FOR THE CHILDREN

Written by Ashly Damon

Edited by Bradley Bell

All the children had finally dozed off to sleep, and a nice calm flooded the house without the ruckus of the children’s play.

Their mother Sandra shut the door to their bedroom and finished up organizing a few things.

That evening was not particularly special for this family, not at all, they had said grace at dinner and did their chores and the parents read books to their children to ease them into sleep. All seemed well, that is until a fateful knock on the door.

Ratta tap tap, ratta tap tap.

“Who could it be at this hour?” She asked through the door.

Ratta tap tap, ratta tap tap.

“It is time.” A voice replied through the door.

Sandra felt ill just hearing those words.

She opened the door to a familiar hooded figure.

“No, not us. I thought we agreed our children were off limits.” She said.

“Don’t be pushy. The time has come; the children are to go with me.’ He put his foot into the doorway.

“Don’t fight this Sandra.”

“You must think me a right fool. Letting my children be fed to some…well I don’t even know, do I?” She cried in a low voice. “I can’t let you. There must be an alternative!” She protested as quietly as possible, as to not wake up anyone else and make his plans come true.

“There can be no stopping this, Sandra. We must all make sacrifices and it has been decided by the village. Your family will give them up.”

A fire ran across Sandra’s eyes as she realised her anger for the village.

“Let me take their place.”

“I’m sure she could tell you were not a child.”

“I am still young, and do not bear any marks of age. I am short. I can most surely pass for a child.”

“But you’d be going to your death, Sandra.”

“Yes? And? I am more than willing to die for my children’s safety.”

The hooded man agreed to let her try and fool the reaper of the village.

“Give me a moment, please.” Sandra went and kneeled over each child’s bed.

‘You are loved, my little one,” She brushed aside her daughter’s hair out of her face “So loved. I want you to be happy, and to grow up well and strong.” She held back her tears. She repeated over and over again her love for her and then her brother, then realising the man at the door was still waiting.

She lifted her blanket to cover up to her daughter’s shivering neck and left with the man, not even leaving a note for her husband.

As Sandra walked out of the village she felt their eyes on her, the villagers, the ones who were willing to sacrifice her family. “I feel ashamed for letting others go through this.” She said to him.

“Group mentality, my dear, someone had to make the first move.” He replied as they passed through the woods.

The night fog permeated throughout the woods, Sandra felt uneasy passing through it all. A wolf howled in the distance.

They walked down a steep decline, stepping over mossy rocks and vines. A stone boulder with a carving of a skull stood out.

“I come bringing a sacrifice.” The hooded man said.

The stone boulder rolled to the side.

“You are doing a brave thing, Sandra.” The spokesman’s faded out as the boulder rolled back again.

Well lit lamps attached all along the hallways made the air tinted with a smoky smell, along with a rotting smell. There were bloody hand prints on the walls, and the hallways seemed to be a catacomb. A giggling laughter broke out as Sandra drew closer to the centre of the maze.

It was a hard woman’s laugh, almost deep.
She sat atop a mountain of bones and bodies, the monster who claimed the children. She was sharpening a bone with sharp teeth.

“Oh a new one! This makes me very happy!” The monster was shaped like a woman, though blackened with layers of dried blood. Two horns poked out from atop her head.

“Y-yes I’m your sacrifice.”

The air tightened as the monster stood right in front of Sandra, examining her. She looked Sandra up and down, from her underarms right down to feeling the thickness of her arms.

“You are a little tubby. Oh I guess that means you’re just a little more juicy!” She giggled, her eyes glowing red as she did so.

Sandra’s gaze darted around hurriedly. Must be a weapon or something somewhere she thought.

“Mmm follow me fat lady. Time to prepare you.” The demon danced around the corner, completely disregarding Sandra in her excitement.

Her stomach was turning over and over again as she took in the smells and sights, still she must survive. Sandra crawled up the top of the pile and grabbed the sharpened bone that the monster was gnawing on.

“ARE YOU COMING OR NOT FAT LADY?!” The deep screeching quickly turned to laughter.

“N-no! I’m not!” Sandra shouted back in defiance.

In that moment, Sandra fluidly withdrew the sharpened bone from behind her and slammed straight up into the jaw of the demon. She screamed in pain, flailing her hands and trying to remove it.

“Oh what have you done? This is not fun at all!”
Adrenaline gushing throughout her veins, backed away from the monster as she emerged from the other room, her claws held out with a frown. “You’re disobedient. I don’t like disobedience in my meals.”

A heavy thick roar rocked the room from up the hallway, dust fluttering down from the roof of the room by the roar.

Sandra escaped the room, making for the maze of hallways.

More roaring and crashing steps followed her.

“Pitiful human! Get back here!”

The voice bounced off the walls, Sandra couldn’t tell what direction she was in.

The monster appeared at the next turn, grinning with seeming triumph.

Just as the monster’s claws slashed at her left shoulder, Sandra used free hand to shiv the bone up into her jaw, her throat and finally stuck itself into her heart. Black ooze poured out onto Sandra and a wheezing cry breathed into her ear. They collapsed onto one another.

Yet the demon was dead and Sandra was alive. She pushed the body off of her and limped out of that place, not uttering a single complaint to herself.

For the children, she thought, she must get back to her little ones.

In her weakened state it took her three hours to limp home. Sun was rising and the people of the village stared at her from their open windows. Sandra burst through the door of her house, panting weak breaths.

She finally rested by her children’s beds, smiling and breathing in the dear life she had earned.

She kissed each one ten times on the cheek, waking them in the process.

“I love you both so much, so very much.” She whispered.

The brave mother finally had her day’s rest.

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