Hansel had always understood why their parents had chosen to be rid of him and his sister. From his earliest memories, he remembered the expression on their faces when he asked what the inside of a cat looked like. Such inquiries, he now knew, were not proper for three-year olds, but when his sister Gretal arrived with her own set of idiosyncrasies, he finally had an accomplice willing to indulge him in finding out.
As far as he could recall, his mother and father had never abused them, never beaten or molested them, never starved them or screamed at them. Yet as he watched from the observation chamber and saw his sister plunging syringe after syringe into the twitching body of the Doctor Totenkinder, he found it hard to believe such things could happen without cause.
Hansel had long since forgiven their parents for abandoning him and Gretal. In fact, he was of the firm opinion it was the best thing that could have happened. Of course, that hadn’t stopped him from tracking them down and repaying them in kind. They had covered their tracks well, but there’s always a trail, if you know where to look. Ultimately, though, their deaths weren’t about revenge. Not to him, at least: he couldn’t speculate as to Gretal’s motivations, though she had giggled terribly when they screamed. Personally, Hansel just hated loose ends.
Gretal was special. She had always fascinated him. He would never study her properly, it wouldn’t feel right, but it was his inquisitive mind that had always kept them together, and ultimately led them to the lab. Its every surface was covered in equipment, computers, apparatus. Simply put, the place was made of science, and had presented an irresistible temptation for the pair. When Doctor Totenkinder (even now he laughed at the hubristically obvious pseudonym she has chosen) found them and offered to let them help with her experiments, they had naturally agreed.
They didn’t know she was going to imprison them, but as he watched the last of the Doctor’s life spasm out on the floor, Hansel reckoned they had got the best of the deal.
The treatments had been designed to increase intelligence, and had worked far better than the mad old Doctor had ever realised, even at the end of her life. It wasn’t more than a few doses before Hansel was smart enough to realise she had no intention of letting the siblings live after the experiment was over. So he feigned idiocy, and watched for months as she grew more and more agitated.
Doctor Totenkinder had fed Gretal on gingerbread to keep her happy. The same gingerbread his sister now munched thoughtfully over the corpse.
Gretal loved gingerbread.
In the end it didn’t take nearly as much planning as Hansel had expected. Gingerbread was usually enough to keep his sister quiet through anything, so as Hansel watched the Doctor load up the syringe with what he knew to be a fatal toxin, she turned her back to the little girl. From there it took only a few words from him and Gretal was plunging needles into their captor’s unguarded back, her delicious treat gleefully forgotten. Judging by what had happened afterwards, some of them must have contained some very nasty concoctions indeed.
Hansel punched in the code he had figured out long ago and released himself from the observation chamber. His sister looked up at him, her little face covered by crumbs and a satisfied grin.
“What do we do now?”
“Now? Why, dear sister, we have a laboratory” Hansel replied without hesitation, “so we experiment.”
Gretal nodded eagerly, and returned to her gingerbread.