Little Red sucked in a breath, shocked and awed by how Grandmother appeared.
“Oh Grandmother, what big eyes you have,” said Red, but a spark came to life in the back of her mind that maybe, just maybe, Grandma wasn’t as she seemed.
Grandmother smiled and only said: “The better to see you with, my dear.” But Red felt something off with Grandmother’s voice.
“Grandmother…” Red began, setting down her basket on the table next to the bed. “I think maybe you’ve fallen ill.”
Grandmother shook her head. “Maybe it is you who is ill, my dear granddaughter. Why don’t you lay on the bed next to me and rest your eyes? The journey must have been long and you look tired.”
Red considered this for a moment because after all, Grandmother loved her very much. Grandmother gave Red the very white hood she wore constantly on her trips through the woods. She wouldn’t ever hurt Red, that she knew. Despite that, Red couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something very, very wrong with her beloved Grandmother today. She hesitated a second too long, a second that would change Red’s life forever and ever.
Grandmother jumped from the bed and straight for Red. With a shriek, they tumbled to the floor, grandmother’s cap and gown flying from her body. To Red’s astonishment, it wasn’t Grandmother at all, it was The Wolf, and The Wolf was going to eat her.
Red struggled against The Wolf, its long muzzle clear now as a crystal, its teeth dripping with sticky saliva that practically screamed Red’s name. But Red didn’t want to be eaten tonight, and Red knew she had only one chance of getting out of this cabin and it wasn’t going to be in the way Grandmother had gone. The Wolf made a big mistake, because had The Wolf actually been Grandmother, then he would have known exactly what Red was equipped with. A weapon of mighty powers and the ability to stop anything that dared to hurt Red. Because Grandmother was a wise woman, and wise women knew that eventually, girls like Red run into those like The Wolf. Thankfully, Grandmother traveled far and wide in search of the perfect, most unsuspecting weapon in the entire world. One that looked unlike a weapon at all, but that could keep Red safe if the need ever arise. The time had arrived.
Red kicked The Wolf off of her and staggered to the other side of the room, her white hood knocked off her head. Red’s breath was haggard and quick, her cheeks flushed and heart hammering, but Red stood her ground as her and The Wolf stared each other down.
“I’m going to eat you alive, little girl,” said The Wolf manically, licking his lips in anticipation. Red shuddered in fear, but despite his threat, her resolve stood strong.
“You killed Grandmother!” Red shouted at The Wolf, her fury evident and clear, but The Wolf merely laughed, its rows of teeth glinting white in the dim light of Grandmother’s bedroom.
The Wolf rubbed his furry belly, signaling exactly where Grandmother had gone. How cruel was The Wolf, to be so proud of its kill? To him, Grandmother was just some poor old lady he ate for a snack, but to Red Grandmother was everything. It was Grandmother who raised Red more than her own mother did, wiped her tears when she was sad and taught her how to braid her hair to keep it out of her face. Nobody looked out for Red like Grandmother had, and Red was going to avenge her death no matter what it took. Red surmised she could easily run away, lose The Wolf in the vastness of The Wood and perhaps find her way home; but to what end would The Wolf go to track her down? Would he eat her mother, too, if he somehow managed to find her home? He would, because he was cruel and selfish and didn’t care who he hurt. The Wolf wasn’t a good wolf, and Red knew that good wolves existed because she met them often in The Wood while traveling to and from Grandmother’s house. She met and made friends with all the creatures who called The Wood home. So just because he was a wolf didn’t inherently make him bad; he was just bad because that’s who he was. It wasn’t lost on Red that he posed as Grandmother specifically to trick Red and then eat her, meaning he knew she would be coming. The Wolf had been watching Red—for how long she couldn’t know—but one thing was certain: she was going to kill The Wolf tonight so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else ever again.
Red remembered the day Grandmother gifted her the hood that rested upon her shoulders, its brilliant white the color of the purest snow. She could be seen a mile away in The Wood by all her woodland friends, she stood out amongst all the brown and green of The Wood and Red liked it that way.
“You’ve always been special, my Little Red,” said Grandmother the day she presented her with her perfect white cloak that never seemed to get dirty, no matter how many trips Red took in The Wood. “I traveled a very long way to find this cloak, especially for you. It’s very special, and can only be worn by an even more special girl. You, my dear child, are that special girl.”
Red’s heart ached at the memory of the day Grandmother gave her the cloaked hood. At first, Red didn’t believe it was special at all, but after many trips to Grandmother’s house and back the cloak never got stained, never got dirty; so it had to be magical.
“It’s important that you remember how much power this cloak has, it is not a toy; but a weapon. I know it doesn’t look like one, but it is. I purchased it from a very powerful witch and I told The Witch I wanted an inconspicuous weapon for my granddaughter to have as she walked to and from my house in The Wood. The Witch agreed to sell me her most precious item in exchange for something I dare never speak of again. It was a high price to pay, but for you my dear granddaughter, I paid it. The Witch instructed me on how to use it, for it is merely but a piece of fabric unless you say these three words: ‘White Light Ignite.’ You can guess what happens next, can’t you dear?”
Red gripped the cloak as it billowed around her boots. Her other hand moved behind her shoulders as she lifted its white hood over her brown hair, letting it sit upon her head the way she always did. Red never took her eyes off The Wolf, who was staring down her every move. She wasn’t afraid of him attacking. In fact, she wanted him to.
“Aren’t you going to come and eat me?” Red taunted with a smirk upon her lips, flashing her own teeth back at The Wolf just as he did to her. She doubted her smile intimidated him in the way his did to her, but that didn’t matter much. It was the mocking that he couldn’t stand, the invitation he couldn’t resist. Because wolf or no wolf he was bad to the bone, and only one thing could remedy that sort of thing.
The Wolf cackled and howled, lust and desire evident in every note as he lunged for Red. Red had no other weapon but her hood. No sword or blade nor shield to keep the deadly wolf at bay, but she didn’t need one. All because of Grandmother Red was protected in more ways than one, and all she had to do was utter three little words…and so she did.
“White light ignite!” Red shrieked right before The Wolf’s fangs pierced into her, and she feared she had said the incantation too late because The Wolf did not stop. It’s razor sharp teeth entered Red’s flesh as easily as a knife cut through warm butter, and she screamed as loud as she ever had in her entire life. With all the strength in her, she dug her nails into The Wolf’s back and threw him off her and to ground.
“White light ignite!” she screamed again, blood pooling all around her flesh-torn shoulder. It was bleeding its red into her once unblemished white cloak too fast for her to stop it. The blood was taking over, consuming the color of the cloak right before Red’s eyes. Had she not turned just slightly at the last moment of the attack, The Wolf most definitely would have taken her neck and she’d be already dead. But why hadn’t the cloak worked? Had Red gotten the spell wrong? She was certain Grandmother would never lie to her, so why hasn’t it done anything to The Wolf to protect her? Red didn’t wait around to find out.
She took the first thing she saw, which was Grandmothers old paperweight shaped like an owl, and bashed it against the back of The Wolf’s skull. Over and over she pounded it until even its pointed ears were left flattened and dyed red. Blood splattered up onto Red’s face in random spots and splats, until any doubts that The Wolf was dead had left her mind. Red staggered away from the body, covering her mouth with her scarlet-stained hand. There was red everywhere…so much red. There was red on Grandmother’s hardwood floors and rugs. Red on Grandmothers floral walls, red on all her collectible dolls and decorations that reminded her of freshly baked pies that were the best she ever had. When she finally looked down upon herself she gasped and found her entire cloak was now completely solid red from the hood to the floor. No longer brilliant and shining white like the moon, but red like the blood that pulsed through her veins.
It didn’t take long for the hood to dry, flowing as if it were never stained at all and transformed into something else, something new and something dark. Red felt the change within herself, her core shifting and morphing into something much more like the red that had stained all of Grandmother’s nice things. She didn’t know it, but her eyes became red, too. Once brown and lustrous now deep darkened crimson. A knock echoed from the front door through Grandmother’s house and Red didn’t hesitate to go and answer it. She stepped over The Wolf’s body as if it were never there at all and she calmly walked to the wooden door, opening it without hesitation. Before her stood a woman all in black. Her dress was tightly bound at her waist in an engraved corset boosting her milky breasts up to attention as it spread out into a full tulle skirt of many dark layers. Her hair was as wild and untamed as the raven itself, barely indistinguishable from the night sky behind her.
“Hello there. I see you’ve discovered the magic of my hood,” said the woman, her lips painted black to match her eyes of midnight and onyx. “It’s no longer white, meaning it’s finally chosen you. Come, my child, let me teach you the ways of our sisters. We have many more wolves to kill.”
Story by Arabella K. Federico
Arabella K. Federico is a licensed makeup artist and a self-taught writer currently working on her debut novel. You can check out her website, or follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!