The Robber Bridegroom
Dark Novels offer an up-to-date version of the Grimm Brother’s darkest tale.

“A pocket full of peas, the house of death, and a severed finger.”

Do you agree, The Robber Bridegroom is one of the Grimm Brothers’ darkest tales?
Originally it was the tale of a miller’s daughter who is due to be wedded to a suitor. She has disturbing feelings about him and tries to avoid him. But even thinking about him makes her shudder. Then she is forced to visit him at home in his creepy house. The house is in the darkest depth of the woods. She learns the truth about her future husband and his “riotous crew”.

This story has all the makings of classic horror. It has dark woods, a gang of murderers, severed body parts and even cannibalism. So read on if you dare.

Colin Devonshire’s updated effort.

The Thieving Groom To Be

‘Now Petra, calm down a minute. I need to speak to you. You know I’ve been dating a lovely lass I met on a dating site?’
‘Yes, dad, you keep going on about her.’
‘Well, you are now 29 years old.’
‘Yes, dad, I’m aware of my age. What about it?’
‘Don’t you want to get married and have children? The time is running out.’
‘Yes, dad, I will get married, but I’ve never met the right guy. And yes, I would love to be a mum. But who knows when?’
‘I can help you there.’
‘Don’t tell me you’ve enlisted me into your site?’
‘No, dear, much better than that.’
‘Come on then, what have you done?’
‘My girlfriend has a nephew. He owns part of Stanley Steels, and yes, he is one of the Stanley family. He will take over running the company when his dad retires. Oh, and I should mention, he is handsome.’
‘But, dad, you owe Stanley Steel a fortune, correct? That is why you are pushing me in that direction. Correct?’
‘No, dear, I only want the best for you. Will you join us for a meal?’
‘Who is going for the meal?’
‘Me, Peggy, the young Stanley, you can call him Chris, and you. That’s all. Should be fun, don’t you agree?’
‘Okay, dad, if only to help your business, I’ll be there.’

Three diners were enjoying their first glass of wine. But, unfortunately, Petra arrived “fashionably” late.
‘Peggy, you’ve met my daughter before.’ They shook hands. ‘Chris, it’s my pleasure to introduce Petra. Sorry, she would be late for her funeral, em, I mean, you know what I mean.’
The smiles around the table made Petra welcome.

Petra’s dad and his girlfriend chose the house speciality. Chris chose blue Wagyu steak, while Petra kept to her vegetarian diet. Petra’s dad and Peggy left after the first brandy. Chris and Petra stayed for another.
‘Shall we go to my club?’ asked Chris.
‘I’ve had too much to drink. I’d better go home. Thanks anyway.’
‘Nonsense. Leave your car here. Come in mine. I’ll make sure you get home safely.’
‘I’ll tell you what, I can follow you, then drink soft drinks at the club.’
‘Up to you, but I warn you, it is not easy to find.’

Chris left the restaurant’s car park with Petra close behind. They left the West End and headed east.
‘Where are we going,’ asked Petra to the mirror. Then she spotted a sign to Stanley Steel. ‘Has he got a club at the factory? The mirror didn’t answer. Tree cover got denser, and street lights got fewer. Chris increased his speed. Petra was scared to chase.

Petra stopped at a T-junction. ‘Which way did he go?’ She got out and looked left and right. She scratched her head, cursing herself for not asking for his number.

Petra spotted a house in the distance. Its lights were on. She drove to it. Getting out, a parrot landed on the bonnet.
‘Turn back, turn back, thou bonnie bride.’ It sang. At first, Petra thought nothing of it.
‘Turn back, turn back, thou bonnie bride.’ It repeated. This time adding the line, ‘Nor in this house of death abide.’

Petra nodded to the bird, wondering who taught it those words and if it belonged indoors. She knocked, the door opened, and the bird flew in. Petra decided to follow it. She moved from room to room. Each is empty and quiet. Then a tragic figure popped her head out of a darkened corridor. There walked an old lady, head to foot, in black.
‘Can you tell me where Chris, Mr Stanley, lives? The owner of Stanley Steels, the business up the road.’
The older woman shook her head.

‘Sorry, angel, I can’t help with metal.’
Petra was confused, ‘He must is well known around these parts?’
‘Do you know where you are? This building is the home of bad people. They do nothing but evil. And it seems you are tonight’s target. Yes, I know Chris and his mates. They are cannibals. You must get away.’
There was a clattering. Keys hit the floor, and drunken singing from the hallway.
‘Shh, say nothing. Hide in that cupboard,’ said the old lady. ‘When they fall into a drunken sleep, we can disappear together.’

Two men pushed and pulled at a teenage girl. Her screams went unaided. The men forced whisky down her throat.
‘At least she’s quiet now. So who is first, or should we wait for Chris?’
One snatched a whisky bottle and rammed it into her slack mouth.
‘You bloody idiot, you have killed her. We haven’t had our fun.’

Petra was shaking in her hiding place. She pressed her hands to the wooden walls, scared she was making a noise. Then, finally, she looked up, ‘Should I try and help? It sounds like I’m too late. Me next?’

‘How sweet, she was engaged. I could use that ring to encourage my next pretty conquest,’ laughed one of the men.
He pulled and twisted the gold with its diamond around. It would not come off her finger.
‘Never mind, pass your blade.’ He sliced the finger off, freeing the ring. He lobbed the finger high and showed his football skills by blasting the digit up and away. It bounced against the cupboard door.
‘Ah, leave it. Let’s eat. What food have you got for us?’ He asked the old lady.
‘I can prepare some meaty sandwiches for you. Is that okay?’ the elderly woman asked. ‘I don’t suppose the finger will run away,’ she smiled, and they roared at her joke.

She sprinkled crushed sleeping pills into the mustard and lashed the meat. She poured strong mixes of whisky soda plus something that little extra—handing them to the small gang.

Petra judged it was safe to move. She crept past the men. The woman stood by the kitchen door and waved Petra forward.
‘Can you help me?’
‘Who are you, and why are you helping these animals?’
‘I came for the job as housekeeper for Mr Chris. He realised I’m an illegal immigrant and forced me to stay and clean after them.’
‘And now you want to escape? Why don’t I believe you?’
‘Please trust me. These men could keep me here because they had my daughter and granddaughter. They worked at the steelworks. It was only a matter of time before they brought them here for other than factory work. But, yesterday, they were caught by immigration and taken away. So, the men have no power over me. I must go.’

Petra phoned her dad. ‘Dad, I need you to meet me at Stanley Steelworks. Bring your police detective mate and a gang of armed officers.’

Twenty minutes later, police cars, lights flashing, pulled up.
Petra explained what had happened.

As a bird flew over them singing, “Turn back, turn back, thou bonnie Bride,
Nor in this house of death abide,”

‘Oh, if you need proof,’ she passed the finger to the detective. ‘The knife they used to cut it off is in his pocket.’


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