There’s been many retellings on Hansel and Gretel but has there been one inspired by ‘The Lottery’ mixed with a Christmassy feel to it?
I sure hope not or else this short excerpt would be Hans down inappropriate.
In this piece, Gretel is chosen much like the character in Jackson’s piece to be devoured by Santa. Twelve children for the twelve months in exchange for better crop, no harsh winter, that sort of thing. But the siblings plan to escape the village before the sacrifice. This is what happens when you don’t follow the rules. Without further ado…
No one was at the door. But Gretel could hear it. A low guttural growling unlike any animal she’s encountered.
She squinted by the door, trying to see if anyone was outside. Coils of mist lapped at her ankles. Out of the shadows, an animal appeared. A scream died in her lips. She didn’t know what she was looking at.
Was this punishment for leaving?
The animal stalked towards her with purpose and in a logical world, Gretel knew it would be charging at her by now. The blade in her hands glinted in the moonlight. This was no ordinary animal so she did what her instincts told her to: she charged first.
Gretel ran towards the animal, letting out a cry as she stabbed one side of it and ran for the woods.
This was her first mistake.
Silence resonated throughout the forest. Owls silenced, trees stilled, breath stopped. Gretel’s grip on the hilt of her blade tightened. She weaved through the hemlocks and maple trees.
She was convinced that she had lost the animal by now but she needed to go back to warn Hansel. Gretel hasn’t ventured this deep into the woods before and the shadows from the branches felt like strangers. Glancing at the sticky side of her blade, covered in the animal’s blood, Gretel fought to control her nausea. After a few deep breaths, she let her guard down.
This was her second mistake.
As antlers scythed toward her head, Gretel couldn’t help wishing she’d listened to her brother and stayed indoors. The creature loomed above her, long, jagged antlers with matted fur and exposed skin repairing itself.
It was clear that her tiny blade wouldn’t affect it much. The creature healed at such an alarming rate. It raised its antlers in her direction but she dived sideways and made a run for it.
Trees stretched in every direction. Branches whipped her face and sweat trickled down her skin despite the cool night air. She could hear the creature galloping towards her. The forest was bathed in moonlight but she couldn’t see very far in front of her. Gretel touched the cross on her neck, tracing the lines in prayer.
Trees exploded and toppled in front of her. Another creature appeared through the shower of falling trees, bone for a face, a pair of rusted antlers and an unmistakable red nose. She rolled to the side but it smacked her with its antlers. She yelped and winced in pain as the first creature arrived, bellowing in delight and the two creatures trapped her between their antlers.
Up close, Gretel figured out what her captors were: reindeers. This wasn’t good. It meant the legends were true. She was going to die in the woods like Little Cap.
Somewhere in the darkness, she heard a distinct chink, chink and heavy footsteps on crushed snow. A figure emerged from two spindly trees bent sideways like an archway.
‘Someone’s been very naughty,’ the figure spoke in a calm tone but its eyes lit like a funeral candle.
That’s about it. What do you think? Madness or perfectly acceptable idea? Have you read ‘The Lottery’ before? Or watched Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (I’m a fan of Gemma Arterton.) I want to know!