* Beauty & The Zom-Beast
She was indeed quite the beauty, the candlestick thought of his master's new prisoner.
Beauty had a lovely round face, made sweet by the rosy blush on her cheeks and large dark eyes. Her simple blue and white dress emphasized the lush curves that had made her the toast of the town and the name on every man's lips. Yet she was here, the forgotten castle in the woods, begging for her father's life like a dutiful daughter should.
Resolve was writ into her fine features. "If I stay here, my father will be free of the prince's terrible curse?"
"Yes," said Candlestick, his face sad. "And you must vow never to leave if you wish for your Papa to be safe."
A distraught look crossed her face. "What if I have to use the bathroom?"
Hm. Candlestick began to get the impression that the girl wasn't known for her brains. "You can use any of the twelve lavatories here in the castle."
"Oh." She chewed on her full lip, as if determined to outsmart him in some way and find a way out of her predicament. Suddenly, her face brightened. "This is an enchanted castle, isn't it?"
"Whatever gave you that impression," he deadpanned. As if the chatty cutlery hadn't clued her in until just now.
But she pursed her lips, scrunching up her face as if a thought had just occurred (and that it hurt to put forth such a grand effort effort).
"Are you quite all right, miss?"
"I have an idea," she told him, seeming rather pleased with herself. "Enchanted castles have princes."
"This one does too." The candlestick resisted the urge to thwap her across the forehead with a taper. "Remember? You agreed to do his wishes and stay here forever?"
Her brown eyes clouded. "But I thought you were the master here."
Candlestick sighed. "No. We've been over this twice. The prince is the master here. I am merely his humble servant."
"Why isn't he here to greet me?"
He only rises from the dead after dark. "He's a tad...under the weather at the moment."
She looked around the musty, cobwebby dining room and wrinkled her pert nose. "If he's a prince, why is he living in a dump like this?"
Her chair shifted, and the candlestick knew that the enchanted furniture was resisting the urge to kick her. He knew the feeling. Candlestick cleared his throat loudly. "The master is under a curse, like the rest of us. He has been transformed into a…beast." His voice cracked at the last part, the big fat lie part.
You could certainly call the master a 'beast', he supposed. 'Mindless undead' might be better, but Beauty didn't seem like the type to handle 'icky' things well.
"Can this curse be lifted?"
Candlestick winced at the thought. "I suppose it can, yes. Lifting the curse would free us all, even yourself."
She brightened. "And I would be free to go to the bathroom wherever I wanted?"
"Wherever you wanted," he echoed.
They were doomed.
He had to give her a little more credit. She didn't cry a drop when her father left the castle, though she waved a lacy hankie at him and sniffed heavily. When it grew darker, she watched from the window upstairs, pressing her nose against the glass until the sun went down.
"There's a way to lift the curse?" she asked him for the eighteenth time that day.
"Indeed." Maybe he could foist her off on the clock soon…
"How do I do it?" She asked, a rare burst of determination and intelligence crossing her face. "How do I lift the curse?"
Candlestick twitched. "You, ah, have to fall in love with the prince."
"Is he handsome?"
The stupid chit forgot everything. "He's cursed, remember?"
"Is he cursed to be handsome?" Her face brightened. "That might not be so terrible."
Saints give him strength.
"He was handsome once…perhaps he would be again if you broke the spell," Candlestick replied, evasive. Perhaps that would tide her over until the master made an appearance.
"And would falling in love involve intercourse?"
If the candlestick had a tongue at that point, he would have choked on it. Good grief. "I really cannot speculate, madam-"
A low, droning moan interrupted the two of them. At the window, Beauty froze in the pooling twilight, and the candlestick sighed.
The master was awake.
"Is that him?" Beauty asked. No, nothing escaped her.
She picked up the candlestick – as if he couldn't move on his own or such nonsense – and lifted him into the air to see by. An obedient servant to the end, Candlestick lit the room. Might as well get this over with.
Footsteps shuffled in the hall, followed by the same low moan.
The door began to open.
Beauty straightened her dress and thrust her breasts out, then fluffed her hair with her free hand. "Just intercourse, and then I'm free, right?"
"Whatever." He was so done with this.
She licked her lips and gave her cheeks a quick pinch, then waited.
The thing that shuffled through the door was the prince all right, but he wasn't a beast. Or rather, he'd been a beast once…until he'd fallen down the stairs and broken his neck some decade or so ago. What was left was a shambling, monstrous thing that wouldn't stay dead and liked to eat the flesh of those that came to the castle.
After all, the castle occupants weren't free of the curse until a maiden broke the spell.
Looking at Beauty, Candlestick had his doubts about the whole 'maiden' thing anyhow.
"Oh," she said, looking at the monstrous thing with the broken neck and the rotting body. "Oh my." She leaned in close to the candlestick. "I do believe that thing ate our handsome prince."
Sigh. "That is the prince, my lady."
He expected her to scream at that point. Collapse in a fit of tears as the thing shuffled toward her. Maidens before her had certainly done that.
But she showed an inner core of strength that surprised him. That little bow mouth tightened in dismay, her face squinching up again as the thing shuffled toward her, arms out.
She ducked under the Beast's arm, running down the hall with the candlestick still in hand.
"Braaaains," they could hear faintly at the other end of the wing.
Beauty didn't stop walking, very purposeful in her step.
"Where are we going?" Candlestick asked her.
"I have a plan," she said firmly, and clutched him tighter in her hand, moving toward the thick, dry drapes at the far end of the hall.
An hour later, they stood on the lawn of the castle, watching the entire thing go up in flames. The candlestick covered his small metal face in horror. If he listened hard, he could still hear the moans of his master from deep inside, along with the screams of the dying furniture.
Beauty had a hard, fanatical look in those doe eyes as she watched the enchanted castle burn down. She only glanced down at him once, her pretty mouth firm. "If you tell anyone of this, I shall have you melted into a chamberpot."
Candlestick promised never to tell a soul.