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Twilight terror

Whispering woods threaten

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished 18 days ago Updated 15 days ago 6 min read
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"It's a girl!"

"What is? What's a girl?"

"That is, that creature out there, trampling though our roots and stumps, below our blessed leafy canopy. A horrid nasty little girl."

"What does it want?"

"What do you think it wants? It wants to damage and destroy, just like all of its kind."

"What should we do?"

"Grab it, capture it, hold it, feed on it."

"What is it doing, hopping from place to place, pecking at the ground like a bird?"

"Stealing! Little thief! Feel it flit and fluster around our rich leaf mould, lifting our precious jewels, our seeds of future growth."

"What does it think it will do with them?"

"Destruction and death is all they know.”

"What now? What is the thief doing now?"

"Feel, feel the ground litter move. No... wait! Harken! Something has been lifted, something has been taken from us. It picks up a stick, wretched villain!"

"A stick? A stick? What possible use can a thieving girl have for a stick."

"To burn of course, you fool! What have you been contemplating these past countless winter suns? Has your heart turned to sawdust? Can you no longer reason?"

"Burn? That fearful word. Hush, you vex me so. Why do you say burn?"

"Burn, burn, burn is all they know. Burn this, burn that, burn the whole of Silvan's creation. That fearful girl will kidnap a bundle of sticks and burn them to ash. Burn our limbs and burn all the creatures within: the insect, mollusc, arthropod and invertebrate. Fabulous fungi felled and lovely lichens left to burn to powder. All will suffer at the hands of this murderess."

"But what is to be done?"

"Hurt it! Punish it! Bleed and break it. Revenge on all of its kind! No.. Wait.. there is a better way."

"There is?"

"Yes... There is...

Summon the wolf

She will know how to deal with this bag of bones. Queen of all the forest, she will tear that monster, joint from joint. She will consume the limbs and trunk and sap of the devil. The wolf will do this in our honor and leave due sacrifice to help feed our thirsty roots."

"Here she comes, I can feel her gentle paws pad respectfully over our forest floor. You can rely on the wolf to deal with the intruder."

Not too far away, a lone wolf tracks her prey, following a wavering pattern of scent and sound, building a picture, in her powerful wolf imagination, of the creature she now pursues. She has not eaten for three days and her milk is starting to dry up. She has many mouths to feed. Her sire is ravenous too and she had to chase him off, lest he should steal one of her pups to break his fast. She stops, ranging her sensitive snout left to right, sampling the subtle hues. Still, she has no picture before her of what manner of beast she pursues.

Wait! Danger! It is not venison, it is not a hare, it is not game and it most certainly is not bear. Why do I so feel anxious?

All this she contemplates as she draws deep of the multiplicity of scents that drift before her.

Ah! That's it. I hear two steps instead of many. It has reared up onto its hind legs. Danger.. danger.. danger. Am I wrong? Is it really bear? But no, it is too small. Bear pup? No! The scent is all wrong. This is no bear, though it walks rampant, like a bear with sore ears. Caution. Proceed. Know the danger or kill the prey.

Thus the canid continues her considered progress, scent and sounds growing ever stronger. Her course meanders, this way, that way, steps light as a falling feather. She must not reveal herself.

At last, she approaches a gap in the dense bush, finding cover behind a thick outcrop, downwind of her objective. She must not allow the unknown creature to scent her own lupine presence.

Now, now I see yet still it is a mystery to me. What, by Mother Sky, is this creature? It has a cruel flat face but it has no stature. It is less than the wolf and without fangs. Yet it is unknown, therefore it is danger. I will not permit it. I will order it to leave our forest. It will turn and run and I will take its hind legs down and kill it. Free our forest and feed my precious babies.

With this the wolf bounds out into the open pathway facing the little girl, teeth bared, a low growl growing deep in her throat. The girl stops in her tracks and stands as still as a statue and almost as silent.

"Grrrrr... off, rrrr... off, off, off, leave our forest you hideous terror who walks like a mad bear," barked the wolf, with blood curdling menace.

Why do you defy me unknown creature? Why do you not turn and run? Do you mean to harm me? For if you try, I will leap and take you down by the throat.

"Why are you barking at me, ragged pooch? Do you want to play?"

With this, the girl waves about the stick she had picked up earlier. The wolf starts to back away, fearful of the child who, stick raised, seems now much bigger than the wolf had first perceived.

What is it doing with that stick? Is it going to leap at me and reveal unseen fangs? Should I run, now, while I still can?... Wait! What now? It draws back its front leg and casts the stick onto the ground before me. It wants to play? Now I see! Now I understand. It is a pup.

The wolf ceases her fearful tirade and picks up the stick, gently in her mighty jaws. She pads across to the girl and drops it at the creature's hind feet. For a moment the fierce green eyes of the wolf meet those of the child.

I have no time to play with you now, little one, for I have many mouths to feed and precious little time to feed them. Go in peace, and if the forest should spare you, we will meet again and I will lead you to play with my pups. For I know now that you are not a danger. Those foolish whispering trees deceived me.

The girl picks up the stick and throws it but the wolf does not move.

"You don't want to play, wolf? Never mind, I must go now."

With this, the girl turns and skips happily away. Looking over her shoulder, she sees the wolf still there, watching but not moving. She carries on her jaunty progress with no more thought of the wolf.

"I hope you have finished that cape you promised me, Granny,” says the little girl, as she skips back along the lane to her grandmother's cottage in the woods." Nobody hears her. "To keep me warm this winter... The one with the fur lining and the big red riding hood."

Wolf photo credit: Jim Peaco / NPS, as edited by the author

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Like my little wolfy tale? You might also like: Run with the Pack

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About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Comments (4)

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  • Lamar Wiggins13 days ago

    That was great how you wove the origin of little red in there. It was a nice twist and a perfect ending.

  • Mark Graham17 days ago

    Kept me reading to the end. Good work.

  • Ah man, I was hoping the wolf would kill her! It's okay, we can't always have the good things in life hahahaha. Oooo, so she would grow up to be Little Red Riding Hood? Or did I understand that wrong?

  • Beware, little one. For next time you meet it may not be the dam but the sire. And he prefers not to play with sticks but rather with his food.

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