A dire warning. A cursed cloak. A wolf that steals one’s soul. What’s more fitting for Halloween? If you like Little Red and Werewolves, you’ll enjoy this! I’d give it a PG 13 rating for some darker themes and a little blood.
All my life I have been warned. Mother had a list. Don’t play in the river, you’ll catch a cold. Don’t pet stray dogs, they carry disease. Don’t scowl so much, your face will stick. The boys will break you. The woods will kill you. And the wolves will steal your soul. But there is one warning that stands out from the rest.
“Listen well, Little Rose,” Granny said on my birthday, handing me a package. Inside was a fur cloak dyed a deep red. I brushed my hand across the soft pelt and gasped at an odd tingling in my fingers. Granny pulled my hand back and held my gaze. “This cloak holds a great power, one that can protect but may just as often destroy. You will learn to use it properly in time. Till then you must never put it on if I am not there.” This is the only warning she has ever given, and the only promise she has ever asked of me.
I trudge, grumbling, through the whirlwind of snow. Where has that girl gotten to? She was right beside me not five minutes ago. Honestly, how many times must I remind her to stay within shouting distance? I stop again to peer about me. With hair that dark, my wayward sister should be a beacon in this pale storm. But I can’t see far through the thick, soft white. I will have to rely on my ears.
“Lilly!” As soon as the cry leaves my throat, I know she will never hear it. The howling wind yanks fiercely at my braid and claws through my threadbare skirt. I hug the basket to me in an effort to keep both the fresh bread and myself warm. I have the cloak with me, of course. I carry it always, hoping Granny will give me another lesson. But no matter how the cold bites, I will not put it on alone. I made a promise.
I stumble on. Every moment the storm grows more frantic and I with it. How could I have lost her again? If mother were here … but no, don’t even think that far. Mother is gone and never coming back. This bundle of raven haired, bright eyed curiosity is all I’ve got left, and if I don’t find her soon…. But not to worry! Not to worry, we are well overdue at Granny’s by now. Surely, she will have sent someone to fetch us. Perhaps Lilly’s there now. That’s when I hear the scream.
Running blind, I head in the direction of the marrow-freezing sound. “Lilly! Lilly!” Another scream, much closer now. Then silence. A few more feet and I stumble over something in my path. Sprawled upon the snow, I take little notice of my scattered belongings. What draws my attention instead is the nightmarish form I fell over. My sister, bloodless pale, lies contorted under me. A dark shadow lurks behind.
Watching her dark blood pool against the blinding snow, something snaps within me. Warnings and promises alike dissolve in the heat of my fury and fear. Snatching up my death-red cloak, I throw it on, staggering at the power coursing through me. I’ve had very little training yet; instinct will have to do. The shadow leaps forward and a viselike grip encompasses my chest. My nails elongate just in time, sharpening as I shove back hard. A loud crack. Moans fill the air. I’m now snarling above a cowering huntsman.
“Please,” he begs, “I didn’t realize! It’s so hard to see.” But there is no feeling left in me. I lunge.
It’s over quickly and I stand panting in the cold; even this pelt is not enough to block the chill residing within me. I have never before felt this emptiness from the cloak. I want to take it off, shove it away, but find that I can’t. No matter how hard I try to stand, how viciously I tug at the red fur, it will not be moved. And that is when I finally understand. My howl cuts straight through the sharpest wind and echoes across the woods.
I should have heeded the warnings. I should have kept my promise. For the Wolf has stolen my soul.