Sweet Tooth

Oct 09

There was once was a town called Woodcrest. A deep forest, thick with dark timber surrounded the small village on three sides, while a large lake nestled up against the other side. The lake sparkled every night regardless of the fullness of the moon, except for one night of the year; All Hallow’s Eve. For 364 days of the year, the glow from the lake illuminated the town to allow the people to work regardless of time. On All Hallow’s Eve, the glow disappeared and left the town under an eerie darkness.

The inhabitants this village lived off the land. The houses were made of timber cut from the forest and mud from the edge of the lake. Farming, hunting and trade were how they survived. There was a single trail that led off into the woods, but it only led deeper into the darkness. A lone wagon would come down that trail once a year, bringing goods from other villages for trade or sale.

“Mooooooooom,” yelled Teddy.

Teddy was an energetic, young boy with only eight years under his belt. He was full of determination and extremely goal oriented for someone so young. He was a little on the chubby side, not from his lack of conditioning or exercise, but an unquenchable appetite with a slower than normal metabolism.

“Yes Teddy,” his mom replied with a smile, appreciating his excitement.

“I want to win the All Hallow’s Eve contest this year,” he said. The contest was for the child that collected the most food and candy from their neighbors in the isolated village. The winner and their family was given a percentage of the village’s food supply that would make that family’s life easier for an entire year. The winner would also be able to travel with the wagon to see the world.

The smile vanished from her face before he finished speaking. She knew he was determined, but was forbidden
from trying to stop him.

She remembered that exact same look on her brother’s face 30 years ago. “Are you sure, dear?”

“I’m better than the other kids mom,” he replied. “Plus, I’m always hungry and you work too hard. I could snack on my winnings and let you relax for awhile, maybe make yourself something nice.”

“If you really want to, I will do everything I can do to help,” she said as she turned to hide the tears forming in her eyes. Would anyone really know if she told him the truth? Of course they would. Her son was too honest. He’d never be able to keep it quiet.

Teddy prepared three costumes over the next six months.  He spent two months creating each costume after coming home from school and doing his chores, making each one as believable as he was able to. The werewolf costume was built with the fur of the rabbits he hunted for dinner, the scarecrow costume was built from the hay in the barn and the ghost costume from one of the old sheets that had been discarded from a load of laundry that was left out in a storm and ruined. The ghost custom was by far the easiest, but his father had kept interrupting him by asking him to sit and talk. Teddy didn’t understand it, because normally his father wasn’t a talkative man. But when his mother had told his father about his desire to win this year, he had started spending more time with him.

All Hallow’s Eve arrived and there was a blanket of wariness over the town. The darkness had arrived and it would be impossible to see if not for the candles lit in front of each house. The howls that were once distant, grew closer and louder in the forest.

Teddy’s parents were especially clingy the entire day. They had both come to him at different times of the day warning him to be careful and both had hugged him tightly as he left in the first costume. The village wasn’t very large and everyone was generous with their offerings. Each time he filled his bag, he would return home and pour the contents into a bigger bag and change costumes to go back out again.

The town’s bell chimed at 10 p.m. to signal the end of the contest. Families started moving toward the town square, but Teddy was still in his room. His father and mother held each other as they waited in fear. They weren’t in any hurry to get to the square tonight. Teddy struggled to opened the door and drag his bag out of his room at the same time. Both parents gasped as they saw it and his mother broke into tears.

“Let me take that for you,” said his father a little shocked at the weight of the bag.

Teddy smiled. “Thanks Dad,” he said. “Mom, isn’t it great?”

“I’m proud of you son,” she said.

They slowly made their way to the town square where people were still gathering. The parents were solemn, their eyes darting, comparing their children’s bags to the others. It went unnoticed by the excited and boisterous children. Some of those worried looks disappeared as Teddy’s father lifted the bag onto the raised platform for the contest. Teddy’s bag dwarfed all the other bags, being at least twice the size of its nearest competitor. Teddy stood there with a large smile on his face as he looked around at the other disappointed children. At least the other parents were as happy as he was, he thought. He was the winner without a doubt.

After collecting the winnings, which included a large sack of candy, they headed home. The neighbors helped carry the sacks of food and brought them to the bard. Teddy ran into the house and threw the bag on his bed. He began to dig into the candy.

“Enjoy all that candy Teddy,” his father said. His mother rushed in and hugged him tight and cried.

“Don’t cry mom,” he consoled her. “We now have enough food that you won’t have to work as hard. You can even sell or trade some of it for a new dress. And dad can now spend more time at home instead of hunting all the time. Right Dad?”

“Yes Teddy,” his dad said void of emotion. “I’ll be home for awhile.”

“Goodnight mom and dad.”

“Goodbye son,” his mother said as they left.

Teddy spent the next few hours devouring the candy. Although he felt the twinge of a stomach ache coming on, he sat in the dark taking bite after bite. A faint buzzing sound started in his ears, but he ignored it and slipped another chocolate into his mouth, relishing the way it melted on his tounge. He kept reaching for more, oblivious to everything around him.

“Hello sweet one,” came a voice dripping with sweetness, out of the darkness.

Teddy stared in the direction of the voice but saw nothing. “Hello? Who’s there?”

“I am the prize,” she said, waving her hand as glitter illuminated her form to Teddy. She was about the size of his father’s thumb with large and bright blue eyes. She had flowing blonde hair, wore a flowing white dress and you couldn’t help but be drawn into her beauty. She also had four, almost transparent wings that buzzed in the still air. “Do you know what I am?”

“Are you a princess?” he asked.

“Under the darkness of night, beautiful little maidens slip through the cracks of doors and windows,”she said. “They silently flap their wings and are able to sneak under pillows as children sleep and steal the fallen baby teeth while leaving payment. Children wake up happy to have money that takes their minds off losing a tooth. The payments help the legend of us grow. I am what you call a tooth fairy.”

“So you live on teeth?” he asked.

“Such a smart boy,” she replied while flying closer. Teddy couldn’t help but smile as she hugged and kissed his nose. “I want to thank you for winning the contest.”

“You’re welcome,” replied Teddy. “But why would you thank me? Do you get some of the food?”
The pixie-like lady licked her lips as she observed the boy. “Yes, yes we do. It will feed my entire family for an entire year. “

“I’m glad to help you,” he spoke up as the buzzing grew louder with each passing second. “Do you need help carrying it home? I can ask my father to help you get it there.”

“Such a polite young man,” she smiled. “You don’t need to do a thing. We’ll take it back to our cave, deep in the woods.” As she spoke, a different kind of fairy appeared behind her. They had remained in the darkness, but now hovered closer to the maiden’s light. These weren’t the beautiful form he had just met. These instead were deformed and dark. He would barely be able to see them, except for the gleam from their inch-long teeth that filled their elongated mouths. Flat black eyes were empty except for longing as they stared at the boy. Hundreds of eyes became thousands as they grew closer and closer to Teddy. Their fingers were almost as long
as their torsos, and twice as long as the arms they were connected too.

“What are they?” asked Teddy. He had never seen or imagined such creatures, and all the calmness he felt about the beautiful maiden vanished. He now felt nothing but fear as he backed up toward the wall at the head of his bed.

“They are my family,” she replied with a smile. “Only the females look like me. We collect your teeth and pay you for them because if we’re seen, we don’t frighten the children. We can pass as butterflies to the glancing eye. They are our men,” she gesturing to the thousands around her. “They’re pretty satisfied by the teeth most of the year, but on this night every year they can’t be contained. They need more. They need you.”

“They need me?” asked Teddy. “What do they need me for?”

“So sweet and innocent you are,” she said, her expression almost showing a hint of sympathy. “They need to eat and since you’ve eaten almost all of that candy, your flesh and bones contain enough sugar to fill them for a year. Your village has made you their sacrifice. We keep your village under the protection of our light. Without it, the evils that lurk in the forest would ravage this village in minutes. In exchange, we get you,” she said as she ran her tiny fingers down his cheek. “The guilt of your people led to them forming the contest so that it gives the impression that you chose this yourself. But it’s not really your choice to feed us, is it?”

“You’re going to eat me?” he said as going white. “No it’s not my choice. Can’t you take the rest of the candy instead?”

She laughed deeply as did the swarm behind her. The echo of a thousand laughs made Teddy even more frightened. “No young one, we cannot. Now just be silent and allow us this pleasure. You will only feel a light pinch.”
With a quick nod from the beautiful maiden before them, their teeth started clattering together in excitement before they charged. A quick shriek was all that Teddy could express before his throat was filled by the monstrous creatures that silenced him. The clattering of teeth echoing through the room as Teddy’s body quivered silently on the bed. In only seconds, the evil-looking fairies were tearing their way out of his flesh before diving back in. The little monstrosities’ saliva turned the flesh and bones into a glowing substance that dried into a glitter-like dust. As they devoured their feast, the leftovers fell like crumbs from their gnashing mouths and formed small piles all over the bed.

The dark swarm circled the room until it heard the sound of footsteps coming from outside the door. They all stood at attention waiting to attack anyone that dared to interrupt their ritual, but when the female fairy snapped her fingers they all slipped into the shadows and into the cracks and crevices of the house and back into the forest. The female fairy then flipped two silver coins that landed on the top of Teddy’s pillows. On them were the symbol of mother earth, the goddess of fertility.

The door opened and Teddy’s mother peeked into the door. There was still the faint glow coming from the room, but there was now silence. She could only lower her head and start crying before she turned back around and got the broom. He was already gone. When she returned and opened the door completely, She gasped as she saw the female fairy hovering over his bed. The fairy gave a small nod of her head at the mother before she herself vanished into the shadows.

All of the town’s adults gathered the next night before the lake with Teddy’s parents alone on the dock. There was a low chant that came from the crowd as Teddy’s mother and father slowly emptied the large bag into the lake. A steady stream of dust fell into the lake and quickly spread across the entire surface. The entire lake once again glowed brightly and the howls right outside the village quickly move deeper in the forest. The chanting continued as the village people each thanked the mourning parents for their son’s willing sacrifice. Next year it might be their son or daughter that would be the one that saves the village.

This is final version unless I find some glaring mistakes. A big thank you to @readwritesleep for editing and giving me some very helpful suggestions. Enjoy!

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