All’s Well That Ends Well
Dark water swirled below the bridge, as the footsteps quickened, drawing closer and closer. The distant cries of wolves interrupted the eerie silence that had settled. The hooded figure let out a series of raspy hiccups. “Water… the water…” it hissed, coming closer and closer…
Suddenly! A series of deafeningly loud crashes echoed through the woods!!!
Double-R.H. awoke with a start, her dream interrupted. Hiccups? Footsteps? What the hell was that noise? Blearily, she looked outside – there didn’t seem to be anything drastically different about the place. She flopped back into bed and closed her eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, she was finally on the verge of slumber, when she heard a shriek from below.
Oh, God. Well wasn’t this just perfect… It seemed Stepmother Number Three had overdosed on her medication again.
“Oh Leetle Rrred Rrriding Hooood! Could yooo come down here for a second?”
Yup. Definite overdose. And use of full childhood nickname with an emphasised “Leetle” thrown in to further belittle her. Why couldn’t she just overdose on her pills and commit suicide or something? That would save people from having to murder her.
“Yooo-hooo! I am vaiting for yooo, darrrling!”
Ew…what was with the ‘darling’?! Could she BE any more fake?! Rolling her eyes in exasperation, Double-R.H. tumbled out of bed, changed and padded downstairs to the dimly lit kitchen.
“Hey… You, uh, yodelled?”
“Ah yes… I vas vondering, my darrrling leetle Rrred, if it vould be posseeble for you to make an eentsy, weensty leetle trip? Your poor dear grahnd-mother ees all a-lone in the deep, dark, daangerous foreest. I am knowing eet is late, and that you are verry tired. But after hearing those terrible noises, some-vun must check up on her. And eet seems, er, how do you say it? Ah yes, eet seems you are the only man for thee job!”
Obviously pleased with her little monologue, Stepmother Number Three flung a basket of mineral water and sodium-free snacks at Double-R.H and swished her way upstairs, reeking of coffee and cheap chain-store cologne.
Double-R.H. picked her jaw up off the floor, grimaced, and made her way over to the shoe rack whilst muttering some very unmentionable and unladylike words. So she hadn’t been dreaming about the loud crashes? Yet another good night’s sleep ruined… All those years of expensive schooling, late nights spent cramming for important exams, all that effort… for this?!
Although, the only reason she conceded to do this at all was not because she’d been asked to, or because it was mere women’s work, but because Grandma was the closest thing to a real family she had. It wasn’t easy being a clone of someone who’d left their mark with a little red cape many centuries ago. And at least she had the chance to leave the house on her own.
She noticed a new pair of boots beside the door as she stepped out. Well, whaddhya know… Dad was actually around. That explained the saccharine-coated ‘darling’ thing Number Three had going on there. Along with the show of concern for grandma. And don’t forget the forced East-European accent, who does she think she’s kidding with that? Everyone knows she’s from the South. How dare that melanin-impoverished, blonde twig with eyelashes call her a “man”! If it wasn’t for the fact that her adoptive father had funded her college education in a spurt of generosity, she’d have walked out of the house the minute she’d finished school.
Double-R.H. pondered the various aspects of her life as she walked down the route to her grandmother’s house, ignoring all the warning signs placed here and there. Many people believed the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place at night, but Double-R.H. was clever enough and confident enough to be openly sceptical about such obvious Freudian imagery.
Her footsteps crunched along the gravel. The bare, broken branches of gnarled trees hung down like twisted limbs; the narrow path lit only by the dim moonlight sifting through hazy clouds in the deep winter night. The snow draped like a blanket over the landscape, slowly suffocating any flora that happened to lie in its wake.
A large hairy outline blocked her path. It looked quite menacing, and Double-R.H. was almost frightened, until she regained her composure and calmly asked it to get out of her way and to please, get a haircut.
“Oh! Well fancy that! It’s a little girl! And what might you be doing here on a night like this? It’s awfully unsafe, you know.”
A surprisingly high-pitched voice for such a huge person, thought Double-R.H.
Struggling to see the stranger’s facial features, Double-R.H glared into the darkness.
“Hmph! F.Y.I., I passed out of college last month. I think I know how to take care of myself by now. And I find your sexist remark extremely offensive but I’m going to ignore it because I am a dignified individual and I don’t feel like making small talk with a…a… a wolf?!” The moon, sailing out from behind a little blue cloud, had kindly shed a little light upon the very spot they were standing.
Double-R.H. was a little taken aback when she saw the ‘menacing hairy stranger’ was actually a rather small sprightly wolf, talking like a human being and wearing an expensive-looking fur coat and a fake Santa beard. So that’s where all the hair was from.
He/She/It (Double-R.H. wasn’t quite sure yet) caught her staring at the coat and exclaimed
“Oh don’t worry dearie, its all fake. Chanel makes these gorgeous ones with real mink, but I can’t quite go about here, wearing, y’know… animal fur” dropping to a whisper at this part.
Right. Well this is just dandy...after a freakishly weird dream and no sleep, I get chucked out of the house late at night with mineral water and cholesterol-free food and I meet a walking, talking, self-actualised wolf, unhampered by rigid traditionalist notions of masculine and feminine dressing. This is way too creepy.
“Uh yeah, sure….Well now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way”
“Oh fiddlesticks! I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Wolfie! Pray, what is your Christian name?”
“Uh… I’m not sure I want you to know that” muttered Double-R.H. walking away as fast as she could. “Goodbye now, I need to get to the other side of the wood as quickly as possible.”
Wolfie scratched his Santa beard.
“Goodness… that’s a long way off. Hang on! I know a shortcut!”
Double-R.H. hesitated but then, guessing the wolf’s intentions, whirled around and yelled “You don’t fool me one bit with your gender-confused fashion sense! You’re an evil beast and your traditional status as an outcast in society has obviously caused you much cerebral damage which I suppose, accounts for your blatant perverse intentions!”
And with that she turned and ran as fast as she could.
Wolfie stood alone in the dark, deeply hurt and confused. Maybe she was homophobic. Or didn’t like strangers. Or maybe what she’d said was right. Wolfie was an outcast… the vegetarian outlook on life, flamboyant clothes and happy-go-lucky nature were not welcome in the surly society, and the last time he tried to attend the Wolvorama Festival, he’d been brutally thrown out by security. Life wasn’t fair. And he was going to do something about that very soon. He might have sighed heavily before and trudged away in defeat, but not anymore. Wolfie was going to show the world what he was made of. Starting now.
Steady strokes: one, two, three, four. The log: perfectly quartered and ready for the fire. I worked my way through the log piles like this, my axe slicing through the wood like a knife through sponge cake. Smooth, slick, clean. That’s the way I work. And I’m pretty damn good at it. But then again, this town isn’t exactly overflowing with log-fuel technicians. I’m the only one around – so I have to work all day, all night. A little discipline is all it takes.
It was a night like any other; I’d just about finished with the last pile, and was heading for home.
Then I heard the scream.
It was the old lady’s cottage, down by the other end of the wood. It was quite a distance from where I was, but years of manual labour had strengthened me and I used it to my advantage now, as I sprinted over. The door was locked, but I could see from the window, a large furry hooded creature assaulting this poor old woman.
I raised my trusty axe and began splicing open the door as fast as I could.
But alas, I wasn’t fast enough, for by the time I’d hacked through half of the several locks… the furry hooded creature had bundled the old lady into a cupboard, locked it, swallowed the key and then smeared blood from a freshly killed chicken upon his jaws, and after this show of sickening pseudo-carnivorous behaviour, he sat back and watched me struggle with the door. I knew one thing for sure. I was gonna wipe that smirk clean off his face.
“You pretentious, filthy, foul-mouthed smut of a swine!!! How dare you attack that poor old lady and then pretend to eat her! You…you… SICKO!!” he yelled.
“Are you quite finished? For a common woodcutter, your grasp of vocabulary is quite impressive” said Wolfie, admiring his nails.
“What?!” squawked the woodcutter. “Listen buddy, I’m no woodcutter – I’m a log-fuel technician! And don’t you forget it!”
Wolfie stood up and walked up to the woodcutter/log-fuel technician (who we shall now call Avery) and looked him in the eye. Avery, unused to being so close to individuals other than trees gave a quietly feminine squeal at the invasion of his personal space.
“No. You listen to ME. I’m a cross-dressing, gender-confused vegetarian wolf. I like being happy and cheerful. I like making earrings. And I like making new friends. Now. Is that such a crime? To live my life the way I want to? To have the freedom of speech?! But sadly, ostracism is common among wolves – and I have suffered at the hands of many.”
As Wolfie spoke, something stirred inside Avery’s heart… he felt so happy, yet so sad. The years of solitude had taken their toll on him. He had forgotten how to feel emotion, to feel pain and love. But now, looking into Wolfie’s shining eyes, it all came back to him.
“I have a dream…” he continued “that all species of the earth, every living thing will live in peace and harmony. The community thriving on honesty and trust. Never again will anyone live in fear of being eaten alive.”
Somewhere amidst Avery’s thunderous applause for Wolfie’s impassioned speech, Double-R.H. had arrived and she stood smouldering in the hallway.
“WHO. WRECKED. GRANDMA’S. HOUSE. HMMM?!?! Was it YOU?!” she whipped around and glared at Avery. “Of course it was!! Trust a man to cause this kind of damage!!! And WOLFIE!!! Both of you - you evil, evil invaders! Begone with ye!! BEGONE!!!” she screeched.
Avery and Wolfie glanced at each other and they knew what they had to do. They moved towards Double-R.H. who was still ranting and raving around in the hallway. In one smooth motion, they caught her and stilled her kicking limbs.
“Sorry, honey, but it’s for the best.”
“Yeah. You’ll thank us when you’re six feet under, baby”
And with that, Avery seized his axe and in his usual, smooth/slick/clean style, cut off her head.
After this little ordeal, Avery and Wolfie felt a certain commonality of purpose, and they decided to set up an organisation promoting friendly interaction between species.
And as with every story written with the purpose of entertaining a reader and not making them cry, they all lived. Happily. Ever. After.
Too bad no one remembered to unlock Grandma from that old cupboard. Ah well.