you'd say that. Because wrong and twisted is also what I was going for here. Nice to see I'm not losing my touch. ;)

m said...

it took me a bit to get where you were going, and then you took another turn. good one!!

rAsp said...

Beautiful twist!

Hmm. Henry and Gillian? H and G?

Hansel and Gretel?!?

Lisa said...

You never
cease to amaze me, Chris!!!

I was just settling in for an updated version of hansel & gretel, when BAM!!! my brain was quickly reminded of who I was reading...

purplesimon said...

Probably best if I don't start writing a huge list of superlatives and simply say that everyone has summed it up well enough for me.

Okay, I can't resist. A great marriage of a fairy tale and a clockwork orange.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: genius.

purplesimon out...

rob said...

Well done. As usual. I liked this ending. Sort of saw it coming, but not so much. Tre' cool.

Kat said...

I saw Brothers Grimm last night and thought of this story!

Chris said...

Thanks everybody.

And it was actually a commercial for Brothers Grimm that sparked the idea in the first place.

I'm glad everyone is liking it so much. I'll have to do another one of these at some point.

Hope-So said...


Time for a new story.

What is your mind dreaming of now?

Chris said...

Sorry. Sorry.

I know I've been lax. I do have a good excuse...well, pretty good...okay, maybe it's lame.

Anyway, I am going to be publishing my comic book Ironstar through Lulu, and I've been spending the past couple of days relettering the artwork. I wrote the book almost 5 years ago, and I'm not loving the dialog anymore. So, I've been making my way through all 60 pages, essentially rewriting the whole book. Hence, the lack of updates.

That said, I will try to get something up today. Four days is too long of a stretch between stories. :)

Hope-So said...

Okay, okay. GOOD reason.