by Patti Larsen
Little Red Riding Hood cocked the hammer on her .38 special and took aim at the pretty splotch of crimson painted on Wolf’s chest.
Granny left her the perfect target.
“I didn’t do it.” Like Red believed him. Still, her ingrained sense of fair play insisted she at least listen.
“My,” she rolled her eyes at him over the polished silver sight, “what huge lies you tell.”
Wolf let out a breath in a huff of steaming air. “All the better to… damn it. Stop that!”
“What do you expect me to think?” She gestured with the snubbed nose of her revolver. His paws traced through the handprint of blood on his chest, smearing it, adding to it. The thick stuff dripped from the tips of his claws as his heavy pink tongue swiped over his quivering snout.
“I found her like this.” Gutted. Leather jeans torn open at the waist, her favorite death metal t-shirt a gory mess. Red felt a tear well at the sight of Granny’s favorite pink bra.
“So you thought you’d just have a snack, is that it?” The trigger quivered under her eager finger. Better to kill him now then let him see her cry.
“No, I…” He looked back and forth between her and Granny. “I was trying to save her.”
No blood on his muzzle. Just his paws and chest. “Say I believe you. Who did?”
His furred shoulders slumped forward and for a moment she thought he would drop to all fours. Wolf held his posture, yellow eyes locked on Granny.
“You know who.”
It couldn’t be. Not after all these years. But the closer she looked, the more obvious it was. Not claw marks. Not fangs, either. The cuts were too clean, the slices made by human hands. Red felt her grip on the revolver slip as her heart skipped.
“You saw him?” She pinned Wolf with her stare as he finally looked up and met her eyes.
“Heard him.” He shuddered, like a dog shedding water. “Whack. Whack.” Tongue met snout again. “He was laughing.”
Red lowered the gun. She wanted to run away, terror making her knees weak, her stomach clench. She wasn’t ready to face him. Granny raised her on nightmare stories of her oldest foe.
Whack. That sound. Back in the alley. Red’s hand tightened on her gun. Wolf whimpered and huddled lower, fur vibrating as he shivered.
Whack. Something flashed in the dark and the lone street light went out.
Whack. Closer. And then it came, low and deep, humming to the core of her bones.
The laughter of The Huntsman.
Red drew a breath, caught a whiff of wood smoke and pine needles. Something heavy came down on her wrist. The bones powdered, gun falling to her feet. She ducked, the pain making her stagger. The air above her whooshed, her long blonde ponytail falling victim to the flash of his axe.
He laughed again. Red dropped and rolled, finally crying out as the bones in her wrist ground together. She felt the hot, wet pool beneath her soak through her jeans. Red dove over her grandmother’s body as the air rippled again, jumping away from the flutter of fabric as the keen blade removed the hood of her cloak.
Wolf whined like a puppy when his body stopped her from going further. His paws pushed against her, shoving her aside, as though her very touch would call up the wrath of The Huntsman.
Red fell on something hard as Wolf howled in agony, the hum of air cut short with a deep whack. Her unbroken left hand found what gouged her stomach. She pulled it free and rolled over onto her back, lifting Granny’s pink handled .357 Magnum as she did, putting three bullets into the darkness above her.
The silence was the worst sound she ever heard. Then, a groan. A clatter. Red shoved herself to the right, almost on top of Granny as he fell beside her, crashing to the pavement. Red choked on the dust and dirty air, hunting through Granny’s pockets in the dark, finding at last the smooth square she was looking for.
Red thumbed the top from the lighter and spun the ignitor. A thick flame leapt to life, casting wide shadows that danced against the darkness. Red squinted in the bright, her shaking hand moving away from her face, eyes blinking spots from her vision.
She flinched from the motionless pile of fur to her right and looked down. The Huntsman was dead. Had to be. On his face in the filth, Granny’s blood pool oozing between his parted lips. One eye stared at the ground with glassy intensity. Red found herself panting, hunched over her shattered wrist. She lashed out with one foot, a solid kick to the body. The Huntsman rocked from the blow, but didn’t respond.
Red fished a cigar from her dented silver case and lit one on the open flame. She leaned back, using Granny as her support, no change there, and took a deep drag.
“Burn in Hell, Grandpa.”
About the Author: Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, is available now. Books one and two of The Hayle Coven series, Family Magic and Witch Hunt are also out now, with the sequels, Demon Child and The Wild, due in December of this year. She is a full time writer and a part time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. Patti lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats.
You can find her:
On her website .
Her writing blog.
Her book blog
On Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/PattiLarsen
On Amazon.com and Goodreads