It was dark. Darker than the depths of the biggest black hole in deep space. The only source of light was the sliver of moonlight peeking through the trees above me. I was alone. So alone. My body gave an involuntary shiver. Partially from the cold but also from the feeling of being watched. I aimed my arrow at the fat hare munching on the grass in front of me. The animal trembled and fell; my shot had hit its eye. Slinging the bow over my shoulder, I extracted the arrow and felt the last quiver of the warm furry body as it died. I ran a finger down the back of the animal, caressing the soft fur. I was ready to return home.
I pulled the red hood of my cloak over my head, the same hood that had got me the nickname ‘Red’. My mother had made it for me when I was young, and it had endured many alterations to ensure it still fitted. I am sixteen now but the nickname stuck with the cloak. I’m not sure anyone even remembers my real name.
It was a cold night, and the wind buffeted my short dark hair around my face despite the cover of my hood. Much had changed since the day I escaped the wolf. The route I was travelling was no longer dangerous, no wolves dared to show their faces around these parts. I had become a skilled archer, spending my days hunting meat for my mother and grandmother. It was my turn to keep them safe now.
The bushes behind me rustled. As I turned, a big, grey haired wolf emerged. The darkness suddenly became ubiquitous.
“Hello, Red,” he snarled.
My eyes widened in shock and recognition. The wolf’s stomach had a long, pink scar stretching to his neck. It was the wolf. No matter how unexpected, I was ready.
“Hello, Mr Wolf. What brings you here so late at night?” I hissed.
“Well, my dear Red today is a very special occasion. It’s been a decade since I crawled away from your grandmother’s house in shame, my stomach in pieces. Yes, my lovely Red. But tonight is going to be different. Tonight, you are alone. No crafty lumberjack to help you out. Just you versus me and only one of us will survive.” He growled.
He licked his lips and snapped his teeth together. His smile was menacing, his eyes gleaming with zealotry. I stepped back.
“It’s been a while since I’ve tasted human meat…”
The wolf lunged at me, teeth bared and claws sharp. I was faster fortunately. I darted away and fired my roughly aimed arrow. The wolf howled in pain and collapsed onto his flank. I drew another arrow and aimed it squarely at his chest.
“No, Red. You wouldn’t kill an injured creature would you? I’ll never bother you again. Just, please,” he panted.
I shook my head slowly as the arrow made its way to its mark.