Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled Scarlett Hood. Please enjoy. Also, if you haven’t already checked out my FAQ on my upcoming book, Magic Once Removed, please check that out as well. Thanks again!
Her red hood covered her short jet black hair as it blew gently in the spring breeze as Scarlett traipsed through the woods. As she carried a beige picnic basket underneath her right arm, her flat jet black boots made large imprints into the dirt trail just was enough that five of her could have walked shoulder-to-shoulder together which meant two normal-sized men could occupy that same trail.
The radiant sun, along with its warmth and comfort, gave the forest an almost mystical quality as its light sparkled into the white misty haze. A mixture of flora and fauna not typically found in a single woodland or any woodland decorated the forest floor and augmented the magical aura in the air.
Squirrels and chipmunks chattered while birds sang loudly above. Deer trotted to and fro and only paused to nibble on some tulips before resuming their gallop in the woods.
The air was crisp. Her nose was attuned to smell, pleasant or not, a skill bestowed at birth honed with time and practice which was to her advantage in this particular instance as it allowed Scarlett’s olfactory nerves to be treated with a pleasant array of smells.
Along the path, she glimpsed a flower. A lovely violet. She reached down and plucked it from the ground and held it underneath her nose. She closed her eyes and inhaled. It had an exquisite smell.
A loud cracking noise, presumably a branch, turned her head sideways. Something landed with a resounding thud and caused a small tremor. A feral rumble was heard along with the breaking of bushes and shrubs. A pair of eyes on a gigantic shadowy figure focused on the young woman and followed her every move. Trees and other foliage, along with smaller creatures who happened to be in its path, were victims as it stalked its prey.
The strange noises the creature produced and the sounds that emanated reminded Scarlett of childhood stories of banshees and ghouls. Not that she believed that the presence was either of those apparitions; she had a good idea what it was that followed and it was enough to cause her to become a bit more alert as she continued her trek through the forest.
As she walked deeper, the sunlight started to fade as it was slowly reduced to thin rays of light that had difficulty penetrating the long thin branches that rose above her and weaved together like hands and fingers. Dark clouds covered the once cloudless azure sky and brought with them cool air. The mystic haze disappeared.
Scarlett trembled a bit, slightly. Her skin-tight black leather top and bottom provided a modicum of warmth. She adjusted her brown belt so that her hood fit a little more snugly. She smiled knowing that only moments ago she was sweating which is the reason why it was loose in the first place. This did little to help so she clutched her hood tightly near the neck with her free hand.
Her eyes darted to all corners of the woods as she traveled. This was her habit, yes, but she was even more on guard than usual due to the danger she knew lurked somewhere. Her head jerked when her eyes happened to land upon another flower, or to be more accurate, a series of flowers, an entire rose bush which caused her to momentarily forgot about the looming threat or the hike. It was rare to see roses anywhere in this land nevertheless the forest. It was but another feature that made those woods unique.
The young woman reached in, carefully, and plucked one from the bush. She took another sniff. She sighed and reflected upon the pleasant smell before placing it in her hair just above her ear.
Another series of branch-cracking sounds once again emerged from the forest. It was accompanied by a low series of growls. The young woman turned toward the ominous shadow with its everpresent stare.
His eyes met with hers for but a moment. Unlike the young woman who remained mostly at ease, the creature felt apprehension though he wasn’t quite sure why. She was much smaller than he was and knew that she had no chance if he were to attack. The only reason he hadn’t pounced already was he wanted to make sure she had no avenue, opportunity, or ability to escape. So why did he feel fear when he gazed into her eyes?
In contrast, Scarlett merely shrugged and continued her trek. There was no need to worry. She was sure she could handle whatever surprises the forest had in store. At some point in her journey, Scarlett set her basket down to pick up a stick lying at her feet. It was about half her height in length and pointed at the end. After picking her basket up once again, she started to swing the stick playfully from side-to-side someone at most half her age as she continued on the trail.
Sunlight dwindled further as she wandered into the heart of the forest. The branches were thicker and more snarled. Finding a path to sneak through proved nigh-impossible for most of those rays of light. The illumination was so poor that Scarlett nearly collided with a tree.
Once more on her journey, a flower caught her eye and this time it was a daisy sitting near the edge of the woods on the right-hand side of the trail. It was trying desperately to survive though its wilted pedals were a testament that such a feat might have been impossible in that part of the woods.
Perhaps feeling a bit of sympathy for the flower, Scarlett placed her stick onto the ground, reached into her basket, pulled out a canteen, opened it, and poured its contents all over the ground to the point that it nearly emptied the bottle. If she intended to water the plant, she was doing a rather poor job as she had poured the water in front of the flower rather than on top which created a muddy pile a few inches in front of it.
As she did all of this, he peered at her from hidden behind the darkest parts of the woods. The poor illumination affected him as well so that all he could see from his vantage point was the red hood. The time to strike grew near. He let out an even deeper and louder growl as he eagerly waited for the right moment to strike.
Not that Scarlett noticed. Something about the flower seemingly had captured her attention. She placed her knees in the mud and leaned forward onto her elbows until her head was right next to the plant. Minutes passed with her bent down like that. She seemed completely oblivious to the beast’s presence.
Though he could not quite make out what she was doing from his perspective, it did not matter to him. What was important was that her attention was diverted elsewhere. This meant she was vulnerable. That is all he wanted or needed to know. The shadow leaped from the woods with his right paw raised high while his left paw aimed. His hand came down with the ferocity of a thousand hammers landing at once.
A sickening cracking noise was emitted from the hood with the strike. The werewolf’s hands were a blur as they moved back and forth rapidly in succession with each blow being more fierce than the last. The assault provided him great pleasure. A few minutes into the assault, he sunk his teeth into the hood. Human flesh always made a satisfying meal.
At least, it typically did. This time was different. He knew the girl was small but still, she was much smaller than he expected. She tasted funny too. The cloth had a familiar flavor but the girl was a completely different flavor than any of his other victims. It was more like mud and bark than flesh.
He spat the contents onto the ground. A pair of saliva-covered items lied at his feet including a red hood which was now mostly ribbons save for a large segment that somehow remained intact along with a broken stick which a heavy amount of mud applied to the blunt end. Had the beast been more observant, he would have noticed that that the stick was the same one Scarlett was playing with earlier.
Eventually, it dawned on the creature. He had attacked an empty hood.
The werewolf frantically searched for where she could have possibly be hidden. He looked toward his right and his left, above and below. He could not find her. Panic started to emerge. He was used to being the hunter but being the hunted was a new and horrifying experience for the creature.
His fear did not last long as it was quickly replaced with pain.
A sharp object penetrated the werewolf’s kidneys and brought the creature to his knees. His head shook as he turned his head to see the assailant. Through blurred vision he witnessed, at the other end of the knife, a young woman no longer brandishing her red hood.
His blood spurted when the knife was removed and served as a crimson polish on its silver blade. Scarlett plunged the knife into the creature’s other kidney. She removed the blade only to stab him once again just below the creature’s neck.
The knife became a silver blur as it penetrated the werewolf multiple times and many long, deep, and critical gashes into the creature’s back which caused him to bleed profusely. He tried in vain to flee to escape the pain instinctively knowing it was already too late to survive. In the process, he exposed his front and side and ultimately provided Scarlett more places to stab.
While he writhed on the ground in agony, the werewolf made a few attempts to fight back but each feeble blow was dodged with ease. There was nothing he could do to stop the young woman’s brutal and relentless assault. Blood poured from his numerous lacerations like a spigot. He managed to roll to his side as he stared at Scarlett with accusing eyes. He gurgled pathetically as he struggled to breathe.
Feeling pity for the creature, Scarlett walked over to him and placed the knife to his throat. He closed his eyes. The beast knew what was happening and was ready for the end. With a quick flick of her wrist, the creature was no more.
Scarlett exhaled a heavy sigh and landed on her posterior with a resonant thud. She gasped desperately to regain her breath. After she regained her composure, Scarlett rose, wiped off the mud that had accumulated on her clothing focusing especially on the knees and elbows, and walked to where she had hidden only moments. It was near the muddy pile she created next to where the werewolf had attacked.
Earlier when she bent down next to the dying daisy, she placed the stick between her ankles and rooted it in the mud. A tailor in a previous town had sewn a hook into her hood which is where she placed the tip of the stick. She had crawled into the woods to hide minutes before the attack though from the werewolf’s perspective he couldn’t see that this had happened as his vision was obscured by the hood.
Had he looked a bit deeper into the woods he would have found her. Her plan relied on the creature’s lack of intelligence. It was a bit of a gamble. It was one with a high chance of success though it was also one that had deep repercussions had she been wrong. There was no need to think about that now, though. Everything worked out well in the end.
Scarlett picked up the remnants of her hood and sighed. It was mostly strips of cloth at this point and the saliva made the prospect of carrying it with her completely unpalatable. She decided to leave it where it lied.
Scarlett cleaned her silver blade with the brown cloth she had pulled out of the picnic basket lying next to the muddy pile. She then pulled her canteen and holster before she botted the basket into the forest with one swift kick as it was no longer needed. While the plan wasn’t a failure, it wasn’t the success she hoped it would be.
Acting as the ingénue did not produce the expected result. Perhaps it was something that could be used in a desperate situation, but otherwise, it wasn’t a viable prolonged strategy to use against her adversaries especially since remaining hidden was always a more practical option in such scenarios. The woods would act as cover for the remainder of her trip. A town was nearby which was fortunate. She needed to resupply and determine whether a tailor was available to stitch together a new hood.
If you enjoyed this story, then perhaps you’d be interested in reading more by pressing the “short story” tag below or clicking this(short story) link or this(genre and tags) link or this(story list) link. I would also urge you to share this story with others and comment below. Please check out my books page as well by pressing here. Magic Once Removed will be available soon, so please check out the FAQ. Thank you for reading my story.Follow: