Let me tell you a story...
The newborn sun peeked above the mountains and scattered beams of orange upon freshly fallen snow. The powder, crisp and cold, crunched beneath the feet of the huntsman and Snow White as they trudged through the woods beyond the castle. White crystals clung to the delicate, porcelain flesh of Snow’s feet, but she had no reaction to the blistering chill of the tiny frozen embers as the two traveled through puffs of mist spat out from their lungs. In fact, the princess wore only her blue gown and black kitten heels while the huntsman was bundled tight to keep warm. Snow White no longer felt the cold, not in her state of hunger.
“Why was it necessary for me to accompany you?” Snow White said, her temper hotter than the fire burning in the queen’s quarters. “I’ve never been asked to collect before.”
“Your Majesty,” the huntsman huffed, “your mother thought you could learn a lesson if you saw where your food came from. It wasn’t my request.”
Snow White stopped suddenly and whipped around, “She isn’t my mother!”
“Besides, I know where it comes from.” In the morning light, the princess’ skin shone a pale green. Her face, arms, and chest all revealed a color that looked something like swamp moss. Snow’s green flesh had begun to crack and peel. Tiny flakes crumbled into the gusting wind and floated away like a flurry. She was stiff—her jaw popped when she spoke. “It won’t change anything. I need to eat. It’s the price everyone must pay if I am to be forever young and beautiful.” Snow White’s stomach growled, low and ferocious, like a wolf.
Deep in the forest the sun’s brilliance was cancelled by a black thicket. Here, it seemed, the huntsman and Snow White traveled in the darkness of night. Long, withered branches reached out and tugged on the princess’ dress, snagging and tearing at the delicate silk of which it was made. They yanked at her long, coal-colored hair, tearing the curls from the pins that held them in place. The huntsman only walked slowly behind her, his hand on the golden hilt of a long knife.
“Couldn’t you have chosen a better route, Huntsman?”
“I’m afraid it had to be this one, Princess.”
Snow White stopped momentarily to detach herself from a thorny bush which threatened to shred her dress and her torso. “This is dangerous terrain,” she said, “I’ll have to eat twice as much to recover from the wounds I am receiving.” A trickle of thick, oily blood seeped onto the surface of Snow’s dress and pooled like a small lake.
The huntsman used the moment of distraction, under the cover of darkness, to move on the princess. He was a skilled, swift hunter. He grabbed the steel blade from his waistband and lunged at Snow White’s back, expecting to plant it deep in her spine. The princess heard the snow crunch beneath his boots.
The queen stood in a ray of yellowed morning light that cascaded through the big window of her chamber. On the wall in front of her hung a large, ornate mirror. She dipped her finger in the reflective surface where it undulated, like gelatin, sending the room into chaos.
“Mirror, show me the fairest in the kingdom. Show me the one who feeds.”
The image in the mirror swirled like a whirlpool, and when it stilled, it revealed Snow White on her hands and knees in the thicket. The girl was covered in rich, hot crimson that steamed and fogged the air. It rose up from the body of the huntsman. Snow dug her pallid hands deep into his chest, ripping and tearing flesh echoed around the queen’s chamber, and Snow held the huntsman’s heart aloft in victory just before she pressed it to her lips and bit into the warm, sticky muscle. Blood dribbled down her chin as her skin began to return to glowing ivory.
“She lives,” the queen cried, “I must end this terror.”
to be continued…
#HumpdayHorror Copyright 2018 Kira McKinney
“I’m hungry,” she wailed, as she flung open the gilded doors of the queen’s chamber. Her black kitten heels clicked on the marble floor, echoing wildly around the dark, open space.
Her breath was shallow, desperate. The flesh stretched across her face was pallid, made more so by her onyx-black hair. The candlelight revealed a pea-green hue beneath her reddened eyes, and the skin below her left one drooped as if it were terrified and scattering—wax running from a flame.
Ruby lips shouted once more, “I’m hungry!” as she shuffled around the queen’s quarters.
The queen lifted her head, cloaked in emerald, and peered at Snow White over her bubbling, iridescent potions. “I can see that,” she said coolly, “but you’ve eaten every ounce of flesh in the castle’s stores.”
“Then get more,” Snow White said as she leaned into the warmth of the fireplace.
“Princess, you eat ravenously. Each time you eat, an innocent must die. Can’t you go just a while longer without?”
Snow White swung around, her brilliant, blue dress catching the light of the fire. “No!” she wailed. “Look at me. If I go any longer, I’ll be nothing but a puddle. I’ll be hideous. I simply must eat. Send your huntsman to collect. The people know what the castle requires.”
The queen’s face was ice as Snow White rolled, like a thunderstorm, from the room slamming the chamber doors behind her. She breathed deeply and exhaled, knowing she was bound by duty to guard the wicked girl left in her care. The dying wish of her husband, Snow’s father, was that she’d watch after the cursed girl—feed her, protect her, care for her as if she were her own. But Snow White’s destruction was her own doing, and the queen had grown tired of putting innocent people to death to ward off an unrelenting appetite.
Ten years had come and gone so quickly. Snow White would never aged past sixteen. The girl traveled through the dense wood that surrounded the castle, alone. Fallen branches cracked under her shoes which reflected the full moon in their glossy, pointed toes. Leaves of vibrant, dazzling colors drifted from overhead as she trudged through the forest and to the rippling spring where she intended to ask for eternal youth.
Snow White had watched her mother die—she’d grown weak, dull, tired. Snow had seen the signs of age begin to mar her father’s once handsome face. As she gazed upon her own reflection—delicate and beautiful—she feared those approaching years. She felt the terror well up deep within her, churning like lava inside her, and it made her desperate enough to do anything to stay young and radiant.u
Now, on the night of the harvest moon, Snow White sought out the black fairy. She’d heard tales of her granting eternal youth to those who could make a good bargain, and Snow had gold. Her short, fat heels poked through the mud surrounding the spring. The water glowed in the moonlight, tinkling like carnival music.
“Oh, Black Fairy, hear my call—” Snow began to bellow as she dipped a fingertip into the frigid water. It rippled into infinity. “I’ve come to offer you a bargain. It’s Snow White, the princess.”
“I know who you are,” a lilting voice called down from the glittering rocks.
“Dark one!” Snow White curtsied.
“So formal,” the fairy hopped down into the mud. “What exactly is it you’re after Princess? You’re already royalty. Your kingdom is strong, wealthy. I can’t bring people back from the dead. You’re beautiful. Ah! A prince is what you’re after?”
“What then?” the black fairy asked as she circled Snow White.
“You say I am beautiful, but beauty is fleeting. I want to be fair forever. Eternally young.”
The black fairy shuttered and turned her back to Snow White. “You don’t know what you ask. This isn’t a spell, but a curse.”
“It comes with the requirement to do awful, unthinkable things. Beauty everlasting has a steep price, one that not even all the kingdom’s gold can accommodate.”
Snow only considered the warning for a moment. Young and foolish, she was willing to sacrifice everything she had to ward off the invader called age. “I’ll pay the price. Just preform the spell.”
“The curse,” the fairy corrected.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Snow White, you won’t age, it’s true, but—”
“Do it, fairy!”
The black fairy swallowed hard, manifested a shimmering, black wand from thin air, and twisted and twirled it in the moonlight. Snow White didn’t understand the words that the fairy chanted as her wand began to radiate an odd purple aura that encapsulated Snow and cooled her body, as if it were encased in ice. The princess’ form began to pulsate faster and faster, colder and colder, until she shivered so violently she thought she would shake right out of her skin, leaving her flesh a puddle of ivory on the mud. Then, everything stopped.
“You’ll need to eat,” the fairy grimaced.
“Fine,” Snow smoothed her dress. “I have a castle full of truffles, pastry, roast. I can have anything my heart desires.”
“From now on, the only thing your heart will desire, is the flesh of the innocent.”
“No, Snow White,” the dark fairy scolded. “You’ll eat only human flesh, eternally. That is the price. If you fail to do so, your own flesh will deteriorate like that of a corpse.”
Snow White’s crimson lips parted, allowing a choked gasp to pass them. “How? I couldn’t.”
“That’s the price, Princess. I tried to warn you.” The black fairy was gone.
“Your majesty,” the huntsman murmured as he entered the queen’s quiet chamber. He was a tall, muscular man. He looked wild, untamable, with long golden hair and a scruffy beard, wrapped in animal pelts.
The queen stood, gazing out her window at the village that stretched beyond the castle walls. A thick blanket of snow covered the crooked rooftops. Streams of gray smoke rose from chimneys, swirled about, and dissipated into the falling darkness. Innocents, all of them, and they were all fated to be fed to a starving, vain princess.
“Thank you for coming,” the queen turned.
“Another life for the princess?”
The queen moved across the room to warm herself by the orange flames lapping at the chilled green marble. She closed her eyes. “Huntsman, I need a heart.”
“That will hardly be enough to appease her, Your Highness.”
“I need the heart of a young girl,” the queen turned. “With hair as dark as coal, skin as pale as moonlight, and lips as red as a rose. Do you know a girl like that, Huntsman?”
His eye were large, black pits, “I do. The fairest in all the kingdom.”
“I can’t watch my subjects die for the greedy whims of a hungry girl any longer. You’ll take her into the forest, and you’ll cut out her heart. Tomorrow.”
to be continued…
#HumpdayHorror Copyright 2018 Kira McKinney
On November 26th my very first novel, “The Blood in Guthrie,” released on Amazon for Kindle and on paperback. I wish I had been prepared to announce it in a more thorough way, but as many of you know, I live with bipolar disorder, and I have been fighting a “down-time”. That doesn’t make the release of my novel any less exciting, but it does make my participation in promoting it a little less than all-in.
Guthrie was born after a five-hour car ride, while listening to Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues”. It takes place in 1934 Louisiana. While it does have many of the hallmarks of a horror novel—blood, gore, murder—it also has a great deal of detective work, some dark humor, and a hint of a love story. So, I’d like to think there might be something nestled in Guthrie for anyone who just likes a good mystery/thriller.
Here is a synopsis of “The Blood in Guthrie” that will give you a better idea of the story.
1934 Guthrie, Louisiana: population 577—make that 571.
Severed heads, caked in blood, are piling up in the sweltering Louisiana sun with no trace of the bodies they were once attached to. The town is run by dimwitted Sheriff Elmer Avant. His new deputy, a Cincinnati transplant with a dark past, Jack McMann, is trying to ward off his demons by hunting down the killer and saving the people of Guthrie. Unfortunately, the folks in Guthrie don't take kindly to outsiders, and Jack can't seem to drag the truth out of anyone no matter how hard he tries. With a killer roaming around, pecking folks off with no rhyme or reason, it seems everyone in town is averting their eyes to anything that might be considered suspicious. Nothing makes sense in the small town filled with dirty blood and dark secrets, but Jack will have to figure out the brutal be-headings and strange clues before Guthrie is left with a population of zero.
What this synopsis fails to mention is the amazing Minnie, who plays a great part in the story and who, as I love women in horror, is a crucial element.
I have received a lot of support from the women at Ladies of Horror Fiction (www.ladiesofhorrorfiction.com), and I am so grateful for their posts about Guthrie as I continue to try to get my feet wet in the land of horror. I will be making an appearance on their wonderful podcast (Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast) on Tuesday, December 11th. I hope you’ll tune in. Also, Olly, at Sci-fi and Scary gave me a wonderful review, which I am very grateful for.
Self-publishing is a long and winding road, but I chose it for “The Blood in Guthrie” because I wanted the story to be told just as I wrote it. No major edits, no changes in plot, for better or worse. So, I hope you’ll check out my very first novel and leave a review. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you’ll come back to let me tell you more stories in the future. You can find a link to “The Blood in Guthrie” on my published work page, or you can search it on Amazon.
All the best, and until #HumpdayHorror!
Welcome to my blog. Sit back and enjoy a short story, a poem, or some flash fiction--whatever I have recently cooked up. I will post a new piece as often as possible. Check back once a week to see what's new.