This is my entry for the flash fiction Once Upon a Time Writing contest hosted by Anna at Yearning for Wonderland and Susi Holliday. The theme is unexpected fairy tales and each entry has to be 350 words or less. There’s still time to enter! Awesome prizes abound (including a paperback of Awake). Without further ado, here is my little unexpected fairy tale clocking in at 350 words exactly.
No sunlight filtered down through the thick canopy this far into the forest. I listened for sounds of movement, pulling the hood of my mottled green cloak tighter. My red hair would attract attention even in the gloom.
There. The soft sounds of wolves moving through the forest. They drew closer, their panting now louder than the furious pounding of my heart. They weren’t hunting, but patrolling, guarding the Coven. Protecting the dark-haired, blue-eyed women who looked as if angels had bent down and molded their forms. But they were anything but holy. We lived in fear of their black magic. Fear and hate.
Every so often men from our village disappeared forever. Sometimes, years later, when the Coven came to trade with the village, you might notice that the children hiding near their skirts seemed familiar. A tilt of their eyes, or a dimple, or chin. You could notice, but you couldn’t say anything.
My father vanished when I was young. My mother never spoke of him. But I remembered.
Now it was Liam, my intended. He’d been gone for days. After the first night I knew he wasn’t returning. I couldn’t just stand quietly and wait for a black-haired witch to have a babe that looked like my love.
The wolves were near enough now. There were two. A young grey and an older wolf with russet fur.
I loosed my arrow, straight and true, into the heart of the grey wolf, catching them by surprise. The red leapt at me, snarling and flashing teeth. I dropped my bow, drawing my dagger. As we collided, I thrust with all of my might. His yelp told me I had wounded him gravely. He fell, and I stood, miraculously still alive, watching his life bleed out.
As his breath stilled he began to change. The fur faded and before me lay a man…one I remembered well although I hadn’t seen him since I was a child.
“Red,” the dying gasp came from behind me. I turned toward the big grey, my blood freezing in anguish.