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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

White as Snow, Red as Blood

Melissa Mead lives in Upstate NY. You may have seen her stories in DSF before. She's a member of SFWA and Codex, and her Web page is carpelibris.wordpress.com.
Snow woke in a glass coffin with the taste of bitter apple in her mouth and a stranger's face staring into hers. A face with alarmingly pointed teeth. She sat up, pressed her hand to her stinging neck, and stared at the two dots of blood on her palm.
The stranger broke into a smile, making those teeth all the more prominent.
"Ah, good! It hasn't been too long. How do you feel?"
"All right." Snow looked around. The moonlight seemed as bright as day. All seven of her friends watched from behind a gnarled pine tree, their faces ashen with terror.
"What's wrong?" she asked them. "Really, I'm all right."
"Actually, I'm afraid you're not," said the stranger, offering her a hand out of the coffin. He didn't look too well himself: alarmingly pale, bluish around the lips. But he moved with strength and grace, and wore a gold coronet as though he were accustomed to it. "Technically, you're dead. If you come with me, I'll explain."
Snow's heart plummeted, but she forced a smile. "At least my stepmother will leave me alone now."
Alas, she was wrong. Back at her castle, Snow's stepmother gloated over her triumph. She combed her hair smooth, bathed her face in milk, and dressed in her finest silk and jewels before sitting at her mirror and demanding that it name the fairest woman in the land.
Had she said "the fairest living woman," she might have gotten a different answer. As it was, the mirror replied "Snow White."
How the Queen raged! She cursed, she flung blush-pots, and at last she shattered the mirror, ignoring the wail of anguish that rose from the shards.
The Queen reached the palace at midnight. The surrounding forest lay in shadows, but the castle windows glowed with candlelight. She stormed through the great doors without knocking, and found herself in a dimly-lit hall.
Snow stood before her, her pale face troubled.
"I wish you hadn't come, Stepmother."
"You impertinent hussy! How dare you speak to me that way?"
"Leave. Quickly. My husband and I agreed to give you this one chance. Go home, stop this ridiculous rivalry, and we'll let you be."
"Husband, you little trollop? With you lying in a coffin all this time? I'd like to see that!"
"As you wish." A young man in an old-fashioned suit and gold coronet entered the room and placed a gentle hand on Snow's arm.
"Stepmother, may I present my husband."
The young man inclined his head. "So; you admitted that you left my wife lying in a coffin."
"She was dead! This time she was dead! I know it!"
"So she is, and you made sure of it," he agreed, smiling. His smile showed his alarmingly pointed teeth. "And yet Snow White is still the fairest of them all."He took the Stepmother by one arm and Snow took the other, their grips inhumanly strong. "Please, come in. You're just in time for our wedding supper."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

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