Snow White Retold
From within the crystal coffin, the fair maiden arose from the kiss of her beloved Prince. Vlad had been her intended before the Queen had broken their engagement and betrayed her – by charging the huntsman with bringing back her heart in a wooden box. Fortunately the weak minded were easily led, and he returned with the heart of a deer instead. Her animal minions had guided her to the house of the seven little men.
That day the ravens removed every last vestige of garlic from the premises while other creatures prepared a place for her. When the dwarves returned from their daily toil in the mines, they were seemingly enchanted by her cold white beauty and blood red lips. That evening, she spun her tale of forced exile by her wicked stepmother. With tears in her eyes, she begged them to shelter her.
She sought to win them over with a song. They readily agreed to let her stay if she promised to do the housework and -more importantly- stop singing. Both conditions met, all parties were satisfied. The men had been without a decent maid for months, ever since the Goldi-locks girl had cleaned their house out when she had… well, cleaned their house out. Still they stayed up late with the young princess, exchanging stories and not singing.
The next morning the seven bleary eyed men prepared to toil in the mines once more. As they marched away, they made her promise to not talk to strangers, especially old women bearing apples. As her eyes followed their progress into the woods, the princess – who had never worked a day in her life – resolved to spend the day waiting for her prince to save her from a dreary existence as a common maid.
No sooner had they turned a corner in the path when an old woman approached the cottage and knocked on the door. The princess peeped through a crack, but the hag elbowed her way inside. “Excuse me, young lady,” she said, “but I’m a poor woman with many grandchildren to feed. Would you like to buy an apricot? Pomegranate? Perhaps a kumquat?”
The princess was stunned. “Kumquat? Isn’t that indigenous to… where is this orchard anyway?”
“Oh, that is not important,” said the old woman. “But I need to sell something in order to feed my grandchildren.”
“Why not just give them the fruit?”
“Why not just…? Um, well… there’s taxes, you see. Death and taxes, can’t escape those, can you? And overhead costs, rent, cow dung isn’t cheap these days either…”
“Alright already! If I buy something, will you leave?”
The crone’s smile revealed broken, crooked teeth. From the saleswoman’s basket, the princess chose an apple – partly because its color appealed to her but mostly to annoy the dwarves. She planned to feed them to the prince later anyway – as a wedding present.
“Enjoy the fruit, my dear. It’s my best season yet!”
The princess nodded and waited for the woman to leave. “Why aren’t you leaving?”
“Just making sure you’re satisfied, my dear. I may be poor, but I’m a responsible businesswoman.”
Too bad the Prince didn’t like older women, mused the Princess. The old biddy annoyed her and might otherwise make a nice snack. She rolled her eyes, sighed, raised the apple to her lips…
When the dwarves returned from work, they found the princess sleeping inside a crystal coffin. “What took you so long?” asked the Queen.
“Well, some of the material components of your spells are harder to get than others,” said Splotchy. “You’re lucky we had that much crystal on hand when we spoke earlier.”
“It couldn’t be helped,” said the beautiful Queen. “Displaying the girl that way is the surest trap we can lay for Vlad. He’s already turned many of my subjects, and to be brutally honest the garlic stench around the castle’s beginning to get to me. Whew!” She held her nose.
Once they’d lugged the crystal coffin to a conspicuously open space, they hid behind a tree and waited for sunset. From the mountain caves beyond the forest, the prince flew to his betrothed, folded his bat wings, and resumed humanoid form. Lifting the heavy lid, he bent over the slumbering princess and woke her to the life of the undead.
From within the crystal coffin, the fair maiden arose from the kiss of her beloved Prince. Their grins, filled with death (and on the Prince’s part a little gristle), revealed sharp incisors. “Oh, my Vlad! How I’ve longed for your return.”
“So have we!” cried the seven dwarves in unison, stepping out from the cover of the woods. The Queen held a cross, paralyzing the pair, while the dwarves rushed upon the duo with wooden stakes. Within moments, all that remained were two piles of dust mixed with clothing of questionable taste.
“So, you’ll sign the contract now?” asked Burpy.
“Of course,” said the Queen. “A deal’s a deal. You helped me protect my subjects – Can’t be Queen without subjects; now can I? So it’s the least I can do. Besides, you guys are the best suppliers in the business.”
“Aw, thanks, Mauve,” said Burpy.
“That’s Queen Mauve,” corrected the Queen, glaring at the dwarf. Burpy hid behind Splotchy, who pushed him away.
The Queen’s face cleared. “But let’s not quibble. My cousin, Agatha, has a lovely house a little deeper into the forest. She’s quite the baker. Her gingerbread is to die for! But I hear she’s expanding into savory dishes. Tell me, boys, would you care to dine on a little roast Hansel?”
The dwarves, stout from their over-fondness of desserts, readily agreed, and they accompanied the Queen into the woods. Moonlighting as vampire hunters was, after all, hungry work.
Also, my other short story, ‘Space Camp’, can be found at the 52/250 flash challenge site under the name Catherine Russell. The theme for week #13 of the challenge was (you guessed it!) Space Camp.
‘Snow White Retold’ and ‘Space Camp’ are also available in audio through my account at Audioboo. Because Audioboo recordings must be less than five minutes, I read through ‘Snow White Retold’ a little faster than I would have liked. I did some voices for the characters too, so please – be kind. Hehe.
As always, I beg for welcome feedback! Thank you for your time.
*Photo of Northern Spy Apples available courtesy the Field Museum Library through The Commons via Flicker. No known copyright restrictions.