The old, grey ramshackle house sat there, as it had for over a hundred years, looking no worse for the years spent in abandonment as it had when it first landed on the Wicked Witch of the East. The paint, what little there had been when it was back in Kansas, had long since fallen off, leaving little piles of paint chips at the base of the house. Surrounding the old house was a blue picket fence, meticulously maintained by the Munchkins, who revered the house as a symbol of their liberation from Evil and tyranny. They had chosen to leave it as it sat, testament to Dorothy and her arrival in Oz… and Toto too!
Sunrise had peeked over the far western hills, spilling shafts of golden light onto the front porch where Dorothy had come forth into the Land of Oz all those years ago.
All around, the sounds of Munchkins beginning their daily routines came wafting across the yellow and red brick of the square. The clinking of morning dishes and gentle song was a melody of happy times in the old city.
In the Mayor’s house, the little girl from Kansas awoke from her slumber, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and looking about for Toto, who was nowhere to be seen.
“Toto?” she said sleepily. “Toto?”
After a fine breakfast of pancakes and pears, Dorothy set out into the main square in search of her little black dog with long silky hair, and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose.
“Toto!” she called out, again and again, but to no avail. Toto was nowhere to be found.
“That’s not like him to go wandering off without me,” Dorothy told the Mayor’s wife, who had accompanied Dorothy on her search for her dog.
Just then, Dorothy noticed something odd about the old, grey ramshackle house that no one else seemed to have noticed. The front door was slightly ajar.
Thinking that Toto may have wandered into the old house from Kansas, Dorothy climbed up onto the front porch and slowly approached the front door, followed by the Mayor’s wife.
As the little girl from Kansas reached out for the old glass doorknob that she had turned so many times during her time in Kansas, Dorothy noticed something that made her catch her breath.
From beneath the old door ran a small rivulet of bright, crimson-red blood.
The Mayor’s wife noticed it too and screamed so loud and long that in moments, every Munchkin in Munchkin City and the surrounding countryside was heading towards the town square.
Dorothy kneeled down and reached out to touch the thin line of crimson and looked at her finger, now tinged with blood.
She gasped in horror, then reached out and pushed the old door open. It creaked mournfully as it swung slowly open, then came to an abrupt halt.
Dorothy stood up and was immediately struck by a sickly sweet smell. It was a smell that brought back memories of when Uncle Henry had butchered the old hog that had been a part of her life since she could remember.
All around, the Munchkins had gathered and were murmuring among themselves.
The memory of the butchered hog weighed heavily in Dorothy’s mind as she slowly stepped over the thin line of blood and into a scene no one in Oz could have possibly imagined in their worst nightmares.
The air inside the old house hung heavy with the sickly sweet smell of blood and wherever the little girl from Kansas looked, there was blood. The walls were spattered with countless drops of crimson. The floorboards, usually dark brown and worn were covered with blood. Everywhere was blood. It covered the old table and the old chair Aunt Em used to sit in when she did her sewing. The smell nearly made Dorothy vomit and she had to close her eyes and hold her nose for a moment before having another look around.
“Where did all this blood come from?” she thought to herself.
It didn’t take long for Dorothy to find the answer to her question.
The little girl from Kansas walked slowly towards the darkened doorway into the only bedroom in the small house. The door was ajar and the stench of blood was growing stronger as she entered the room.
Leaning against the wall on the floor in a dark corner was a small figure, motionless and covered in blood.
Dorothy gathered up all her courage and kneeled down beside the body.
She reached out and pushed the body over. It fell with a sickening thud.
Lying on the floor in a lifeless heap was the Coroner of Munchkin City. Nearby was his severed hand, clutching the Certificate of Death for the Wicked Witch of the East, which he often carried about as a reminder to all of their freedom from Evil and tyranny.
Dorothy looked at the lifeless body and saw that his throat had been sliced so deeply that his head had been nearly detached from his body.
She looked down and saw that he had been eviscerated so thoroughly that not a single organ remained in the lifeless body. In fact, the disemboweled organs were nowhere to be found, only puddles of blood. The ghastly scene was made even worse by the look on the face of the Coroner.
His eyes, now dull and lifeless, still bore the look of abject horror, frozen at the very moment of his horrific death.
Just then, the Mayor of Munchkin City appeared above Dorothy and the lifeless body of the Coroner.
“Is he…” asked the Mayor.
Dorothy inhaled slowly and looked up at the small, rotund Mayor of Munchkin City.
“He’s not only merely dead,” she whispered.
“He’s really most sincerely dead…” the Mayor finished.
Dorothy got up and staggered over to the nearby door and made her way back into the main room. She made her way over to the sink where Aunt Em had washed so many dishes so long ago and proceeded to vomit into the white porcelain. Several times it took for Dorothy to completely empty her stomach, and even that wasn’t enough. A half a dozen dry heaves and the little girl from Kansas felt she was thoroughly spent… and then she looked down.
There, lying in a puddle of bright red blood was what appeared to be a small patch of dark, matted fur, possibly black in color, though it was hard to tell since it was totally soaked with blood.
Next to the blood-soaked and matted patch of dark fur was a small pile of splintered bones and what appeared to be the remains of a paw.
“Toto!!!!” Dorothy screamed and then promptly fainted.
It took a few moments for her to regain her composure. The Mayor reached out a hand and helped her to her feet.
Dorothy stumbled out of the old, grey ramshackle house and was immediately surrounded by Munchkins, all of whom showered her with consolation and grief.
The Mayor began moving about the crowd, explaining to various groups the horrific scene he had just witnessed. With each telling, the gasps grew louder and more pronounced.
Dorothy began walking westward along the Yellow Brick Road, numb to anyone who was trying to stop her. All sense of reality had left her and she thought only of her beloved dog, Toto, now clearly dead,
Soon, Munchkin City was behind her, yet her grief was unabated. The Munchkins gathered about, wondering what to do and looking to the Mayor for leadership and advice. Dorothy could barely hear his voice calling out as she stumbled along the road of yellow brick and over the hill.
By midday, she had come to the small blue house where Millicent Munchkin lived.
Millicent was a kindly old Munchkin woman who lived alone. In appearance, she looked to be about Aunt Em’s age, but in truth, she was far older, owing to the fact that people never aged in Oz.
Dorothy walked slowly up to the doorway and was about to knock when a familiar sight caught her eye.
From beneath the door, another thin rivulet of blood came oozing forth. Unlike the first line of blood she had seen under the old door of her old house, this blood was much fresher and was still on the move.
The door creaked open of its own accord and Dorothy gazed warily inside.
As she looked, she heard a faint sound that seemed somewhat familiar. It seemed to her somewhat like the sound of crunching bones, much like when the old cat of her crotchety old neighbor had once caught a bird and Dorothy came across it eating the dead animal one morning.
Stepping cautiously inside, Dorothy saw more blood and the sickly sweet smell of it was now all too familiar. The crunching sound became more pronounced as she approached the open doorway into the kitchen.
Dorothy followed the line of blood that lead towards the kitchen and the crunching sound.
Peering into the kitchen, Dorothy was instantly horrified by what lay before her eyes.
There, lying on the floor of the kitchen, knawing on the partial remains of Millicent Munchkin was the Cowardly Lion.
He looked up at her and smiled. Blood dripped from his whiskers as he licked his lips.
“Hello Dorothy,” he exclaimed. “What a surprise seeing you here.”
Without so much as a pause, the big cat resumed his noontime meal as Dorothy watched in silent horror.
Minutes later, whatever few remains of Millicent there were was strewn about the floor in large puddles of blood.
Dorothy could barely speak.
“Wha, wha… why?” she stammered.
The Cowardly Lion smiled at her with a rather evil grin.
“I don’t know Dorothy…” he explained. “I only know that the other day, I came across that old house where the Wicked Witch of the East used to live. It was cold and dark but inside was a large metal cauldron that was full of water from where the roof had leaked and dripped into it.”
Dorothy edged closer to the big cat as he continued his story.
“I was thirsty, and so I drank from it,” he said. “The next thing I knew, everything went dark, and then I had the strangest craving for raw meat.”
Dorothy stood there, transfixed by the Cowardly Lion’s explanation.
“Then last night, I was walking along the Yellow Brick Road, looking for a snack, when I came to Munchkin City. I saw that Toto was out and about in the night as well,” he said as Dorothy began stroking his long mane. “So, one thing led to another and we found ourselves exploring that old house of yours. Toto said he wanted to show me where he used to sleep.”
The big cat licked his lips again and continued on.
“I couldn’t help myself. Your dog looked so tasty and I was so hungry,” he said almost apologetically.
“Oh Cowardly Lion, what have you done?” she asked sadly.
“Only what a cat is supposed to do, Dorothy. It was only after I finished off Toto when that old man showed up. He must have heard all the commotion and wandered into the house,” he replied. “He did have some very tasty gizzards.”
“What ever will you do now, Cowardly Lion?” she asked timidly.
The Cowardly Lion smiled at the little girl from Kansas with a grin so wide and Evil that Dorothy suddenly felt a cold chill run up her spine. It was unlike any feeling she had ever had while in Oz.
“What do you think I should do, Dorothy?” he asked rhetorically.
Before Dorothy could answer, the big cat leaped forward and swung his massive paw directly across Dorothy’s exposed neck, neatly severing her head in one fell swoop.
He watched as her head went rolling across the kitchen, coming to rest in the corner and looking directly at him. Her eyes were fixed with a look of abject terror and shock.
Her body had fallen over against the nearby chair and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses as her life’s blood quickly drained from her body.
If there had been any unstained portion of the floor before Dorothy’s arrival, there was none now.
“Hmmm…” the Cowardly Lion purred as he lay down by his latest kill and began to feast. “Fresh meat.!”