A girl cloaked in red skips to her house on the edge of a misty forest. She waves at her neighbor as she walks in. Her mother greets her, scolding her for being out so late into the night. Rumors have been floating around; “A dark killer extends his streak of black, many subjects go missing! The last place either is seen is at the forest’s haunted grounds, wandering, stalking, late into the shroud of night.”

“I’m sorry, mother… I won’t go too far next time.” I whispered, a soft smile distantly illuminating my face. Mother screeched at my retreating back, glaring as I shut my door. I waited for her to go back to what she had been doing, her mumbling on and on about my “reckless behavior”. Once she had quieted down, my smile evolved into a full laugh.

I jumped at the sudden thunder. Was there a rainstorm just a second ago? I can’t remember, although I do remember it drizzling when I was climbing a tree earlier. Maybe it had blown away while I walked home? Or maybe it wasn’t thunder at all?

The house lit up as lightning struck nearly a mile away. I fell silent; it was so close to our house…

“Red, come down here! There’s a new report on the demon shadow!” I quickly rose from the ground, lightheartedly running down the stairs and straight into my mom’s embrace. “And be more careful coming down those old stairs! You could trip and…” I pulled away, enough for me to lift my head to look at her face.

“Mom. Mom. You’re panicking again.” She let go of me, her frail hands shaking hesitantly in the still, damp air.

“Right… I shouldn’t worry you. But I can’t help but worry; you’re my only child…” I waved my hand in dismissal, having heard the statement a million times in excuses to restrict me. “I’m serious, Red…Don’t go looking for trouble.” I smiled in what I hoped was an innocent demeanor; my thoughts scrambled after that once comment. I was looking for ‘trouble,’ though…My life so far has been so boring!

“I won’t, mother…” The small TV we had in our house flickered, the static making the words almost inaudible against said static. The small picture I could make out was what looked like a missing person profile, and a darkened picture of some kind of animal labeled ‘Demon Shadow’. I couldn’t hear the exact details, but apparently the person was looking for the ‘demon’ to end its wrath, and is now a missing subject. I smirked inwardly. Join the ranks of the mist, Saline…Michells? My eyes widened further as my mom tuned the screen, making it less fuzzy. Saline Michells? I know her! She’s that activist in science class!

I threw my cape over my shoulders, looking back at the door for any possible signs of movement. It wasn’t that early, but I’d decided to go ahead and do something for mom. I’d settled it last night with her, but I hadn’t told her I’d be going before she woke up. A smile played on my lips as I turned to the small paper taped to her bedroom door. That’s what notes are for~! I thought, in a singsong voice. I’m an excellent singer.

…Or at least, I am in my mind.

I finished setting my velvet cloak and grab a basket off the table beside me. It has the information for the party I’m supposed to ask my grandmother her interest in inside. Formal parties are the best! …Yeah, no, that was total sarcasm. They’re so boring! But, at least granny enjoys them.

Once I got to the edge of the woods, I turned back to my house and sighed. I hated making her worry deliberately, but, some things just need to be done. I turned back to the forest, walking in like I was a soldier. One arm extended with the same foot, down, other arm with the other foot, down. I laughed at myself and started walking normally, thinking how much more ground I was covering this way. It’s not really much of a difference, just, I keep falling forward the other way.

Following this long path has become a pattern to me. I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve memorized every stone I pass, even the cracks in the dirtied ground. If a stick had fallen, I’d know about it. If a tree fell half a mile away in the clearing, I’d see it missing.

Put simply, it. Is. Boring. The entire concept of a formal party is boring. I’m bored just thinking about it!

Speaking of bored… I’ve been curious to see if I could find a new way to Granny’s house. I know the way simply enough, and besides…

There’s this “Demon Shadow” to worry about. What does it look like? What if I could find out what it is? Where did all the people go, anyway? I stopped walking for a second, mulling over whether to actually go off the path for this. I’ve been walking this same path for a while now, and by “for a while now,” I mean “for my entire life per far.”

I decided on the next course of action. Well, not really, but I thought “course of action” would sound cool. It does, doesn’t it? I looked around; taking a step off the worn path I’m oh-so familiar with, smiling like an idiot. This just feels awesome, spaced out from the rest of the world.

After a while of wandering, I started to tune out my surroundings. Probably not the best idea, but I’m trying to remember the lyrics to this one song…Not to mention the song’s name itself.

“Speaking out, shouting loud, for the rest of the world to hear… Trying to die, Dying to try what I’ve always dreamed of…What was next, now?” A sudden feeling of danger approached me as I realized I have next to no idea where I was. I stopped humming, listening to the eerie quietness of the forest, a growing sense of dread rising in the pit of my stomach.

I thought I heard something like bones cracking, but I’d dismissed it as a tree falling or…Something. But, on taking slow, careful steps closer to the source, I found I wasn’t wrong at all.

There stood a dark wolf, hovering over a pile of small animals, or…People. The bones looked more like people than actual animals, so, that’s why I’d said… The wolf was eating the remains, like he was totally calm and this was completely normal for him. I took a step forward, inching closer ever so slightly, and looked down to where I was going to step, pulling my foot back. Not out of fear itself, but fear I’d draw attention to myself. I’d nearly stepped on a bone. Now drawing further back, keeping my eyes on the wolf, I backed away. When I was sure I was out of his earshot, I turned and ran.

Just get back to Granny’s, and everything will be okay, I told myself.

I knocked on Granny’s door, slightly rushed. Well, wouldn’t you be rushed too if you just saw a wolf eating what might’ve been your classmate?

After a while, the door finally opened. Once I saw it was Granny, I walked into the house, hugging her tightly. She always smelled like freshly-baked cookies. That’s another reason why I love spending time with her. After I let go and she closed the old wooden door, I’d noticed she had guests here. I recognized some of them, Ms. Hiwa with the newborn baby, Josh from Deli, and…My teacher. What was she…Oh yeah; Granny told me she’s a friend from college. And then there were some other people I don’t know.

“Oh yeah, Granny, Mom asked me to give this to you,” I said, looking in the basket for the invitation/info card. I found it and gave it to her, watching her read it.

“Yes, I can come, dear.” Her voice was ragged like herself, and quiet, and kept cracking at times. Basically, her voice matched her—Old. “Would you like something to eat since you came all this way?”

“Granny, it’s not that far from my house.” My voice was sarcastic, but I still accepted her offer, following her into the kitchen. Everything is so old-fashioned with her. But it all smells really good. Turning my head, I noticed a cabinet was open. “Hey, why is that open?” Granny turned, the smile still on her face.

“I was looking for something earlier.”

“Oh…Makes sense.” She nodded quietly, her smile never leaving.

Just then, a crash and a few screams sounded from the other room. Granny followed my gaze, staring at the open doorway and through it, trying to see what had entered the house. When the growl rumbled, I took Granny’s hand and ushered her into the open supply closet. The wolf had followed me…!

Growling, screaming, sounds of flesh being ripped off kept echoing through the house. Squishing footsteps, growling…I shivered, feeling Granny’s withered arms close around me in a protective hug. I just noticed I had been shaking. Since when did I get so fragile? I wasn’t scared the first time I saw the wolf, but now…

Maybe it’s because of him devouring my family?

… This is my fault, isn’t it? People dying because of me—And Ms. Hiwa has a baby!! What if I hadn’t come all this way? They all would be alive… Maybe the wolf could’ve even starved to death! But, no… I know now he’s the one behind all the missing people lately… The continuous screaming, just drumming a pattern into the air, into my mind makes this so much worse…

“It’s my fault, Granny…” Her warm hands wrapped around my own. They were shaking, too…

A loud crash made us both jump. The growling of the wolf increased, and a yell sounded through the room. By now the screaming made my ears ring, it never stopped…I stood up, holding a hand to the door somewhat hesitantly. I didn’t want to see what was wrong…But at the same time I did. I wanted to stop what I had started…

I walked out of the closet, closing it after so Granny could stay hidden. Upon turning my head to see what was left, I gasped. Everything was covered in blood, and that wolf…Than darn wolf was holding an arm, still dripping in blood, growling at a man in the doorway, and ax over his head.

“You’re the huntsman?” I blinked in surprise when he turned his attention to me. Had I actually said that out loud? “It’s the wolf.” Why am I talking?! “He stole those people.” Stop it Red, stop talking! “My name is Red.” I smiled, in light of recent events, and giggled like a little child. “Blood is red, too!” He just stared at me. So did the wolf.

I remembered I still had the knife in my basket for self-defense, so I took it out, slightly confused as to why it was rusty…

“You’re…” I smiled at it, turning the old knife in my hands. The man just stared blankly in my direction. “You…”

“My name is Red, the color of fresh blood~!” I blinked suddenly, looking at the handle of my trusted knife. “…Mako…” The wolf whined, trotting over to me. It sat down, wagging its tail, dropping the arm at my feet. “Mako, bad dog!” He whined again, circling my feet, and sitting at attention on my other side. At this time the huntsman started to back away. How…Dare…He…!! “Mako!” The wolf howled and rose, padding stealthily over to him. “Go on!” He growled, and pounced, immediately sounding the husky man’s scream. Looking over my knife again, I just stood there, laughing without end.

Yes, Mako is my beloved wolf…

My name is Red, the color of fresh blood, and you look… Interesting… Mako!

We can actually enjoy this one!

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