The grass at the edge of the woods offers places to stalk prey. But the wolf isn’t hunting. His attention is on the bulk of a human called the Huntsman. His black hair like flowing coal. His eyes locked on the wolf’s friend Jezzibelle. The both of them watch a dance of youth through wildflowers. Her hair slowly emerges like a yellow bloom as she moves. The Huntsman hold his ground while being drawn in at the same time.
“Humans are so hard to figure out. They stay at the edges and expect to meet in the center together somehow. It looks like one of them will get what they want, he always does.” The wolf sighs. He has seen enough.
The wolf sees a rabbit hop into the woods. His mouth forms a snarl. Small rabbit is a tender nugget. He starts a silent trot. The bunny works his way down a wide path. He’s is unaware of the shadow moving closer. The wolf gets close enough to taste the bunny. The favorite part of hunting know the moment of the kill is at hand. Your hand. As his smile gets too large to open his mouth the bunny makes a sudden right. Hopping graceful at lightning speed. The wolf sits back and can only watch as the bunny disappears into the woods.
His belly growls. Hunger is a constant companion for the wolf. The is never a meal to turn down. His thoughts of the girl have gone away. The Huntsman has him concerned. If he stalks her. Then he knows the wolf. Wolves don’t let anyone follow them. It time to do something about the might hunter. But first, the stomach needs an easy meal.
The wolf trots down the center of the wide path. Filtered sunlight come and go across the way. Dark patches require a little more attention. Someone maybe be waiting for him to eat them. Alas, nothing turns up. Until a clearing catches his eye, a same patch of grass leads to a couple Black Walnut trees and a hickory. A small cabin rests under them. Rock faces and brown wood mix with old plaster. The roof has a few patches of moss and grass growing on it. The wolf has been here before. He was welcome visitor at one time.
He cautiously approaches the cabin. Slinking along the wood side of the grass, he circles the cabin three times. The are no sounds inside or outside. His meal might be right here. His slow approach to the front door is straight foward. The door is the only way in or out.
He tries the latch on the door. A simple catch any nose could lift does just fine. The door lets in light severally lacking inside. A wide beam rushes in the foot wide opening. It crosses a wooden block table, a ladder back chair, part of a fireplace, before crashing into the far wall, only to bounce back on to an elderly woman. The solitary figure lifts up just enough to notice. Eyeglasses reflect sparkles of light.
The wolf walks in and sits just inside the door. He looks about the old cabin. It’s dark. He lets his eyes adjust as he takes in the view. The cabin is a lost hour of time. The cast iron ware has layers of carbon. The wood furniture worn to fit particular bodies over the years. The fabric making curtains were feed bags of long lost animals raised under sapling trees. The simple plain large room just big enough to hold a lifetime of memories.
“You have come for me, Mr Wolf? I was hoping it was my granddaughter. She is due. Well, overdue as always! Matters little to you I am sure. Be quick about it! Are you the one that ate from my table?! Now come to consume me? I’m a tough gristle filled woman. No tenderness to savor.” She doesn’t feel the need to rise up much. She coughs the tired cough of old age.
“It’s just business. We are here to clean up after the world. No malice! No hostility! I remember your kindness. Our pack never stole one chicken from you. Can I bring you something first?” The wolf stays in place next to the door. His ears focused outside. He is keenly aware he got here first. But unaware of who all is still coming.
“You are too kind…’before I eat you…do you need something?’ I could not be dinner to a more polite and socially graced beast.” Her cough breaks up her words. “No, I have waited for death for weeks on end. His scythe used to harvest those more ready to meet their demise. I’m hungry and feeble.”
“Very well. Death doesn’t make the house calls he used to. His thrill is in those who are unaware that he sat at their table, drank their wine, smoked their tobacco before he cut them down. He take them in their prime or in the crib. Sorry, it is the scavenger for the elderly.” The wolf slowly creeps up to her bedside. There is a moment when his heart sinks. His hollow stomach pushes it back in place.
His face enlongates. Great yellow fangs come forward. His eyes once lively and chocolate brown, blacken and hollow. The hair on his nape jumps upright by a full inch. His forelimb muscles tighten to reveal strength few see twice. His game is to pounce. He lands on her chest staring straight through her soul by way of her eyes.
“My rod and staff comfort me. I fear not…” Grandmother never gets to finish.
The wolf drags her out of bed. Her pulls her limp body outside into the yard. She deserves dignified end. Not the slowly death she was lingering for.
He makes quick work of her trying to make his get away sooner rather than later. He belly is calming. His spirit starts to lift. It’s far better not to know your meal. His right hind leg feels a burning sensation. Pain, burning pain erupts into the muscle. His legs kick him instinctively into motion. He can’t run like he wants to. He turns to see the Huntsman. His bow a long line across him, arrow notched ready for flight. A red cape trying to stay out of the way behind him. The arrow sails next to him. Better not be here for another. He turns to run. The second and third catch him in to left leg. He is hobbled. If he can make the woods, he can bite the son of a bitch on the way out.
The Huntsman jogs across the field. He makes haste closing on the wounded animal. His axe is out. His favorite part is the kill. This is special. He seen the wolf with Jezzibelle before she went into the meadow. The wolf had played her. He would gut that mangy piece of vermin for this.
The wolf hears the feet coming. He knows his end is here. Just get him close enough to wound the hunter. Noble death at least. His chance comes and he barrel rolls with the hunter feet away. His fangs snatch at air. The Huntsman drops the axe across his belly slicing him collar to groin. In a collapsing mass, entrails of grandmother are revealed. The Huntsman rears back at the sight. He turns to an approaching Jezzibelle.
Her face is compact and she is crying. Her eyes much like a raccoon. Her hair no longer glowing and the red cape has fallen back to a streamer. She has yet to see the worst of it.
“Grandmother is gone!! She is gone! What did you do? The wolf did this because of you….” Her words fail as reality shows her fears do make life true. “How am I supposed to explain this? I mean if we don’t…. She is still alive! Go get someone! Who do we get for this?”
Her meltdown has just began.
The trail of breadcrumbs starts here…