Hey everyone, here’s another flash fiction based off of Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash challenge prompts. This one was The Epic Game of Aspects Redux. I rolled 19 – Twisted Fairytale, 12 – A Quest for Something, and 13 – The Restless Dead. I guess this entry can be considered a technical failure, both because it’s 63 words too long and I didn’t realize there was a “quest for someone” category, which means that having the main character quest after an entity is probably incorrect. But I had a good time writing it and I like the end result, so I hope you enjoy it anyway! Read on:
The Wolf tears out of the cottage as fast as he can. Things were not going according to plan.
He thought he’d try something different for once. Red seemed like a good kid, on the whole, but he was sick of the whole song and dance. And her grandmother tasted HORRIBLE. So he’d gone off-script. Thought they could all have a nice cup of tea, easy as that, wait for someone else to start telling the story and then reset. No one the wiser.
The Narrative hadn’t liked that.
He runs now, escaping the old woman that killed herself anyway and the girl who tore herself to shreds. They’re lurching after him, screaming “eat me eat me” in a rhythmic chant that echoes through the forest. He doesn’t want to eat them. He won’t.
It’s too late now. Unless he finds the one thing he needs.
The Narrator can set things right. They always can.
Left by the tree, leaps the log. He slips in a boggy mud puddle, giant paws flipping up into the air. He lands on his back, dazed. The Wolf blinks. It lasts three moments too long.
His eyes open looking up into the face of the girl. Her face is as red as her hood, flesh torn away, a mass of blood and muscle. A hole opens up. The mouth, he prays silently.
“If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be like this. Why? Why won’t you eat me?” she says. A maggot crawls out of her mouth, falls on his snout. He starts, scrambling to his feet. She stares after him, eyes vacant.
The Wolf tears through the forest, leaves following his slipstream like a storm. He stops and sniffs. He can smell it. The crack in the narrative.
He runs towards the forest path, dodging between the trees. He can smell the stench. The old woman this time. She lurches into his path, but he dives over her and keeps going, ignoring the moans behind him.
The forest smells of damp earth and moss, ancient stones and weathered trees. A fog set in while he was in the cottage, fire stoked and tea kettle bubbling away.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
There: the crack. Shimmering like the air in a desert. Its dangerous. A character could be torn in two going through one of these. He dives through anyway. Only way. Only way to fix this.
Only way to escape.
Diving through, his yelp is strangled from the world, sound waves crashing down to the earth and shattering, fine aural china.
The Wolf tumbles to the ground, his fur covered in mud. He’s on the path. The road to grandmother’s house. Picks himself up, shakes himself off. It’s earlier, a bit of undefined plot. The perfect space to convince the narrator that everything’s okay, nothing’s changed.
It’s all going to be okay.
His ears perk and he turns his head. A young woman, around sixteen years of age, is looking up at him from underneath a blood red hood. She’s very much alive, though, rosy-cheeked and smiling. A forbidden thrill runs through him. Being a bipedal wolf-monster means he’s only allowed to interact with her in one way: consume. It’s how the story was written. Just see how he bungled it last time.
“Hello,” she said, a smile spreading across her face. “And how are you doing today, wolfy?”
His ears twitch. He tries to speak. Growls and snarls only, but quiet. She nods.
“I suppose you understand me, then?”
He nods back, a crude facsimile of the human motion, but effective.
“Well, good! I’m on my way to grandmother’s house. Perhaps you’d like to join me?”
The Wolf is considering what a terrible idea this would be when he hears a moan from behind him. He turns, and she goes up on tiptoe to see behind his massive frame.
The faceless Red rushes towards them, a burbling scream coming from her throat. Blood pours down her face onto her chest.
“What on earth—“ He doesn’t give Current Red time to finish. He grabs her wrist and runs, tugging her behind him. She gets her legs under her and they get distance on Zombie Red.
“This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen at all!”
He growls agreement.
“We need the narrator!”
The Wolf cocks his head in a way that, if he were human, would say “I know, right?”
They flee through the woods, tearing through undergrowth. He pauses, sniffs the air, and dives to the left, Red hot on his heels. She shifts her grip. They’re holding hands.
Professional, he thinks to himself. You’re supposed to eat her at the end of all this. Doing otherwise was a disaster. His mind wanders to how she always enters the cottage the same way, missing the last bit of blood left in the kitchen, the firelight putting her in silhouette as she finds her way to the bedroom. The luminous glow of her skin in the—
“I see him!” she says, pointing at the top of a small ridge. There’s a figure there, a young man. He sees them, turns to walk away.
“We can’t let him get away!” He pulls her towards his back as they run. She gets the idea, hops on. They jump.
Crash, right next to the narrator. “What do you want?” he screams, eyes wide in shock. “Get back into your story!”
They point back, the zombies closing fast.
“Well, that’s your own fault, isn’t it?”
The Wolf gives Red a look. They both grab him and shove him towards the advancing zombies.
“They’re going to eat me! What are you doing?”
“Tell it right,” Red says, digging her nails into Narrator’s arm. He gasps with pain. Dead Red and Grandma are closer now, reaching for his eyes.
“Fine! The Wolf—“
He growls. Red cocks an eyebrow, then shakes the Narrator again.
“Tell it different,” she says.
“Fine, The Wolf’s mistake didn’t hurt anybody and the zombies went away and Red lived—“
“And the Wolf. Red and The Wolf lived happily ever after NOW JESUS LET ME GO.”
The zombies disappear, Red and The Wolf look at each other and wander off into the forest, holding hands and leaving behind a sobbing, gasping Narrator.
And they lived Happily Ever After.