This is Part 2, read Part 1 here.

As the younglings get closer, their scent makes me eyes water. The youths smell divine. Not the bland, milky smell of infants, oh no. Neither the apple vinegar odor of the adults. Bless them. They smell like the wind moments before it rains.

“I can’t move me foot. It’s stuck in the vines. Can you help me?” I let the roots grab me foot to make a point.

The girl, braver of the two, leans forward to free me from me trap. Shame that. The brave despair the best. She speaks words of comfort, but I can’t hear any, so focused I am on not licking me lips. I don’t want to scare them off too early.

The boy stands there and gapes. Are you an oaf, boy? Well, stare all you like. Time to spring the trap. I rub me thumb and forefinger. The plants strains against me will, but they knows what happens if they disobey. They wrap themselves silently around the boy’s ankles. Good, good.

The girl stares down at me in surprise. What did I do? Did I cackle? Gave her a glimpse me teeth or me nails? Fear already in her eyes. Oh, yes. But not enough fear to feed on. No. Tea leaves need time to brew.

“Help me out, girl,” I says as I try to stand. She listens against her better judgment. Kind hearts be the end of most children. I plunge me nails through her sweet little belly. Her warmth splatters all over me face. The girl doesn’t even flinch. She doesn’t understand. Wet stain spreads over her ribboned blue dress, dying the fabric purple. Her wee fingers clutch me by me cuff. Life flees through her eyes.

“I got you now,” I say to the girl, but so as the boy can hear me well.  The girl drops to the forest cover. Lifeless. Empty. I lick the ichor off me skin. A taste of the meal to come. Too bland to return me any real strength, but sweet as nectar. Oh, it makes me tremble in anticipation.

The oaks creek and strain to help the surviving child. But they can’t. Them’s rooted to the spot like the little oaf. Menace me with creaks all you like. You’re too slow to do anything.

The boy screams. No, not screams. Wails. Fusses like a little babe taken away from the tit of his mother. Even pigs don’t squeal so much when brought to the slaughter. I hobble over and clamp my palm over his mouth to shut him up. Iron nails bite into his cheek. The sweet fragrance of fear lingers about him.

Oh, yes. Despair little piggy. The tea is almost made.

A rustle from behind and then a scream. “Leave my children alone, hag!” This one is so fierce it makes the birds hiding in the branches take flight. The woman thwacks me on the head with a dry rotten log she managed to lift up. Shapes and colors go away for a heartbeat. Whitewash.

First thing I sees is the scattered spray of splinters all around me. The world revolves. Skewed. The mother kneels next to the girl.

“Maria?” she mouths through tears. No matter. Brave or not. Dead is dead. Stupid as her son. Should’ve taken the spare and ran.

You could have lived, nosy woman. Mothers are worse than spiders. Gets in your boots when youse not looking.

A gray feather falls beside me. I snatch it and whisper threats. It shivers, so I knows it listens. With one flick of me nail, I sharpen it to a point and blow at it. It shoots out of me hand like an arrow. It makes no sound. It rips through the linen and then buries itself in the woman’s heart.

“You should’ve taken the boy and ran,” I says, getting up to my good knee.

She opens her mouth. No words there. Keep looking, silly woman. You don’t even know you’re dead yet. Her hands fall limp, her head droops on her chest. She collapses on top of her daughter.

Boy breaths in and out, like heat stricken animal. At least he’s not wallowing anymore. I prod his forehead with me finger and lean closer, squinting. “You daft or something? Only I don’t want to catch it.”

His small chest raises up and down quickly. Oh, yes, you are mine. Little bloodshot piggy eyes stare past me to his mother and sister. Good, good. This one’s ripe for the plucking.

The old forest protests. Trees bend down low as far as they can and reach for me with their fingers. These are strong oaks. Them could tear me apart if they grabbed me. But them’s old. Unbending. Wood grows stiff with age. They tap me back and me shoulder but are unable to find purchase.

I grin me smile of sharp iron teeth. ’Tis time to grow strong again. Time for the feast I deserves.

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