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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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Twelve

Story McStoryface

Gnome Country for Old Monsters, Part Two

Respecting the effort put into dramatic pauses, Hansel and Grendel waited. Gnash finally stepped out from behind the bush, a serious expression on his face.

“Nash!” Hansel exclaimed.

“It’s Gnash, but keep trying. I’m serious, though. You do NOT want to leave a Dear GnaGna letter on the Queen’s throne. You will die, just like the last few dozen unlucky fiancees.”

“Few…dozen?” Grendel stammered.

“She brings a new one home every couple of weeks, announces the engagement, and they try to sneak off. No one has ever gotten away. NO ONE. You had better get used to the idea of being the King of Gnomes.”

“I don’t think Grendel should be forced to marry someone under threat of death,” Hansel said. “I mean, we’re not even supposed to hug people if they don’t want us to.”

“I didn’t say it was right,” Gnash…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Eleven

Story McStoryface

Gnome Country for Old Monsters, Part One

The heart of Gnome Country was an actual heart. The proverbial center of the area was marked by stones in a lavishly voluptuous heart. A platform in the middle formed a dais for a throne, a small end table with two tiny champagne flutes, and a free-standing ice bucket with the neck of a bottle showing.

Grendel was still letting the tiny gnome hold his finger, giggling and acting ridiculous all the way there. Hansel questioned Gnash and found out Grendel’s crush was the Queen of the Gnomes, that she did this every time she met some tall, hairy stranger, and that Gnash was not going to tell him any more than that. The gnome looked nervous about how many beans he’d spilled already. He slipped away into the sea of pointed hats.

GnaGna let go of Grendel’s finger and mounted the dais…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Ten

Story McStoryface

The Woods Were Alive With … Something

Hansel woke the next morning to the sound of thousands of cheerily annoying birds. They tweeted and twittered and toodley-ooed from all around them. It was bright and sunny, well past dawn, and Hansel was surprised he’d slept so long. Maybe the last few days were catching up with him. He checked his pocket for his beans and found them safe and unleaky. He sat up.

“Morning, sleeping beauty,” Grendel boomed. The monster had rekindled the fire and was cooking something in a pan. Hansel thought it might be eggs.

“Morning. Are the birds always like this?” Hansel hadn’t ever camped out in the woods before, and it was turning out to be louder and more personally smelly than he’d realized. He could smell his own armpits without whiffing them on purpose. The sun and the birds and the smell of the campfire…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Eight

Story McStoryface

Don’t Bring a Tiny Gun to a Monster Fight

Grendel, having been grievously insulted by the cat, drew himself up to his full height, puffing out his chest. “This is not a good idea, cat,” he growled.

Hansel agreed. “Yeah, thanks, but I kind of need him to take me to Linda’s, and my sister wasn’t great.”

The cat wasn’t listening. His little pistol was pointed at Grendel’s midsection, and he was hissing. His hat began to slide off sideways over his flattened ears. His striped tail lashed back and forth with prejudice.

“Your hat’s falling off,” Hansel said helpfully. The cat was ungrateful for his help, to his detriment. As the hat slipped, his crazy kitty eyes rolled toward the wobbling feather, throwing off his aim.

PEW! The report of the tiny revolver was so comically small, Hansel was surprised a little flag didn’t pop out of the barrel.

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Seven

Story McStoryface

Feathered Hats Don’t Work for Cats

The monster Grendel was good to his word. He had a large rucksack full of food and roughing it supplies, and grabbed the dog blanket when Hansel returned shivering from his pee break. Hansel found himself wishing he could grow a pelt.

They discussed where Linda lived, a small city on the coast. There were many miles of forest and mountain range between them. Grendel sketched out a rough map, showing how they’d have to detour around a few areas that were impassable or dangerous. Hansel didn’t argue.

“Well, let’s get going,” Grendel said, hoisting the rucksack on one brawny shoulder.

The pair walked out the cave entrance looking at the map and took a left on Grendel’s direction. They ran directly into the side of the mountain. “Slight left, I guess,” mumbled Grendel.

The morning was brisk, but trying to keep up with…

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Hansel and Grendel, Chapter Six

Chapter Six! This begins what I like to think of as a “new episode,” so get caught up now.

Story McStoryface

A Hobby Lobby and a Cabela’s Had a Baby

After half an hour of stumbling through the dark after Grendel, Hansel didn’t think he was any better off than following the far flung food in the forest. The monster was so tall that each of his steps was several of Hansel’s. When Grendel finally stopped, Hansel was huffing and puffing. He bent over, hands on his knees, to catch his breath. He felt Grendel looking at him and stood up quickly in a karate stance. Since he didn’t know karate, he wasn’t sure why, but Grendel didn’t know he didn’t know karate, right?

Grendel chuffed an amused snort and Hansel tried to make it look like he was just putting his hands in his hoody pocket. His security beans were still there. Throwing the can would be a better defense than his imaginary karate skills, so he decided to keep…

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