02. Crunchy Brats

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Once upon a time, there lived three wicked witches deep in a dank, dark forest. They were very unhappy witches, and very much to be pitied, for they hadn't gotten a single child to eat in a long, long time.

"It's a disgrace!" one of the witches moaned, scratching enthusiastically at the big wart on her nose. "We haven't munched a single brat in ages! The last one that any of us saw was two hundred years ago!"

"Ah, the good old days," witch number two sighed, a dreamy expression in her red, glowing eyes. "Hunger and despair everywhere, no contraception, and thousands of children wandering around everywhere, just waiting to be snatched! People would send their children out into the woods because they couldn't feed them, or just because they couldn't stand the annoying little brats anymore! Nowadays, parents actually like their children. Bah! And they even get upset if they're grabbed, cooked, and eaten! It's despicable!"

The last witch heard the sentiments of her two companions and was filled with woe. She pondered their plight, thinking that it had to be possible to save themselves from starvation. This witch was the youngest of the three, and the cleverest. She was also the most progressive, with boils instead of warts on her nose and a pointy hat that was mauve instead of the traditional black. Stepping out of the house, she gazed up at the witches' abode.

"Come, and harken unto my words, sisters!" she cried suddenly. "For I have found our salvation!"

"What did she say?" Witch Number Two wanted to know.

"I said get your butts out here! I know how to get children into our oven!"

Upon hearing this, the other two witches rushed outside, for their stomachs were growling most gruesomely.

"What is it?"

"Where are the children? Where?"

"Here." Stretching up her arm, the youngest witch pointed at their house. "Just look at this."

The two witches looked up at the house.

"Yes?"

"I don't see any children!"

"No, no, there are no children," the youngest one said impatiently. "Not yet, anyway. Look at the house, you two, and tell me what's wrong with it!"

The two older witches looked again.

"Wrong?" asked Number One. "What's supposed to be wrong with it? A gingerbread roof with a licorice chimney and saccharin windows."

"A perfectly normal house," Number Two agreed. "Though I still say we should have gone with real sugar instead of saccharin for the windows. To heck with your diabetes!"

Witch Number One was just about to make a heated reply to that when the youngest witch shook her head. "No, no! You two don't understand! The house is supposed to attract children, right? But who in this day and age still eats gingerbread, except perhaps at Christmas?"

The two other witches gave this due consideration.

"You want us to renovate?" one finally asked.

"Maybe put in real sugar windows?" the other added, hopefully.

"No! Even if we renovate, there won't be any children to attract. Children don't come into the woods anymore, nowadays. They spend the day in front of the TV or their video games or similar horrors of the modern age that cause hunger and despair for witches around the globe!"

"So what shall we do?" the other two asked eagerly.

The youngest witch raised her chin, proudly. "That's easy: move to town!"

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