Inspirations for this story include the classic fairytale 'the wolf and little red riding hood, Disney's Toy story and Wreck Raph, Emily Rodda's 'the key to Rondo' and most of all, Len Kagamine's song 'The wolf that fell in love with little red riding hood'
Chapter 1: Existence is bliss
Alice peered through the store's display panes, her warm breath creating foggy obstructions on the glass as she did so. Annoyed, she raised one small hand to wipe the fog away. She pressed her nose against the glass for a better view.
She sighed and moved onto the next store, enjoying the satisfying crunch of the snow beneath her boots. She peered inside intently, just like she did at the last store.
Sighing once more, she moved on.
"Honey.." Her mother reminded her gently, "It's cold out here. You need to pick your present quickly before we head back home." Her voice was usually smooth, clear and feminine, but today the slightest sound of chattering teeth was audible.
Alice ran back and latched onto her mother's arm for warmth, swinging it back and forth in protest. "But mummy." She cried in the sweetest of voices. "It's christmas tomorrow. I want something special."
Her mother patted her head softly, and ushered her along with a single warning to be as quick as possible. Alice smiled and told her she wouldn't be long, before returning to her task of present-hunting. She peered through every window, and yet found that her dissatisfaction heightened with each store that they passed. There were big teddy bears and soft little bunnies in some stores. Colourful assortments of candies in others. There were globes, necklaces, little craft kits and barbie dolls. But Alice didn't want any of that. She always got the big teddy bears and the little bunnies, the colourful candies and the little what-nots for christmas. No. This year, she wanted something different. Something special. Something she could play with year after year, day after day, and yet never get bored with it.
And then she saw it.
"Mummy!" She cried, quickly dragging her mum inside the store. The bell atop the door make a cheery tinkling noise, mirroring the cheeriness of Alice's voice.
"Welcome," A bespectacled old man with dusty grey hair smiled at them from the counter. "And what would you two like today?"
"Dat" Alice was jumping in excitement as she pointed at the thing in the display window. "Dat" She repeated.
"Of course sweetheart" The man beamed as he reached up to take the book down. "Is this what you wanted?"
He held the book up to his chest, the cover in plain sight for them both to see. Alice nodded fervently, the beginnings of a huge grin lighting up her face. "Yes." She breathed, not once taking her eyes off the book in front of her. It was a picture book; a big, shiny picture book with brilliantly painted colours and gold lettering at the top. 'The little red riding hood' it read.
"Are you sure you want this?" Her mother asked, despite the obvious answer she knew she was going to get. Still, she thought, anything to see that sunny smile on little Alice's face again.
"Yes!" Alice said with more conviction this time. "I like her cloak." She reasoned, looking at her own winter coat and smiling gleefully. It was the same colour; a brilliant, passionate red.
Her mother thanked the old man, wished him a happy christmas and paid for her daughter's present. Yes, she knew it was tradition to buy it in secret, to put it under the christmas tree and wait until the big day arrived. But she also knew that it made Alice happier to be able to choose her own present. And to go through that long tedious process of picking it out each and every year, made Alice feel as if she had really worked for it. It put a big smile on her little face, and her mother know that a big smile on Alice's face put a big smile on her own face, too. Hence the slightly different traditions.
"Wait!" Josephine called as Alice bounded out of the store already, like a little snow bunny, giggling to herself and clutching her new present against her chest.
"Thank you mummy." Alice spoke softly. Suddenly, Josephine felt that it had been totally worth it to be spending a cold day such as this out on the streets. She reached down and took her daughter's hand within her own. Together, the two trudged along the snow covered streets, back towards home where they knew their father had a scrumptious dinner prepared for them.
Alice hugged her new book, as if doing so provided her all the warmth in the world in spite of the cold winter winds.
The wolf ravished in the rush of new sensations as his being came into existence. Touch. Sight. Smell. He brushed his fingers across his head, until it came into contact with two furry grey ears. He recoiled in pain as he realised that, despite having a human appearance, his fingernails ended in sharp claw-like points. There were like knives, all ten of them, as sharp and deadly as his mind. Then he focused on what he could see; the storybook world he knew he was destined to exist in for all eternity. Trees everywhere. Big trees, little trees, furry trees, spiky trees. The wolf realised that he was in a forest, with trees growing so dense, little light was allowed to seep onto the earth beneath. Despite the apparent darkness, the wolf glimpsed the beginnings of a winding, twisting pathway. And this pathway, he instinctively knew, would lead to a cosy little cottage on the other side of the forest. A place where the light shone brilliantly and abundantly, in contrast to the dark gloominess of the forests he called home.
The wolf raised his nose in the air, sniffing for anything he would find interesting. He had a human-like nose, but a nose with heightened wolf senses nonetheless. In fact, most features of the wolf looked human enough, save for a few. He had the face of a human male, a face that would be considered attractive even on human male standards. With a chiselled jaw, sculpted nose and well-defined cheekbones, the wolf had nothing odd or un-human about his facial features. Only the colour of his irises marked him as something different, as they were a glowing amber like embers in a smouldering fire. His eyes were sharp, and so were his teeth. When the wolf grinned, a pair of glinting, elongated canines were visible, and that, in addition to everything else, gave him an overall appearance of evil. He looked like a devil, in wolf's form, all sharp teeth, piercing eyes and guileful grin.
The wolf was slightly bigger than human males in physique; with chorded muscles that couldn't be described as burly, and yet couldn't be described as slight, either. He was tall and broad-shouldered, a combination that could definitely be described as intimidating. He was donned in simplistic clothing; a brown cotton shirt with matching earthy toned pants. He wore no shoes, and bare, calloused feet made direct contact with the forest floor. From his back sprouted a bushy, grey wolf's tail.
Atop his silver-grey hair, a pair of soft pointy ears stood to attention. The wolf focused on his other senses, as a way of experimenting on what he could and could not do. Taste. Sound. He brought up one big hand and licked it, the way a cat would when cleaning itself. That didn't taste good at all, the wolf thought, as he went to experiment his new senses on a few berries sprouting from a nearby tree. They were sweet and tangy, but not what he wanted. He wanted to taste something fresh, something metallic and juicy, something utterly delicious he could just sink his teeth into. He wanted blood. He wanted flesh.
But he wouldn't get that anytime soon, he knew, so he wandered about doing something else.
The wolf heard the overbearing voice of his narrator, a voice that he discerned as smooth, clear and feminine.
"Once upon a time..." The voice read, and the wolf knew that the story was beginning to be told. He still heard no mention of his name, however, so he ignored the voice and went back to what he was doing. Instead, he focused on the sounds of nature; the gentle swishing noises of the trees as their leaves brushed against one another, the whooshing of the breeze, the chirping of the birds, the chattering of the forest animals. They were all small sounds, insignificant as a whole but enchanting nonetheless.
He craned his head and peered through the dense forest canopy until he could see the sky; the brilliant, azure, almost-childish-in-its-blueness sky. As he did so, the wolf glimpsed gold cursive lettering that lay far higher than the trees. These letters trembled ever so slightly, as if blown by the breeze. They were the wrong way round, he noted, as if the words had all been reflected through a giant sky mirror. But no matter, he told himself, for those words weren't for him to read, but rather for his narrator.
The wolf began to walk. His walk was smooth, certain, solid and yet light upon the earth. Little noise was made as he seemingly glided his way along. As if by some predetermined instinct, the wolf found himself drawn to a particular, singular tree in the heart of the forest. And, rather ironically, the tree did resemble a heart. Its gnarled, knotted branches lapsed over one another, binding and winding and forming the shape. From the middle, leaves and branches fanned out, and unlike most of the trees in the area these leaves were green, lush and juicy. It was a beautiful tree, the wolf thought. Beautiful, very much unlike his own heart. He snickered at this, as if proud of the fact.
He placed one rough palm against the trunk of the tree. He saw words engraved in the dark wood, and once again as if by some predetermined instinct, he began to read. His voice was slow, gravelly and deep at first, as if he were unaccustomed to talking. But soon after, this gravelly quality disappeared, and the wolf's voice sounded smooth, alluring, like velvet against rough fingertips.
"Rules of the storybook world", he read in his newfound voice. "Rule one. All characters must remain in character at all times. Rule two. All characters must follow the story as predetermined and as directed by their narrator. Rule three. When the book is closed or the narrator stops, the storybook world itself stops until the next time the book is opened and narration resumes."
The wolf took a deep breath, allowing the information to soak in. He growled; discontent at the apparent lack of freedom his world allowed for him.
"Rule four" he continued reading. "The storyline begins again once it ends, or wherever the narrator sees fit. Characters will repeat each retelling as such." At this, the wolf growled even louder. He began to dread the sense of déjà vu that each retelling would surely bring.
"Rule five." The wolf saw that this was the final rule engraved on the tree. "If the storybook itself is destroyed, then the world and its characters will perish along with it."
The wolf read this last line dismissively, as it didn't affect him. As he began to walk away, however, he glimpsed something at the base of the tree, near the final rule. It was tiny, in squiggly, almost illegible cursive writing. Squinting, the wolf read it aloud. "In the circumstance that the storybook is destroyed, characters will have a brief moment where they will be allowed out of character before they perish."
The wolf scoffed. He enjoyed dark humour, and whoever created these rules had a dark sense of humour indeed. It was almost sadistic in nature, as if their creator enjoyed watching them struggle and suffer and flail and flounder.
Suddenly, the wolf became aware of his narrator's voice. "She skipped merrily along the forest path, enjoying the bright sunshine, the blue sky, and the birds singing in the trees." That was his cue, he knew. So the wolf broke into a fast-paced sprint, powerful legs all but a blur as he moved. In no time, he reached the beginning of the forest; a place where the trees above were not so dense and the sun shone brightly. This was a cheerful place, and the wolf wondered why he felt the need to be here, for he was not created to be a cheerful character.
But then he saw her.
She definitely looked like a cheerful character. Curly blonde hair and big brown eyes were framed by a hood coloured a passionate crimson. The cloak billowed behind her, surrounding her small and delicate body. Underneath the cloak she wore a poofed up dress the wolf had no idea what was called, but it was all lacy and frilly. The dress was white, but with pieces of fabric here and there that displayed that same vibrant red as her cloak. The girl wore white stockings-frilly like her dress-and these were paired with shiny, sweet-looking red shoes.
She was skipping down the pathway, a small basket in hand. Over the basket lay a small, checkered, red and white cloth, which obscured the wolf's view of what she was carrying. She sung as she skipped, her voice every bit as sweet and beautiful as she looked. It put the birds to shame, the wolf thought with a small smile. But, sadly, that kind and gentle smile just made him look more evil than ever before.
As the wolf neared her, he slowed down until his footsteps almost came to a halt. He hid himself behind a tree, now within touching distance of the girl. If he could just reach out…
No, the wolf thought. No. He restrained himself, and instead gazed upon her face at a close distance. Her eyes were so large, and round, and oh-so-innocent, he thought with a surge of unidentifiable emotion. It was not anger. It was not hate. It was not amusement, or boredom, or any other emotion the wolf himself was ever familiar with.
But her eyes! They were a liquid brown, with a honeyed centre around her pupil. And her face! Her lips were pink; small yet plump and she was gnawing at her bottom lip ever so slightly, in a way that gave the wolf another surge of that strange emotion. Her skin was ivory white, with the apples of her cheeks a rosy red. Her hair fell down in ringlets, in a way that seemed slightly messy, and yet the wolf thought was perfect anyways.
And he realised. That strange emotion. He looked at her and licked his lips. Maybe, maybe that was hunger. Yes. She definitely fit the criteria of his favourite meal rather perfectly. Maybe…but that isn't right, the wolf pondered. Looking at a delicious meal was different. You didn't notice their clothes, or their hair, or their eyes and lips. You didn't feel that same sort of rush, that surge of happiness mixed with longing and desire. He turned away, deciding that it would easier if he stayed far far away from this enchanting girl. Something told him that the emotions he felt when he saw her weren't good, and it would ultimately lead to his downfall.
But then she smiled at him.
When she spotted him, hidden behind one gnarled tree trunk, she smiled; the smile lighting all the way up to her eyes. The wolf found himself unable to look away, like a rabbit caught in the gaze of a snake. But ironically, he was supposed to be the predator, and her, the prey.
Her eyes crinkled down and her lips moved up, as if she was genuinely pleased to see him. Stupid girl, he thought. You know that I'll hurt you right? The wolf knew what he was. He knew himself well, even though it had been but moments since he was born into the world. He was not a gentle creature; he was a beast with nothing but ugliness and cruelty inside his blackened heart.
But he was conflicted, and this conflict seemed to tear him into two. He had desires, each one as confusing and contradictory as the last.
He wanted to eat her, to sink his teeth into her tender flesh. He wanted to hold her, to hug her, to protect her from all the evil that he himself represented. He wanted to be with her. To care for her. To kill her. To hunt her. To devour her.
Of what one thing he wanted, the wolf was unsure. But one thing he was sure of.
He wanted her.