Deep in the Black Forest lived a beautiful young girl named Anneliese. Her father made candles and her mother baked the best Hutzelbrot in the village. Their home was a happy one – full of light, the scent of baking, the sound of laughter. Anneliese even had a handsome suitor named Stefan who adored her and brought her armfuls of flowers from his lush garden.

But nothing was good enough for Anneliese. One suitor wouldn’t do; she wanted every man in town to notice her. Mere candles weren’t enough light, she wanted the very sun to surround her like a halo. Instead of just her mother’s delicious bread, Anneliese wanted banquets to be held in her honor.

One day she managed to slip away from her home to the hidden hut of the Hexenmeister. “Make me famous,” she begged. “Make people gasp at my blinding beauty. Make all the villagers think of me every hour of every day.”

The Hexenmeister turned her this way and that. “You are indeed beautiful,” he said, “but your homespun clothes and your ugly shoes won’t do.” He waved his wand and a cobbler appeared, carrying slippers made of fairy glass. Another wave of the wand brought a seamstress with a dress of gossamer silk made of starlight and moonbeams. “Now we can proceed!” He sent out an invitation to everyone in the village.

The next day at dawn, the villagers gathered under the Clock Tower in the town square, awaiting the Hexenmeister’s surprise. When the chimes struck the hour, the little platform swung open. Instead of the hand-carved cuckoo that used to greet them, the villagers saw a lovely princess, haloed by the early-morning sun.

The crowd gasped. “What a beautiful doll!” “It almost looks real!” “Our village clock will be famous.” And they brought fruits and hams and cakes and breads for a celebratory feast. Only Stefan recognized Anneliese. He could see the terror in her eyes, and even above the noise of the crowd, could hear her tiny voice crying, “Please, help me!” But he was powerless, also frozen by the sorcerer’s spell.

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Voice-Team(@voice-team)
7 months ago

A fairy-tale-like narrative with a chilling, cautionary conclusion. Lots of traditional story elements made new for us. Great use of setting! Well written with a lot of foreshadowing. We had to go back, re-read and enjoy all the hints we were given.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
8 months ago

Oh dear, what an awful situation for Anneliese to get herself into. Interesting story, Fuji, well done.

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
8 months ago

Brrr. A spooky tale, totally portraying the world of the Black Forest. I’d love to know what inspired this story. It’s almost a cautionary tale, like Aesop’s fables. Good work!

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
8 months ago

Admittedly, I am not empathetic towards Anneliese. Her vanity and desire for celebrity status caused her to become part of a clockwork display. So the moral of the story is be satisfied with your own beauty! Good cautionary tale, Fuji.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago

The nice message of your story, Fuji, reminded me that we should love and be content with what we have. Anneliese shouldn’t have wanted more beauty because she is already beautiful. I love it. Interesting story.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago
Reply to  Fuji

You’re welcome, Fuji.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
8 months ago

Congratulations to an absolutely marvelous story, Fuji! Already the first paragraph, with its German setting and masterfully painted ambiance in just a few brushstrokes, is as perfectly created as a story by the Grimm brothers. The morality is also classical, since the poor girl unfortunately got what she was craving. Excellent job!

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
8 months ago

Be careful what you wish for! I doubt anyone would have sympathy for Anneliese except for poor Stefan. She got what she deserved and I hope he found a true love to appreciate him. Well done, Fuji!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
8 months ago

Magic, mystery,and a spell-casting wizard- the story has it all to scare and to bewilder. Great, Fuji!

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
8 months ago

I absolutely loved this story, Fuji!! The setting and narration are so much like one of the Grimm bros’ stories. Your story shows how some people are never happy with what they have and they expect more and more and more. There are so many lessons to be learned there from a reader’s point of view. I just wonder if later on the Hexenmeister was willing to show what he did to the others (not just Stefan) so they could reflect and learn that happiness is made of little things, like the smell of freshly baked bread or spring flowers…

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
7 months ago

Fuji, I love your solution to how she got her just desserts. I will now think back to my visit to the cuckoo clock factory deep in the Black Forest with new eyes.

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
7 months ago

Fuji, you never cease to amaze me with all your fantastic stories. This is well deserved, congratulations!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Congratulations on your runner up place Fuji. Well done.

Heather C
Heather C(@heather-c)
7 months ago

Fuji, this story was such a great “fairytale of horror!” I loved it and the message it conveys. I loved the desperation of Anneliese for attention and worship. “Make all the villagers think of me every hour of every day.” A great story that was well written and vivid with description and emotion. Cheers and congratulations!!!!! Can’t wait to read your next submission!

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Fuji, absolutely well deserved! The Hexenmeister will be pleased!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

Another well earned success! Congratulations, Fuji!

Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite(@paul-lewthwaite)
7 months ago

Super story, Fuji. As others have said, definitely a Grimm vibe, done extremely well.

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
7 months ago

A nice story, Fuji. That’s a sad one for Anneliese. I hope the Hexenmeister reverts the spell and she learns her lesson. Congratulations on your win.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Congratulations on your win, Fuji. I am truly happy about your achievement.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
6 months ago

It made me very happy to see that this wonderful story as well as your beautiful Doppelgänger-story made their way into this collection. They are both excellent choices by Voice.club, since your works are always extremely well written into the minute details. Your settings, here with the German/Black Forest background and the Venetian/Italian setting in Doppelgänger are superbly crafted with circumstances and linguistic details from those environments. Congratulations, Fuji!

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