Once upon a time, there lived a young boy named Harry. His mother had passed away giving birth to poor Harry and his father resented him for it. When Harry was nine. His father re-married. And his new wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Harry’s father and stepmother loved baby Emily with all their heart. They brooded over the little baby every day and they always made a huge fuss over her. They bought her the best garments and the most elaborate toys. Meanwhile, Harry was an outcast.
“Have you washed the dishes, child!?” His stepmother curtly asked. Harry nodded.
“Have you swept the floors, boy!?” His father abruptly asked. Harry nodded.
“Have you gathered the firewood!?” They both cried. Harry shook his head in trepidation.
“Speak up, simpleton!” cried his step-mother.
“No, I have not”, Harry answered meekly, his head lowered.
“Look at us when we speak to you, insolent child!” His father’s face was red with rage.
Outraged they both sent him out to the forest to collect firewood and stood at the front door as Harry stepped outside, the baby coddled so comfily in the stepmother’s arms.
“And do not return ‘til you have fetched enough firewood, it will be very cold tonight.” His father yelled, then he slammed the door with great force. Harry watched as the birds that were perched on the roof, fled in fright.
Harry set out into the forest. He gathered enough branches as he could find, but it was not enough. He sighed. ‘If I go further into the forest, perhaps there will be more firewood’, he thought.
He then set out deeper into the forest. He pushed through thickets of scraggly bushes and low hanging branches and soon, stumbled upon a clearing, that was covered with hundreds of sturdy logs. Enough to keep everyone warm forever.
“I must bundle as many as I can, for I am sure my father will be pleased.”
As he began to pick the logs from the ground, he heard a rustling nearby and when it stopped, he continued. The second time Harry heard it, the rustling was more pronounced and the third time he heard it, it was accompanied by a faint snicker. Harry turned around and from the shrubbery out leapt an imp. He had two large horns and very long ears. His smile was exceptionally broad, and his teeth were sharp and gleaming. His eyes were yellow and wide. He sat under a tree on all fours, his little wings flapping sporadically.
“Why, hello there little one,” said the imp. His eyes fixed on Harry.
Harry did not know how to deal with this situation, as he had never come across such a creature before. But Harry was polite.
“Hello sir,” Harry replied, cautiously.
“What are you doing all the way out in the deep dark wood on your own?” The inquisitive imp asked.
“My step-mother and father have sent me out to gather firewood and If I do not come back with enough, I am sure to be in trouble. I cannot disappoint them”
The imp did not blink. “Disappointment isn’t so bad you know child. I disappoint people all the time”
Harry was a little relaxed “Really?”
The imp nodded.
“Well, anything I do just doesn’t seem like it’s enough. I am very sad, I wish they would just let me alone” Harry confessed.
“There, there, child. There is no need to be upset. I am here to help” The imp said in a comforting but sinister tone.
“Oh my! that would be wonderful!” Harry replied.
The imp beckoned him over with one long scrawny finger. Harry walked over with great apprehension.
“Here!” The imp said, brandishing a shiny object. “Take this”
“Oh – I don’t have any money – “Harry replied.
“That’s perfectly fine, that is not the currency in which I am accustomed,” The imp said, smiling with bared teeth. “Think of it as a gift.”
Harry took the object in his hands and inspected it. “What do I do with it?”
“If you point it at bad people, it will make them go away, all you have to do is point, close your eyes and count to three.”
“Why thank you, friend.” Harry said. But the imp disappeared into thin air.
Harry placed the article into his pocket and continued gathering some firewood, but as the sun set, he was scared that he would not be able to find his way home before dark. He hurriedly grabbed what he could and ran home. As he opened the front door, his father was waiting for him in the kitchen and he was furious.
“What is this?” His father asked loudly. “This will not keep all four of us warm for the night, you senseless boy! “
“You are a disappointment. I am glad you are not my son!” Heckled his stepmother.
“I do not wish to see you, you must go to your room at once. Tomorrow morning you will go out and get firewood or you will not step foot inside this house again!”
Harry fled into his room and began to cry. Shortly after he fell asleep.
Harry’s sleep was disturbed by a faint scratching at his window. He stirred and saw that the imp was outside.
“Poor, poor, Harry. Whatever will you do?” The imp said, insincerely.
Harry retrieved the shiny item out of his pocket.
“But there are my parents.”
“They do not treat you well. They are terrible people.” The imp smirked.
With that, Harry crept out of bed and snuck into his parents’ room. They were both sound asleep. He stood over his father, pointed the magical object at his father, closed his eyes, counted to three, and BANG! A deafening noise rang through the room with blinding flashes of light. His stepmother jerked out of bed in fright. She began screaming and crying and pleading. Harry did not listen, he closed his eyes, counted to three. BANG! BANG! BANG! Harry opened his eyes. His father laid in the bed dead, with a large hole in his forehead. Blood seeped into the pillow. His step-mother was slumped down in a bundle with several gory holes in her stomach. He could hear her breathing until slowly it faded to nothing. The baby cried and cried, but Harry ignored it. He walked out of the house, feeling free for the first time in his life.
Police cars stood outside Harry’s house, their lights flickering. “Why on earth did you do it son?” A policeman asked, holding up a see-through bag with a gun inside.
Harry looked at the policeman and said, “The imp told me they were terrible people”.
Copyright © 2021 The Dark Corner.