A TALE OF RED RIDING RISE OF THE ALPHA HUNTRESS
By Neo Edmund
Copyright ©Neo Edmund, 2013, All Rights Reserved
It was early afternoon when Red decided to venture outside. The woods surrounding her granny’s house
seemed far less menacing by day. The weather was so perfect that she wanted nothing more than to hop on
her little motorcycle and go for a long ride in the countryside. It was quite upsetting to think that her little
man was sitting alone in the woods, unwatched and well out of her reach. She could only hope that the
mysterious rider would soon return to help her retrieve it.
The path that Red had walked down the night before looked safe and inviting in the daylight. It took her only a brief
moment of debate before deciding there could be no harm in taking a short stroll. Every step she took came with
a new and wonderful fragrance to enjoy. The sounds of the forest were a delight to her ears. Birds sang cheerful
melodies, unlike the mindless squawking of those that lived in the city. It wasn’t long before she felt that her perfect
first day in Wayward was getting back on track.
“Red Riding!” A muffled voice of a man called out from the near distance.
Deathly startled, Red stopped cold in her tracks. Holding her breath, she looked all around. The area was so thick with
trees and shadows, whoever it was could have been two feet from her and she wouldn’t have known it.
“Is somebody there?”Red said, no louder than a whisper. “Over here,” the man said. “Come quick.”
“Is that you, Wolf Boy?” Red thought it might be the mysterious rider, although the voice didn't sound as she remembered.
"I'd like you to take me to my motorcycle.”
“I don’t know anybody by that name,” the man said.
“Then who are you and how do you know me?” Red asked. “If you want to see me, you have to come and find me.”
“Why don't you just come out and show yourself?”Red stood for an impatient moment waiting for a response. Nothing came. “Well if that's the way you’re going to be, I'm heading back home.”
“Fine! Run right back to your granny’s house like a frightened little girl.”
Red grunted in angst. She knew venturing off the path came with a lot of risk, considering she didn't know her way
around the woods. It wouldn't take much for her to get lost and not be able to find the way back.
“Don't tell me you're afraid, Little Red!” “Who said I’m afraid?” The man sang out with a taunt. “Little Red Riding is a
fraidy cat. A foolish girl. A little brat!” “Hey, I’m not a fraidy cat!” “Fraidy cat! Fraidy cat! Little Red is a fraidy cat.”
There wasn’t a chance Red would walk away now. She just had to know who was calling to her, even if doing so
meant taking a big risk.
“I haven’t got all day, Little Red fraidy cat!” “Fine! But this better be good.” As Red ventured off the path and into the
woods, she did her best to note landmarks in hopes they would help her find the way back. She passed a
hollowed log –– a pile of black stones –– and a tree with a large nest holding a family of chirping baby bluebirds.
“You're almost here. Hurry quickly.” The man’s voice sounded close now, and much deeper than before.
“I'm going as fast as I can. Would you tell me your name?”
Again there was no response. Red knew it would be best to stop this foolishness and return to the path. She had
walked in a straight line, so doing an immediate about face should lead her back to safety.
“You're not thinking of running away like a little fraidy cat, are you?” the man asked.
Red's need to prove her courage overpowered her sensibility. Venturing onward, she noted a tree bent over into a
curved arch, with the top touching the ground. It seemed that such a large landmark would be easy to spot
on her return trip to the path.
“If you won't say your name, at least tell me how you know who I am,” Red said.
“Don't be silly. Everybody in Wayward knows who youare, Red Riding.”
Red stopped cold. This had gone far enough. “If you refuse to tell me who you are, I'm going straight back to the path.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, it is. Now what's it going to be?”
“Fine, go back to the path. If you can find your way.”
The temperature dropped so quick that it made Red shiver and shake. In only seconds, she could see her own
breath as she exhaled. There was no doubt she had made a dangerous mistake. Red did a quick about face
and started walking as fast as she could in a straight line. Her eyes searched for the arched tree she had passed only
moments ago –– she desperately wanted to see the nest of bluebirds –– or the pile of black rocks –– and the hollowed
out tree, but none of these things were anywhere to be found.
“Keep going. The path can't be far now,” the man said with a snicker.
“Just leave me alone already!” Red walked even faster, but she was gasping for breath and shivering from the unnatural
chill in the air. Whoever her unknown stalker was, it was sure he had done something sinister to prevent her from
finding the path.
“Don't tire yourself too much, Little Red. I like my meals to have a little fight in them.”
His words pierced Red's ears like a knife. She had traveled so far to find her granny and still had much to learn of herself.
The idea of her journey ending in such a foolish way was unacceptable. She knew it was time to stop running and face
her stalker head on.
“Don't give up too easy, or I'll be very disappointed,” the man said.
“Who said I’m giving up?” Red piled a few small stones near her feet. She then snapped a branch off a tree, creating
a jagged stake about a foot in length. With her makeshift weapon concealed behind her back, she struck an innocent
pose. “I'm waiting, unless you're too much of a fraidy cat to show your face.”
“Don't fear, little dear. I'll be there to meet you just as soon as I can.”
“Don’t make me wait too long!”
After a silent moment passed, a nearby patch of bushes began to shudder. It took every bit of courage Red had
to stand her ground. When her stalker emerged, he was nothing more than a decrepit old man. He stood hunched
and walking with the aid of a twisted wooden cane. Red felt disgusted by the sight of his withered skin and long
and crooked nose.
“Well hello there, Little Red Riding. The master didn’t tell me you were going to be so darn pretty,” the old man said
with a raspy voice. “This is going to be so much fun.”
Red eyed the old man oddly. “Master? Who are you talking about?”
He pointed to the moon hovering high above. “It doesn’t matter because you’re not going to be around long enough
to ever meet him.”
Red cringed at the man’s foul stench. It reminded her of the smell of rotten eggs. She then spoke in a childish tone. “Gee, mister, I thought you were going to be something really big and scary, like a hairy troll or a smelly old orc.”
“You mean I don't frighten you, Little Red?”The old man approached her, standing only inches from her face.
“Not even a bit. You look much too nice to be dangerous.”Red’s body temperature began to spike. A primal
force deep down inside was taking control.
“Would it give you a fright if I said I had eaten men twice your size and many times your strength?”
“I can't believe a sweet old man like you would harm even a butterfly.”
The old man snickered. “Then you are a fool, and you will die as one.”
Red giggled like a child. “You're funny! I like you!” She wanted to drive the stake into is heart at that very instant, but
her instincts warned her to wait for the perfect moment. "I think we should be friends.” She fluttered her eyelashes.
“Would you like to play a game with me?”
“We’re already playing a game, Little Red. My game. I always win.” His mouth stretched open twice as wide as a
normal man. The sight brought Red’s blood to a near boil, but she somehow managed to maintain her endearing smile.
“Have you ever kissed a girl, mister?” Red giggled.“I like kissing boys more than anything in the whole world.”
The old man twitched in impatience. “Little girl, do you have any idea what I am?”
“Granny said if she catches me kissing one more boy, I'm going to get a spanking,” Red said.
The old man's massive jaw dropped open. He twitched in disbelief, unable to resist the lure of Red's childish
charm. “Mister, would you like to kiss me?” Red gave her lips a pucker.
The old man trembled with excitement. “This better not be some kind of trick, or I'll make you regret it in ways
you could not possibly dream.”
“Whatever do you mean?” Red asked with a nervous crack in her voice. “I just thought a handsome man like you
would be willing to grant me just one little kiss. Especially if you're going to eat me.”
“Fine, if that's what you really want.” The old man looked around to make sure nobody was watching. “Don't think
I'm going to let you go over a little peck on the lips.”
“I'm waiting.” Red leaned forward. “Please don't disappoint me.”
The old man began panting like a dog as he moved in to kiss Red. His face was so hideous that she lost the fight to
keep her eyes open. As soon as his clammy lips made contact with hers, Red's heart was overcome with furious intent.
With a powerful yank, she grabbed the old man by the coat and pulled him close.
Their eyes snapped open at the same instant. “Now who's the foolish one,” Red said with a growl. She stabbed the
sharpened end of the branch into the old man's chest. His mouth opened wide enough to swallow a person whole. He
made a desperate grab for the stick, but Red kicked him to his knees. She watched through stone-cold eyes as he transformed into some sort of goblin with scaly, wart-laden, green flesh.
“Looks like I win this game,” Red said.
The goblin grabbed Red by the hair. He pulled her head towards his mouth with all his might. Red struggled for a
terrifying moment as she got closer and closer to his razor-sharp teeth. Just when all seemed lost, Red raised a
foot and kicked the stake deeper into his chest. The beast groaned and fell backward.
“You may have won this day, Little Red.” The goblin looked up to the moon. “He’s coming back to Wayward, and one
way or another, you’re going to help him.”
“Who is coming back?” “You’ll see soon enough.”
“Maybe so, but you’re not going to be around when it happens.” Red picked up one of the stones she had placed near her
feet earlier and hurled it with all her might. It hit the goblin in the forehead so hard his eyes rolled back into his head. The
vile creature that would have ended her life dropped to the ground with a thud.
Red stood trembling as its decrepit body withered up and turned to dust. The triumph of the battle overwhelmed her with a feeling so primal that it was impossible to resist a calling deep from within.
“What's happening to me?”
Looking down at her hands, Red saw razor-sharp nails were protruding from her fingertips. Empowered with immense strength, she swung an arm wide, slashing her claws through the trunk of an oak tree. With her arms raised high, she looked to the moon.
“I hear you.”
The voices of the lunar spirits were calling to Red, and this time she knew how to respond. The howl that came from her was so deep and loud that it echoed out perhaps through the entire forest. When it was finally over, she dashed away at lightning speed, leaving behind only a gust of wind in her wake.
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