Gretel (Alternate Ending)
Authorís Note: Hello there. When I first started this story set I already knew that it would be a two-parter and most of it had written itself in my head before I even put fingers to keyboard. Been true of a lot of my stories in the past, but they always tend to take on a life of their own. Hansel went pretty much the way I planned, with a few stylistic choices that kind of came to me in the moment (such as the stream of consciousness style for when Hanselís mind goes over the edge, enjoyed writing it that way) but overall following the outline to the letter. When Gretel first started writing itself in my head I had a completely different ending planned. As I was writing the story out though, that slowly started to change and by the time I was actually at the point where the ending was to come, it was clear to me that the story wanted to be the way it came out. And I always try to yield to that, because itís certainly given me positive results in the past. Without doing that, there would never have been any sequels to ďLittle RedÖ TWIOTBĒ. And what a travesty that would have been. But in this case, while I think the story is better for the ending that it chose, I still like the original ending idea enough that I wanted to write it out. So at the risk of my being a bit of a pretentious artiste, consider this something of a little DVD extra to ďGretelĒ. Oh and if you donít want to have the actual ending spoiled in your mind, you might want to stop reading now. This endingís a bit dark.
And then, suddenly, she was merely lying in the kitchen in a cottage. Her head swam and her stomach gurgled. It was still now. No struggling, no movements, just a light churning as she digested her meal, which was now quite calm.
Trying to shake the cobwebs from her mind, Gretel lay on the floor, feeling a new rush of power throughout her entire body. It was quite a heady experience and she was not sure if she could handle it. She had read all of her motherís books and notes, but this felt beyond anything they had covered. Gretelís head began to ache just thinking about it.
And as she lay on the kitchen, the headache began to get worse. It was like a pounding in her skull that would not cease. Her hands clutched at her hair, her stomach still sloshing around her meal. She began to try to use her new abilities to calm the pain, and that was when it grew worse. Suddenly in addition to the throbbing, Gretel felt a white hot pain shoot through the center of her head, like a spike being driven into its very center, paralyzing her on the ground.
She lay stricken, unable to move for the terrible pain and suddenly began to feel something new. It was a strange sensation coupled with the pain of her essence and memories being unraveled. Slowly she could not remember where she was or how she had gotten here. Then she would barely grasp a glimpse of what her life had been like and what had just happened, but it would slip away again. And as she tried to grasp these bits together, tried to keep them from fluttering away, Gretel suddenly felt the mental weight of thousands of years of experience and will, slamming down on her consciousness.
As she began to fade, she was graced with on final coherent though. She had been a fool to think she could defeat something so powerful.
As she finished obliterating the girlís mind, the witch slowly stretched into her new body, getting used to the feel of it. It was fresher than her old one had been, and it would take a bit of time to train this body to truly focus her powers. For now, she was simply getting used to the new muscle structure and the feel of the way this one took in stimulus.
It had been time to switch bodies now anyway, and she had hoped the girl would take her offer so that she could get this one used to channeling a bit more power. But in the end she had been forced to simply plan for another meal and hope that suitable specimen would arrive on her doorstep in the next few months. And then the girl had surprised her with her ingenuity.
The witch hated to admit that she hadnít planned for being bashed in the head and roasted alive in her own oven. But it had served as a valuable lesson, if almost a costly one. She would have to take greater care in the future. She had become arrogant and almost sloppy with her meals. No more. From now on, she would treat each one as being potentially dangerous, the way she had in the start.
To start with, it would be time for the cottage to move on. Another place, possibly even another time again. Maybe another trip to the future where she didnít have to worry about people actually believing in the possibilities of monsters in the woods. She took a greater risk of being shot, but she could deal with that.
She focused her energy now as best she could, annoyed at the effort this was going to take for the next month or so of her existence, and began sending the cottage and herself away. The witch hoped she could find a good hunting ground. The more she ate, the faster sheíd be back at her full power. She intended to get it back very quickly.
So thatís it. Thankfully for Gretel, that didnít happen, and personally, Iím kind of glad the story wanted a happier ending. Iím glad that Gretelís out there wandering, instead of the witch simply looking for a better place to eat. If my mind decides to return to these stories for some reason, I think Gretel will be a much more interesting character to follow around over all. Weíll just have to see if that happens.