Hood

The first in the twisted fairy tale series brought to life with sinister tales, mystery and suspense.

Little Red Riding Hood (or Hood to her immediate friends and family,) has just celebrated her fourteenth birthday when a series of mysterious murders happens...

Yet soon Hood is swept up into the investigation- trying hard to suss out who is behind it all. But as she delves deeper into the clues, she realises that the obvious is good; and the hidden is bad...

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12. Here then Gone

The smell in Granny's kitchen was astonishing. It seemed like the warm air circulating around the room had mingled and moulded into one with the fresh smell of ready-to-eat brownies hot out of the oven. I drew in a long, meaningful breath; enjoying the smell whilst I still could...(the wolves were probably hot on my tail.)

"Here we are, love. You sit down now," Granny said, pulling a flimsy wooden chair from the round table out and urging me to sit down with her hand waves. I did as she said, scooting myself in to the table and smoothing my cloak down with my palms- (it paid to be presentable.)

She said nothing, but nodded and smiled in approval before scuttling over to the oven and opening in. The smell flooded out; making my mouth water involuntarily. I wiped it quickly on my sleeve.

"Fresh out of the oven," she continued.

"Smells lovely Granny," I replied- still cautious of what I was saying.

"Good. Here 'yar love." She slid a huge plater of lush-smelling brownies, orange dots scattered inside them.

"Oh Granny! You didn't!" I gasped, reaching straight for the biggest and densest looking one.

"I did! Orange and Pumpkin Seed Brownies- especially for you. Having been out for three days, love; I thought I'd make you something special to... welcome you back."

"Thank you, I love them," I said, turning it around and around in my fingers. I leant over and touched her hand, taking it in mine. It was cold. I was safe...for now.

"No problem dearie," she smiled her warm cheery smile and patted my cheek. I took that as a signal for me to start eating. It was heaven. I savoured every mouthful. Not only because it was positively divine; but because I didn't know whether Granny was...here, or not- in some respect. It was mostly fear of what was going to happen to Granny that I savoured each moment.

All the time she watched me eat- almost like she was eating with me; without eating herself. That was when it struck me. Why wasn't she eating? These were her favourites too- I'm sure.

"Granny?" I asked, slightly more tentative than I had of hoped.

Her magnified eyes widened with curiosity, "yes darling?" My heart started pounding without my permission. I didn't know what was happening- but somehow I felt strangely uneasy. It wasn't her voice. It seemed forced; to some extent.

"W-aren't you eating anything?" I was going to ask her why; but my brain seemed to object.

Her face hardened into a serious expression momentarily, before she answered: "I'm not hungry, dear."

"B-but you've always," I cleared my throat, "erm...had room for them; even after Christmas dinner."

Ok. Something had definitely changed. Whenever I'd asked her a simple question; she'd always answered in a cheery way. But now...now...she answered with, a slight irritation. She had completely lost her appetite, her politeness and even her sociability. It baffled me.

But nevertheless, I carried on eating the gorgeous pieces of heaven; whilst Granny sat and almost monitored me with her unusually beady eyes. I felt like she was...a predator; watching its prey before it went in for the kill.

"Finished darling?" she asked once I'd mopped up all the crumbs on the flowery plate. I nodded sceptically, wiping my mouth again not-so-lady-like with my sleeve. She merely struggled up to her feet and picked up my plate, moving it over to the sink and splashing some water fro the tap onto it. Granny had always been one for cleaning up.

When she had finished, she sat and watched me again with an expression crossed between the predator and her actual self. It was like she possessed two souls which were viciously fighting against one another to be the dominant figure. I leaned back slowly; my chair creaking rapidly as my movements grew faster. Granny's eyes were changing...to black.

"Granny?" I asked cautiously, rising from my seat and shuffling backwards towards the dazzlingly-clean draining board- trying hard to make some distance.

She didn't answer, just gently rose off her feet and started to follow me, shuffling slowly across the shiny floor until her face was practically inches away from mine. That meaty breath lingered from her mouth; and I was forced to turn away. But where could I go? The sink wouldn't do any good- (after all I wasn't a small mouse,) and the living room door was certainly unreachable. Why hadn't I just ran for the door when I had the chance? I wanted to kick myself, but having a possessed Granny staring you hungrily in the face was slightly off-putting.

Was it worth trying to distract her?

"W-what? Erm..." I racked my brain for something to say- anything which would make her see sense or at least tell me what was going on. I longed for her to slap me on the back; her face breaking under laughter as she yelled "got-ya!" but nothing happened. Only this time, I realised it wasn't a joke.

She moved in closer, her breathing heavy and almost rapid as she stared me right in the eyes, never loosing contact; never showing expression. It was a weird feeling; but I seemed to remember those eyes before...almost like I had encountered them...

Was it a dream? Was it a Halloween trick I had remembered laughing about? But no laughter was coming. Nothing was happening!

"Granny- are you...ok." it was more of a statement than a question; an unknown force willing for something good to happen- something which would banish me from this...this...uncomfortable situation and take me home. That was another thing. Had I even been home since I blacked out? When was my Ma and Pa coming home?

"Perfectly fine...Hood."

A very strange yet equally as factual feeling overwhelmed me at her words; Granny rarely ever or never used my name- it was always "darling" or "sweet" or... "love."

I felt my heart take up its usual pounding like it always did in these potentially dangerous situations- (this was obviously classed as under "creepy and uncomforting" as my brain seemed to make up its mind).

"Ok. Good- I mean-" no words came to my rescue like they usually did; so I just pushed myself further into the unit and hoped that something gracious would free me from this horror.

But Granny was coming closer by the minute; so much so that not only could I smell her wretched breath, I could actually taste its sour, gritty texture. An uneasy, terrified feeling slowly crept up like it had before; only this time it was worse than it had been with the wolves. This time, whether it be because I didn't actually want it to happen; or if perhaps it was a family member, I felt more scared, more scared for my life than I had ever done in my small life. If I wanted adventure; I had it. Now I understood the phrase: "be careful what you wish for."

But suddenly- thank heaven- just as Granny's aroma was about to become unbearable, there was a huge bang and crash which sent us both jumping as the door caved in. There, in the doorway and through a thick smog-like cloud of centuries of built up dust, was the stout frame of my Pa.

Happiness and shear relief taking over me, I raced towards him and leapt into his arms, snuggling my head into his neck and almost forcing him to cradle me.

"You ok, sweetheart," he stated in his unusually panicked voice as I hugged him tighter.

"I'm just...glad to see you, Pa." I answered. But it was true. I had never been happier to see him before. I never thought I'd say this; but I was glad to be not the only one sharing Granny's company.

"Oh," he replied, clearly shocked as I had never shown much affection towards my parents before- well nothing on this scale, "that's nice- I'm glad to see you too. Mam," he said quickly to Granny, who had walked forwards out of the kitchen and was looking at Pa with a slight look of frustration and resentment on her shrivelled face.

"Yes?"

"There's been a murder- a few; up at the coppice. Manslaughter; it looks like. Five which seem to be..." he reduced his voice to a whisper, shuffling away from me and closer to Granny, "wolves."

Granny gasped quietly, placing her hand to her mouth- appearing to be back to her normal self again.

"I-I narrowly escaped with my life."

It was then that Granny and Pa moved into the kitchen; I under strict instructions not to venture into the kitchen for anything unless I was specifically requested by them. So I retired to the living room, shrinking into a floral armchair. Granny had said something about Ma and Pa nipping out the shops...so why was Pa coming from his work? Loads of things definitely wasn't adding up- why was Granny acting like this and lying to me? She had never, never lied once in her life- especially not to her doting Grandaughter.

Thoughts raced through my head, conflicting and linking in with each other. Granny was growing old- she wasn't with it. Pa had stopped by at his work after he had been into the village, and Ma had gone home to get my bed ready. But nothing seemed to add up; and everything I seemed to come up with always lead back to my one final conclusion: Granny was possessed, she was lying; and it was up to me to resolve her fate with every power I have within me- even if I die trying... well maybe not the last part.

 

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