It was a dark and stormy night.

It's always a dark and stormy night. But the gloom of this chill night would sap the soul out of even the most hardy of travellers. The drops of rain slashed out of the sky like sharp icicles, penetrating overcoats, and petticoats alike, soaking Goldilocks to her skin. A steady stream poured off of her riding hood, which had ceased to protect her from the cold some time ago. Her shivering hands looked like pink raisins, and she thought that one good swat would shatter her numb fingers like the lightening that frequently streaked across the sky would shatter any unfortunate tree branch which happened to be in its way.

She thought about the circumstances which led her to this point and she laughed quietly. It was either laugh, or go insane, she mused. The circumstances were unimportant, she decided. The only thing that was important now was finding some sort of shelter, before she collapsed from exposure. Worse, she might run into a big bad wolf. Although, she thought sullenly, even the wolves had sense enough to stay out of this weather. She was in the woods, and she decided that a cabin or a house was too much to hope for, so she kept her eyes opened for a cave, or a thicket which might offer some sort of cover, and get her out of the rain. Unlikely she would find some dry wood with which to make a fire, but one thing at a time, she thought to herself. One thing at a time.

The night wore on as she staggered forward, alertness dwindling with the feeling in her toes. Pretty soon, she thought, she would cease caring, and just lay where she fell. Suddenly, impossibly she thought that she saw light on the fringes of her vision. She looked to her left, and instead of disappearing, as she expected, the light remained. Where there is light, she concluded, there must be warmth. And she moved in the direction of the light.

She got closer, and the light grew. Perhaps, she thought, it was a campfire, where she could warm her tired bones, and perhaps get a bite to eat from some good natured hunters, or squatters. What she did not expect, as she drew closer to the light, was a small house situated in the middle of the woods. She approached the house, wondering what sort of hermit would set up residence in this dreary forest. It mattered little who would live here, the simple fact of the matter is that here was a house that appeared warm, and more importantly would keep the rain off her back, if only for a little while. She entered the yard as the first rays of sunshine crept over the distant horizon as the rain continued to fall. She wearily tapped on the door.

No answer.

She knocked again, this time, a bit louder. Again, there was no answer. She tried the doorknob, and discovered that the door was unlocked. Of course it would be unlocked. There probably has not been a visitor to this place since it was built. She slowly pushed the door open.

The door quietly creaked as it swung open, and Goldilocks dimly noted that the door would creak louder if no one lived here. Perhaps they were still asleep, or perhaps they had ventured out into the wet morning in search of breakfast. She crept inside, and closed the door. The house was warm enough. She peeled off her overcoat, and hung it on a hook that was near the door. There were three pegs on the hook, labelled "Poppa", "Momma" and "Baby". So, it was family that lived here. Not a hermit, or a mad bomber. She left her coat on the small baby peg, and wondered if she should remove the blouse that was clinging wetly to her skin. Perhaps until she had investigated the situation a bit further she would leave it on. She walked deeper into the house.

She rounded the first corner, and discovered the source of heat in the house. It was an old stove flush against the near wall of what appeared to be some sort of kitchen or dining area. There was a small wooden table located in the middle of the floor, and three small wooden chairs situated around the table. Upon the table were three old china dishes filled with some sort of viscous substance which may or may not be food. The dishes appeared to be in bad shape. There were cracks and chips and other signs of age. Very old china indeed. The table was poorly constructed. If she didn't know better she would have guessed that some sort of creature lacking opposable thumbs had put it together.

She moved closer to the shoddy table, and noticed the smell of the substance in the dishes. It was some sort of pudding or porridge, she grabbed the spoon by the dish nearest to the stove, and dipped it into the phlegm-like ooze. She put the spoon to her nose and inhaled the vapors. It smelled rather good, so she ate it and immediately dropped the spoon as the semiliquid burned the roof of her mouth with the heat of a hundred flames. The food must have been left near the oven too long, so she went to the other side of the table, hoping that perhaps the food there would be suitable for eating, instead of torture. The pudding in that dish was colder than the night she had just left behind. She was amazed that there was not a rime of ice covering the rim of the dish. Testing the food in the third bowl, she decided that the temperature of the viscid slop was acceptable, and she choked it down as good as her cramping stomach would allow.

Suddenly she heard a creaking noise from the room where she had entered this house. She went back into the room prepared to explain to the owners of the house that she was just a tired and hungry traveller, and was only looking for succor from the cold wet night. There was nobody there. The only noise was that of a shutter which tapped on the window in the wind which still raged outside. She sat down on one of the three chairs in the room. The stove in the kitchen had somewhat dried her soaking clothes, but they were still damp. Perhaps she would wait for the residents to return home, and ask if she could remain until the weather was more hospitable.

But not in this chair, she thought. It's like sitting on a throne. She moved to the chair opposite. It, too, was far to large. She moved to the remaining chair, and found it acceptable.

She stared out the window as the rain continued unabated outside. The raindrops pounded on the window like rocks, and the morning, although brighter than the night, was still oppresive as the gray sky overhead loomed like a mountain ready to come crashing down at the slightest provocation. She did not intend to provoke it. Instead she ran over the events of the previous evening in her mind. The camping trip that had seemed like such a wonderful idea. A beautiful night to be shared with her beloved. A nighttime picnic of venison and wine, and later, love. How could she have known it would have ended so horribly. Who could have known that bears were going to attack? She tried not to think of the shrieks of her beloved as he was... No, she would not think about it. But the sound echoed in her mind.

She drifted.

Goldilocks decided that whoever lived here had abandoned the house, if only for the day, and she needed sleep. She wandered back through the small kitchen, and on the far side, a room which served as a bedroom to the occupants of the house. She would get some sleep, and she would thank the owners of the house when they returned. She removed her damp clothing, and walked to the largest of the beds. It was like marble. There would be no way she could sleep on such a hard surface. So she moved to the second largest bed. When she sat upon it, she sank deep into it, and found the feeling extremely unpleasant. She moved to the third bed, which felt close enough to her own bed to be comfortable, she slid underneath the warm covers, thankful for the smooth feeling against her skin. And drifted almost immediately into sleep.

Some hours later, she was awakened by voices. The voices seemed gutteral and agitated. Perhaps they realized that someone had eaten their food, and sat in their chairs. They did not seem too happy about it. She slipped out from under the covers and reached for her clothes which lay dry upon the floor.

That was when the door flew open. And there stood three Bears. The snout of the largest bear was covered in blood, and Goldilocks was horrified to see red ... hunks ... in its glistening teeth. The other two animals stood in the doorway similarly splashed in gore. The smallest of the three bears, who Goldilocks now knew was the "baby", carried in its foreclaw the duffel sack of her beloved. There were tears along the side of the sack with horrible red fringes. These were indeed the bears that she had seen last night, and this time, there was nowhere she could run.

The large bear let out a deafening roar as all three moved in for the kill.

Goldilocks' last thought as she was ripped into bloody ribbons was that she would again be with her beloved this day.