Once Upon a Time – Chap. 25.3


After what seemed like an eternity of stumbling in the woods, it appeared they were traveling in the right direction; at least it was a direction lending itself to more light. Seth thought at first there must be some sort of magic involved in the patches of motionless illumination in front of them (which was almost enough reason to turn around and go the opposite way). But coming closer, he realized it was a two-story house they approached. A house? In the middle of a forest? And just how many lanterns did they have in that place to have it practically lit up like a beacon?

Well, I guess whoever lives there will have a candle or two they can spare to give us,” said Seth. He shuffled onward but came to an annoyed halt when the Keepers’ trusty henchman ran ahead to stand between him and the blazing abode.

Oh no, don’t even think about it!” the bird-man mignon shook a plump finger at him. “We are not wasting time going over there and jabbering with complete strangers. The Keepers would want us to keep moving.”

Seth raised his arms to encompass the dark night woods around them. “We can’t even see where we’re moving to. It’s not wasting time to ask for something we need.” He lowered the arms. “You seem to have forgotten our past few chats about being a team player.” He waited a moment, lowering his eyes to the finger still floating in front of him. A mock lunge forward quickly removed his roadblock as the finger’s owner leaped out of the way to cower behind a bush.

Closer examination revealed the house to be more of a two story shack with weathered wood beyond repair in some places. Light flowing out of two front windows on the lower level and another on the second story cast down an almost eerie glow around the dilapidated home. Even the steps let out a series of creaks and groans as they walked over them. Wait, the steps? Seth paused, tapping his walking stick against the surface under his feet to reconfirm what his eyes told him. The steps were made of stone not wood, surely that ear grating noise wasn’t coming from them. Another creak emanated from somewhere above; it seemed the source of this foreboding chorus was the house itself. A woven collection of splinters constituted the door.  Clearly charming and cozy were far from appropriate descriptions for this place.

A few quick knocks rendered sounds of faint scuffling from inside. Picturing all sorts of gruesome potential residents about to be met, Seth was for once glad to be a monster with nothing to fear. The door slowly screeched open as a short, frizzy-haired blonde woman who looked every bit as threatening as a baby mouse cautiously answered. Night time visitors were probably a rarity in these parts. Then again, it looked as though visitors to this house at all were a rarity. She held the door open only wide enough to peek her head over it.

Forgive us for the intrusion, dear madam, but would you happen to have a lamp for two travelers making their way on this dark night?” Seth hoped his attempt at gentlemanly discourse would override the fact it was a walking corpse asking the question.

His traveling companion apparently favored a different approach, suddenly holding up a rock likely gathered from the yard. “Give us one now or we’ll throw this threw your windows, missy!”

Seeing a zombie asking random questions and a stranger making demands with a makeshift weapon was not something the woman likely expected to find on her steps. The door slammed shut after a loud shriek. Whether it was the woman or the door itself emitting the sound was hard to tell. A lock on the other side quickly secured.

Seth sighed at the sealed entrance before them. “Well you certainly aren’t helping me knock on any doors again.”


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