Read The Asylum for Fairy-Tale Creatures Online

Authors: Sebastian Gregory

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The Asylum for Fairy-Tale Creatures

BOOK: The Asylum for Fairy-Tale Creatures

Once upon a nightmare…

Long ago, in a land where imagination meets the darkest nightmares, they built the asylum. Surrounded by a forest of thorns, it holds the most twisted minds in the fairy tale kingdom: a terrible collection of evil creatures and forgotten souls. Imprisoned within its walls, they are doomed to spend forever after telling their tales… and serving as a warning to others.

Now, you are invited to accompany Blood Red Riding Hood into the depths of this strange place – where you will meet its even stranger inhabitants. But be warned: walls this thick were built to withstand the darkest magic… so once you’re inside, you might just find yourself living
ever after… and wishing you were indeed in a land far, far away.

Also by Sebastian Gregory

The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland

The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures

Sebastian Gregory

Sebastian Gregory
(pronounced Gre-gory) writes from a cabin in the middle of a haunted wood. His inspiration comes from the strange and sorrowful whispers amongst the ghastly looking trees. Sebastian is only permitted to leave the shadowy candlelight of the cabin once a story is complete, when it is unleashed upon the world of the living. Sebastian writes for the younger readers as they are easier to terrify than adults whose imaginations died long ago.

When not writing in a cabin in the middle of a haunted wood, Sebastian lives in Manchester with his family and various animals.

You can email Sebastian on
[email protected]
—he would love your feedback.

You can follow him on Twitter

You can stalk him on Facebook

To Sharon, Katie, Emily, Jake, Wilhelm and Jacob, welcome to the madhouse.




Book List

Title Page

Author Bio


Once Upon a Time

Blood Red Riding Hood

The Thread Bear


The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures

Doctor Grimm’s Notebook: Rapunzel

Doctor Grimm’s Notebook: Cinderella

Doctor Grimm’s Notebook: Beauty

A Leech a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

And There Was Insanity Forever Ever After

Mostly Contented Ever After




Once Upon a Time

Once upon a forever more, a long time ago in the dark place where imagination and nightmare met, they built the asylum. Surrounded by a forest of dense thorns and crumbling on a precipice falling to an infested monster sea, the asylum held the most insane in the entire fairy tale kingdom.

To be poor abandon children in the forest, left to the whims of the nearby witch in her gingerbread house - imagine how frail your mind would become. Imagine the trauma of finding a house inhabited by bears who think they are people. How about being a boy made of wood who can think and talk yet is ridiculed and shunned. Or a girl given to a reclusive beast by her own father. It would be enough to drive a person to madness. And so many of the fairy tale creatures went skipping into the comfort of insanity.

Their demented wails carried through barred windows and into a rainstorm to haunt the turbulent air. A raven followed the cries to a break in the highest tower roof. The rain dripped from cracks in the slates. On the rafters the raven shook off the rain and cawed to itself, tipping its head this way and that with dark curiosity, before swooping downwards through the rafters and away amongst stone corridors. Flying between the shadows of the gas lamps, the raven passed the padded cells of the asylum’s inhabitants. All and more locked behind deep oak doors for evermore. The raven explored further, gliding along until it came to a spiral staircase. It landed on the stone steps a moment, hopping and pecking before flying off again, downwards. To another corridor and, if it were not a fool bird, the raven would have noticed something different. There was only one door at the end of a dark hallway of stone,., bolts and chains and huge padlocks holding it firmly sealed. The raven did not concern itself with this and settled on the bars of the door; it cawed and pecked at the metal with a rat-tat-tat. For a moment something reflected in its onyx eye; from the gap in the bars a bony finger, unexpected and quick, simply brushed the poor creature with all the force of a breath on a nape. The raven cried its last and disappeared, falling within. There was a momentary sound of bones falling on stone, a kind of rattle before everything was silent again, save for the distant sound of the storm, and the ravings of the insane fairy tale creatures.

Blood Red Riding Hood

The woods held no fear for the girl. She followed her grandma’s advice and her boots held to the path hidden amongst the moss and shed leaves. Thick and ancient trees, old and wise, smiled with knotted faces that only the girl could see. Beams of bright yellow split through the dense overhead canopy and created a dark green rainbow. Her way was clearly lit through The Dark-Dark Forest. And the girl loved this place; it was so mysterious, so gloomy but so full of life. Birds perched heavy on the branches and screamed into the air; insects danced strange fandangos to the sound. Creatures of all shapes and colours trembled in the undergrowth. They crawled from rotting bark, playing amongst carpets of compost. “The dank is good for the lungs,” Grandma told her. “Breathe it in, girl.” The scent of wet greenery filled her senses, making her nostrils sting and eyes water. It was sweet sweat of the forest. She felt so at home here, the other children of the village thought her strange and sneered when they saw her go by. She did not mind; she only needed the forest and her grandma.

Ever since her father had succumbed to a wasting infection the previous year, her mother’s wits were lost to everlasting grief; the girl had found refuge in solitude. Her own thoughts and company were more than enough for her, those and the frequent trips to the house in the woods to visit Grandma. The girl losing her father and her grandma a son gave strength to the other. So it became traditional that the girl would bring a basket full of treats once every seven days. Mainly berries and fruits picked from the forest, sometimes scones freshly baked. In return the grandma taught the girl things, secret things she could not and would not share with anyone, especially her fretful and evermore absent-minded mother. For instance, she would never tell her mother how she had been shown to extract poison from black pond toads. She could never tell how, by chewing certain types of red moss, she could see the fairies and fey that inhabited the world in secret. Her grandma taught such things as a distraction from losing a parent; she comforted her granddaughter as the girl’s mother was less and less herself.

The girl had become the adult at the age of thirteen. She kept her mother safe and warm by selling fruits and vegetables at market, chopping kindle, and sewing—anything to get by. When the girl had rare free time, she spent it by her father’s graveside. Sitting in the weeds next to the wooden cross, she would tell him of the day’s events. How winter was coming and there was a harvest that needed to be stored or how the rain was turning the world to mud. Sometimes the crueller children would hide in the wooden garden and laugh and throw coal at the girl talking to the dead.

“It is nowt but jealousy,” Grandma commented as the girl cried in a rocking chair.

Grandma was rummaging in her old oak chest.

“Of what?” questioned the girl with a sigh between sobs.

“Of this.” Grandma grinned through the biggest set of gums ever seen. All the better to smile with.

With a swish Grandma produced a beautiful garment of golden brown fox fur. The girl took it, instantly feeling better and stroking the fur against her cheek.

“It’s a riding cloak,” Grandma explained. “I swapped with a right posh bugger gentleman.”

“For what?” the girl asked, distracted by the gift.. She stood and tied the cloak around her; it had a hood, which she pulled over her hair.

“For secret things, never you mind.”

“It has a hood! It has a hood!” The girl was jumping and squealing.

“The better to keep you warm.” The grandma laughed. She might have been old and her bones more bent than not, but the girl and grandma danced together and everything was good.

On this day the girl arrived at Grandma’s house. A small cottage made of coloured river stone, with a thatched roof that had been turned into root from the trees, which according to Grandma kept the house from prying nobodies. Two windows that flanked the green door reminded the girl of a surprised face. There was no fence for there was no garden, just the woods, which were becoming full of twilight as the sun had hid itself. The girl as always went to knock, but the door creaked open. It seemed to be the only sound in the world for the forest suddenly became hushed as if in anticipation. The girl stepped in. It was dark inside and from the pantry was the sound of a pot on the boil; the smell of rabbit broth filled the air, she recognised the smell of the tender meat bubbling away.. Although it was dark, the girl knew the house well: the brickwork with tree roots creeping in and gripping tight. The creaking wooden floors where furniture made from forest twigs sat. As she stepped further in, a millipede scurried over her boot and into a crack in the floor.

“Grandma?” the girl called meekly as she set the basket down and dropped her hood.

“I’m here, dear. I could hear you from all the way in the trees.”

The voice was guttural as if from a throat that needed clearing yet at the same time full of whimsy. This would explain why the house was left cold and dark. Grandma must be ill and resting. The girl made her way through to the back room where Grandma’s bed was located.

To ease her nerves she joked, “My, my, Grandma, what big ears you have.”

“All the better to hear you with, my dear,” came the reply.

Her nerves rattled and the hairs on the back of her neck swayed like dried grass in a breeze. Slowly—oh, so slowly—through shadow the girl peered around the door frame. There amongst knitted quilts and cushions lay Grandma. Her shape shifted as the girl stepped to the end of the bed. There was a crunch; the girl looked down to see a broken ornament under her boot. She went to question the discovery but her attention was grasped by a trick of the shadow. The face staring back at the girl was wrong. The pieces were there, the grey bun of hair, the loose skin and wrinkles, yet somehow the outside of Grandma was slipping. Through the drooping eye sockets deep yellow orbs gripped the girl.

“My, Grandma—” she shuddered “—what big eyes you have.”

“All the better to see you with,” Grandma growled through a mouth that was no longer just gums, but instead two neat rows of white sliced teeth that even in the dark shined like razor-sharp pearls.

The girl recoiled taking a step backwards as Grandma rose to the ceiling; or rather the beast did, freeing itself from the suit of skin with a wet slurp. It stood on hind legs, lifting a huge girth of a body and arms that ended in claws. From toe to head that broke the ceiling, covered in a dark, dark black coarse pelt.

“All the better to eat you with.” Its breath reeked of rotten meat and spittle.

The girl ran; she was through the doorway just before fur and death splintered the wood. She fell forward, franticly crawling in the dark as the strength left her legs. Behind her the beast casually padded on the floor. The creature’s lungs pumped hot breath and a constant growl.

The girl found herself in the pantry, crawling over something wet and soft. She could see from what little light broke through holes in the roof that before her lay Grandma. She had been peeled. Gasping so as not to scream, the girl pulled herself up on to the stove, where a still-boiling pot of steaming stew sat. atop.. It was hot and heavy as the girl gripped the handle in both hands, spilling the contents of meat and vegetable and scalding herself. She kept the pain inside just as a low rumbling rippled her hair. She turned, swinging her arms, spraying the boiling pot in the direction of the growl… Outside the peace of the forest erupted with a howl and the nested birds took flight.

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