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...


8. Viventibus Monstra

I had been trying to keep up with C.J's long stride for around five minutes before he even looked at me again. Around us, the woods folded in, engaging us like some wild birds trapped within their own home. He led me deeper into the forest, where a dim light shone onto a clearing much like the previous one.

"Here," he announced, never looking up from the point on the horizon he seemed to be transfixed on.

I didn't know what to say. His jokey, almost playful tone he had spoke with earlier had suddenly changed submissive. When he did speak, I noticed he flashed quick glances around us, up on the hills; in the trees- almost like he was keeping a steady watch out for something bigger and more dangerous than what he was capable of.

"What I'm about to tell you is very important- you cannot repeat it to anyone; understand?" he finally perked up when he was happy with the surroundings.

I didn't like the way he ordered me to do what he said, telling me what I should and shouldn't do with this all-important information he was about to share. I had half a mind to walk away and tell him not to bother. But the serious words he'd spoken earlier made me stay where I was, this was guaranteeing my survival; in a way.

"Ok," I managed, eager to hear what he needed to tell me so badly.

He took a deep breath, almost like he was a toddler telling their Pa about how they'd broken an ornament; as he adopted an air of reluctance.

"Go on."

"It's not easy to tell you."

I started to get impatient, "I don't care! This is my life on the line here- you said it yourself! Tell me."

He looked reproachful for a minute, and my organs seemed to fail as I thought I had insulted him- but his expression loosened as he must have seen my point.

"There's this...wolf pack, Viventibus Monstra they were called. I used to be apart of them when I was young," he started, turning to face me as he spoke, "they...weren't the nicest bunch of creatures in this world."

Thoughts raced back to Pa's story. I remember what he had said about them, their eyes like a hungry hawks', their mouths flared with saliva dripping from their gums and their teeth sparkling white and ravenously sharp with excitement for their next kill. I remember how I didn't sleep that night...

He must have been waiting for some type of reply, as when I didn't speak he carried on.

"They stole. They fought. They slaughtered. They were murderers, Hood- sick murderers who killed innocent families simply for the fun of it."

I felt my mouth gape open.

"Exactly," he answered to my expression.

"Bu-but why were you apart of this... gang?" I asked, trying to sound polite- to some extent.

His eyes widened as his brow lifted, and I heard the faint rumble of his breathing as he thought of what to reply. I waited, brushing my feet back and forth along the crispy leaves beside my feet; all the while watching him. I admired his golden complexion and wished, for a split second, that I was a wolf instead.

But my wish was soon interrupted; almost like he knew what I was thinking- as he started to speak again.

"My parents were part of the group. It's the pack rule that parents' cubs are meant to serve the pack until death. They have to take an oath when they are four days old to swear they will never leave."

"And what does it mean if you do leave?"

His eyes flickered to the right as a branch cracked, his body tensing then loosening as he realised it was just a tree, "they kill you, and everyone you know."

My heart leapt, hitting my rib cage before being thrown back into its natural place. Everyone you know. His words rang in my head like Church bells. It was all starting to piece together! The way he had suddenly appeared out of the blue to warn me about something I hadn't even known until now. To randomly announce he knew me, yet somehow I didn't remember him. I was the one the pack was hunting. I was the one they wanted. Yet I didn't know why. And I didn't know how they were going to do it. But they were coming for me. They wanted to kill me- that was clear.

I contemplated whether to ask him or not; scared slightly of what he'd think of me if I so happened to have jumped to conclusions- (although I'd rather have done that than find out the Wolves were after me.)

"A-are they... Erm..." I mustered, thinking of the right words to say; yet nothing came to mind. Those eyes looked at me, a tiny amount of worry lining his eyelids, "are they... coming for me?"

They soon looked away, shamed perhaps at the way I had suddenly figured out my fate. That was enough of an answer.

All of a sudden, it seemed like my world had collapsed in on itself and gave up. A day ago I was enjoying a relaxing and happy birthday at my Grannies cottage; surrounded by the people I love. The next day I meet a Wolf who claims to have known me for a very long time before implying I'm doomed to a monster's stomach. What a life.

Through all this news I had questions racing through my confused mind. Who was this pack? Why did they want me? Did they.. kill that woman? So many questions sprang to life, muddling me even more as to which one I should ask first.

I opened a shaky mouth, my lips sticking together almost as if they never wanted to separate, "erm..." my voice was as coarse as sandpaper, and sounded small- like it didn't belong to me, "do they want to...kill me?"

He glanced down; and that was when I knew exactly what he meant.

"Why do they want me?"

He glanced to his left for a fraction of a second before replying, "you hold something very valuable to them. Something that has the power to ask anything from any of our kind."

"Well why can't they just take it from me without any harm done?"

"It's not as simple as that, Hood. You see; whilst you're alive and well you own the power. If you were to... to die, well whoever claimed that token afterwards would be the new owner- if you like- of that power."

"Bu-bu-" I tried to speak but no words came to my aid.

"That is why I have come-" he suddenly flinched, his whole body jittering as he whipped around to stare behind him. At first I hadn't noticed his constant jumps; but now they were un-miss able. I could feel questions bubbling up and pouring out of my brain like boiling soup from a pan; spilling onto the floor beneath me and into the atmosphere:

"What is this power?"

"Whoever yields the power has the acceptance to command anything from anybody from my kind."

"Can't I just command them not to kill me?"

"They're too strong for your capabilities- being only a child you cannot command much from them"



"I'm a teen."

"Oh-" he cringed again, (not really listening to a word I was saying,) as he carried on staring blankly into the depths of the surrounding forest.

"It's fine," I accepted his silent apology, "but why do they want this power?"
He paused for a moment, his amber fur glistening bright, "they want this power so they can control every living Wolf alive on this world. They want to create an army to take over and rule this land- and they need that power in order to...brainwash- if you like- any Wolf who is unwilling to agree to the pack."

I tried to keep up with every word he said, but he was flying through it way too fast for any of the information to sink in.

"W-wait, wait, wait!" I commanded, more violent than I had intended, "just slow down! They want to harness this power to...what? Take over the land you say?"
He merely nodded; his sapphire eyes transfixed on the surrounding woods.

"Ok... so... what else have they done?" I asked, hoping for more of a response than I had been getting out of him. But then something came to mind. Like a cheetah it had whipped straight into my brain and was urging to get out, "did they-did they...kill that woman?" My voice trembled slightly at the awful thought.

This time, he turned his bulky head over his shoulder so he could see me through the corner of his eyes, "yes."
My weight proved too much for my legs as they crippled moderately under my torso; and my chest felt like it had been smashed with a hammer. But I was overly-used to these types of feelings; and I managed to sustain it better than I would have done if they had just started to begin now.

"I see," I answered, my voice small and weak.

Suddenly, he flinched again; this time racing round in a tight circle towards me. Before I knew it or could even stop it, his mighty jaw had clasped strongly around the hood of my cloak, and he was hauling me in the air; swinging me over his shoulder and onto his unbelievably fluffy back.

"Wh-what's ha-ppen-ing?" I demanded, the forcefulness in my voice leaving me entirely having been replaced by a pathetic version of feebleness.

But there was no reply from the wolf. He simply launched himself and I forwards and into the opposite direction to the depths he had been staring at only a split second ago.

"C.J!" I bellowed, having to take a deep breath to fill my delicate lungs afterwards.

"They're coming!" he panted, lurching to the left along a dusty path much alike the one I had arrived here on.

"Whose coming?" I replied, gripping onto my cloak before it flew from my back. I couldn't bear to part from it.

"Viventibus Monstra!"
The words seemed to carve a hollow hole inside my forehead. They were coming. Suddenly, an out-of-the-ordinary feeling made itself present. I was gnawing at the bit to leap off this Wolf's back and face that pack all by myself. I knew I would be alright. I knew they would not hurt me. I could control them- I could make them bow down in submission and do everything I say; allowing me to manipulate them into whatever I may need them for...

No! Snap out of it! This wasn't like me! I wasn't the type of person to force people- (or Wolves in this case) - to do what I say. It simply wasn't right. I hated the way I thought of that. I hated what I had become throughout my birthday. I hated the way I had been flung into this life or death situation- simply because a pack of misfit Wolves wanted to yield the power over all Wolf-kind. From big-headed to angered; my moods were changing like a projector at a cinema showing, flipping each slide as fast as the last one had been shown. What had become of me? And what was going to come of me?

Instead, I gripped tightly onto two excess tufts of fur sprouting from his shoulder blades; leaning forwards and burying my head in his silky, woodland-smelling coat. I allowed my body to move with his, relaxing my tensed muscles just so I was swaying backwards and forwards with him but not too much to make me fall off onto the floor. I suddenly felt so free- like a sparrow who was soaring high in the sky; all without a care in the world.

"They're gaining on us!" he shouted above the crackling and rustling he was creating as he trampled on all the bracken and twigs scattered across the floor.

At this I turned around; staring frantically behind us for any Wolf figures. But I could see nothing. I allowed a sigh of relief.

But then there was a howl. A howl more menacing like the one C.J had made. A howl unlike any living thing on this earth. It sent plausible shivers rattle my spine- dispersing around my body like marbles dropped on the floor. My nerves freezed, my legs stiffened; my whole body was seemingly paralysed with each howl that followed. Terror had worked its way into my body- overtaking everything that had once worked and leaving me stuck in time. I was frightened- more so than I had ever been before. This was a matter of life or death.





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