The Marchen

This story is paired with “Hansel and Gretel” from Children’s and Household Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 


Little brother and sister in the Black Forest wander amongst the trees, which as far as the eyes can see in all directions look exactly the same as every other tree in the forest. Their parents have discarded the children because they couldn’t live sans food. Their mouths have done them in. Open and hollow inside. Imagining Black Forest Tort.

Their parents have no other choice. Nothing grows any more in the old way of the real world. Only in the way of the new false world. Only the way of deceit-trees with dollars for leaves.

“I’ll put genetic markers in the trees to mark our way,” says Hansel. “We can go back home and bring back something wonderful from the forest for our family to eat. Surely in such a big place something grows that we can eat which won’t eat us.”

“It all will eat us from inside,” says Gretel. “I’m afraid.”

“I want to keep you safe,” says Hansel. “Hold my hand.”

She blushes, finding him the handsomest brother in the world. Thin and wispy pale. Poetic eyes, large and dazed.

They wander through rows and rows of trees complete replicas of each other, mirror mazes of despair, bright green, with perfect and frightful symmetry.

“Oh no! Fungus ate all the genetic markers! We’ll never find our way back to our folk.” Hansel has to squeeze his toes to keep from bursting into tears in front of Gretel.

“If only our parents hadn’t given birth to us!” She says, lips trembling. “Our folks are surely crying now.”

The Black Forest is a genomic Christmas Tree farm. The sterile Gingerbread ornaments which grow from the branches are little houses inside little houses inside houses. When Hansel prays to the old geometry of form, he screams as he finds himself suddenly twisted into a Gingerbread fractal vortex and sucked inside it inside of inside.

“Gretel!” He calls with a voice growing smaller and smaller, too small to hear. Gretel has breasts already the size of her little girl knees, from drinking hormone-laced milk. She can’t fit through into the tiny house. He is DNA coiled into the invisible world.

The pesticides have killed off everything inside his gut that makes him human. He lives by willpower, only because he loves his sister so much, and even his parents. He twists and spirals from the inside out, in the Gingerbread house ornament on the tree. Its fake frost windows are colorful and cheery, and the house swings in the wind, making the tree bow down much lower than it should. Gretel fears it will break off and land on her head.

Gretel says “I have to poop.” She walks and walks to find a privately comfortable place to poop. When she goes back to find him, she realizes all the Gingerbread house decorations on all the trees look exactly the same. She calls into all the houses, and hears nothing but cries of pain from all the cells within the trees, in all directions, singing to her. Which one is the one he is in? She is lost.

She leans against a tree and the leaves lullaby her into sleep. She grows roots into the ground. She won’t leave her brother in the forest. She begins to look much like a vine, furry and brown, stringy and thin. She wraps herself around many trees.

A robot with a hatchet comes along to chop down the Christmas Trees. “Stop, stop,” she says. “My brother is in one of these Gingerbread decorations in one of the trees. I don’t know if he is alive. But please don’t kill him.”

“So,” says, the robot. “I am in here, and I am not alive. You are there and you are alive for a little while longer. Not much longer. There is nothing for you to eat here. No animals, no berries, no mushrooms, just nothing and trickery and your own tears and pee.”

She hugs the trees each by each with her vininess, spiraling around them in the right-hand direction, as robot chops them down. The poor GE trees have had their spirals spun backwards, and they begin to remember, as her spiral direction whispers tales of the old geometry. She tells them she is sorry their parents had her, and the earth is crying now. The trees are chopped into pieces.

She hugs the trees, as they die underneath the hatchet’s chop. She discovers the one Hansel is was living in where his recognizable molecules spiral outward. They fall like shooting stars, waft on the wind, blow into people’s windows and brains, up inside Gretel’s viney dress, up into the chimneys and down into empty bottles of dark and beer. He puts the Hero back in Christmas with his jingles and his droughts, his rebirth into thought.

“I have found my way home,” call Hansel’s molecules. “Come with me, sister! Come with me everyone!”

He spins the DNA cycle backwards, like swimming underwater when pretending to be flying, spinning his body against the trend, against the New World, into the Old, and breaks the code, crashes the coherence, and back again into the geometry of reason, the rebirth of heart-sense, the revival of the forest which burns and burns and burns, and the world is born again. He is a true German hero.

How to make German Black Forest Tort

Coat DNA onto particles of gold. With helium speed, shoot DNA-plated gold speed into cells. Discard the cells that die. This recipe transforms those cells that live into something new and great for sales. Something nature never would have thought of! To avoid cells becoming chimeras, add in marker genes which are anti-biotic resistant to the dough-maker.

You’ll win prizes for sure instead of tort prison time, the best mixing method we know of to make this smooth and sweet. Grow the cells amongst the anti-biotic and it will rise with the levity of fools. The special cells will survive and spread.

To serve, top with Tannenbaum star or angel and decorate with icicles around the sides.

Exact quality of each tree is predictable and standardized: you can’t go wrong with this one. Everyone will love it. And if anyone doesn’t like your crime against them, who are they going to complain to that isn’t bought off, eh?


GE trees, thin without lignin, can’t fight off onslaughts of insects, who crawl larger upon their bark, boring into them and living in their midst; nor rapacious wind, nor determined virus, nor grimy fungus. Their herbicidal properties breed monster weeds around them immune to Everything. Carbon, that magical element, the core of life, can no longer be stored in the woods. Everything but GE trees will die into Green Deserts. A sinister garden of fruit that makes the eater grow pesticides inside his guts forever.

What will the world do? Deceit-Apples shiny red. Long red fingernails cut into the white flesh. Little girls dream and die.

Activist intruders attack an institutional research site of Deceit-Apples. They sneak along, cut open the tent, and with their fingers snap the trees off one by one. Seven years work gone.

The German government announces officially it will from that point forward say no to GE trees. Little girls can eat hold red apples to their pink little lips and smile and dance and live.

Gendreck Weg!

First they make drought, then drought-resistant corn. Food of death-tumors, of the twist of the machine down into the sacred center of the genes, branded codes.

Bee keepers find their honey full of monster. Monster with a brand that says their honey now belongs to it, and so does everything their bees pollinate. Monster 801 has blown its dark breath over the fields from genetic falsities in nearby crops of doom.

Michael Grolm atop the tower, the tower over Tonndorf, in Thuringia, over the the castle where he lives, with 60 other denizens of stone and deep. Below him wood steps crook and creek. Bee hives pray the pasture. Juice naps in trees. The moat meanders into dream.

Grolm has gathered his brethren of arms, to pull up research plants impinging on the way of the ground. He has fought for real farming, rivulets of fertile life inside the soil, not chemistries of harshness and despair.

Patents on life by Monsteranto have hidden DNA inside DNA, have threatened the future’s existence with swashbuckling grins. Monsters design a robot-world making sanity obsolete.

Grolm’s field liberation camp is sweat functioning as hugs. Pointed tents, smoke from rocky pits, pine honey from Grimm’s Black Forest on dark and heavy bread.

Forty research corn fields remain bare dirt. The institutes look over their shoulders for Grolm and Gendrek Weg in case they show up to destroy everything! Why plant just to be uprooted?

Grolm is seized, and thrown in the dungeon, surrounded by loyal tractors yelling love. Imprisoned, he shines through the cell walls like the sun on the other side of the earth shines into our dreams. His believers keep the faith. The bees swarm outside the prison, in the shape of a giant halo, necterously golden.

His courage wins the day. He is freed kalee kalay!

Germany finds reason to choose having a future Earth to live on. Agriculture Minister Ilse bans GM corn and seeds from all the land. No genetic crazy-corn allowed in Germany, hurray! The world may buzz again.


NBR1BenskophotosmallTantra Bensko teaches fiction writing through UCLA X Writing Program, Writers College, and her academy. She has books out, and 200 flashes, short stories, and novelettes and a novella in journals and in anthologies. She has an MA from FSU and MFA from Iowa. She lives in Berkeley.