This was a challenge from Flash Fiction Friday. The details were :
I want you to remember your fair tale lore, your scariest of scary bed time stories, those monsters, oh so maligned monsters, who go bump in the night. Remember the typical tropes of good little children lost in the forest in perilous fright of witches, wolves and wild wonderlings? Where step-mothers are evil and hags are cannibals? Babies stolen and switch during the night?
Are your toes tingling, your spine wriggling? Remember all those horrible things? Yes? Well throw it out the window, the baby with the wash.
This week I want you to write a story where the monster is the protagonist. Maligned, misunderstood, quirky or funny. A love story, a comedy, or still yet a scary morality tale, make what you want of it.
Also, to play on the wicked aspect, I want you to use the famous Ray Bradbury title “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as a line in your story.
Use the line - Something Wicked This Way Comes
I decided to re-use some characters from last week's "Once Upon a Time", I think I'll keep them around for a while.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
"Do I have to keep running?" said the wolf.
"Do you want to get back in shape or not?" said the woodcutter.
"Yes, yes, I do. Early retirement was really depressing, I couldn't have lasted much longer. I'm glad the Grimms need us back for more variations on the stories." They'd been running for an hour now, he felt like he was going to die.
"I had thought we were done for good," said the woodcutter. "Why do they want us back now?"
"Our stuff is finally back in," said the wolf, "along with vampires and ghosts - seems the more technology people have, the more they need to balance it with the supernatural, with make-believe."
"Well, I'm glad they called us all back," said the woodcutter. "And, unlike some, I've always believed in keeping in shape. Regular exercise, early to bed, healthy eating - none of that late night carousing that you and Red and her karaoke gang get up to. I'll be ready next week when we start - I'm ready now. You - little buddy - I'm not sure. Overweight, out of breath, patchy fur, and you keep complaining about sore teeth." He slapped the wolf on the shoulder. "Maybe you need to get some pulled."
The wolf winced and rubbed his shoulder. "Take it easy," he said. "There has been a bit of wear and tear I admit. But we have been around for a few hundred years, ever since the stories brought us to life. My body will recover."
"But why do they need us again?" said the woodcutter. "They still have the stories."
"The stories have faded after years of indifference, we're needed to rebuild them. We add power to the stories, we give back into them, we project though them and add to the emotions the reader feels."
"Oh yeah, that's right," said the woodcutter. "But at this rate all you're going to add for any little kid is the feeling that he needs to collapse and wheeze. And maybe that he has gas."
"Shut up, you big goof," said the wolf. "I admit that I am a little out of shape, but I'll be fine. Now, please, let's stop for a bit up here, next to the witch."
"Hi hun," said the wolf. "Enjoying watching me suffer?"
"It is somewhat amusing," said the witch, "given how wicked you were just a few years ago, and how much you enjoyed your decadent life in retirement. Did you try that conditioner I gave you? It should untangle that fur of yours, and make it look thicker - it's a volumizing formula. And that salve should help those tender spots on your paws."
"Thanks, I will tonight, " said the wolf. "It's hard to scare a kid when you limp through a story. You guys have it easier, my role is both physical skills and acting - I have to emote more, to project pure wickedness."
"You're part of the team," said the witch. "But you need to be ready when we are - there's ten of us called up so far. And we all have difficult roles, we can't afford to carry you."
"Don't worry," said the wolf. "I am committed to this. I've even joined up with a support group of other wolves, and some bears - we challenge each other every week. I'll be ready."
And he was. The first run through they did four of the stories, and they could feel the creativity sparking between them, their lines crisp, improvising off each other to build yet another variation. It was even better than the old days. As they became the stories, they could all sense the magic as the emotions flowed into the readers. They felt the stories coming to life for the little children, ensuring the memories would stay fresh and real, to be remembered and relived once they were safely tucked into bed, and for days to come. They could feel the flow, filling the children with hope, love, happiness, sadness, fear, and of course horror. The wolf could almost feel the wickedness dripping from his fangs - he'd never felt so alive.
"Good night son," said the father. "That's it for tonight."
"Could you leave the door open?" said Matt. "I'm scared."
"OK - it's open a bit. You're safe now."
Matt relaxed - it had been a long day at the beach - he was tired. And it had been nice that his dad had told him a story - even if it had been really scary. He stretched, yawned, pushed off the blanket, and let one of his feet dangle over the side of the bed.
As he lay there, almost asleep, he realized his foot was not cool, it was warm. He could feel a hot breath on it. And he could hear a voice, just like the one in the story - a low, raspy voice.
"Something wicked this way comes," it said.
And the door slammed shut.