Sicklefox

Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 12

Challenge #6: Write a story for a child encouraging them not to tell lies.

Once upon a time there was a naughty boy. He was about your age, if I’m not mistaken. This naughty boy loved to run and jump and play with his friends, but more than anything he loved sweet things. So when he spied the baker coming down the street with two trays of iced buns, he wasted no time in running over to him.

“Aren’t you afraid carrying all those buns?” asked the naughty little boy.

“Afraid?” asked the baker. “Of course not—why would I be?”

“Why,” lied the naughty boy, “because Sicklefox likes nothing better than iced buns, and I hear he is nearby. If he finds you, he’ll cut out your tongue and eat it.”

The baker stopped. This was new to him, but all had heard tales of Sicklefox and all knew them to be true.

“Perhaps I should take half,” said the naughty boy, “and walk a ways behind, so that Sicklefox will only be half as likely to smell either of us.”

The baker said that this was wise, and said that the naughty boy could have one bun for being so helpful and brave. But the naughty boy took two: one he stuffed into his mouth, the other into his pocket.

It was not long after the iced buns were delivered that the naughty boy spied the grocer coming down the street with two baskets of juicy apples. When the naughty boy saw this, he wasted no time in running over to him.

“Aren’t you afraid carrying all those apples?” asked the naughty little boy.

“Why, no,” replied the grocer. “Should I be?”

“I would,” lied the naughty boy. “I hear Sicklefox is nearby, and that he likes nothing better than juicy apples. If he finds you, he’ll cut out your tongue and eat it.”

The grocer stopped. He had not heard this exact tale before, but he had heard a great many tales about Sicklefox, and knew these to be true.

“Perhaps I should take half,” said the naughty boy. “That way, Sicklefox will be only half as likely to smell either of us.”

The grocer thanked the naughty boy profusely, and said that for being so very helpful, he could have one juicy apple. But the naughty boy took two: one he stuffed into his mouth, the other into his pocket.

It was not long after the apples were delivered that the naughty boy spied the confectioner coming down the street with two boxes of sticky caramels. The naughty boy wasted no time in running over to him.

“Aren’t you afraid carrying all those caramels?” asked the naughty boy.

“Well, no,” answered the confectioner. “Why should I be?”

“Because,” lied the naughty boy, “I hear Sicklefox is near. He likes nothing more than sticky caramels, and if he finds you he will cut out your tongue and eat it.”

The confectioner trembled to think of this. He had not heard that Sicklefox liked caramels, but he had heard of Sicklefox, and the news troubled him greatly.

“Perhaps I should take half,” said the naughty boy. “Then Sicklefox will be only half as likely to smell either one of us.”

And so the confectioner was very grateful, and said that the naughty boy could have one sticky caramel for being such a help. But the naughty boy took two: one he stuffed into his mouth, the other into his pocket.

It was not long after this that the baker and the grocer and the confectioner got to talking, for they had all been delivering their goods to the same party. And as each in turn told his tale, they realised they had been tricked. But the naughty little boy was nowhere to be found, because he had run to the woods at the top of the hill to enjoy the feast in his pockets.

The naughty boy was just about to tuck into the iced bun when he heard a voice from quite nearby.

“That smells very tasty indeed,” said Sicklefox, drawing a whetstone along the blade of his sickle.

Now the naughty boy was afraid. “If you think it smells tasty,” he said, “you can have it.” And he held out the iced bun to Sicklefox.

“Mmm…” Sicklefox sniffed at the sweet icing and moist bun, whiskers quivering. “Yes, this does smell good. But I couldn’t possibly eat your only bun. Have you had one yourself?”

“No,” lied the naughty boy, “I have not.”

“Well then,” said Sicklefox, “I shan’t have that. But I smell something else very tasty indeed: have you a juicy apple in your pocket?”

Quickly, the naughty boy offered it to Sicklefox. “If you think it smells tasty,” he said, “you can have it.”

“Mmm…” Sicklefox sniffed at the apple, its crunchy flesh and bright red skin. His nose twitched. “Yes, this does smell good. But I couldn’t possibly eat your only apple. Have you had one yourself?”

“No,” lied the naughty boy, “I have not.”

“Well then,” said Sicklefox, “I shan’t have that. But I smell something else very tasty indeed: have you a sticky caramel in your pocket?”

This too the naughty boy offered. “If you think it smells tasty, you can have it.”

“Mmm…” Sicklefox sniffed at the caramel, buttery and salty and very sweet. He licked his chops. “Yes, this does smell good. But I couldn’t possibly eat your only caramel. Have you had one yourself?”

“No,” lied the naughty boy, “I have not.”

“Alas,” cried Sicklefox, “there is nothing in your pockets for me.” And he went back to sharpening his sickle.

The naughty boy breathed a sigh of relief, and prepared to make his excuses.

“But there is one thing…” Sicklefox said. “There is one thing I like more than buns or apples or sticky caramels…”

And the baker and the grocer and the confectioner were never tricked again. Because what Sicklefox really likes more than anything is lies: and the tongue of the naughty little boy was very tasty indeed.


If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from Flash Fiction Month 2012 and 2013 collected in OCR is Not the Only Font and Red Herring respectively.

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4 comments

    • Damon Wakes

      I tried to match the tone to some of the examples given (one was Belloc’s Matilda), so I’m assuming the FFM people would consider it suitable for the challenge. Plus, kids seem partial to dark stories anyway.

      • 500woerterdiewoche

        Oh, this is certainly not the darkest cautionary tale I’ve ever read – those do tend to get quite brutal. In Germany, there’s an old book full of those stories called “Struwwelpeter” (I have no idea whether it was ever translated, or if you have your English equivalent) in which children get fingers cut off, burn to death, drown, fall down cliffs, starve, you name it, they suffer it. So I think your story fits the prompt to a T 🙂

      • Damon Wakes

        Ah, yes: Struwwelpeter has been translated into English. 😀 I’m quite a fan. Plus, even if I hadn’t come across it before, I’d be aware of it now that this one has got around a bit.

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