Harry and Gabriel (Hansel and Gretel) TMI Competition

"24 hours in the City of Bones" Competition entry.
You have twenty four hours to be inspired by 'a fantasy tale set in a modern city' and write your own short story of no more than 2,000 words.

Based on: Hansel and Gretel.
Word count: 1,990

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1. Harry & Gabriel

“Are you ready, Gabriel?” Harry whispered quietly to his sister, placing the small remote in her hands. She nodded determinedly at her brother. She turned to face the small remote and turned it upwards. Cautiously she pressed Play and hoped it to work...

 

*****

 

“SHUT UP! YOU DO NOT DISOBEY ME LIKE THAT AGAIN, DO YOU HEAR? YOU STAY QUIET. YOU DO AS YOU’RE TOLD. YOU NEVER TRY ANYTHING TO ESCAPE AGAIN OR IT WILL BE FAR WORSE THIS TIME. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” Caroline yelled furiously, kicking Gabriel angrily in the stomach being careful to stick her heel into her already damaged ribs.

                “Okay! Okay! We understand just please, please stop...” Gabriel cried out, reaching for her brother who was on the brink of consciousness beside her. As she neared Harry’s hand, Caroline stomped furiously on it causing her to howl out in pain. Seeing her suffering, Caroline laughed and walked out of the room, slamming the door in the process.

                Gabriel rose from the floor with a wince and inched over to the bed where she pulled out first aid equipment they had stolen from Charlotte’s kitchen. She slowly crawled back towards her brother and patched up their injuries the best she could. “Why did it have to be her, Gabby? Why did dad have to choose her?” Harry mumbled from his position on the floor. Gabriel’s heart softened at the look on his face before a rage clenched at her gut as she remembered that it was their stepmother who was doing this, keeping them hostage and beating them daily.

                “I don’t know, Harry. But we’ll get out soon, I promise you that. We’ll get out of here and we’ll find dad. A happy family again, okay? It will happen someday.” Slowly, they both stood up supporting each other, and made their way over to the bed. Eventually, they fell asleep upset and scared.

               

 

The following morning, Harry was woken up with a slap in the face. “Get up and eat your food, ungrateful idiots.” His eyes opened in time to see Caroline saunter away. He went to go shake his sister awake but she had already sat up and was glaring at the doorway.

                “She just woke up. How could she possibly be angry this early? Why can’t we just be left alone for a day at least...” Harry saw the hopeless look on her face and tried to comfort her but they both knew comfort was hopeless in their step-mother’s house.

                Here, in the drab old house which they liked to call prison, there was no such thing as hope. The best thing they could do was survive through their kidnapper’s dreadful beatings day by day and hope there would be an end to it one day. Three months ago, exactly 5 weeks after their dad split up with their awful step-mother, she stole them back. This baffled them both as she loathed them with every fibre of her being, as they did with her, but they soon realised it was payback. Payback towards their dad for leaving her even though she was a maniac. Since then, Gabriel and Harry had been used as Caroline’s stress toys. Every time her temper rose even the slightest, she would beat them until she felt relief from their pain.

                A particular thing that always angered her to great amounts was whenever Gabriel and Harry tried to escape her evil clutches, which had happened on numerous occasions. The first time was their second day inside the house. They had received their first beating the night they were caught and early in the morning they were desperate, terrified, so they thought that if they awoke early, they could run away. However, when they reached the front door it was locked and as Harry tugged on it frantically, it caused Caroline to wake up.  They found out then that no matter what time during the day, she can be both furious and brutal.

The second time they tried was during their first month. They had managed to escape a brutal beating that day as Caroline was in an oddly happy mood. They figured the foreign feeling that clouded her insides would distract her momentarily  whilst they snuck out of an open window. Although only when Gabriel was leaning out of the window and was unable to get back inside by herself, she decided that she didn’t want to jump. “I could break my legs, Harry! She’s happy today, what’s there to say that this won’t be the last time? Don’t make me jump, just help me back in!” Were her exact words. Soon enough Caroline heard the commotion and her sense of joy snapped like a twig. That beating was the worst they had gotten so far – they received concussions from various moments where their heads were smashed against the concrete wall and sprained limbs as they twisted themselves in abnormal positions to try and protect themselves.

              The third attempt was only a few weeks before their final plan, the winning idea. They had hoped to appear damaged enough that Caroline would have to take them to the Hospital, where they would tell the doctors what she had done and get her arrested. They definitely got a doctor, but it wasn’t one that they were hoping for. This doctor was an old “friend” of Caroline’s and specialised in treating various criminals whenever they got injuries from a fight or picky situation. Instead of being taken out of the house, the “doctor” was brought inside and tended to their wounds. “How’d ey get em en ay Cari?” Despite his poor speaking and lack of actual English, Caroline, or “Cari” as he had called her, somehow understood what he was asking and chuckled in response.

                “They tried to escape, so I beat them. The little buggers.” She replied, glaring at us both in turn. Her response caused the doctor to laugh which sounded more like a dog barking after seeing a cat across the street.

                “Good one, Cari! Beatin’ em always works! Does wit ma kids anyway.” He replied whilst checking Gretel over for any serious injuries. He continued to chuckle quietly.

                When he finished he stood up and packed up his First-Aid equipment. “Well I’m dun ‘ere. Pay up sweet cheeks.” Caroline gave his an incredulous look unaware that money was required in this situation. “I’m only jokin’. See ya, Cari!” And with that, he made his way out of the house.

                “Now” Caroline began once the door had closed, she sat them both on the edge of their bed and paced in front of them, slowly increasing their level of fear. “That was the last straw. No more escape attempts whatsoever. I could make your life a whole lot worse than it already is if you try one foolish act again. Do you understand?” She threatened. They both believed that she would have to try a whole lot to make their life worse but knowing her, she could definitely do it.

                “We understand. No more acts, we won’t try it again.” Harry mumbled whilst facing towards the floor, all feeling of hope drained from his slouched figure. At least, that’s what he hoped Caroline saw.

                “SPEAK UP BOY!” She yelled furiously, slapping him hard against his cheek leaving a big red mark.

                “We won’t try to escape again, we promise!” Harry announced louder, his promise empty. Under no circumstances would they give up on their final plan, they had to get out of there. Caroline huffed in agreement and stalked out of the room, slamming it shut.

                The siblings remained quiet for a while before Gabriel heard clattering and curses from outside, she slowly got up and made her way over to the window that overlooked the back garden.

It was a moderate sized piece of dead grass and wilting bushes. It was dark and had no splashes of colour except two targets taped on separate trees. One had numerous small holes pierced through its paper. Next to it, on the floor was a long case where Caroline kept her rifle, which she had threatened to use on Harry and Gabriel various times. A distance away was another target which instead of having small pellet holes through it, there was knife slashes and visible dents in the tree behind it.

             The thing that caught Gabriel’s eye however, was the growing pile of wood in the middle of the garden. Caroline was carrying logs towards it and dumping them on the pile making it hazardously large. It confused Gabriel as she watched her step-mother build this thing, but all became clear when she heard her hissing voice unknowingly announce her plan to Gabriel. “Can’t wait until those little brats are gone for good. Burned nicely, yes, very nice... He’ll regret leaving me now, ha!” She ended in a laugh. Stiffly, Gabriel turned back and sat on the bed paralysed with shock.

                “What’s wrong, Gabriel? What was out there?” Harry asked edging closer to his horror struck sister.

                “She’s going to burn us.” She mumbled back to him. Harry’s face now matched her own, unable to except the fate that would be theirs in a matter of time.

                “We need to go, now. The plans sorted, let’s just get it done and get out of here. Come on.” Harry decided after he snapped out of the trace. He walked over to the little bedside table and picked up a control. Gabriel didn’t move as he looked through the window and returned to the bed to get her. “Come on. We’re going. Now.” He tugged her upwards and when she was stood straight, shook her furiously by the shoulders. “Now Gabriel! Come on!” Luckily, she returned to her senses and together they crept quietly down the staircase listening carefully for any noise coming from outside. Once they were downstairs, they spun around and quickly crouched down behind the stairs and out of sight.

                “Are you ready, Gabriel?” Harry whispered quietly to his sister, placing the small remote in her hands. She nodded determinedly at her brother. She turned to face the small remote and turned it upwards. Cautiously she pressed Play and hoped it to work...

                They heard the thump of Harry hitting the floor and a few moments later Gabriel’s voice rung out “Help! Harry’s fallen over – I think he’s hurt!” As they hoped, Caroline entered the house quietly muttering to herself. Unfortunately, they heard what she had said which only twisted their stomachs more.

                “I hope that little brats hurt, it would just make it easier to get you both into that fire so you can be gone from here. I can’t wait to see you burn.”  She hissed the last word with so much hate and fury, Gabriel was frozen for a few seconds before Harry shook her shoulders again ushering her from out of their hiding place and to the kitchen’s back door.

                It was wide open and they didn’t hesitate before jumping outside and making a run for it. There was a gate and when they tried to open it, it was locked. Harry snapped his head around to look for a key before heading back inside to the kitchen. “Harry! Get out of there!” She hissed, panic rising and filling her insides as Caroline’s voice rang out.

                “WHERE ARE YOU? GET HERE NOW!” She screamed. A few moments later Harry ran out of the kitchen with a key in hand, he fumbled with the lock but soon the gate was open and they were running free. “GET BACK HERE! YOU’RE MINE!” Gabriel turned in time to see Caroline charging behind them like an angry bull, her trusty knife in hand. They couldn’t give up yet, they pressed on further praying for someone to come and help them escape the monster.

                They turned into an alleyway; trapped. Caroline followed with her knife in hand and an evil grin on her face. 

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