A Twisted Fairy Tale

Part I

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful young maiden and her stepmother. The maiden was called Snow White and her stepmother was queen of the faraway land in which they lived.

One day, the queen had a terrible thought. She tried not to think about it, but it grew and grew until it became an obsession. She had to see if it was true. When she couldn't ignore it any longer she rushed across her castle until she came to an ominous door. Pulling a key from her long skirts, she fitted it into the lock and opened the door, then locked it behind her. After pausing to gather her skirts about her, she swept down a long, stone stairway. She stopped before a great, wooden door deep beneath the castle. The creak it gave as she opened it reverberated about the room she now found herself in. As the sound died down, the woman stood still and inhaled, and was rewarded with silence and the dark, dusty smell of passages long untouched. She smiled with satisfaction.

Leaving the threshold, the queen walked with quick, echoing steps across the room. She passed tables cluttered with dusty, sinister books, twisted, burnt-down candles, and grinning animal skulls. She came to a stop in front of an antiquated mirror that hung on the stone wall and recited this incantation:

"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who's the fairest of them all?"

The glass clouded up, as if in thought. Suddenly, the dull, brass frame shone with a golden light and the mist swirled, lit from within by a multi-colored glow. The fog swirled faster and faster and the lights shone brighter and brighter until -

"Snow White is the fairest one of all!" a deep, resonating voice boomed.

The looking glass now cleared to reveal an image of the princess, and indeed she was fair. Her cerulean eyes shone like sapphires, and her lips gently curved in a smile, blood red in sharp contrast against her namesake pale complexion. Lustrous, ebony hair flowed from underneath a light silver and diamond diadem, framed her well-shaped facial features, and fell down to her narrow waist. She was as fine boned and delicate as the rose she clasped between her long, milky fingers and the gentle fawn that lay peacefully at her feet. The girl's simple but elegant celestial gown was a blue-tinted, starry white with sun-gold and moon-silver trim. The bloom she held was the same ethereal peach that colored her cheeks.

Now as Snow White's stepmother saw this image, a terrible change came over her. She drew herself up to her full height and her eyes burned with dark lights. She brought her hand up and pointed at the mirror, then began to chant in an eerily imperious tone.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
If the dear Snow White should fall,
Who'd be fairest of them all?"

Immediately, the picture in the mirror changed from the young maiden to a woman who was elegant with dark eyes and hair and a sweeping, black gown. On her head rested a heavy, bejeweled crown and she held a sprig of ivy. At her feet writhed a snake.

"You would, my queen," the mirror said in a sinuous tone. The royal lady seemed to relax. The fires in her eyes dimmed to smoldering embers of evil and she smiled darkly as she spoke to herself. "Snow White shall fall, in death!" She swirled around and ascended the stairs, closing the door behind her with a resounding boom.