A Corrupt Fairy-TaleThere was a flash of light and then darkness. The portal that the book of fairy-tales had opened had completed its job; its two passengers being spat out like bad chewing gum at their destination. The passengers were female, tall but that was where the similarities ended. The first to stand up did so smoothly, careful to not ruffle her sleek designer clothes. Her long blonde hair fell loose around her face as her blue eyes stared intently at her companion. She listened to the mutterings and grumblings of the girl until impatience took over. She grabbed her companion by the white lab coat she wore and lifted her up to her feet.“May! That was completely unnecessary! I was getting up, albeit slowly, but still. Movement was happening!” Sophie scowled and checked her short, brown hair. “Good, the hairspray is holding up. I was worried the vortex might wreck it- they tend to have that effect, you know.” The silent witch stayed silent. “Fine, let’s go! I can’t believe we’re doing this though- where in the paperwork did it say ‘Agree to investigate fairy-tales for corruption and solve crises etc etc’?! And of course the fairy-tale we’ve been assigned has to do with children.” The mad doktor sighed. "Here, little German children! I have cookies~!" she crooned, in a high sing-song voice. "Lots of sweeties for the little cuties!" May remained silent. Sophie frowned. "Where are they," she pouted, "the whole stinking fairy-tale is about them being greedy, hungry children."May stared at her. Sophie sighed. "Well, yes, they were thrown out by their parents but the parents probably had a good reason." May continued to stare. "This fairy-tale supports natural selection!" Two minutes of silence. Nothing stirred or breathed or moved. "Dammit, fine, we’ll save their sorry butts if need be. Just quit the staring!" May shrugged and they continued walking. They were in a forest- a dark and uninviting forest. There was no rustle of leaves from the trees, not the slightest hint of a breeze. Sophie could sense something watching them but whatever it was, it was not the quaint wildlife that normally accompanied a forest in a fairy-tale. Sophie looked around and raised her eyes to the sky."The sky’s growing dark," she commented. "There might be a storm soon enough. We’ll need to find shelter. Right May? May?!" May was no longer on her right side. Alarmed, the doktor spun around and let out a sigh of relief when she saw the witch standing a few feet back. May had a bored look on her face and waited as her friend backtracked to where she stood."That was nice May," she said sarcastically. "Give me a bloody panic attack, why don’t you... Anyways, what is it?" May pointed to something small on the ground. Sophie crouched down. "Stupid blindness," she muttered. "I can’t see squat without my glasses." She touched the red stone on her headband. It began to digitalize around her eyes, forming a pair of slick red glasses that then zoomed in on object May continued to patiently point at. Sophie frowned as the glasses continued to calculate and gather a full range of data. She slowly stood back up, reading the information that now poured from the top to the bottom of the glasses."Breadcrumbs. To be expected, given the story, but... there seems to be some dark aurora surrounding them." May nodded and grabbed a pair of tweezers from her pocket. She gently reached down and picked one up, motioning at Sophie. Sophie tapped the red gem again and this time a red screen materialized in the palm of her hand. May placed the breadcrumb down on it. The pad began to run a full diagnostic of it. A moment later, she shook her head and gave Sophie a serious look. "Aw, phooey, charades. The breadcrumbs... are full of trans-fat?" May rolled her eyes. "Um, they’re stale?" Death glare. "Oh, full of poison. You know," she said impetuously, "trans-fat is practically a poison to your health." The silent witch just shook her head and pointed west to where the trail of breadcrumbs lay. "This is so boring! We should be doing something more productive with our time than following a trail of weird breadcrumbs!" May remained silent. "Video games, meeting cute guys, working in my lab, meeting cute guys, torturing the zombies or meeting cute guys. All much more productive and fun. We’ve been out here for HOURS!"May shrugged and pointed at the sky. "Yes, I know time here is different!" Sophie snapped. "According to GEM it’s been over five hours but the sun’s only moved an hour’s worth! This is-mhph!" Sophie glared at the witch and removed her hand from her mouth. May put her finger to her lips and Sophie rolled her eyes before nodding. She silently followed May a few feet further along the trail before both stopped behind a large tree. From where they were they could see a dead bird, its state caused by the poisoned bread crumbs, and two young children kneeling beside it. The doktor’s eyes widened and she leapt out from behind the tree."Ze children!" she shrieked. "Finally!"The children were blonde, blue eyed and a bit on the chubby side. "I am Hans," said the boy, his voice trembling. "And this is my sister Gretelle.""A-Are you witches, going to eat us?" asked Gretelle, her eyes filling with tears."No! We’re not going to eat you, even though May is a witch but she’s a good witch and not a cannibal. Are you two lost?""Yes. We were lost in the forest but then we found this trail of breadcrumbs and decided to follow it in case it led us back."Sophie smiled at them while May’s face remained impassive. "The breadcrumbs are not a good thing. That bird you’re beside died because he ate them.""We saw it and we thought... we thought we could help it," Hans said sadly. "W-Who would d-d-o such a horrible t-thing?" His sister began to cry. "Erm, don’t cry," Sophie said uncomfortably. "Look, we have a feeling that there may be bad people in the forest, like what you thought we might have been. You should both stay and wait here while we check ahead. Once we have it all safe and clear, we’ll come back and help you out of the forest.""R-Really?" Gretelle’s eyes shone. "You would help us? And protect us?""Of course. It’s slightly our job.""Yay!" The children hugged Sophie who patted their heads and beamed. "Just wait here, okay? We’ll be back in to time at all. May, can you dispose of the, uh, bird?" May glared at her. She walked over to the bird and knelt beside it, her lips moving soundlessly. The dead bird shimmered for a second before vanishing into thin air."…I just wanted you to chuck it over a tree, not defy the laws of the universe." May simply shrugged, a faint smile on her lips. The two left the children and continued on their way. They walked and walked, each piece of forest they passed looking identical. The sky darkened slightly, a chill permeated the air but still they trudged on. "Wow." Sophie’s astounded statement broke the eerie silence of the forest. The trail of breadcrumbs had led the two girls to a house made of candy and gingerbread. It was quite tacky looking and also quite a bright pink. The sun reflecting off the icing gave a glare so bright it almost blinded them. "Should we go in?" Sophie asked May. The chef already had her pearl revolver in one hand and a wickedly sharp cleaver in the other. Sophie frowned and touched a green stone on her GEM. A large machine of some sort that looked a little like a leaf blower materialized in her hands. "Alright, I have my nuclear icing machine. Let’s bite this cookie in its soft chewy middle!" May kicked through the cookie door and glanced around suspiciously at the overly pink interior. "Sickening," Sophie said, disgusted. "All this junk is horrible for you. There’s barely a healthy thing anywhere! Not to mention that all this pink and other pastel colours are making me want to hurl like a sea sick sailor. I’ll take right, you take left." May took her time, her guard up and her finger barely on the trigger. She entered a living room area, complete with large, pink couches and chairs that gave the impression they would consume you should your tush barely even touch their cushions. There was a coffee table made of licorice. Vanilla icing decorated its top and gave the appearance of a frilly tablecloth. The carpet consisted of cooking herbs, lush and mature, ready for harvesting. May could differentiate between the strong aromas that wafted around the room. Basil, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano... and so many others. Almost everything seemed edible.Sophie meanwhile had literally stumbled into a bedroom, having tripped over the gingerbread doorframe and got her hair stuck in icing. As she yanked and tried to pull it out, she noticed that there were two unmade beds and a slight scent of meat. She gasped suddenly as her hair was freed, causing her to step back. However, unluckiness and clumsiness ensued and her foot went right through the candied floor, revealing a secret compartment. "Muwahaha!" she cackled, her eyes flashing triumphantly. "I succeed again!" She lowered herself down and swatted at something hanging in the air. A dull light flickered on. "Oh shi...take mushrooms! This is not good and it’s freezing down here. May- Gah!" The blonde witch had appeared in front of her and was staring at her expectantly. "May, remember that small chat we had before, back in the forest? Stop trying to give me a freaking heart attack! Hey, are you listening to me?!"May was walking around, carefully inspecting the room. There were a few large freezers, a large steel table and a whole lot of trunks. Hanging from large hooks on the ceiling were hunks of frozen meat. Small pools of red liquid littered the ground. There were also quite a few cleavers and various other knives that May took her time looking at. She pulled a pair of gloves from her pocket and put them on. Gingerly, she lifted up one of the cleavers and brought it over to Sophie."Hm. There’s fresh blood on this knife." She once again used her GEM equipment to analyze it. Her face, if possible, went even more pale than its usual paleness. "May, the blood is human and my educated guess is that all this meat hanging here is human too.""My, my. You’ve already stumbled into our little meat locker." Hans emerged from the shadows, a smirk on his chubby face. Gretelle appeared beside him, giggling. "Sister, what do you think we should do with these intruders?""Intruders?" Sophie repeated. "This is... your place?""Brother, I say we skin them and cook ‘em. I do like the taste of witch." The little girl licked her lips and eyed May hungrily. "I haven’t had one for quite some time.""You’re both cannibals? What the hell is going on here? I am very confused. Explain yourselves immediately! The original tale had it that you left your parents because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, feed you, got lost in that godforsaken forest, entered this house of sweet death and cooked a witch when she tried to cook you. Where has this world deviated?""Some of what you say is true," Hans said. "We were happy children, eating over five meals a day until suddenly our parents said they couldn’t afford to buy any more food." "After they made that little announcement, a few hours later we got hungry and...well, they were the only edible things that didn’t require a great amount of exercise to get to,"Gretelle continued. "They tasted like chicken although Papa was a bit more tough than Momma.""I think I’m going to be sick," Sophie muttered."Anyways," Hans continued, "we got hungry once we had finished them off a few days later so we took to the road and found this forest. We walked and walked until we came to this cabin. Mouths salivating, we immediately clomped onto it and began to eat. The witch who lived in this cabin heard us and invited us inside to have a real meal.""She was so sweet. Literally, that is. We seasoned her with sugar and cinnamon," his sister added.May frowned and nudged Sophie who gave her a nod. "How did you manage to overcome a witch?""She was a bumbling fool. Into love potions and friendship with animals. We pushed her into the oven as she was opening it to put a tofu roast in. We ate that too as a side dish, though it tasted nasty.""What about the breadcrumbs?""We put them there. They serve as our main way to get food. Animals eat them and die, and once the poison has left their systems, we eat them. Or, people follow them here and we eat. Its ingenious and quite splendid." "Ugh and people wonder why I tend to dislike children." The doktor shook her head and looked at May despairingly. "Ugh!" she repeated. "Shh!" Gretelle looked at her worriedly. "Stress toughens the meat. Stay calm and you’ll taste all the more moist and sweet to us tonight.""You just assume that we’ll be easy to kill? Really. A witch and a mad scientist. Have you not noticed the nuclear icing machine in my hands?" Hans shrugged. "No bother. You see, we have an...alliance of sorts. After our first milestone of having eaten ten people, some demons came to us and offered us immortality if we would give them the souls and hearts of the people we ate.""We of course agreed," said Gretelle, smiling. "However there was a catch but we didn’t mind it one bit and it’s allowed us centuries of practice.""You see, we stopped being children," grinned Hans, "and became demons just like them." The children’s eyes turned a bright red and as they grinned their horrible smiles, their teeth grew longer and sharper. Their hands quickly turned into claws and their skin took on a red tinge, hardening into scales. Tails sprouted from their bottoms, growing to be almost as long as their growing bodies. Sophie had her notebook out and was jotting down all that was happening as the children finished their transformations into six foot red dinosaur-like demons."Now," roared Hans, "we feast!"May smiled serenely before she began to shoot him. She aimed high for his red lizard-like eyes and hit the left first. It oozed a bit and the demon let out a cry of pain. She shot it again and it exploded, leaving white goop trailing down the demon’s face. "You’ll pay for that!" he screamed. He lunged at her but May was too fast and dodged it by jumping in the air. She landed on the back of his head and stabbed him with her cleaver. The cleaver was enchanted, able to cut through any substance except certain elven ones, She dragged the weapon down his body to the very end of his tail as he shrieked and shrieked with pain. Green blood oozed out in abundance from his body as he swayed dizzily, knocking into the meat hanging from the ceiling. May simply waited and as the demon finally fell to the ground in defeat, she stabbed him one more time right in his heart. The red glow in his eyes faded and he lay dead at her feet. Sophie had swapped her nuclear icing machine for a somewhat nuclear shotgun. She looked through the scope at the raging she-demon before her and pulled the trigger. "Boom! Headshot," she cheered as the head exploded, leaving behind a wall covered in green blood. The now headless body toppled over with a ringing bang and the two girls high-fived. "Well, that was fun," Sophie commented. "I’m going to take skin and blood samples. I want to know precisely what kind of demons they were and if the ones they made the pact with have anything to do with this fairy-tale’s twistedness."May walked over to the wall the children had first appeared by and began knocking on it. Finding that it was hollow, she gathered up her strength and kicked right through it. As the dust and debris cleared, she entered the musty room and began rummaging through the many trunks and bags that lay all around. "Huh. That must be all the stuff that belonged to the people those demons consumed," said Sophie as she entered the room. "Well, I do love a good loot."