Twisted Fairy Tale: Red and Grandmother’s Dinner by Jo Wu

Welcome to the 8th annual #SpookyShowcase! The Spooky Showcase celebrates the dark minds of creatives around the world through short stories and artistic creations that are dark in nature, macabre, or horror themed.

This year’s theme is Twisted Fairy Tales. Expect twisted legends, creepy creations, and dark fairy tales that will keep you up at night. Visit each day in the month of October for a scare. The master schedule is here.

Red and Grandmother’s Dinner

By Jo Wu

I watched her skipping down the path, a new young woman full of life and vigor, with lustrous black hair and cheeks that blushed like rosy sunrises. Her skirts bloomed around her like petals, and her hair was bound in long thick braids. I think of how she would taste. Better than chicken. Humans come in all sorts of shapes and flavors. I personally love the softness of young maidens, the heat that comes from sinking my fangs into them, filling my belly with their life essence and the tender juiciness of their flesh and blood. I watch her collect chamomile and primrose flowers, and prowl towards her, careful not to let my claws scrape against the ground. I have to appear as gentlemanly as I can, don’t I?

“Hello there, little girl.”

She looked up from her flower picking, a frown crossing her face. “What do you want?”

Her bluntness has me taken aback. “I only wanted to say hello. What’s the matter, did your mother tell you not to speak to strangers?”

“What kind of question is that? My mother doesn’t have anything to do with this conversation, and I can speak to whoever I please, thank you very much.”

“Now now, what’s the matter? What is aggravating you, child?”

She rolled her eyes. “You are. Go away, I’m collecting medicinal plants for my grandmother.”

“Medicinal plants? Ah, that’s why you’re picking the chamomile and primroses.” I jabbed my snout to my left. “What if I told you that there are some lavenders growing on the outskirts of the meadow to the left of us?”

“I already saw them.” She didn’t meet my eyes. Her voice swooped into a growl, like a feral bitch protecting her pups.

“Oh, what a smart girl you are then. Familiar with these woods? Come around often?”

She threw a rock at me. It grazed my ears. She shot up to her feet, fists clenched at her sides. “I’m warning you! Get lost, or I will kill you!”

What an empty threat. How could a young girl like her kill a mighty wolf like me? Especially a very hungry wolf? I will do what I can to get my food. I slinked away, still waving my tail like a flag. Not a defeat, merely a retreat.

Now that I had a scent on her, she smelled sweet and savory, much like a fresh fat doughy pretzel sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I sniffed the air. I contemplated asking her where her grandmother lived, but her scent would do. It would lead me to the old lady.

I bounded off to her grandmother’s cottage, following the same sugar-sprinkled pretzel scent to her home. What a charming little cottage it was too, with roses and orchids blooming all around it.

I peeked through the window. There was the old lady, sitting at her black sewing machine embossed with painted flowers. The sewing machine whirred and hummed along to the tapping of her feet. A table of potions bubbled over fires next to a stack of dried roots and flowers. Grandma looked delicious, with crisp bones and delicate crepe-like skin. Such a contrast to the plumpness of her granddaughter. Together they would make a delightful texture smorgasbord. How to look less intimidating so I could approach her?

Laundry hung outside the cottage, warming in the sun. 

I plucked a red dress and a sleeping bonnet from the line and stuffed myself into them. Perhaps the clothes would make me look more sheepish and endearing, like a little doll, like her granddaughter. 

Careful not to let my claws scratch the painted wooden door, I knocked.

“Ruby?” The sewing machine stopped. Grandma’s voice was firmer and louder than I expected. So much for a feeble old lady. “Is that you?”

I raised my voice higher. “Y-Yes, grandmama!”

“Grandmama?” Her voice grew louder. “Since when have you ever called me by that nonsense?”

Upon swinging the door open, the old lady frowned down at me, crossing her arms over her chest. Whatever happened to grandmas who offered cookies and milk to stray wolves like me?

“Well, well Red. You’re a growing girl, alright. What big ears you have.”

“The better to hear your sweet voice, Grandmama–er, I mean, Grandmother!”

“What big eyes you have.”

“The better to see you with.”

“And what big, sharp teeth you have.”

“The better to eat you!”

My haunches launched me into the air like a powerful spring. But just as I was about to make my descent and pounce on the old lady, I froze mid-air.

The old lady stared at me, her eyes never leaving my eyes. She stared up at me, like a predator herself.

“I warned you,” hissed a younger voice from behind me. “I really will kill you. Or rather, my grandmother and I will kill you.”

The granddaughter stood at the cottage entrance, her shadow stretching into the room. The florals she carried in her basket swept throughout the cottage with their perfume.

“Your…your grandmother isn’t sick?”

“Why in the world would my grandmother be sick?” Red shut the door behind her. The lock clacked, cold metal scraping and slapping against cold metal. 

“The…the medicinal plants–”

“So just because I’m bringing medicinal plants for her, you think she’s sick?”

Damn. Who had ever heard of a strong and healthy grandmother in a tale? 

“You wanted to eat us?” cackled the grandmother. “We’ll eat you. Haven’t had wolf meat in so long. We do have rapunzels and scallions that are ready to be cut and cooked, and some turmeric imported. I’m quite eager to cook with them.”

Another knock on the door.

“Now who could that be?” pondered the grandmother.

Her granddaughter opened the door. A hunter, dressed in leather and carrying a gun strapped to his back, took off his hat and bowed his head before her.

“Pardon my intrusion, young lady. I did see that the wolf entered your grandmother’s home, and I’d like to offer my services to help you both dispose of this mongrel. After all, this is no job for ladies.”

“That’s very kind of you,” snapped the granddaughter. “But we can decide for ourselves what we are capable of.”

After the granddaughter shut and relocked the door on him, the grandmother gathered the herbs and medicinal plants that her granddaughter had brought and turned off the fires that heated her potions. Then, she turned on the stove and warmed the oven. 

I remained frozen in the air, the scent of herbs tickling my nose and bathing me in its enticing, warm scents. Oh dear. At least I’ll smell and taste delicious.

About the Author

author-pic-jo-wuJo Wu is an author born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she studied Biology and Creative Writing at UC Berkeley. She has been published in anthologies, and her short story, “Devoured by Envy,” was praised by Publishers Weekly as “the most Gothic of the successful stories” from the gothic romance anthology Darker Edge of Desire.

When writing, she can be found typing away in her Google Docs, accompanied by a Poisoned Apple mug that is constantly refilled with green tea, while blasting a mix of metal and orchestral scores. When she is not writing, she will be sewing her next costume or deadlifting her next powerlifting goal.

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