“It must be so easy to be a chef around here.” That’s what the little child told me, as I brought him through my hut, filled with all the herbs and spices known to man. I chuckled, looking down at the bright and glistening innocent eyes of the small boy. He was about six, approaching seven, with bright blonde hair in a simple bowl cut fashion. His gray eyes wandered around the hut, as he continued to point out the vegetables I had growing, from the parsley in the corner, to the carrots that littered the floor. “Do you eat all of this yourself?” Quizzed the boy, to which I replied affectionately: “I, and any young children who are so lucky to come into my care.” This brought a smile to the child’s face, one that only a child can bring forth. The sense of wonder and amazement in his eyes was truly beautiful. “Can I stay for dinner?” He asked, sheepishly, yet hopefully. “Well, I don’t see why not, your mother won’t be expecting you home for quite some time now.” He squealed with delight, and began to run around the hut, gazing upon all the wonders and curiosities decorating the interior. I began chopping the carrots and celery for my favorite stew, while heating the broth and grabbing a small bone to flavor it. As I worked, I hummed an old tune to myself, one that had been written many years ago. The song resonated from deep within my chest, and slowly filled the old hut, so that it felt as though the house itself was singing with me. “What’s that song, grandmother?” I began to tell him the history of the woods of which I lived, and the old stories of the witch who would take the children and feed upon them. He slowly began to tremble, as tears started to well in his eyes, to which I calmly put “but do not worry dear, I am always here to keep you fed and safe.” The trembling ceased, as he returned to his curious self, and he asked when the stew would be ready. “Soon my dear, I just need to finish preparing the meat.” I brought the pot over to the long table, and sat the boy down. He stared at the pot, and as soon as his bowl hit the table, he greedily began taking bites from his spoon. “Slow down my love, you must learn to savor your meals.” He didn’t listen, he continued shoveling the food into his mouth, to which I chuckled and began humming the song again. The Sun quickly went down, and the tree’s shadows began casting through the old windows of the hut. The wind seemed to sway the house, or maybe some other force. The boy finished his stew, and looked up and seemed worried. “What’s wrong dearie?” He looked at me, scared, and brought up the story I had told him earlier. “Oh but darling, that’s only but a story to frighten the little children into being good, there is no witch that will take you from me, I’ll be sure of it.” He smiled, gazing back out the window, he realizes his mother will be looking for him. As he stood up from the table, a violent shake rattled the house, throwing him to the floor. He began crying, ushering forth a wave of fear. “Do not worry, my sweet, it is only the house shifting, as it is old.” After a time, the shake settled down, as he picked himself up from the floor. The house still swayed lightly; however, it wasn’t enough to cause the poor child any more trauma. I got up behind the boy, and walked towards the door, preparing to open it for him. As he walked towards the door, he noticed a small cupboard, of which he had not explored earlier. He began to drift towards the cupboard, reaching for the handle. “I wouldn’t open that, love, that’s where I keep my secret ingredients for my stews.” His eyes filled with the same curiosity as before. He opened the creaking door, causing a parcel to fall out. As he bent over to pick up the package, he noticed a piece of meat sticking out of the sack. Upon further inspection, the sight of a small human finger immediately sent the child into a frantic fit. The front door slammed shut, seemingly from the wind, or another unseen force. The candlelight flickered and waned, as the shadows of trees filled the room.

He spun, searching for the old woman who had just fed him his own kin. If only he would look up, he would see the witch clinging to the ceiling, no longer a sweet woman, but a grotesquely contorted abomination of flesh and claws. Creeping down a wooden pillar, she slithers up behind the boy, bringing her sickle swiftly down on his fleshy neck. His blood slowly pooled around the floor, seeping into the space between the boards. His eyes now frozen open, petrified, yet showing no emotion. The house began rumbling once more, this time more violently, as it stood upon its slender chicken legs and began aimlessly swaying deeper into the woods.

A lone mother walks outside, concerned for her son’s absence from dinner. She quickly runs to the yard, frantically looking for any sign of the little boy. A cracking comes from the woods out behind her house, sounding like something pushing through the trees. The noise, growing quieter and quieter. She runs to the tree line, calling out her child’s name. A sound of anguish and fear, filling her chest. The only reply is the final silence of the trees, and a sound not coming from the outside world, but seemingly in her own head. A low hum filling her body, echoing throughout her spirit. A voice in her head, repeating the name “Baba Jaga.”