would you like to come inside for dinner?

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The beast looked out from within his cave, watching, waiting. He didn’t feel sociable today, but visitors were rare and they might be delicious. He licked his lips and found his voice. “Would you like to come inside for dinner?” he asked the children, smiling his ghastliest grin. His fangs glistened in the afternoon light.

The first boy stepped back. “I warn you, I eat a lot of brussel sprouts. I’ll taste bitter and terrible.”

“I’ve never been to Brussels,” said the beast. “But I’ll try anything once.”

“Not me, you won’t,” said a second boy. “I bathed in hot tamales just this morning.”

The beast shrugged. “So I’ll eat you with a glass of milk to cut the spice.”

“I taste delicious!” said the third child, the little sister who’d tagged along. “I eat apples every day and sweets like pie and cake and cookies…”

The beast retched and backed away. “Disgusting!” He dry-heaved his retreat into his cave.

The little girl’s jaw dropped and she burst into disappointed tears as her brothers dragged her away. “I could’ve been eaten by a beastie!” she wailed, and they shook their heads in wonder at her.