Published in FormerCactus magazine 2017 and one of the winners of BR-Lit flash competition
by Donna L Greenwood
Lights out and the creeping starts. She pulls the sheets over her head as the air begins to whisper its insanities. From an unseen corner the wolf growls and she hears the clickety clack of its claws as it circles the room. In the middle of the night its mouth can widen and swallow you up in one gulp. Ask Grandma, her bones talk. At the end of her bed, the goblins are yacking in a low dark tone. Their bone white eyes shine in the murk as they look for her. Their tongues loll with appetite.
She stills her breath, trying not to alert them to her presence. Under the sheets, the witch sleeps beside her; crooked hands are entwined with the child’s hair and a hairy knee rests on her thigh. The child lies as still as death but she is not afraid, for this child is a child of the times and she knows about monsters. She closes her eyes and feels for her weapon, careful not to disturb the gnarly skin bag by her side.
Down her chimney climbs Blue with his sooty beard and bag full of bloody heads. She knows he comes for her family tonight and her hands tighten around Mama’s scissors. She must be brave; cry-babies die in the dark so she stifles her fear lest they smell it. Familiar with fighting for her life, she acts quickly – snip snap – she cuts off the witch’s tongue, rendering her filthy spells useless. Now she is just an old woman whom the child bucks off and pushes out of bed.
Next – stab stab – she pops out the goblins’ eyes; they writhe in pain and, like salted slugs, dissolve into muck.
Blue stands behind her. She falls to the ground and tumbles backwards through his legs. She has the advantage now. When he turns, a sickening smile tearing through his skin, she holds the scissors steadily in her hands and points them towards his belly. He raises his murderous axe ready to claim his prize but years of easy terrorising have made him fat. And slow. The child is quicker; she lurches forward and stabs the scissors into the monster’s gut. Streams of intestines splatter to the ground and Blue follows them, a puzzled, cheated look fastened to his face.
A growl behind her and claws rake her back. Even now she makes no noise though hot pain rips through her skin causing tears to erupt in her eyes. She falls to the ground and the wolf pounces. Its breath is warm and salty on her face. She brings the scissors up and through the jaws of the beast. It falls and joins its blue-bearded cousin on the floor.
Lights on and Mama appears.
It’s late. Go back to bed.
The child obeys. The lights go out.
Mama and Papa are safe for one more night. Beneath her sheets once more, the child licks her scissors like ice-cream.