A Girl with a Red Hood

A short story based on a prompt for a fairytale retelling. A modern supernatural version of the story Little Red Riding Hood.

      The girl pulled down the hood of her red coat, trying to hide as much of her face as she could. The catcalls from the men across the street continued, and she walked even faster, her shoes tapping on the pavement. Why did her grandmother have to live in such a horrible neighborhood?

     The streetlight above the girl's head flickered out, and as she glanced upwards, she suddenly crashed into somebody. "Sorry!" she squeaked, "Please, it was an accident! I'm so-"

     "It's alright." said a gruff voice. It was like he had appeared out of nowhere. How did she not notice him? She had to crane her neck to look up at his face. The only things she could see were dark features, the shape of his jaw, and a pair of eerie yellow eyes. But his voice was kind when he spoke, "Where are you going?"

     "M-my grandmother's house," her words stuttered out of her mouth, "She's sick and I'm bringing her her medication."

     "What's her address?" he asked, a smile on his face. The streetlight flickered on for a second, and for a moment it seemed like a snarl.

      The girl hesitated, knowing that she shouldn't be answering this strange man's questions, but when she looked into his eyes...

     He seemed to transform before her, from a tall, menacing stranger, to a kind, helpful man. A sudden feeling of safeness overwhelmed her, and the words rolled off her tongue easily. "563 Tunnel Avenue" she said.

     "Go about five blocks down this street, and turn right." he said, still smiling.

     "I'm supposed to turn here." her hands gestured towards her left.

     "Trust me, I know my way around here." He smiled, eyes glinting. He put his hand on her back and guided her forwards. "Go on, it's just a shortcut."

     She stumbled, nodded timidly and started walking again. The catcalling men had vanished, and the silence pressed down on her like a thick fog. She could still feel the stranger's eyes, boring into her mind.

---
     After wandering around in the dark for almost an hour, the girl finally reached her destination. The stranger had given her the wrong directions, and she finally had to ask the owner of some liquor store for directions.

     Her grandmother's house stood before her, its windows dark and dusty. She never liked this place. It was old and abandoned and falling apart, but her grandmother refused to leave it.

    She raised her hand to knock, but when her knuckles brushed the rough wooden surface, she found that the door was already ajar. "Grandma?" she called into the house, "You need to remember to close the door next time." Silence greeted her.

     "Grandma!" she yelled again, stepping in and closing the door behind her. "Are you awake?"

     "Yes," said a low wheezy voice from the bedroom, "Come here, my darling."

     "You sound horrible," said the girl, "I'll leave the medicine on the kitchen table, alright?"

     "No!" said the voice, "I need you to come the bedroom, my dear."

     Grandma never called her any nicknames, she remembered. Before she could react, she suddenly felt a wave of calmness come over her.

     "I just need you to come here, please."

     She obeyed, picking her way through the clutter that crowded the narrow hallway and opening the door to the bedroom.

     The room was shrouded in darkness, but when she groped along the wall for the light switch,  she only found a gaping hole.

     "Grandma, why is the light switch gone?" she asked.

     "Come closer, darling." said the voice.

     The girl approached the bed, covered in shadows. "You didn't answer my question. Where's the light switch?"

     "Closer..." the voice beckoned.

     "Where is the - " her sentence was choked off, and something seemed to rise up into her throat. The words that came next weren't hers.

     "What a deep voice you have!"

     "The better to greet you with." her grandmother's voice had changed into a gruff tone, coated with poisonous honey.

     "Goodness, what big eyes you have!" she heard her own voice say, and found herself staring into the bright yellow eyes of the stranger on the bed.

     "The better to see you with." he answered.

     "And what big hands you h-have!" a sob choked her words, as her mouth moved against her will.

     "The better to hug you with." the shape rising out of her bed was neither her grandmother nor the stranger on the street. She saw the claws that tore through the bedsheets and fangs that glinted in the darkness.

     She was trembling in fear, but her feet were rooted to the spot. And she couldn't tear her gaze away from those huge, yellow eyes.

     "What a big mouth you have!" it spoke through her lips.

     She started screaming as the last line of the script were spoken.

     "The better to eat you with!" the wolf snarled, and lunged towards its prey.

The End

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