Twisted Tale – the wrong side of the fairy tale book
It was dark, really dark; you know the dark where you can’t even see your feet unless you go under one of those bright fluro humming orbs. The ones that were only placed along the edge of the park. The park at night was not the safest of places to be, hell, even in the day that place wasn’t safe, but it was the shortest route and the quicker she got to her Grandmothers the quicker she could get back home and be back on Facebook. Cherry turned the corner seeing the long string of white bubbles almost floating on their own outlining the way, she huffed and hauled the basket her mother had ladened her down with, towards the open area.
“Stupid bloody old woman!” the girl mumbled looking at the large bottles of fish oil and medicines her mother had run to the pharmacy to pick up that day. Unfortunately the family car had been jacked and so it was going to be awhile before it was anywhere close to being fixed, hence the delivery on foot. Her mother had sworn at her till she was blue in the face about going before dark but when Cherry finally got off the net, it was already past 8.
There was an eerie silence about the air, that uneasy feeling when you know something weird is going to happen. Your spine starts to shake, your teeth chatter, you can’t help but twitch in the dark as you can feel someone’s breath on the back of your neck but when you turn around no one is there. Cherry was feeling all the unease of the night in her stomach as she swallowed hard and marched towards the hazy grass of the looming forested park. Gas mask on and hood up, she knew the air was not safe to breathe let alone stand in for so long, her goggles glazed over so they gave a small reflection in the dim light, she felt the red cloak billow out around her as her metallic legs found the concrete pathway. She wound up the cogs that helped her to walk, as the steam power devices in her legs began to turn giving a hiss of white smoke with each step she took.
The path was cold, disconcertingly, like is wasn’t even there anymore, it was replaced with something dead, a world that she was never meant to cross into as she huffed, the loud panting of her own breathing echoed into her ears. The basket weighing her speed down as she clip clopped up the pathway. The bright spheres now starting to trail off into the distance, she was suddenly scared.
“Maybe I should go back? No, no, come on Cherry, just get it over with! You have walked this path like a hundred times!” she tried to convince herself that it was easy, but the tingles in her skin were sending her brain a whole new message that it could simply not ignore. The wind caught her red cloak as it whipped about in front of her eyes, the striking colour had always been her favourite and she had saved up every dollar she earned from babysitting to buy the cloak at the local alternative store. Since then, Cherry never took it off, she went everywhere in it and was soon nicknamed “Red Cherry” for it. She was very fond of the name and proudly strutted around to prove it. Though tonight, she did not strut, she was not the proud peacock she usually was, tonight Cherry was frightened, her heart thumped away as her breathing became heavier and heavier as she lost site of the ground upon which she stood. Thankfully she knew the way without having to see, but now the shadows were also out to play, tricking her eyes and her mind, darting back and forth before her as the trees loomed in around her, the cradle of darkness descending from above. There were no stars in the sky, no lights to guide her as she marched on briskly. Why the hell am I doing this? The thought to turn back crossing her mind once more, but if she went home the scolding from her mother, or correction, the beating from her mother would not be worth it.
Suddenly she heard a snap, the loud cracking noise reverberating off the open space as she flipped around frantically to see a chipmunk gnawing on an acorn. She bent down trying not to let her mechanical features scare it off as she watched him dart away as quickly as it had appeared.
“See nothing to-“ her words cut short as she turned back to see a figure very well lit standing less than a meter from her in her path.
She screamed and dropped the basket for a moment before realising that he too, was a mech. The gas mask hidden under his tall, greyish top hat, white circles replaced his eyes as his stilted mechanical legs bounced on the spring like bands that held his weight. She calmed her breathing and shook her head flipping the speaker switch on her mask.
“You scared me sir!” she called back but the man simply stood still not moving an inch even though the breeze began to pick up around them. The dead leaves darted past her view as she picked up her basket, looking quickly that none of the bottles had been broken in the startle.
“Well if you will excuse me I must be off.” She tried to communicate once more but the man said nothing back as she flipped the switch off.
“Freak” she muttered walking on, more steam pushing from the pistons as she progressed closer to the man, he still did not more. Cherry quickly becoming slightly freaked out by the event, picked up the pace hoping to hastily walk around him but as she moved nearer the glint of metallic claws upon his hands and the swish of a bronze plated tail reflected in the moonlight. She froze; though her legs were mechanical she couldn’t seem to move them any more as the terror gripped the fibres in her soul. The strange man did not turn as she levelled him but his tail twitched from side to side furiously, as if he were excited about something. Animalistic implants were the fashion trend of the wealthy; Cherry knew that much and this man looked anything but wealthy downing an entire mech suit fitted to his body.
“Sir, are you alright?” she thought to ask, flipping the switch again, making sure that he was not stuck in his suit. Perhaps that was all it was, that his mech limbs had failed him and now all he could do was wag his tail. Yes that had to be it, she dryly thought as she gulped down the gritty feeling that was sitting at the back of her throat. Despite the cold around her, her palms sweated, her breathing was heavy and she wanted to run but instead her curiosity pushed her forward. She reached out gently for the man’s mask, flipping the switch so that she could hear his voice, hoping he would be thanking her and asking to borrow the lubricant fluid she carried in her basket.
Her prayer was not answered. Instead of a pleading voice, she heard a low strange hum, almost a growl as the masked man turned his squeaking head towards her. The shift of his vastly advanced surgery now focused on her made her heart stop pounding. It skipped several beats and the growling became thunderous to her, the rough gnawing noise now engulfing her speakers.
“Hello dearie” the man finally spoke in his warped deep voice that wrung true to her ears. The sound almost buzzing with a certain greed as she stepped back from the turning figure. His piston filled body letting off its own clouds of smoke as he jerked forward making her step for step.
“Beautiful night is it not?” his voice called out again in the darkness, the piecing disks lifelessly looking back at her as Cherry wondered what monster hide behind that mask. A paedophile? Rapist? Or just a sick twisted freak who enjoyed dragging girls off into the black void of the night. She stared into the motorized face hearing the cogs turn in his body suit as she took another hard gulp swallowing anything that retained in her system to fight back against the fear.
“Yes, but I’m afraid I must be going.” She forced out, turning so that now her back faced the way down the path she needed to head.
“Where pray tell is such a young beauty as you going at this late hour?” he said almost as if he were straight from the pages of Wonderland, she, the unfortunate blonde that had stumbled down the rabbit hole. The strange nature in which he spoke, Cherry thought he maybe a lost stranger from a foreign country, as he tipped his top hat to sit directly on the very top of his head.
“Beauty?” she questioned back. “You can’t see my face.” The bold statement true, she was thankful for the mask for once in her life.
“I don’t have to see under your mask to know that you are beautiful, if you smelt a rose without seeing it would it still be as beautiful to you all the same?”
“You think my smell is beautiful?”
The dumbfounded response made the man titter with laughter; balancing on his automatic legs he gave a creepish, snigger that sounded more like a wheezing cough than anything that resembled a joyful expression.
“You are unique. May I accompany you on your journey?” the man outstretched the clawed paw to her as she hesitantly touched it, only wishing to rip her hand away again just as quickly as the bronzing metal grip tightened around her leather clad hand.
“Sure.” The short response came out as she tucked the woven basket under her arm further. She remembered her mother also placing some bread and connoisseur jams long with a large knife, so Cherry at least thought if worst came to worst she had something to save her hide with. The creaking sound of metal joints moving, the man was clearly at least a head taller than her, even without the top hat, he towered above looking down at her small frame.
“So where is the young lady headed the evening?” he rasped out.
“My boyfriends.” She freely lied hoping that the man would get the impression that she was well protected.
“With fish oil?” his keen senses sifting through her bluff to call her out, as they strolled along.
“Ahh…. Well.. I have to drop past my Grannies first.” She said slightly more truthful than before.
“Well what a sweet child, helping her elders so.”
“Yeah I guess…” she shrugged still looking down at the mans pawed hand dominatingly clutching at her own. It was unnerving how he was so intent on holding her hand so much. Why is he holding it? She thought looking down once more.
“We wouldn’t wish the young lady to trip in this darkness now.” She freaked hearing his words, had she spoken out loud and not realised it? Her speaker was still on so perhaps she had.
“No…no” she stumbled out still hearing the familiar clicking of metal against concrete; it was the only thing familiar about this night as she felt suddenly disorientated.
The whole encounter felt off, felt distressing, as poor Cherry continued to walk along with the strange counterpart. She had no idea where she was or who she was with.
This is it, I’m dead, they will find my corpse in pieces along the road by morning! She was panicking again as the silence of the world around her deafened her ears; only the sound of the mystery man’s breathing to cut through like a sharp needle into her skin. Where did the lights go? She should have been closer to them by now. Her old fashion watch failing to display the time she wondered how long they had walked for as her stomached churned. Finally she had had enough; she wrenched her hand out of the man’s grip, ripping her glove on the bronze claws, flinching as she felt the sting of the cut.
“Is something the matter dearie?” he asked seeing her pull back from him.
“Alright cut the crap, where are we going?” she bolding stood holding her hand close to her chest.
“Why to the other side of the park of course, look there.” He extended out his paw once again to point down. As he had said, there they were, the round white glowing lights that lined the edge of the park. Suddenly Cherry felt slightly embarrassed as she blushed behind her mask. The guy wasn’t the monster she dreamed up as she took a step closer.
“Sorry, I guess I just panicked.”
“No need, the dark plays tricks on one’s mind but I assure you this is as far as I go.” And in one swift move the man, tipped his top hat off his head, and bowed before the red cloaked girl.
“Thanks. Oh I didn’t catch your name.” Cherry asked still taking a few more steps towards the lights.
“I didn’t give it.” He responded flipping the hat back onto his head gracefully.
“Lupo” he spoke his voice with a twinge of a grin behind it.
“Cherry, Red Cherry everyone calls me.”
“Red Cherry, well it was a pleasure to meet you’re acquaintance tonight and I do hope we cross paths again, in fact I count on it.” The last part to his words gave her a slight shudder once more as she waved goodbye and almost ran towards the lights below. Hitting the black steel with a thud, Cherry gripped tightly to the metal, feeling the realistic touch to it. She needed to feel something real again as she panted out violently giving herself a moment to look back. Nothing. The mysterious man had disappeared into the shadowy black of the trees as quickly as he had appeared. She shook her head finally looking down at her stinging hand. The gash was large and dripped blood that would soon be infected from the poisonous air around her. She cursed loudly trying to bundle the wound in her cloak before heading down the 2 blocks towards her Grandmother’s house.
The warm light from the fire light cottage streamed down the driveway as Cherry saw the familiar childhood house, nestled between the two modern structures, she loved how authentic it looked tucked away in the big city. Letting herself be bathed in the golden glow that filtered through the thick glass windows, the turned her heel against the white picket fence and opened the small gate, leaving a tiny smear of blood she didn’t notice, as she walked the rest of the way up the cobble stone path to the heavy wood framed cream door. The golden door knocker shone out like a prize bull at a show, the enormous monstrosity had been a treat to lift and knock with when she was just a child, as Cherry smiled grabbing the cold metal and knocking polity like she always had.
“Come in dearie.” The old voice croaked from the other side of the door.
Cherry smiled and reached for the open door, ducking slightly as she walked in. The roaring fire crackled, spitting its cosy colours across her face. The woody smell had filled the petite cottage as she went to the kitchen to place the basket on the counter.
“Hi Grannie.” Cherry automatically said not even bothering to look towards the lounge bed the old woman was now confined too.
“Hello dearie, come sit by the fire its cold out tonight.”
“In a moment I just want to unpack this Gran.” She called back hoping to wash her hand as soon as she was done.
She could hear the old woman shuffle as she assumed she had gotten up to come and hug her granddaughter, Cherry moved towards the sink drenching her hand under some luke-warm water. The burning sting that engulfed her hand made her gasp and wince but still she cleaned the wound, the sticky blood now sliding off and mixing with the crystal like water that ran down the steal sink. She looked down at the tap and caught the reflection of something. No her dear sweet Grannie but something else.
“My what big eyes you have.” She said not turning around, not moving a muscle.
“My new glasses? All the better to see you with dearie.” The copycat voice wafted out.
Cherry found it hard to breathe again; she saw the reflection getting closer as she tried to reach a hand out to the basket still sitting beside the sink.
“My grannie what a big hands you have” she said seeing the familiar paws extending towards her in the distorted thin mirror.
“Yes my hand warmers, all the better to hug you with” she said creaking closer as Cherry felt her raw hand gripping the hard wood of the blade hidden under the checked tea towel that covered the basket. The adrenalin pumped through her veins, the force almost unbearable as she turned around to see the same figure from the park, the bottom clasp of the mask now hanging slack as a gapping animalistic jaw grinned, the rows of sharp teeth upon her. The pearly white razors, dripped with blood and chunks of skin as the stench of its foul breath drifted up Cherry’s frozen nose. She blankly started back at the beast now hovering before her, the top hat slightly askew on his head as he swayed lightly from side to side.
She looked past the hulking mass for a moment to see the wrinkled corpse of her kin lying in a pool of red beside the bed, her nightgown town off her body, shredded parts of her now all over the monsters claws.
“My…m..m..my what…. Big teeth…you have” she stuttered out, her teeth clattering as she struggled to speak, the knife firmly clasped in her hand now still concealed in the basket. The giant bright goggles started down into her very soul, exposed without her mask, her blue eyes now focused in on the creature’s lifeless gaze.
“All the better to eat you with.” The low growl now the normal voice she had heard filtering through the masks speaker, very rich and full of its supernatural spirit.
She wanted to run, every instinct in her body wish to bolt for the door, back into the cold night but her body stayed ridged and stiff before him, the looming beast still grinning at her.
“I spoke the truth it would seem, I guess our paths were crossed at the same location no less.” Lupo said as if they were old friends.
“You… killed my Grannie” the girls eyes revealed the dread that she was attempting to hold back inside her as she tried to slowly pull the knife from its containment.
“Oh come now, we merely had some unfinished business to attend to.” The creature rasped out an attempt at a laugh once more.
“Yes, a simple transaction.”
He made its sound almost like a bank transfer, but Cherry wasn’t going to let herself be the interest to this deal as she slipped the knife behind her back, hoping to keep him talking.
“And you had no idea who I was right? Or maybe you planned this from the start.” She spat strongly.
“Truly I had no intention of engaging you along that path, if it were not for that red cloak I probably would have killed you before you even steeped onto the foot path.”
His words were so casual to her ears, a plaything to pass the time, she tried to slow her breathing but the more she looked at those white teeth the more terrified her gaze seemed to become.
“Well this has been a lovely evening but forgive me if now we must bid adieu and by that I mean I intended to have dessert.” He said giving another bow, but that was just the opportunity Cherry needed to ram the knife smashing through the glass goggles and deep into the monsters eye. The creature thrashed about howling in terror as the wound bled out across the small kitchen.
The rumbling growl sent Cherry scurrying towards the door once more, not bothering with her mask she fled the house, the high pitched howl behind her as the moon lit her way back to the park and its shrouded path. She had to take the chance; it was the fastest way to get away from him. She bolted with all the strength on her over worked legs, as the glue like thick air became clogged in her lungs. The poisonous atmosphere had taken hold already as she coughed and wheezed climbing the parks hill. It was choking her, stifling her throat, her head felt dizzy, the world began to spin as she climbed harder and harder. The metal legs, once a functioning support, now seemed to drag her deeper into the grassy path she has strayed to. The girl flinched back looking for any trace of the behemoth that was hunting her down. Thankfully she saw nothing but with the air now killing her slowly her only option was to double back, back to the little cottage that now seemed miles away. How do I get back? The whizzing thought running in her head as she wavered to turn around, unfortunately she hit the ground, the soft earthy smell of the grass hitting her cheeks as she struggled to breathe.
“Get up, get up!” she told herself her weak, shaking arms, now like noodles, failed her as she slumped back down to the ground with a pound. Everything was spinning out of control, how did everything come to this point, it was to be a simple trip to her Grannies house and now she was lying, dying, in a dark park with no way of escape. Finally the noise she had dreaded loomed in the silence. The creaking fizz of mechanical body part hauled up the hill; it was a chilling sound that through her spluttering, Cherry wished to shut out. Lupo was coming for her, he was on her heels, drudging up the park path, he was an illuminated figure in the night, the top hat now strayed from his head, the closed gas mask breathing heavily as his battered eye glared out at her. The demonic colour of red and black mixing a fixed stare upon her withering soul. She dug deep into the earth, the wound on her exposed hand festering as the lumps of brown soil feel into the open gash she attempted to heave her dense body across and away from him. Praying a miracle would save her, the white light of the man bathed her already paling face as he materialized before her. The panting heave of his own suit weighing on him, she screamed a bloody cry out, though knowing no one would hear her was no consultation to the emotion that now gripped her.
“You have been a very, very naughty little girl.” The inhuman voice called out as Cherry let lose another scream into the clotted air of the night. She scrambled against the ground once again trying to get away but with each inch she took Lupo simply took a set forward his position holding above her head.
“What the hell do you want with me?!” she spat, the blood now trickly down her chin as she felt her internal organs swelling, bursting under her skin. The pain was agonizing but the urge to live was greater than the toxic fumes that had now taken hold of her.
“I wish to simply fulfil my end of the bargain.” His flat tone starting to explain the story.
“I came here for a purpose that is none of your concern but seeing as fate decided your path was to cross mine I would assume that is only a sign of what I must do.” He bent down and unclasped his mask once more. The hellish reek drawing her in, as she felt the energy sap from her bones. Either she would die under the monsters claws or the air would kill her first, either way Cherry felt the end drawing nearer as she closed her eyes. Hot tears streaked down her cheeks as she began to cry. It was a hard cry, desperate, like when you know you have done something really terrible and won’t be forgiven for it. She was in a mess; she coughed out more of her life fluid watching the dark stains pool across her loving red cloak as she felt the sharp stroke of Lupo’s paw against her face.
“Take that wonderful cloak off for me.” He asked politely as he held her head close to his.
“W..why?” she forced letting her head go limp in his hand.
“Here I will help you.” He dismissed her question as he started peeling the woollen fabric from her shoulders. The bright piece of clothing slid away from her, the cold now sapping at what was left of the warmth she held. She watched as her treasured possession as it was folded neatly and placed beside her, as if the ritual had to be completed, Lupo now smiled his devilish beam.
“Ah much better, such a waste to destroy something so beautiful.” At least Cherry realised he was never actually talking to her but the cloak this entire time. It would seem she was nothing but the person under it, it wore her it would seem and had led her to her doom.
With the stagnant stillness in the surrounding area, Cherry look up to the dark trees being pushed by the wind that wailed around in the deep of the night, they were her last sight, she hadn’t even felt the slice of the razors as her organs spilled out into her lap. The warming ooze of the malleable materials now splashing about, tubes cut, beating tissues struggling with the open atmosphere as they sizzled from the exposure. She heard everything, more tears pouring from her eyes before her lifeless body dropped against the floor. The wolf’s eyes glowed in the darkness as the snarl from his chest grew and the hunger like never before consumed him, he ravenously feasted upon the girl who barely finished twitching beneath him.
The ground was wet, it smelt of something familiar as Lupo licked his lips, picking the shreds of fabric that had become caught between his teeth out and flicking them into the grass behind him. He sat comfortably on a large rock, the corpse lying in fragments around him as he sighed contently. Though his damaged eye bubbled away to the toxins that were invading it, he didn’t mind the possibility of going blind. After all it was but a mere surgery away to have it restored. He picked up the sprayed cloak, unfortunately blood had gotten onto it but the pattern from a distance looked like small flowers so he smiled, closing up his mask, Lupo flung it around his shoulders. The strange fabric sat perfectly upon his shoulders, almost as if it had been his all along. And in truth it had been, for you see the old woman had had a son before her daughter, she had woven the cloak for him to hide his canine deformity though when captured one day he was thrown into a chemical lab and the cloak was never seen of again. He had gone mad in the lab, killing everyone who worked in the facility before finding an underground doctor to enhance his body with the mech surgery. The debut now repaid and he tucked the cloak around him, happy beyond comprehension that fate had seen it come back to him after all his searching.
“I would have done anything to get you back my old friend.” He whispered to it before standing once more, his metal legs clacking against the stone beneath him as he took a stride towards the woods. The steam from his body was the only thing that soon lingered in the air as the shadow of a man now vanished in to void from whence he had appeared.
The sun rose and Cherry’s body was finally discovered though mangled as it was, the police had trouble identify her. The cloak missing and now two dead bodies, the park was of course shut down for investigation. People wondered if a rabid animal had managed to somehow survive the venomous fumes and attacked these poor people. Though no one knew the full truth, urban legends grew in the place of hard fact. So to this day the park is still a haunted place that no man, even the bravest of wood wielders, dares to enter past sunset. For if you hear the faint sound of the mechanical piston churning away or manage to catch sight of a blood stained red cloak billowing against the black trees, turn the other way. Whatever you do, do not enter the wolfs domain for lest you become another wet patch on the pathway through to the other side of the park.
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