First Sunday Short Fiction: Hunger



Welcome to the third installment of First Sunday Short Fiction. If you enjoyed the stories this month and would like to join in next month, details can be found here.

We have two other participants this month.

Our first stop is with the faithful Stephanie Kayne, over on The Writer’s Life. She’s continuing with her months of the year themed romance series.

And our second stop is a new participant, The Tatterpunk Carnival, with a bit of YA paranormal/horror.

And now, my contribution.

Hunger

Wolf smelled her, the hairless pup . . . but also the other one, the hairless male with hard, sharp things that killed trees. Dangerous. Wolf’s litter-mates knew, didn’t they?  The big hairless male carried their skins from the forest on his back. He came back wearing the litter-mates’ skins, and they smelled all wrong.  Even spring sap and new flowers could not cover the death smell.

Since the hairless ones had come, noises and stink and killing scared away the small creatures.  Wolf sneaked, so quiet, but he could not find the small creatures anymore. The hind-leg walkers used sharp metal, sticks that made thunder and lightning, and snapping traps to catch the big beasts. Hairless ones were not smart and quiet like Wolf.

Soft moss under his paws; the hairless pup would never hear him. But he heard her, making noise like a herd of elk, her feet so loud on the dirt path. No birds sang when she crashed through the woods.

There she was, a blur of movement. Light through the leaves made her bright. Creep, creep, quiet, quiet. She couldn’t see him in the dark under the trees. Stealthy Wolf darted between the oak trunks and skulked onto the path in front of her.

“Good morning, hairless pup” he growled.

“Good morning,” she answered, too foolish to fear him. “But I’m not a pup. I’m Little Red.”

“Where are you going, all alone?” he asked.

She shifted her basket. Something inside it made his mouth water, something so good to smell.  He could not jump on her now or the big one would hear her screams. He must be clever–more clever than his brothers.

“I’m taking this basket of goodies to my grandmama, who does not feel well,” the hairless pup said.

Wolf inched toward her, wrinkling his nose.  She would be a tender eat, so easy to sink hungry teeth in to. Not much to her, to fill his empty belly. Would a grandmama have more meat? Could he have this grandmama and the hairless pup too? Clever Wolf, he could surely find a way.

“Where is grandmama?” he asked, swallowing. How his mouth watered.

“In her cottage by the brook, under the biggest oak tree in the forest,” she replied.

“Careful, pup,” he said. “It is dark under the trees. Never know what you will meet there.”

Away he went. He knew the place where the old hairless female ruined meat on the fire and made the whole forest smell wrong.

Fast Wolf, he reached the the old female’s den before the hairless pup knew he was gone.  Knock, knock on the oak door.

“Who is it?”

“Little Red,” growled Wolf.

“Oh good! Come in, dear, the door is open.”

Wolf pushed with his head, crept inside. Such horrible smells, like animals who never lick themselves.  Smell bad, taste good, Wolf thought.

Not much meat on grandmama. Only a few bites, and Wolf’s belly still hungered. Good thing the hairless pup would come soon.

Wolf climbed into the old female’s nest, pulled the covers over his nose. He did not have to wait long. Knock, knock, on the oak door.

“Who is it?” growled Wolf.

“It’s Little Red, Grandmama; I’ve come with a basket of goodies to make you feel better.”

“Oh good!” growled Wolf. “Come in, dear, the door is open.”

Her leather boots thumped on the floorboards. Wolf kept his nose tucked under the blankets so the hairless pup wouldn’t see him sniff the air or see the way his mouth watered.

“Why, Grandmama,” she said, “What big eyes you have.”

Wolf could play games. Wolf could be patient, now he had grandmama in his belly.

“The better to see you with, my dear,” he answered.

“And what a big nose you have!”

“The better to smell you with, my dear.”

“And what a big mouth you have!”

“The better to EAT YOU WITH!”

Wolf leapt and tore; hairless pup screamed, but who would hear her? Not much meat on the pup, either, but now Wolf’s belly was full. So sleepy, he would just curl up in the old female’s nest. No one else needed the sleeping place now.

What was that sound? Wolf’s ears twitched. He raised his head, smelled cold metal, dead wolf skin. He whined quietly, jumped from the bed, afraid, running. Almost to the door when the big hairless male crashed through with sharp metal. Nowhere for Wolf to run. The big axe swung.

No more hungry belly for Wolf.

copyright Michelle Simkins, 2011

Artwork: The Big Bad Wolf, Liz Staley. Used with permission.

Liz Staley is a freelance comic artist and illustrator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation. She likes reading, watching cartoons, bellydancing, and going for runs when she’s not working on comics and cartoons. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband.
You can view more of Liz’s art at her Deviant Art page, and on her on-going web comic, Adrastus.
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7 thoughts on “First Sunday Short Fiction: Hunger

  1. Hi Michelle,
    you’re great in building up tension and keeping it! And I see and feel Wolf, cool and wild and with no feeling for future events.
    When reading, I was asking myself if you would change the original end, and you didn’t. That’s sad for wolf lovers like me, AND it is real/realistic.

    Just one question for a better understanding: When describing how Wolf is stalking Little Red, you use “stealthy”, “dart” and “skulk” in one sentence – so he is moving slowly, quickly, slowly, changing speed often, right? It took me one moment or two to get that, but that’s probably my non-native speaker’s problem 😉

    I’m looking forward to your next story. 🙂

    1. Hey Mira,

      Thanks for your kind words about my story! And the end made me sad too. 😦

      You say you’re a non-native speaker of English? That surprises me, I never would have guessed.

      As for the word clarification: skulk has several definitions, depending on context. Sometimes it means to lie in wait or to hide, and sometimes to “behave in a sneaky and secretive manner”. So he is sneaking on to the path to get in front of her without her noticing him until he is there. And “Stealthy” means “marked by quiet and caution and secrecy”. So, rather than indicating speed, the words are an indication of quiet, sneaking, secretive action.

      Hope that rather long winded answer helps with the clarification. I’m not so good at concise definitions. 😀

      1. Thanks for the compliment :-). Well, I’m training with well-written English blogs like yours 😉 . Actually, I got somehow a sense for the English language, my first language is German.

        And thanks for your definitions, vry helpful, now I get the subtle details…

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