Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Twenty-two

Story McStoryface

It’s Not Grave Robbing If You Only Steal the Flowers

The cemetery was surprisingly well-tended. There were a lot of Crowley names on the headstones, and the weeds were confined to the bordering field. Little vases on most of the graves held artificial flowers, pinwheels, and other memorials. A light breeze spun some of the little pinwheels slowly, cooling the late fall sunshine. Hansel started down a row of graves from the early 1900s, reading the names aloud. He realized the monster wasn’t paying attention.

Grendel was a few rows away, grabbing the artificial flowers out of the vases and stuffing them in his pack.

“Oh my god, what are you doing?” Hansel yelped. With no one to remind him about his language, he was sliding toward perdition and frankly did not care.

“Look at these!” Grendel held out some bright pink forget-me-nots with glittery edges. “They’re amazing. Imagine these…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Twenty-one

Story McStoryface

A Little Less Conversation, A Little Putrefaction, Please

“I still think you should have pushed her in the stove.” Grendel wasn’t over it.

“Well, I’m not here to meet your every expectation,” Hansel grumbled.

“Just the opposite,” Grendel grumbled back.

The monster was still limping very slightly, but he wasn’t singing about Nantucket anymore.

The forest cooled as night approached. Hansel sincerely hoped they’d get to Aunt Linda’s before the season turned to constant rain. Looking through Grendel’s pack for dinner didn’t make him feel any more excited to be on the trail for weeks. There were some new apples Grendel had foraged, but Hansel really wanted pizza or a hamburger, neither of which were squashed in the bottom of the pack.

The fire took the chill out of the night.

Grendel poked his own foot. “My toe seems better, what did she do?”

“She took the bullet out and…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Twenty

Story McStoryface

Hansel Turns Out to Have a Very Particular Set of Skills

Baba G screamed and rushed toward the doorway. Hansel rushed out of it, flinging the still hot and dripping pan at her. While she ducked, Hansel put Grendel between them.

The monster was not 100%. He was still very out of it from whatever potions the witch had given him, and more than slightly drunk. He took a large bite of the door cookie and flung the rest into the woods.

“Your cookies taste like cardboard!” the monster roared.

“You smell like a sick dog!” the witch screeched back. She was holding her hands in claws, muttering a spell under her breath. A cloud of green shining particles coalesced in her palm, swirling like a little tornado.

Grendel roared for real, an earth-shaking howl. As the witch raised her ball of green death to see how fast hairy monsters…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Nineteen

Story McStoryface

Put a Pork in Him, He’s Done

The next two days were a terrible parade of unfamiliar foods in disguises and lectures on the wholesomeness of it all. Some of the things might have been okay if they hadn’t oversold themselves, or just been presented as they were. If you expected chocolate pudding, and got something made of avocados and carob powder, the only possible result was disappointment. Hansel was chronically hungry and grouchy, and spent most of the day in the bathroom.

Grendel was having a great time from the sound of it. Baba G was happy with how the wound was healing, but insisted the monster wouldn’t be walking on it for a few more days, and then hinted he could “be on his way.”

“You mean ‘we’ can be on our way?” Hansel pushed. He hadn’t been allowed outside, he hadn’t been allowed to change back into…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Eighteen

Story McStoryface

This Is No Way to Fatten Up a Child

Hansel went to sleep on the floor of the gingerbread house. He’d meant to stay up and try to sneak out, but the little food he’d managed to choke down and the exhaustion of the long day kicked his butt. When he woke in the morning, Grendel was still snoring outside anyway, and he realized he probably wouldn’t have been able to rouse the drunken monster.

Baba G was pouring very hot water in a very large cauldron. It smelled a little like soup, and Hansel’s stomach rumbled.

“Good, you’re awake. Just in time, too, it’s important to get you in the pot at the right temperature.”

Hansel bolted for the door, which was also bolted. The last he checked, boys weren’t vegan, but this whole gingerbread construction was a house of lies. The candy sucked, the food sucked, and now…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Seventeen

Story McStoryface

Well, What Did You Expect, She’s a Witch

Baba G, as she insisted on being called, was serious about getting the just the foot inside. The inside of her gingerbread house was crammed full of assorted vegetable matter and things that looked like candy but probably weren’t. The dining table, a bed, and a set of comfortable chairs next to the fireplace were all made from hard orange sticks that looked like cheap manufactured wood and smelled a little like peanuts.

Hansel helped Grendel maneuver his leg inside the front door to about mid-calf. The rest of hairy guy rested flat on the ground outside, looking up at the dark sky and stars and mumbling nonsense.

“I’m going to have to dig the bullet out,” she said to Hansel, “and it’s going to hurt. I’m giving him some sorghum to chew, and it’ll glue his mouth shut for a while…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Sixteen

Story McStoryface

“TOFU” Stands for Toe Obviously Messed Up

The lights were gleaming from the windows of an extraordinary building. The light itself was extraordinary, shining through panes of glass the colors of jewels. Squares of gold, emerald, ruby, and sapphire invited Hansel and Grendel closer to a life-sized gingerbread house. The peaked roof was iced white despite the season, with a small cotton candy puff of smoke from the chimney. Chocolate candies the size of Hansel’s head dotted the eaves. Enormous red and white curved candy canes stood at each corner with little hanging baskets full of gumdrop flowers dangling tantalizing close to Hansel’s reach. Everywhere he looked, some confection beckoned to the hungry boy. His can of beans was a sorry safeguard against starvation when this was the alternative.

“I guess we found the original story line again,” Grendel mumbled.

“What?”

“Nothing. My toe hurts.”

The monster wasn’t making any…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Fifteen

Story McStoryface

The Plod Thickens

Hansel was torn. Grendel was proving to have a limited range of conflict resolution strategies, but GnaGna was threatening their lives. Justified gnomicide? Probably?

The gnomes were also conflicted. Several screamed, but many more hit the dirt in relief. Costumes came off and nearly naked gnomes fanned themselves, directing fresh air over their sweaty bits. Hansel waited a minute to see if there would be some retaliatory attack, but the gnomes just milled around, a hum of chatter building, and wandered off in small groups. Hansel made his way to the earth-tethered monster.

“How are we going to get you the rest of the way up?” Hansel asked Grendel.

Grendel chewed a few more times and swallowed painfully. “Glad I didn’t have to eat all of them, unwrapping them would take hours. There’s a knife in my pack.”

Hansel found the knife and cut Grendel mostly free…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Fourteen

Story McStoryface

GnaGna Na GnaGna, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye

When Hansel woke in the morning, the air was very still and quiet. TOO quiet. The loud, rhythmic snoring reminiscent of sleeping a wall away from his sister was no longer keeping him company. The birds were silent. There was no breeze. Ants crawling in the earth were still. Very, very quiet. It was also well past the crack of dawn.

Aware of a pressure on his bladder requiring a private tree, partly the weight of the can of beans, he sat up, in theory. In reality, he yanked his hair in a couple dozen places and jerked back to the ground, clutching his scalp. Something whacked him on the top of the head, small but solid.

“Ow!” he ad-libbed. The crowd found it predictable. With one hand, he found the strings tying him to the ground by his hair, but the knots…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Thirteen

Story McStoryface

Gnome Country for Old Monsters, Part Three

The Heart of Gnome Country erupted in a ventricular spasm of disbelief. A gnome threw a bowl of blackberry cobbler at Hansel and barely missed. The gnomes were angry, and they were angry at Hansel, but they weren’t yelling about true love.

“Now you did it!” yelled a little gnome in a pink hat.

“Do you want us to dance?” another asked.

“I still have chafing from last time!” screamed a taller male gnome in a blue hat.

“QUIET.” The Queen was standing on Grendel’s knee, and her booming voice held none of the South now. “Agnton. Come forward.” The strange gnome stepped in-between Hansel and the Queen.

“Wait a minute, don’t I get to say what I want—” mumbled Grendel.

“NO,” replied Hansel and GnaGna in unison. Grendel looked unhappy with the arrangements for the first time that evening but didn’t say…

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