The sun was just beginning to set as little Maria reached her grandmother's cottage. With a fully loaded basket dangling from one hand and a nosegay in the other, she could hardly decide how to knock upon the little cottage door. At last, she determined to forgo knocking completely and simply sang to announce her arrival.

"Grandmother, dear Grandmother, it is I, your Maria! I have come to bring you food and drink and flowers, too! These things I bring, all while wearing the red cape you made for me! Oh, how lovely I look in it! Shall I come in and show you?"

"Yes, my sweet child," croaked a feeble voice from far within the cottage.

Goodness me, Maria thought. Grandmother must be very ill indeed to sound like that! Without another moment's hesitation, she pushed open the cottage door and walked into the warm darkness of the room.

Inside, the curtains were drawn, and the only light came from a single log which crackled in the fireplace. In a large bed on one side of the room lay a sharp and angular figure. A pair of wide eyes was fixed on Maria and seemed to glow in the firelight. They made her uneasy. This, she knew, was her grandmother, but she seemed different, ravaged by sickness, almost unrecognizable. For a moment, Maria could only stand still and stare.

"Come in, come in," urged the figure in a shaky voice. "Do I frighten you?"

"No, Grandmother," Maria answered hastily, inching closer to a table on the other side of the room. "Of course not. It's simply...."

"You are disgusted by how ill I look," the voice whined. "You think me ugly. You will not come and kiss your Granny!"

"Nonsense," said Maria, putting on her best show of courage. She placed her basket and flowers down on the table and slowly made her way toward the bed. Upon arriving, she could see that her grandmother's condition was worse than she had feared. She could not help but gasp in spite of herself.

"What is it child?" the figure in the bed asked.

"Grandmother," Maria began, "your arms... they are all skin and bone...."

"Ay," said the old woman, "but they are still just as good to hold you with, my dear."

"But, Grandmother," Maria continued, "your eyes... they protrude from your skull so shockingly...."

"Ay," said the old woman, "but they are still just as good to see you with, my dear." With what little energy she had, she opened her lips and gave a toothy smile.

Maria shook to see such a grin. "Grandmother," she said, "your teeth... they are not as I remember.... They are sharp and pointy!"

"Ay," said the old woman. "And they are just perfect... to eat you with!"

Before Maria could even be startled, the old woman was upon her. She tackled her plump young prey to the floor and sank her teeth deep into the girl's neck. Maria let out a deafening scream as a chunk of her juicy flesh came off in her grandmother's mouth. Sheets, clothes, and floorboards all became stained with red as the struggle continued. At last, the little girl fell limp and silent in the flickering glow of the fire light.

The older woman stood over her granddaughter's remains as she removed her predator's teeth and placed them on the shelf next to her more human set. All in all, it was a shame to have to kill her, but the wolf she'd killed and eaten earlier was simply not enough to satisfy such an appetite as she had. Ah well, she thought. When her parents come looking, I'll simply tell them she never made it.

Within the hour, a pot full of succulent flesh sat boiling and bubbling over a fire that was kindled afresh by the charred remains of a little red riding hood.

Written by Jdeschene
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