06 Aug The Little Girl Who Cried Wolf
“The Little Girl Who Cried Wolf”Written by Kaye Skellington Edited by N.M. Brown Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 10 minutes
“Once upon a time, there was a big bad wolf–”
“Mom!” Heather cried out loudly, cutting her twin sister off. “She’s doing it again!”
The girls’ mother, Tracy, appeared at the door, flicking on the light and mock-glaring at the two beds across the room. Heather was pointing emphatically at the other bed, where Linda had pulled the covers over herself.
“What’s going on now?” Tracy asked.
“Linda’s scaring me!”
Heather pouted and continued to point at the giggling lump of blankets and sheets that was Linda. The ten-year-olds watched as their mother came fully into the room, pretending to scowl as she grabbed at the blanket-covered pile on Linda’s bed. Clearly, she was not taking Heather’s concerns seriously, a thought confirmed by Tracy reaching under the blankets and giving Linda numerous tickles. Heather huffed and crossed her arms over her chest defiantly as her twin squealed in delight. Her eyebrows were furrowed harshly as her mother turned to her with a smile.
“You know she’s just teasing you, sweetie,” Tracy said, moving over to Heather’s side of the room.
Some of the anger seeped out of the glowering twin as her mother sat next to her and tucked loose wisps of hair behind Heather’s ears.
“She’s been teasing me all of my life!” the girl continued, trying to stay angry. It was hard when her mother’s sweet voice and soft touch were so calming.
“Well, that’s only been ten years, Heather,” Tracy teased.
“And we got at least another ten more!” quipped Linda from her bed.
Heather glared at her sister, then huffed again and laid herself back down. Tracy tucked the blankets up around Heather’s shoulders and chin, then kissed her forehead. She moved to the door, turning around once to wag a finger at both girls.
“I don’t want to have to come in here again, okay? Let’s have a quiet night tonight. Got it, ladies?”
Both girls nodded in unison, and Tracy turned off the light and closed the door. But once it was closed, Linda sat straight up in her bed and laughed, looking at Heather.
“You’re such a chicken!”
“You make me a chicken!” Heather insisted, sitting up as well.
“They’re just stories; they can’t hurt you!”
“That’s not the point!”
Linda laughed and fell back on her bed, smiling up at the ceiling. “You make it too easy, sis.”
Growling, Heather rolled over and put her back to her twin. She wanted to sleep. She needed to sleep! Linda was always making her life so difficult. Why couldn’t she just let Heather sleep?
For a few moments, there was quiet and blissful silence. But as soon as Heather noticed the serenity, it was shattered by a shrieking and howling sound. Heather sat up, panting and breathless, only to see Linda sitting like a dog in the middle of her little bed, head tilted back.
“No! I heard something howling outside. The moon is full. I’m gonna howl too!”
Outside beyond the house, the pack of sled dogs their father kept in a large barn began to howl. They made a terrible racket, the various canine voices so out of tune with each other. Some were fluffy Canadian Eskimo dogs, while others were Chinook breeds. None of them bore the melodic sounds of a wild wolf, and neither did Linda. It was a cacophony of noise that forced Heather to put her hands over her ears in an attempt to block it out.
“Shut up and go to bed!” Heather insisted loudly, but Linda wasn’t listening. Her sister continued to bay at the imaginary moon above her, lips puckered to extend her pretend dog-like muzzle.
“Mom!” Heather screamed, “Linda won’t let me go to sleep!”
Now it was Tracy’s turn to huff as she entered the room, this time leaving the light off. Heather watched her mother as she moved to Linda’s bed, whispering to her firstborn. Linda seemed to calm and settle as Tracy tucked her in and kissed her. Then she went to Heather’s bedside again, easing Heather into laying down.
“Listen,” Tracy said, her voice almost a coo. “Linda is your sister. She will always be your sister.”
“But will she always be Linda?” Heather snarled.
Tracy put a finger to her lips, silencing the girl’s angry words and continuing to speak.
“The two of you are like the moon and the sun. Just like them. One dark, one light.”
“I’m the moon, right, mom?”
Tracy shook her head, smiling and making Heather feel very confused.
“No, Heather. Linda is the moon, and you are the sun.”
“But she’s the bright one-” Heather tried to insist.
Tracy pulled the blankets up to her daughter’s chin once more, tucking them firmly around her shoulders as if that would keep her still for the rest of the night.
“The moon is all whimsy and dreamy. That is Linda. Dreamy and funny and silly and lighting up the darkness with her laughter. You, my dear, are the sun.”
Heather didn’t understand that but said nothing, her silence meant to encourage her mother to say more. The sound of her mother’s voice was soothing, even over her childish fears and indignant anger.
“The sun is warm. The sun is strong. The sun decides the seasons for the whole planet. It’s the sun that decides when it will be spring and when it will be winter. Only the sun can tell the flowers when to bloom, or the squirrels when to store their nuts in the trees and hollows.”
Heather nodded, trying to understand.
“That’s why you are the sun, my dear,” Tracy said, smoothing her hand around her daughter’s dark hair. “You are the strong one. You are wise, you are serious and determined, and you are powerful. So powerful!”
The little girl glanced over at her sister. Linda was either asleep, or she was getting really good at pretending. Then Heather looked up into her mother’s loving gaze, her own expression softening.
“I’m the sun,” she whispered, and Tracy nodded.
“And you give the moon purpose. You decide when it’s daytime-”
“And I decide when it’s nighttime. So the moon can shine.”
“You got it!” Heather’s mother said with a smile, booping the tip of her daughter’s nose with her finger. Leaning over Heather, Tracy let her lips rest on the girl’s forehead for a moment before smiling into her eyes.
“So let the moon be the moon. And you be the sun. Let the moon shine and do its dance through the clouds. In the daytime, you’ll be the strong and powerful one, the wise one that makes all the big choices. The moon follows what you do and what you say. Let her have the night to herself.”
Some of what Tracy said didn’t make sense to Heather. She was only ten, after all. But she was okay with the words her wise mother spoke. Maybe, she thought, her mother had been the sun too, when she was a little girl.
“I love you, mom,” Heather whispered, feeling the weariness of being a twin weighing her down. It caused her limbs to feel heavy and yet light at the same time. When Tracy leaned down to give her another kiss, Heather’s eyes closed instinctively. She had only meant to blink, but before she even realized it, she was out like a light. She never even saw her mother tiptoe out of the room and close the bedroom door.
The next time Heather opened her eyes, it was because a sound had startled her awake. She lay very still, blankets still tucked firmly around her. They were so tight that it almost felt like she was being restrained. Her eyes flitted around the room quickly, and she turned her head to free one ear from her pillow in order to hear better. She could see Linda was loose and akimbo in amongst the toss of her blankets, but definitely not awake. She was even snoring softly, a sound Heather had known all her life. A real snore, not a fake one. Heather was the only one of the pair awake.
There was that sound again. It was a scratching sound, like a bending tree branch brushing the siding of the single-story house. Only Heather knew there hadn’t been a wind all day or night, not so far. The sound was close, and against the room’s exterior wall, the wall that bore the room’s only window. Heather slowly turned her head, lifting slightly to look at the window, searching for the source of the noise.
It was a big picture window covered with lacy sheers of white and pink and lit up from the outside by the lights in the yard. On either side of the window were the heavy curtains Heather’s mother would draw closed during the coldest nights of the year. However, this was spring, which meant that the drapes were tied to the sides of the windowsill. They were strips of dark purple cloth that went almost from floor to ceiling. On nights like this, the two curtains made the little girl think of two tall ladies standing next to the window, watching over her and her sister. She preferred to think of that rather than the terrible stories her sister would come up with about shadows and-
She heard the sound again. This time it was definitely at the window. As she watched with a wide-open gaze, a thin dark object tapped on the glass lightly as if testing it. Then the object drew away, and everything was still. But soon enough, there was more noise as the window began to slide open. Several curled dark claw-like objects forced the window upwards, pushing on it until it stuck and stayed open.
Heather couldn’t breathe… couldn’t think. She couldn’t even call out for her mother, something she had always been able to do at the slightest annoyance from Linda. She could only stare as something huge and black and hairy moved through the open window to stand between the dark curtains. It, too, was as tall as the ceiling. It cast a shadow from the outdoor lights that seemed to spread and fill the entirety of the bedroom.
The little girl stared so hard that she felt her eyeballs might pop right out of their sockets. She couldn’t do anything else but take in the image before her. Her body was frozen, her limbs beyond heavy or sleepy. It was as if she had no limbs at all, as if she were just a head and a set of terrified eyes. As Heather watched, more and more details of the room’s new occupant came into view. The darkness of its shadow was immense, but the outlines of its tall body were becoming more transparent.
It was wolf-like, but it stood on two legs. Instead of ears, it had slitted, wrinkle-lined holes on the sides of its head. However, its jaws and muzzle were long and dog-like. She gasped as its canines and incisors extended into gruesome fangs. Heather could see its pale pink gums. It looked as if it had no lips to cover its teeth, as if it were always snarling.
The creature’s body was slightly hunched as if it were too tall for the room. With its grey eyes staring at her, it growled low and fiercely, causing its whole body to shake as if in need, or in hunger. Heather could see wicked drips of drool hanging from between its sharp teeth. She watched in horror and disgust as it flicked at these with an incredibly long and flexible tongue, scooping up its own saliva before it could drop and hit the carpeted floor. The creature’s body was mostly consumed patches of dark hair, some black, some silver. Other patches of skin were bare as if the monster was suffering from some mange or fur-killing illness. Its head, muzzle and jaws were bare of fur, but a tangled mane stuck out around the thicker part of its neck and along its shoulders. Its belly was bald, and the skin was blotched white and grey like a Dalmation. Along its back a ridge of hair crested, so pokey and spiked it could have been made of quills.
The creature stared at Heather. Heather stared back. And then she was a child, just a child, not a twin, not the sun, nothing but a ten-year-old girl. She lifted her arm from her blankets, sitting up and pointing at her sister’s bed. It wasn’t an act of malice or anger. It was purely instinctual and done in primal self-preservation. Heather pointed at Linda’s bed, and the creature began to move towards it.
Not daring to breathe, Heather drew backward, away from the approaching monster. She slid first one leg, then half her bottom out from under the blankets. The rest of her followed in a slow and snake-like slide. Soon Heather was under her bed, crouching on her knees and hugging herself as close to the floor as possible.
Linda didn’t cry out. There was a snarl, a snap of the monster’s jaws, and then a gurgling and gushing sound. Dark liquid began to soak into the sheets of Linda’s bed, where they were hung loosely off the side of the mattress. Heather couldn’t do anything but stare, lost in the insanity of the moment that was happening before her eyes. The sounds she heard, of teeth gnashing against muscle and sinew and crunching over bone, slowly drove her mad.
After several long minutes, the creature moved. Heather’s eyes followed its progress as it made its way on all fours to the open window. One of its hands, or paws, reached up and tore at the lace sheers that were barely in its way, a gesture of pure unnecessary destruction. It turned its head to look directly at Heather, obviously aware of her presence beneath her tall bed. Heather felt her innards clench then go soft as she realized the monster held an arm in its teeth, her sister’s arm. The remaining twin clapped her hands tightly over her mouth as she tried not to scream. This made the creature seem to nod its colossal head. Then it turned and slipped out the window without a care to what devastation it had left in its wake.
Hours later, Tracy flung the door open, screaming at the sight that met her hopeful gaze. Linda’s bed was evidence that she had been right, that when her husband went to see why the dogs weren’t barking and noticed the girls’ bedroom window open, that something was wrong. Tracy threw herself pointlessly onto the blankets, tearing through them as if searching for something – or someone.
Roy came in then, a big bulk of a man. He towered over his despairing wife, shocked himself by the amount of blood and gore that Tracy was now covered with so quickly. Then he moved and looked around the room.
Heather’s bed was empty.
“Heather!” he shouted, staring at the window. But there was no response, no reply.
Then he looked at the side of the untouched bed of his second daughter. A puddle of liquid had pooled there on the floor, staining the carpet a darker colour – but it wasn’t blood. It had leaked from under the bed.
Roy picked up the bed quickly and tossed it to the nearest wall, exposing his lone daughter curled up over herself on the floor. Tracy turned and scooped the girl up and into her arms, cradling her. She searched all over her petite body for wounds or injuries, looking for any clue of what had happened to Linda. Heather’s hands were still clasped over her mouth, and it took all of Tracy’s strength to pry them off.
“Calvin!” Roy called out to the officer in some other part of the house. “Calvin, come here! Now!”
Then the big man knelt over his wife and child, cradling them both in his heavy arms.
“Heather!” Tracy sobbed over and over again. “Heather! Heather!”
“What happened, baby girl?” Roy asked, tears pouring down his cheeks.
Officer Ernest Calvin entered the room, one hand on his holster, the other squeezing the talk button on the radio hooked to his coat collar. He studied the scene around him carefully, saying nothing.
“Heather?” Roy asked, looking into Heather’s sightless wide eyes. “Heather, what happened?? Where is your sister?”
Heather’s lips moved, puckering up tightly until wrinkles surrounded her lips, her cheeks sucked in. Barely any sound came from those lips, but there was something. She was definitely trying to say something.
Leaning down, Roy turned his head and put his ear towards his daughter, struggling to listen.
“W-w-w….” the little girl said ever so softly. “Wolf…wolf…..wolf….”
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableN.M. Brown Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A