Little Crimson Hood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A new spin on the classic Grimm Brothers' tale Little Red Riding Hood. A project I wrote for class which is quickly spinning off into its own project I'm hoping to pull together this summer as a compilation of stories that will eventually fit together.

Submitted: May 12, 2009

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Submitted: May 12, 2009

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Little Crimson Hood

The low, musky tune from Freddy’s wooden flute barely reached my ears as my hands tensed around the handles of my twin Mark XIX Desert Eagle pistols. A quick glance over my shoulder confirmed that LumberJack was keeping to his part of the formation. I couldn’t see Freddy – or Flute when we’re on a mission – but the sweet melody wafting our way from his flute was all the reassurance I would ever need. “LumberJack?” I whispered.

LumberJack grunted in reply. Despite being an agent, LumberJack refused to wear anything but blue jeans and flannel shirts that strained to hold his raging biceps at bay. The only weapon he would ever wield was his enormous two-headed wood-axe. Not that he ever needed another – LumberJack could take down more Thropes with that axe than I could with both of my pistols firing simultaneously. Sometimes I found myself wondering if he was actually a robot of some sort.

“Why doesn’t Flute ever run in formation with us?”

“That just isn’t how he works, girlie. We’re actually lucky Jacob and Wilhelm convinced him to join our squad after Amalie—” he cut himself short. Amalie had been LumberJack’s wife. Until a Thrope got to her, that is. LumberJack took her head off with his axe before she was given a chance to turn. He still carried the guilt with him and he probably will for the rest of his life. How does someone get over something like that? “The way he fights isn’t – conducive to squad assignments.”

Something in his voice told me I wasn’t going to pry anything else from him now. I dropped it and kept an eye out for the Thropes that were supposedly coming through this forest. The rolling melody from the flute had almost dropped me into a trance when I heard it cut short, right in the middle of my favorite part.  LumberJack and I glanced at each other. We both knew what happened when Flute stopped playing. Without a word or any other signal, we swept around in a pincer movement toward where we knew the Thropes to be.

I came to a clearing and noticed the head of an axe poking out from behind a rather large tree on the other side. In the clearing five beasts, ugly and lupine were fighting. If you’ve never seen a Thrope, consider yourself lucky. That means we’ve been doing our jobs. LumberJack says the first Thropes were the wretched spawn of some hideous, hairy woman who was forced to breed with a pack of wolves. Just like a man to say that. I doubt that is really how it happened, but I can’t think of an explanation to take its place.

The smallest Thrope was keeping all four of its mangy brethren at bay with incredible speed and agility. It looked like a living shadow, save for its eyes, which shone a fierce yellow. The other four were larger, stronger, and slower. Their matted fur was a disgusting brown, their eyes brilliant crimson.

I watched, waiting for LumberJack to make the first move, when all five Thropes stopped and looked to the south. I followed their gazes to see several more Thropes bolting out of the woods. When I looked back to the original five, the smallest one had taken off to the north after the largest. Before the other two could react, the new set of Thropes was on them, tearing them to shreds.

My eyes caught a flash of red from across the clearing. “Shit!” Why had he waited until now to jump into the fray? Everyone knows it’s suicide to step in on a Thrope War.  When those Lycanthropic bastards got going, collateral damage was almost guaranteed. Quickly checking to be sure my pistols were loaded and ready to go, I sprang into the clearing and sped towards the scrap, cloak flapping and cracking violently in my wake. I love my hooded cloak; it makes me feel sexy and intriguing.

I did my best to survey what was actually going on. It was impossible to tell how many there were. The raw, rippling muscle barely covered by filthy skin and fur teemed and almost appeared to be one horrible beast rather than the seven or so that were there. LumberJack roared triumphantly as his axe sunk deep into one of the beasts. Now they know we’re here; now we have to be quick and flawless or we’ll be killed… or worse. If I’d had had time to shudder at the thought, I would have.

The mass of incomprehensible fur and muscle broke and each Thrope scattered to gain its footing and prepared to attack anew. If it weren’t for the fact that they were about to try to kill us, the ease and the grace of it all would have been beautiful. Eight. One with LumberJack’s axe buried so deep in its back that I could only see one of the heads. Two lying on the ground, whimpering, nearly torn in half, gasping, gurgling, and writhing. They would be my first targets, get them out before their healing factor could kick in. That left five fully-grown, fully furious Thropes. Two were circling LumberJack and his first victim waiting to strike and three had taken a rather disgusting liking to me. 

The male was in charge; you can tell sex easily with Thropes, they have the same parts we do, just hairier. I knew if I could get by him and off the two gimps behind him, I could concentrate on the male and his mates. I could only think of one way to do this: to catch him off guard. Mustering all of my courage and my strength, I sprinted toward him, head on. When I got to be a good four feet away, I leapt into the air with all my might. As if he knew what I was up to, he reared up and snapped at my feet. I narrowly missed being lunch and kicked off the top of his head into a flip. Silver flew from my barrels as I fired two at his spine. The beast yelped in surprise as I landed behind him and he got two nasty bites on either side of his backbone. Twin trails of smoke showed me exactly where the bullets hit.

I allowed my attention to leave the three healthy Thropes for two seconds as I plugged each of the gimps in the head, making sure they couldn’t get back up. I turned back to the healthy Thropes, but saw the male was the only one left. He reared up to his full height, standing on his hind legs like a man and walked toward me. I hated when they did that. The less human I can see them as, the easier it is to do my job. He must have been over eight feet tall. I had never seen any living thing that tall before.  It howled as it made its way toward me. That sound, the one sound that can chill me to the bone and make my blood congeal in my veins. I froze with my guns at my sides. The Thrope towered over me. It was so close I could taste the raw flesh on its breath. LumberJack yelled something from behind me. I had no idea what, but it was enough to shock me back into consciousness. I lifted both arms and aimed for the Thrope’s face.

As I’d hoped, it went for the head. Of course, my arms were in the way, as were my guns. I felt the teeth slide down my arms. The bastard was trying to take me whole! When I felt the barrels hit the back of its mouth, I fired off enough shots to kill a Thrope twice his size and three times as hungry.

I wriggled my way out of the beast’s mouth. The first thing I noticed was the smoldering crater that had replaced the back of the beast’s head. The beast’s snout began to shrink. I hate this part: when the Thrope reverts to its human form after death. I can never watch, I prefer operating under the delusion that the creatures are not and never were human. I turned, trying to find LumberJack. I caught sight of the two mangled men lying on the ground and almost hurled on the spot.  LumberJack was prying his axe from the skull of one of the Thropes. “LumberJack, I lost the two females, did you see them?”

He laughed, wiping the blood from his face. “What’s the matter, Hood? Can’t take care of a few bitches?”

“A few bitches?” I cried in mock offense. LumberJack laughed at my reaction. “How about I take care of you, let you see how I can handle these ‘bitches?’”

He was still laughing as the skull continued to chew on his axe, “You need to keep your eyes on all of them, or they’ll come back for you. They have your scent now, you know.”

“I was just trying to make sure these two didn’t get back up and bite me in the butt,” I kicked at the two naked men whose wounds would never clot. LumberJack jerked his axe from the Thrope’s head as blood splattered upward from the wound. He nodded his head, indicating behind me.

Flute walked out of the forest, dragging a dead, naked woman by the hair with each hand. The women’s bodies bounced as he threw them on top of the men I had killed. “Found these two running off that way.” He indicated the direction he had come from. Flute wore a simple black shirt and black slacks that hauntingly contrasted with his pale skin. He had jet-black hair that always seemed to do what he wanted, even when he didn’t care. His flute was resting gently in the holster he had designed for it.  He carried nothing other than that flute, I never understood how he even fought the Thropes. But that was part of his mystique I guess. “Did Jake or Willie ask for any of the bodies for experiments this time?”

“No. Jacob and Wilhelm did not request bodies. Let’s burn these and get back to HQ,” LumberJack halfheartedly tossed his kills on the pile and started looking for wood as he gave his command.

 

A building, gray-green and squat, crouched in the woods. Unless you knew it was there, you’d probably miss it. I know I almost did the first time I was brought there. I suppose that makes sense. It isn’t like we want to go around advertising where we are; most Thropes may be dumb, but if the right brain gets turned, we’d have ourselves one hairy mess.  It looked like a sewage plant or something. There were three archways in the otherwise featureless building, one for each member of the squad. Without hesitation, LumberJack approached the center arch “GRYMM Agent Jack Holtzmann, codename: LumberJack.” As he said this, the blue skin of the wall rippled and became intangible. “See you on the other side, girlie.” LumberJack winked at me over his shoulder and stepped through the wall.

“GRYMM Agent Fredrick Gottlieb, codename: Flute.” Freddy walked through the archway on the right, leaving me the left one.

“GRYMM Agent Charlotte Roth, codename: Hood.” This wall was my least favorite part of the job. I can slaughter several Thropes every day, no problem, but there’s something about crazy magical walls that you can walk through that really trips my shit. I pushed my hands through the wall; I always expected something solid, but there was nothing to feel but cold, ice cold. When I step through that wall, it knocks the air out of I, and I can’t breathe until you get back out the other side. It feels a lot longer than it really is.

Brain met us on the other side of the wall. Like he always did. Brain thought he was sneaky when he eyed me, but I could feel him every time. We are all trained to sense Thropes who might be watching us; we need to get our senses as close to theirs as possible. He was nowhere near as stealthy as the Thropes. Brain led us through the lab on our way to Jacob and Wilhelm’s office.

I did my best to ignore the naked bodies on the cold slabs, chests torn open, and the sedated Thropes in beast form, their chests ripped open as well. We were trying to find new ways to take them out, quicker ways. All we know for sure is that silver negates their healing factor and destroying the brains makes sure they can’t come back. Once the minds find new tech to tackle these mangy beasts, we’ll most likely be out of a job.

Jacob and Wilhelm were brothers, and it was rather obvious. They were exactly the same height and had the same ridiculous bowl hair cut. It was almost impossible for me to keep myself from laughing at their incredibly thick rimmed glasses. They always talked in unison. “Ah, welcome, Squad Chi. We have a new mission for you.” See? There they go again. It’s gives me the willies.

“Another mission?” LumberJack roared. “We just got back, right now!”

“Yes, this one is important. A delivery mission, Grandmother requested you three specifically.” That shut LumberJack up. Everyone knew that if the head of GRYMM requested you, it was for a reason.  “You are to deliver this parcel to her,” the brothers slid a compact package across their desk toward us. “She sounded very worried in her message. You would be wise to get there as quick as you can.” I grabbed the package and spun around to leave, hoping my cloak would snap dramatically when I did. It almost worked. I’ll get it right one day.

Brain was almost more obnoxious on the way out of HQ as he was on the way in. I could feel his eyes boring into my chest the whole way out. He liked walking backwards in front of people for some reason, so it wasn’t hard to notice. I just wanted to get through that frigid door and go.

 

We’d been making our way down the same forest trail for hours. There had been a lot of beautiful looking flowers off the trail, but there really wasn’t time to waste on them. Every once in a while we tried to start up conversation, but it usually died out pretty quickly. Just as I was going to ask him a question, Flute cocked his head to one side, whispered almost inaudibly, “Five Thropes to the south,” and he took off running.

“There’s no way he can handle five alone, you keep going, I’m going to give him backup.” I tried to protest, but LumberJack gave me that look. The one that means I can either do what he says, or see if my skull can withstand the brute force of his axe.  I gave him a few choice words as he took off after Flute. I was left alone to wander the path.

Eventually I reached Grandmother’s cottage. She had always been a simple woman. She may be the world’s leading Thrope hunter, but she never could stand to be stuck in HQ with all the tech. I had only met Grandmother twice; she seemed like a nice old lady, but there was something about her that exuded the sense that she could wrestle a bear to the ground. I once asked her what GRYMM stood for. She laughed and explained, “Why, my girl, Guerilla Renaissance and Youth Ministry Machine,” as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. I still don’t know whether or not she had been joking.

As I drew closer, I found the door unlocked. It didn’t seem quite right, I should probably have waited for LumberJack and Flute to catch up. I went in anyway. “Grandmother? It’s Hood. I have the package you sent for.”

It was a simple cottage, one room, with a bed in the back, a stove to one side and a table to the other. A woman lay in the bed looking at me with bright piercing eyes. “Oh, thank you, Hood, I have been waiting for you. Where are your squad mates?”

“Who the Hell are you?”

The woman was taken aback, but only for a moment. “Whatever do you mean?”

“I’ve met Grandmother, you aren’t her. The eyes are wrong.” Grandmother had green eyes, these eyes were almost yellow.

“All the better to see you with, dearie.”

“Oh, don’t give me that bullshit! You. Are. Not. Grandmother.” The woman’s eyes twinkled as she smiled from ear to ear; almost literally. Her teeth grew more lupine as white fur began to sprout over every inch of her body.  I had never witnessed a live Thrope transform, the sounds were sickening enough, without even taking the visual aspect into consideration. Bones and sinew popped and snapped as they realigned.

The Thrope destroyed the bed it was in with a swipe of its tail. I could feel the rumbling in its throat as it reverberated throughout the one-roomed cabin. I heard the door move behind me and felt another person walk into the room. I felt a bony hand on my shoulder push me forcefully to the side. Her raw strength was frightening. “Sister, now it is time to end what we began all those years ago, when you chose this curse.” I know it sounds cliche, but if you had been there, it would have sounded so much more bad ass.  The Thrope almost roared in response.

I would love to say that Grandmother put up a valiant fight, that the old bat managed to hold her own against her sister, but that would be a lie. It was painful to watch how quickly the Thrope devoured the ancient woman. And then, the Thrope spoke in a harsh guttural voice. I didn’t even think they could speak. “Ah, my son. I trust you’ve taken care of the lumberjack?”

I hadn’t even felt him enter the room. I turned to see the little black Thrope from before slide through the door. Its voice was deeper and huskier than the other Thrope, “Don’t worry, I showed him what his entrails look like.” They both made some sort of raspy noises, which could have been mistaken for laughter.

The black Thrope pulled a familiar looking flute to its lips and began to play a haunting tune I had heard hundreds of times before.  The same sickening crunching and popping sounds accompanied his transformation as they had the other Thrope. “‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast,’ Congreve had it right. This is the only way I can keep from transforming,” he explained when the music stopped. Flute smiled unashamedly as he stood naked in the doorway. I moved my hands toward my holsters, but before I could grab a hold of either, he had caught both of my wrists and pinned them behind my head. “Now, now, play nice!” He grabbed both of my pistols and tossed them across the room toward the other Thrope.

“You son of a bitch!”

“Truer words were never spoken.” Flute’s eyes twinkled as he grinned a hauntingly wide smile; blood and flesh still dangled from his otherwise perfectly white teeth.

I aimed my foot for the one spot on a male that would hurt, Thrope or not. It worked. Flute howled as he collapsed to the ground. There was no way I could get to the pistols, I had to find something else. Frantically, my eyes scoured the room.

Grandmother’s package lay on the floor where I had dropped it. I scurried over to it and began to tear at the wrapping.

A silver cross? What the Hell was GRYMM thinking? These were Thropes not vampires! Silver works, but there’s no way they were going to just sit there and let me burn them to death with this cross. I felt the old Thrope coming up behind me. I acted on pure instinct. I whirled around and thrust the two-foot cross in her face.

The white Thrope reared back, howling in alarm. “Where did you get that? Our family’s cross!” Something must have happened between Grandmother and this Thrope so long ago. Something no one was likely to know now that Grandmother was gone. The Thrope stumbled backwards, tripping over the debris of the bed.

I struggled to stand up and my finger slid over something on the cross that moved. A button? I pushed it and stared in awe as a metal shaft shot from both ends of the cross, tripling the length. I spun around as I heard Flute pouncing.

My eyes weren’t fast enough to follow, but the next thing I could see was the small black Thrope suspended from the spear that had grown from the cross. It was an inspiring sight, the spear growing from the cross pointing towards the heavens, almost as a message. The Thrope caught fire as the silver spear burned the flesh around it.

“Clever little girl, but I believe you’ll find yourself without a weapon now. You’ve killed my son, an offence I cannot allow to go unpunished.” The white Thrope growled as she backed me into a corner and stood up assuming her full height. My mind reeled, trying to find a way out of this one. There was no way I could get the pistols or the spear in time. She flexed her jaws and prepared to send me to find Grandmother. I crouched in the corner as far from her as I could get.

She drew closer and closer to me, but suddenly stopped. Crimson stained my knees and the floor in front of me. I looked up to see the light leave the Thropes eyes as she fell to the ground limp. Where she had stood mere moments before, was LumberJack, left hand pressed firmly against his abdomen, right hand tugging at his axe. He had gotten such a good swing behind his weapon that the Thrope’s neck gave way before the axe did.

“You really should have waited for backup, Hood.” LumberJack grimaced from the strain of kicking the Thrope’s head from his axe.

“How the Hell did you survive having your intestines pulled out?”

“They still work if you put them back in, girlie.” LumberJack winked at me as he fell backwards and landed with a sickening thud on the floor. I leapt to his side and checked for a pulse. Before I even touched him, I knew he was gone.

“You are one crazy bastard,” I smiled, tears rolling down my cheeks. “You were one crazy bastard.” I wanted to do that cool eyelid thing they used to do in movies, but he had closed his eyes as he fell.

I stood up, found my pistols, and holstered them. I took one last look around the room. Flute’s human body lay in two halves, each still smoldering. His mother’s headless form was right next to his, eerily close, as though in her dying throes, she had tried to save her son.

I pulled the spear from the ground and fiddled with it until I found the button that returned it to its cross mode. I knew I wouldn’t be able to haul LumberJack’s body anywhere, so I took his axe and the necklace that had belonged to Amalie. Using wood from the stove, I lit the cabin up, catching as much as I could with the flame, even the bodies. The smell was horrible as I walked down the path back towards HQ.

They definitely had some explaining to do.


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