Welcome to the March installment of First Sunday Short Fiction. Please enjoy the story, and remember, if you want to submit a story of your own, you can find instructions on our submissions page.
Hunger by Michelle Simkins
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.
story ©Michelle Simkins, 2011
artwork "The Big Bad Wolf" ©Liz Staley, 2011. Used with permission. Liz Staley is an illustrator with a passion for anime, giant robots, and horses. To see more of her work, visit her Etsy Store, read her comic, Adrastus, and consider supporting her on Patreon.
About the Author:
Michelle Simkins runs Hagstone Publishing from her home office in Portland, Oregon, where she writes obsessively about herbs, trees, and encounters with the numinious, creates quirky knitting patterns, gardens haphazardly, reads voraciously, clumsily attempts to learn the Irish language, and watches too many reruns on Hulu with her wife.