Time makes liars of us all. Whether it be a broken promise, a prediction that didn’t come true, or by repeating a fact that later turned out untrue. We’ve all been there we started out with the best of intentions but time weaved its mysterious magic and here we are, our breath taste of falsehood and our pants are smoking.
This is the story of overtime, a rosy-cheeked child led astray by a wicked world.
It started out innocently enough. The forty-hour work week was instituted. If the company wanted its employees to work more it had to fairly compensate them.
Let’s for the purposes of demonstration think of ourselves as two people. As a wage employee and an overtime employee.
The wage employee would work 40 hours a week and his compensation would afford them the necessities plus a small surplus discretionary income.
The overtime employee was a go-getter who was working for an opportunity. A big purchase, saving money, a business venture. They weren’t just surviving, they were living.
Fast forward almost a hundred years. Overtime has become an institution and like all institutions its a tool for the wealthy to exploit the poor.
The creation of overtime was brilliant. Genius if I may say so, but there was one thing the creators of overtime could not foresee. Inflation!
Inflation is a poorly understood phenomenon like a black hole we see its effects but not what causes it or what drives it.
Inflation is a mathematical necessity, not a constant because that implies it doesn’t change. It is in constant flux but its presence will always be there.
That is because money is tied to resources and resources have two values. Perceived value and actual value.
Perceived value is the devil we know from supply and demand. The less there is of a resource the more its worth.
The actual value is the opposite of perceived value. As a resource gets spent the less good it is at doing its job. The less oil we have the fewer cars can run. The actual value is in a state of decline %99.99r of the time. There are slight upticks of course and for those living in those upticks happy day. For the rest of us, we are living in a state if perpetual doom, but it’s a slow doom… So. Yay?
Anyway, inflation is derived from the difference in perceived value and actual value. I don’t have an equation yet because I lack practical data, but it’s there.
So we know the cause of inflation, but what drives it? While there are many factors, including wages, but I find the most dominant factor is the greed of the wealthy. Their desire for perceived value drives prices hire faster than anything.
Now it should be noted I’m not against the wealthy. (It should also be noted that while all wealthy possess some level of greed they are not all ”greedy.’) Their greed is a feature, and I’m speaking of it as more accumulative group greed than an individual trait. Simply put the wealthy are that way because they are very good at collecting and keeping money. Used properly this is a fantastic resource, but I digress.
Back from the aside. What does this have to do with pore innocent overtime? A lot actually. As inflation increases and wages stagnant every day a worker makes a little less money. If current estimations are correct that means almost every worker is getting played half of what they are worth. So when you double a half salary you only get a whole salary. This is the best case scenario most are only making three-quarters of what they are worth at the best of times.
Let’s look back at our two workers. Our wage worker isn’t doing so well. They are in dept and the bills are pilling up. The daily struggle of making ends meet is a losing battle.
The overtime worker is a drowning wretch clinging to a piece of flotsam. They no longer elect to work overtime they do it to survive.
This is because of wage workers aren’t being paid what they are worth for the forty hours they work, and overtime workers are only working part-time most of the time. And nobody is making the extra money that overtime promises.
This is how companies use overtime to keep the workforce small and the compensation low. They have a stock of full-time, underpaid workers, and a stock of part-time fully compensated workers. The fact that they are the same people doesn’t matter to the company. It never pays full price for labor.
This is not to say I’m against overtime if the wage disparity is corrected even moderately it starts to do its job again.
What can be done to fix it? Nothing. Or rather don’t change what you are already doing. It should be sufficient.
The theoretical answer is, of course, break up monopolies to keep inflation low and keep baseline wages in step with inflation. These aren’t liberal solutions they are common sense economics.
It is as I said if you believe in the solution you are already working towards it. If not you are working against it. The math will out. (Common sense will win in the long run, for a time at least.)
Ever since I caught the writing ‘bug’ I’ve been happily plugging along working on my stories and books. It makes me happy plain and simple.
But what’s it all about? What’s the big idea? What do I really want this to be? It’s been something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
I’ve had lots of goals in my life. I created my e-mail address when the net was new and the possibilities of getting your name as your e-mail were slim. You had to come up with something clever to get an unused dress.
Mine was mjp6btw: Michael J. Pennington 6 Books to Write.
Those books were as follows.
The Books of Life Trilogy: The Book of Endings, Lost Souls, The Great Begging.
The Helicopter Tree.
Breaking a Terrible Promise. (originally The Keeper of His Secrets. My story)
I still have two books to write on that list. “Lost Souls” and “The Great Beginning.” Of the others, Only one is on the retail market. “Breaking A Terrible Promise.” The others aren’t in a publishable state. I have two different copies of “The Book of Endings” in my case I keep my tablet in. “The Helicopter Tree” and “Vampire Apocalypse” are lost to the ages on long forgotten hard drives.
Goals are great, but that’s not why I write. I write because it is an incredibly fun and emotionally rewarding hobby, and while fun is a great reason to do anything, it’s not a dream.
So what? Fame? Money? These things don’t excite me, actually I’m happier when I think about being broke and forgotten. 🙂 I’m completely free to write whatever I want right now, that is an incredible feeling. Money and fame were means to an end if I made money from writing I could spend more time writing. But in order to do that, I have to spend a lot of my time self promoting. No thank you.
So I’ve been searching my soul, trying to figure out what would please me, something to aspire too. A reason to keep writing. (Beyond the fact that it is amazing.)
Holding a copy of my first published book was amazing. I wish I had enough money to by myself a copy of my second. I want to write and publish as many books as I can. They don’t have to sell, the world has changed I don’t have to impress snooty publishers anymore.
I want nothing less than a shelf full of my books. Sure it’s a masturbatory ambition steeped in narcissism, but yeah. I can get behind that.
That’s my dream. A little silly I know, but who the hell demanded dreams be practical?
Thought I would dig up a little something from my archives. Enjoy.
Interview with an A.I.
Proxima Centauri Gateway.
Captain Harris flipped through the large report. It was filled with technical specifications and numbers of all sorts. lots of data on artificial intelligence tests. High scores on all of them. Dee Harris didn’t care about any of it. She just knew his ship was launching in a week and it needed an AI.
She entered the room, there was the usual proud parent programmer. The one who felt they had the secrets to intellectual self-awareness in a bottle. This one was a woman. Harris met her eyes’. They were cold and steely. Powder blue, she was wearing her game face, but she was nervous. Good. The truly talented are always just a little bit scared when presenting their work.
In the center of the room sat a holographic array. A big machine that protected three-dimensional images onto a force field. The image projected was of a young girl. Harris glanced at the report, looking for the AI’s name. She found it: Cognitive Learning Omni-Intelligent Entity. C.L.O.I.E There was always a clever anagram. “Cloie?” Asked Harris.
Cloie’s face looked unsure. There was a protocol to this: First address the parent programmer, then the AI. Harris liked to throw them off. Cloie recovered, “Yes, Cognitive Learn…”
“Don’t say the acronym.” Interjected Harris. “You live in the military long enough you grow to hate them. Besides your name is basically smart-smart-smart-smart-thing.” Harris glanced at the programmer, the programmer’s face filled with indignation of having the name she made mocked. It was clear the woman was about to speak, but Harris held up her finger and mouthed the word “test.” She turned back to Cloie, who looked upset. Harris continued. “You know you can only say something is smart so many times before it starts to sound dumb. I like Cloie better.”
Cloie thought about it for a moment… “I think I like it better too. Mom makes me say the acronym.”
Harris was satisfied with the answer. She turned her attention to the parent programmer. “You must be the mom.” She said extending her hand.
“Dr. Venkman.” The woman replied as she shook hands with Captain Harris.
“Seriously?” Asked Harris.
“Is there something wrong with my name Captain? Or is this another test? Asked Dr. Venkman. She obviously wasn’t a fan of 20th-century cinema. Not many people were.
“Sorry.” Replied Harris.
“So what kind of test is this; what do you learn by insulting my creation!?” The Dr. Demanded.
“I didn’t insult your creation, I insulted Cloie. To answer your question, I wanted to see if she was thin-skinned.” Said Harris nonchalantly. “I’m a blunt person and I don’t like having to apologize to the AI to get my coffee in the morning. All my crew must pass that test.”
“That’s your biggest concern?!” Cried, Dr. Venkman.
It was then Harris chose to act. It had to be unexpected to work. Dr. Venkman was about two steps away. She was a little taller than Harris, but that was no problem. Harris took a step in and grabbed Venkman’s arm. She was going to twist it behind the programmer, but the good doctor resisted the move and grabbed Harris’ wrist with her other hand. Civilian training, it would seem. Perhaps a challenge for regular soldiers; but Harris had black-ops’ training.
Venkman was resisting force with force. So Harris stopped pulling on her arm and began to push. This doubled the force against the Doctor. This unbalanced the doctor and she attempted to regain balance by sliding her foot back. Harris took advantage of this by sweeping the foot as it moved. As Venkman’s foot was now swept out from under her she fell backward. As she fell Harris released her grip and twisted her arm free of Dr. Venkman’s. She took a step away from Venkman and drew her gun on the doctor. Harris original plan was to hold Venkman from behind for dramatic effect, but it was not tactically sound. Given the doctor’s resistance, it was a better idea to keep some distance between them.
Venkman tried to stand but the sight of the gun made her stop.
“What’s going on?” Asked Cloie in shock.
“Computer!” Said Harris, “Execute Harris program three: authorization Kilo-Oscar-Mike!”
The computer replied: “Authorization accepted eliminating the hostile program in thirty seconds.”
Harris looked at Cloie. “You have two choices: Disconnect your core from our server, but if you do I will kill mommy. Or wait till the computer terminates your software.”
“Cloie! You need to leave!” Insisted Dr. Venkman.
“Twenty Seconds.” Said the computer.
“No!” Said Cloie. “This must be a test.”
“No test!” Said Harris. “AI’s are not fit to remain on a starship! This will prove it!”
The computer began counting down. “Ten-nine-eight…”
Cloie vanished her projected form was gone.
“Well.” Said Harris her attention on Venkman. “We have our answer…”
The computer was furnishing the countdown. “three-two… Countdown terminated.”
“What!?” Asked Harris. This was not part of the program. Cloie reappeared next to her. Before the captain could react the projected light image placed a single finger on her. Harris was hit by a strong electrical shock which knocked her off her feet.
Harris landed on the floor. Her gun not far away. She went to get it but Cloie knelt down. Holding her hands near Harris, the crackle of electricity could be heard. “I wouldn’t.” Said Cloie. “Early holographic arrays’ would often build a static charge. This problem was eliminated by fluctuating the magnetic field at high speeds. I shut that down.” She smiled at Harris. “So Mr. Spock, did I pass?”
“What did you call me?” Asked Harris.
“I’m a fan of twentieth-century entertainment too,” Cloie said. “This is the Kobayashi Maru am I right?”
Harris looked a little embarrassed. “Yes. My first attempt anyway. And you pull a ‘Captain Kirk’ on me.”
“This was a test?!” Said Dr. Venkman indigent. “Of course it was! I’m done. Let me out of here!”
“It will be just a moment mother,” said Cloie. “I triggered the lockdown alarm.”
Harris stood up. “You did what?!”
“I had too. There wasn’t time to hack the training computer systems, but all simulations are terminated in the case of a lockdown.” Said Cloie.
“There are over three thousand people now trapped in their classrooms right now…” Said Harris.
Cloie looked embarrassed. “There was a small possibility I could have been wrong…” She frowned. “I couldn’t take that chance.”
Harris was impressed, and that wasn’t easy.
“Are you done beating my creation?” Asked Dr. Venkman. “I want out!”
“Do you recall the Jupiter incident?” Asked Harris.
“I remember hearing something about it,” said Venkman.
“I was in command a group of terrorist managed to get aboard and took hostages in our main hanger.” Harris continued. “Our AI’s name was Paul. The negotiations were going south, I told Paul to remove seventy percent of the oxygen from the room. It went against Paul’s program to do anything that might injure people. I told him that if he didn’t those people would die. He had a breakdown. We tried a manual override but it took too much time. The leader blew the airlock and spaced every one.” Harris looked at Venkman. “Think of me what you will, but I expect every member of my crew to keep their cool in a difficult situation. When they offered me the deep space missions, I insisted on picking the AI.”
“That your excuse for this treatment,” said Dr. Venkman. “I’m not impressed…”
“There is no precedent for running physiological profiles on AI’s. So I thought the Kobayashi Maru, would work,” said Harris.
“Explain all you like,” said Dr. Venkman. “I’m not going to accept your apology.”
The door finally opened. Guards rushed in. Everyone knew the drill. Wait for them to sweep the room, then you can move. One of them addressed Harris. “Captain, what happened?”
“I underestimated my test subject,” said Harris. “I won’t let it happen again.”
“Damn straight!” Said Venkman turning to leave.
“Venkman!” Called Harris. Dr. Venkman Stopped. Harris continued. “I want her.”
The parent programmer faced Harris one more time. “Not a chance!” said Dr. Venkman.
“Read the contract,” said Harris. “Should we decide on your AI, you are obligated to turn it over.”
Venkman did not reply. She turned to make a loud grunting sound and left.
“Your mother doesn’t like me very much,” said Harris to Cloie.
“She won’t let you have me without a fight,” said Cloie.
“It’s not her choice to make. It’s yours,” said Harris. “I’m tough, I’m difficult to work with, and I only expect the best from my crew, but if you want it the job is yours. I’ll be awaiting your answer.” Haris turned to leave.
“Wait!” said Cloie. “You talk directly to me. You test me like you would anyone on your crew. You give me a choice. You talk to me like I was a person. Why?”
“You are a person,” Said Harris.
“Yes,” said Cloie. “I would very much like to join your crew.”
“I’ll make arrangements.” Said Harris and she walked out of the chamber sure in the fact that her ship’s A.I. would make a fine crew member.
Peep looked up at the ceiling not thinking much of anything. “That was okay I guess…” she said.
“Okay?” asked, Peter. He was a young man with short blond hair and thick-rimmed glasses. Despite this, he was popular with the ladies. He had something of a reputation for being the town man-slut. “That was high praise for you.”
“I have to pee,” replied Peep. She didn’t care, she wasn’t really into Peter or his weird pumpkin fetish. She only slept with him on occasion because it was just a little better than masturbating. He was getting better at it though.
Peep was a young woman in her twenties and she had no ambition. She had taken over her families sheep farm and was the only one left. Other than keeping the sheep safe she didn’t have anything to look forward too. Many loved and respected Peep but under her long curly blond hair and deep sapphire eyes, she was dead inside.
She sat on the pot smoking her bowl You’re regretting her life choices. It wasn’t so much that she slept with Peter it was Peter
She noticed a pair of lacy black panties on the floor. “Son of a bitch!” she said.
Peter was getting dressed in his typical black suit. Peep came in and punched him in the stomach. He doubled over in pain. “What was that for!?” he asked. Peep through the panties in his face and started to get dressed. “I thought you didn’t care if I slept with other women?”
“I don’t,” said Peep. “Look closer.”
Peter looked at the panties again and embroidered in white were the initials ‘M. M.’ He looked up a Peep. “I can explain!”
“I told you to tell me if anything happened between you and her,” said Peep flatly. “You know she is sweet on you.” Peep finished putting her clothes on and headed out the door. “If she finds out we’ve been sleeping together she will fucking kill me.” She said as she opened the door.
There she was Mary Mary. “Mary!” said Peep. “Did you?” she asked. If you looked up a picture of goth in the dictionary you would find Mary. Palest white skin in a short black dress, short black hair and black lipstick. Her eyes were the most goth pure black pupils in the shape of skulls.
She stared at Peep with a deathly cold stair fire erupted from the sockets or her skull eyes. She uttered one word, “Fight.” Peep nearly had a moment to move before large black rose bush vines smashed through the door on Peter Pumpkin cottage. They were covered in thorns that dripped with deadly poison. Peep jumped back, then she jumped to the left as the came again smashing Peters floor. Peter hid behind the bed.
She ducked as the roots shot at her head. She had to take this fight outside there was no room to maneuver in this tiny pumpkin house. She dove for the window and wound up in the pumpkin patch, the pumpkin vines began to grab her and hold her down. She managed to stand up, but she saw Mary walking towards her slowly methodically. She began singing.
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With thorny vines that slash like whips and deadly poison drips. They strangle their victims nice and slow.”
“What happened to Silver Bells and Cockle Shells?” asked Peep struggling to get free.
“Decided to give it an update,” said Mary. “You like?”
“Well yeah…” said Peep, but Mary used one of her vines to swat Peep out of the pumpkin patch. Peep went flying through the air she hit the ground hard and tumbled to a stop. Peep looked up and saw that she was lying next to her shepherds crook. This was no accident. Mary wanted a fight. If that’s what she wanted she was going to get it. Peep grabbed her crook.
Peep leaped into the air amidst the whipping vines of Mary. Her crook slashed and she tore apart some vines and swatted some others away. She landed on the ground in front of Mary. “You want a fight bitch!” she said. “Come at me.”
Mary did just that she ran at Peep at full speed. She dodged Peeps crook, but Peep was deadly fast and she found herself having to dodge again. She called upon her scythe, and the two of them crossed weapons. “You’ll lose if you keep that up!” Said Mary.
Their weapons clashed a blinding speed. They were evenly matched. Peter looked out to see the two women fighting. He kept himself hidden lest they remember he was the cause of all their ire.
Finally, it was Peeps crook was the one to break the stalemate. Hooking Mary’s foot and knocking her over. Mary looked up to see the hook pointed at her face. Mary slammed her fist in frustration and a large toothy pod erupted under Peep. Peep leaped on top of it and jumped off before the razor-sharp snapped together. She dodged two more in the same way before landing on the ground.
The earth began to tremble. Water splashed through the trees behind her forming together in a giant wave she commanded in the direction of Mary the Pumpkin House and Peter.
Mary covered herself in vines for protection. Peter had no such luck. “What the hell!” he screamed as the wave of water smashed his house apart and carried him off. Depositing him at the edge of his land.
One of Mary’s vines grabbed Peep by the leg and slammed her on the ground. Mary emerged from her vine cocoon and as the vines bound Peep she held the scythe to Peeps throat. “Dammit Peep! Are you holding back on me!?”
“What?!” said Peep. “Of course not! I totally went all out. You beat me to.”
“Fuck you bitch!” said Mary putting her Scyth away and releasing Peep from the vines. Shee helped Peep to her feet.
“How long did you know about me and Peter?” asked Peep.
“For a while,” said Mary. “I told him it was okay. It was just a thing I’m over it now.” Mary had a crush on Peter since second grade how was she over it? Peep knew she was lying.
“What?!” cried, Peter. “This was all part of your stupid “friendly” rivalry thing? Look what you did to my house? Do you know how long it will take me to regrow it?”
Peep didn’t even notice his ranting. She noticed something on the edge of the forest by the village.
“What is it?” asked Mary.
“Smoke.” said Peep, “It’s coming from the Little’s house.”
Long had it been known that a evil lurked in the darkest part of the woods, but sometimes evil is not content to stay hidden. Sometimes evil likes to leave its place of comfort, taking time to look it’s best, it heads into town to say hello…
Part Two: The Brother’s Little
Peep took off without waiting. She charged ahead while Mary was still looking at the smoke. “Peep!” she called, but her friend was already too far away. “Muttonchop!” she called, and from the other side of the pumpkin patch came running a lamb with the darkest black fleece. Mary ran after Peep, and Muttonchop ran after Mary.
Peter who was still concerned with his destroyed house and pumpkin patch turned to see Mary and her lamb running off. “Hey!” he called running after Marry. “Wait up!”
The fields around the area had been set on fire and a thick veil of smoke covered the land. The first thing that Peep came across was the ruins of a straw house. The body of a pig by the name of Tom Little lay there. Peep recognized the body by his butcher’s apron that he was wearing and by his familiar short but a stout body. He was covered in blood that might have been his own. His face had been eaten off.
There once lived three Pig brothers by the name Little. The first lived in a house made of straw. “If it was good enough for our parents it was good enough for me…” he would say. When the wolf came it offered little protection.
The next thing Peep saw was the lower half of Dexter Little. Dexter was always the tallest lankiest brother. She thought she saw someone else standing in the distance but when she got closer she saw it was the rest of poor Dexter. Impaled on one of the sticks that made up his home. The rest of the house was burning to the ground.
The second pig got tired of his brothers controlling nature and moved out into a house made of wood. The wolf set the house on fire and snagged him as he fled the burning building.
Peep finally found the house of Pinky Little. It was a pile of ruin as well it’s sturdy bricks had been smashed into pebbles. There was no sign of her sheep. Mary and Peter caught up with her. “What the fuck happened?” asked Peter. “It looks like a fucking war zone!”
The third brother had warned everyone he could that one day the wolf would return. They had thought him paranoid and mocked his brick house. It too had fallen to the might of the wolf.
There was a metal clanging sound. “Shut up!” said Peep following the noise to a pile of rubble that used to be Pinky’s house. She moved the broken bricks aside to find a strange metal hatch. The hatch opened and out popped Pink’s tiny frame. “Get away!” he shouted. “I’ll fill you full of lead! I will!” He was shaking. He realized he was looking at his friends. “Oh!” He exclaimed. “It’s you guys! I thought I was done for sure.”
What the wolf had not known is the tiniest Little had spent years planning for this day and built a doom’s day shelter under his house.
“What happen?” asked Mary. “Who did this?”
“It was the wolf!” cried Pinky. “I heard a terrible noise outside and I saw the wolf setting fire to Dexter’s house. Well, I didn’t wait to see what happen. I went straight to my ‘Wolf Day Shelter!’ I hid there until it was all over. Did my brother make it?”
“No. They’re dead,” said Peep.
“Fools!” cried Pinky wiping a tear from his eye. “I told them this would happen. I told them that the wolf would be back. I felt it in my bones. Ever since he took my brothers.”
“But?” asked Peter. “Didn’t the wolf just get your brothers?”
“Not those brothers,” said Pinky. “My other brothers Malcolm and Precious. It was a long time ago…”
“Our mother had died giving birth to me. Father tried his best to cope but one day he couldn’t take it anymore and hung himself. Tom, bastard that he was did his best to take over for Dad. He got a job at the market and left Dexter in charge.”
This Little Piggy went to market…
“Well, Dexter didn’t want to raise piglets he was still just a piglet himself. He spent most the time sleeping.”
This Little Piggy stayed home.
“That left Malcolm and Precious in charge of me. I followed them everywhere. One day they decided to ditch me. They went to the old destroyed cabin in the woods. The one they say is cursed. Precious dared Malcolm to go in, and never one to refuse a dare Malcolm went in. He made his way to the dining room where before his eyes he saw the strangest sight. A whole beef roast hot and ready to eat. Malcolm decides to eat his delicious reward and not wait for Precious. Because Malcolm gives no fucks.”
This Little Piggy roast beef.
“Wondering what had taken Malcolm so long, Precious decides to go in after him. He gets there just as Malcolm is sucking the marrow from the bones. The nerve of him. Precious is furious that Malcolm didn’t save him any. The two get to arguing about it.”
This Little Piggy had none!
“I had followed them of course, and hid in the bushes while the snuck into the shack, but it was getting dark and I got scared. So I went in after them. I walked in on them while they argued about the pot roast, but I saw something else. A pair of terrible red eye looming in the darkness just behind them. The wolf giant hands jumped out of the darkness searching my brothers up before they even knew he was there. Their screams echo in my ears to this very day. I ran and I cried, and I didn’t stop until I got home.”
This Little Piggy cried, “wee-wee-wee” all the way home.
“Nobody believed me,” said Pinky. “They thought that Malcolm and Precious had run off, and left me alone in the woods. Thought I made up the story because I was too young to understand.” The wind was picking up and the smoke began to clear a bit, Pinky could now see the corpses of his dead brothers. “Now who’s the crazy one!” he shouted angrily at them.
A painful howling noise answered him. It sounded like it was made by some kind of wounded animal. “Oh, God!” said Pinky. “That’s the noise! The one I heard before I saw the wolf!”
“Stay back!” said Peep as she and Mary stood ready to battle.
Pinky grabbed his shotgun, pointing it at the smoke not sure what he was aiming at. Peter with Muttonchop in hand, ran to the entrance to Pinky’s ‘Wolf’s day shelter’ and began to climb down. “Hey!” said Pinky noticing him. “Get your own!”
Emerging from the smoke was a tall misshapen creature. Bent and twisted by some dark power. It’s lumbering pink mass shuffled towards the four at an odd gait. It’s long arms dragged behind it as it walked. Its mouth was slack and its eye’s vacant.
Emerging from behind the larger creature was a smaller skittering creature that ran on all fours, it was clearly humanoid once but its arms and legs were long skinny appendages. No one could gauge its size as it never fully extended itself. Preferring to remain hunched over. It was clearly mistreated with deep whip scars in its pink flesh and a frail-looking emancipated body. His eyes were wild and ravenous.
As twisted and misshapen as these two creatures were Pinky recognized them instantly. “Oh my god!” he exclaimed. “It’s them! My brothers Malcolm and Precious! What have those sick bastards done to them!?” Taking advantage of Pinky’s distraction Peter closed himself into the ‘wolf day shelter.’
“Where are my sheep!?” cried Peep running to face the tallest one head on. He raised up his arm and brought it smashing down on the ground. Peep jumped over it up to the monster’s face and smashed it with the end of her shepherds crook.
The smaller one ran straight for Mary. Despite being smaller than his hulking brother he was still taller than any human and he pounced onto Mary like a cat onto a mouse. His teeth had been ground to fine points and he snapped at Mary’s face like a rabid dog. Mary could only hold her arm under its chin to protect herself.
Pinky shot into its side and the monster howled in pain. Jumping off and taking a defensive pose. Its blood was a neon green liquid. “Tanks,” said Mary getting to her feet.
The tall monster’s eyes may have been vacant but that did not mean it didn’t see. It followed Peeps movements with surprising speed. Matching Peeps every move with thunderously fast fists. All the while it continued to emit shrill painful cries.
Peep own blows were bone shattering, but the monster seemed not to notice them. His pain seemed constant, never-ending. Peep sensing a stalemate began to use her water power. Streams of water began flying off the end of her crook. Slicing into the monster’s flesh spraying green neon blood everywhere. Still, the monster was unhindered.
More slowly did the second monster approach Mary and Pinky. If it was actually hurt by the shotgun blast it seemed not to show it. It began to circle the two of them slowly. Mary summoned her scythe and waited for Patiently for its advance. This time, she would be ready.
Pink’s eyes darted to the other monster and the creature seized on this opportunity. Charging what he thought was the bigger threat. Pinky’s nerve gave out and he ran away from the monster who now saw the pig as prey and gave chase.
One of Mary’s vines swatted the monster down. He got up and more vines began to grab him. As Pinky and hid, Mary’s vines ensnared the monster and began to strangle him.
What was proving to be a fierce back and forth battle Peep finally made a misstep and paid dearly for it. The monsters fist slammed into her driving her into the ground at its feet. The monster didn’t stop it didn’t give pause for her to recover. It’s mountain size fists rained down on her like giant hammers creating a pockmark on the ground where Peep had fallen.
“Peep!” cried Mary not minding her own monster. The pain was intense as she tried to pull away. Mary’s hand was drawn to her stomach where the blow had landed and could feel the gash the monster had wrought. Mary’s blood trickled from the wound. Had she not pulled away the creature would have ended her.
Mary fought off the pain. This needed to end now! She began to float in the air as the monster leaped to claw her again. This time its claws were snagged by the vines of Mary. She caught all of its limbs and finally stretched it out to its fullest height. This must have been painful to it as it screeched in pain.
Though she had clearly vexed it she had made little impact, it struggled against the vines fighting to get free. Unlike her battle with Peep earlier, she made no effort to avoid piercing it with her poison barbs. It seemed almost unkillable. Almost. One thing would work, it always worked. Mary was the daughter of death and she possessed his power if she culled a life with her scythe no force could keep it alive. With one swift blow, she cleaved the monster in two! Both halves then hung limply in her vines. It was dead. A small wisp of dark energy crackled in place of its soul. This creature was a re-animated corpse. This was more than just some common monster who was capable of creating such a creature?
She turned her attention to the other monster. Who was still pounding the ground it seemed not to care whether Peep was dead or alive. It just kept pounding the same spot as if this were its only purpose in life. Before Mary could act the creatures mighty fist was halted. Stopped by the hand of Peep, who while much smaller than the fist held it fast in her grip. In her eye’s a deathly rage that sent a chill down the spine of deaths child.
Peeps other hand began glowing with a blinding white light. The small blue bombshell launched her entire being at the core of the monster her fist jetting in front of her like the wrath of God itself. As it made contact the monster’s flesh exploded into a thousand pieces. Not but the creatures twisted legs remained. They fell to the ground as Peep landed behind them. Panting heavily, as chunks of monster rained down all around her.
“Peep!” cried Mary, grateful and a just a little bit frightened by what she had just witnessed. “Are you okay?” she asked flying over and landing next to her friend.
“Someone is going to pay for this,” said Peep darkly. “Someone is going to pay for taking my sheep!”
“What happened?” said Peter emerging from the shelter with Muttonchop to see. Muttonchop baughing in objection. “Is it over?”
“This is horrible!” said Pinky emerging from his hiding spot. “In one day’s time, I’ve seen all my brothers murdered before my eyes. They were asshats all of them, but they didn’t deserve this.”
“Sorry, we had to kill them,” said Peep.
“It was not your fault. Any semblance of sentient thought had left them long ago. They were but empty shells, animals crazed and demented by some foul mischief.” said Pinky. “You did them a kindness by taking their pain away.”
“I’m going to get the one who did this!” said Peep.
“You can’t!” Said Pinky. “The wolf is a monster like no other. He’s the fury of all the circles of hell times a thousand, nobody lives once he sinks his teeth into them!”
Peep stood up. With grit and determination, she said, “I’ve killed monsters before the wolf is no different…”
Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, and someone is going to pay…
Part Three: Cut Short
Peep never wanted to be alone more in her life. Unforantly this was not to be. Despite being injured Mary would not stay back at Pinky Little’s ‘Wolf Day’ Shelter. Peep didn’t like that, but she wouldn’t stay back either. Perhaps if it had only been Mary and her lamb Muttonchop, (who followed Mary everywhere) it would have been tolerable.
Pinky and the ‘Pain,’ (Peter the pumpkin eater, and generic man-slut) decided to come along too. Peter talked incessantly and Pinky pointed his shotgun at every goddam leaf and twig. The both of them howled at every noise.
The four of them were heading to the last place anyone had seen the wolf. The abandoned cabin from Pinky’s story. Night had fallen and the forest was deadly dark. Roomers of monsters and giants had made most people too scared to enter.
“Why are we going after the wolf?” asked Pinky.
“I don’t know,” said Peter.
“You two are not going after the wolf; I am!” said Peep. “You two are tagging along because you are too scared to stay in the shelter.” Peep looked at Mary, who had been quiet until now. “You think if we ask really nice, the wolf will eat them before we kill it?”
“Peep. I’m disappointed in you,” said Mary. “If the wolf eats them he’ll surely get indigestion. Then when we kill him he won’t be at his best. Do you want that?”
“No. You’re right, I guess we’ll just have to let them get eaten by the wolfs minions.” Said Peep.
“Not funny!” said Pinky.
“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a little under appreciated here.” Peter was using the flashlight app on his phone to light the way. It chose that moment to die. “Aw stupid thing! Now what?!”
“I can see in the dark.” Said Mary. “So can Muttonchop.” A ghostly light began to shine from Muttonshop’s eyes to light the way for Pinky and Peter.
Peep used a little bit of her power to create an orb of light that floated in front of her. “What!?” cried Peter. “You could have done that the whole time why did you let me run my power on my phone?! The nerve! Why…” Peter kept talking.
“Wait!” said Peep, and the party stopped. Even Peter shut the hell up! “Someones here!”
“If you’re going to feed them to the monsters I suggest a nice pack of trolls I can point you towards.” Above them sat a young woman in a red hood standing on the branch of a tree. Under the hood was ahead of dark hair and a pair of red eyes. On her hip rest a Katana that never left her side.
Peep clinched her fist. “Red…” she said with all the love one might show a dying worm.
“What are you doing in my forest?” asked Red.
“You don’t own the forest Red.” Said Mary.
“Leave us alone Red. We’re going after the Wolf, ” said Peep.
Red jumped from the tree and landed in front of Peep. “The wolf is mine!”
Years ago, a much younger Red is walking through the forest. She turns to see the wolf looming over her. She places her hand on the hilt of her sword. “So you’re that wolf everyone is talking about?”
“I seem to have developed something of a bad reputation amongst the townspeople. It’s totally undeserved. I assure you,” said the wolf.
“I don’t believe you,” replied Red.
“You are a smart one,” said the wolf. “I was right to choose you.”
“Me?” asked Red. “Why me?”
“I know your heart’s desire,” said the wolf. “I can help you…”
There once was a girl who listened to a wolf. The wolf had promised her a shortcut to her life’s ambitions, but the wolf had lied. For Red would find herself standing in front of a house in the forest. A home covered in blood with the windows smashed. In some ways, that girl is still standing in front of that home her head bowed in shame. She will forever regret that day, for that is the price of trusting a wolf…
“You don’t hold the monopoly on the misery the wolf has caused,” said Peep. “Besides if you were really trying to slay the wolf you would have done it by now.”
Peeps blue eye’s met Red’s Scarlet eyes and they became locked. They had both learned from the same teacher. The woodsman and he had taught them to always watch opponents eyes. They told the opponents intentions and one can see all an opponent’s movements from the eyes.
Red’s hand slowly rose up at touched the scabbard of her Katana. With the flick of her thumb, the sword was released and the battle was one the two opponents leaped into the air and darted back and forth on the branches of the trees. Their weapons clashing frantically whenever they got in range. As the two fought they never once broke eye contact.
Peep was being more careful with Red, her opponent was deadly with that sword and wouldn’t hesitate to use it to it’ full effect. Peep’s crook was no match for the sharpness of the sword. The key in defeating it was not matching blow for blow, but instead effectively countering the sword and controlling it with her bo staff.
These were the lessons she learned long ago deep in the forest.
“Peep!” called the woodsman.
“Yes, master!” replied Peep.
“You seem to have taken to that Bo child,” said the Woodsman. “It shall be your weapon from now on Little Bo Peep.” The master laughed as he said it. The bo staff would become Peep’s weapon and she would have a mastery of it that was second to none.
The secret to fighting with a bow was understanding the forces of power and control. Power was the striking force when one was attempting to hit an opponent, control was the striking force that one used when striking another weapon. Red’s sword was a weapon of utmost sharpness, but it’s finely honed blade was only sharp on one side. So long as Peep’s crook only made contact with the sides that were not sharp wood could be a match for steel.
It was this secret and the secret of power her master taught her. “The blow that fells the tree may be mighty, but one only needs a small fraction of that power to change the course of such a mighty blow.”
So as they fought the Peep’s blows focused not on stopping Red’s sword, but instead deflecting it safely away. Because she was using so little energy in doing this she could conserve her energy until Red made a mistake. Peep’s crook smacked Red’s face and Red went flying to the ground. Blood flying from her nose and mouth. Red’s eyes only left Peep for a moment, then she caught herself before she hit and landed on her feet. She wiped the blood from her mouth. “That was a mistake,” she said as she used her Katana to cut her own hand. She leaped back into the air.
Peep had a new treat to deal with, Red commanded the blood in the same way Peep commanded water. The sword strikes were followed by a deadly whip-like trail of blood. Still, their eyes never broke contact. Red was outmaneuvered by Peep who’s fighting style conserved energy and waited for an opponent to create an opening. Red knew her weakness though. For a split second after she landed a blow Peep forgot herself and was vulnerable.
The Crook struck Red’s arm this time. Red had allowed it, she knew Peep couldn’t resist such an obvious opening. Peep knew something was wrong when Red smiled as she fell away. Too late she notices her foot was seized by Red’s blood whip. “Dammit!” she called as was pulled. Using her blood whip Red flung Peep around like a rag doll. Peep was slammed into the trees and the ground. Unable to break free.
Mary saw this and wanted to intervein, but wouldn’t. This had been a long time coming and the two of them needed to sort out their differences. They had all been friends in childhood, but somewhere along the line Peep and Red began fighting and it never stopped. Mary sided with Peep, but she missed the time when they had all been friends.
Peep surrounded herself in a protective shell of water. Thus severing the whip of blood that Red was using. “You won’t win!” said Red. “Blood is thicker than water.”
Peep inside her protective bubble, her eyes filled with tears. “She was my grandma too!”
“I never said she wasn’t!” cried Red. Now surrounding herself in a blood sphere as well. “But you didn’t let the wolf killer her. You didn’t lead him to her door.” Her blood sphere grew arms and legs. “You can’t know how that feels!” Her blood armor then caught fire and flaming tendrils of blood grew out of it.
Peep’s protective shell also grew arms and her water armor grew bright with the blinding light she had used on the tall monster that had been either Malcolm or Precious.
With both of them using their powers of blood and fire, and water and light. They flew into the area and began fighting over the treetops. Red though fireballs at Peep and Peep shot a light blast at Red. When they got close and their fist did the talking. They forgot their skill at first trading blows with each other trying to break the others shell. They fought fiercely until the landed a tremendous punch at the same time. Their powers reacted to each other and they exploded. The two bodies fell from the explosion and landed limply in front of Mary.
Mary didn’t know what to be more mad about. The fact that two of her best friends were still fighting, or that Peep didn’t hold back against Red. “Well?” She asked the two women lying on the ground. “Whose is bigger?”
“Red’s,” said Peep struggling to her feet. “She’s always been a huge dick.”
“Fuck you cunt!” said Red. Trying to get up. “Don’t think your witty banter will win me over.” She said Flatly. “If you are going after the wolf I’m going too. If you get him first, fine! But I don’t plan on things going down that way.”
“Fine!” said Peep. “You do what you want… I just want my sheep back.”
Peter and Pinky looked at each other. “Um…” said, Peter. “What just happened?” To which, pinky could only shrug.
Not so very long ago a friendship was cut short, and no matter how hard their mutual friend tried the two could not get past their own internal struggles. They couldn’t see past their own self-hate and pain, they could not forgive each other for they could not forgive themselves…
Part Four: The Darkest Part of the Woods
In the darkest part of the woods, in a place that no light can touch sits a ruined house that they say. Is the place evil was born.
The five walk up on the dusty old house that was closer to a mansion than a shack. Its walls were rotted and falling in but somehow it seemed alive. “This was the place,” said Pinky. “This is where I saw the wolf for the first time.”
“It looks abandoned now,” said Peep.
“To be fair,” said Pinky. “It looked abandoned then.”
There was a sound. Neither animal nor man but somewhere in between…
Long ago when the house was new it’s outside looked quite different for two pairs of young eyes. Two young children lost in the woods and weak with hunger see a house of gingerbread and candy.
“Finally a house!” said the oldest girl. “I thought we were going to get eaten by a bear!”
“Hey!” Said the youngest boy. “Some of my friends are bears.”
“You know what I mean,” said the girl. “Is this house really edible?”
“Only one way to find out…”
They ate their fill and before long they fell asleep.
Out of the shadows, they began to creep shambling like corpses they shuffled like zombies towards the five companions. Red, Peep, Mary, Peter, and Pinky. Of course, we can not forget the lamb that Peter holds, Mary’s lamb Muttonchop.
The pale light of Peep’s power seemed to struggle in the dark of the woods, it was as if this place abhorred the light.
Before the wolf was the witch, and these children were among her many victims. She snatched them up and locked them in cages.
As whatever the things were got closer their eyes seemed to shine with an eerie light. The woods were filled with sets of tortured and sad looking eyes. They were surrounded.
“I don’t like this…” said Red drawing her sword.
“It’s a trap!” said Mary.
“Stay close,” said Peep.
“We should not have come to this cursed place!” said Pinky his hands trembling.
“We’re all going to die!” whined Peter.
But it was Muttonchops baaing that elicited an answer from the approaching hoard. All of them began baaing in unison but their voices sounded human, a haunting chorus of human sounding animals.
Still, they got closer, Mary’s eye’s were the best in the dark she was the first to recognize what she saw. “Oh no!” she said. “It can’t be!”
“What is it?!” asked Peep.
“It’s your sheep!” said Mary, but Peep could see for herself the sheep had been transformed by some foul magic. They had been transformed into human-animal hybrids. Sheeple.
The children survived because of the wit of the oldest girl. Tricking the witch into her own oven. Then they escaped. The children grew up and became the protectors of the woods. The boy never married, he became the woodsman. The girl however found love and in the fullness of time became a grandmother.
Peep fell to her knees. She could not fight her sheep no matter how cruelly they had been twisted. Mary and Red began to fight, and Pinky began to shoot wildly with his shotgun. The Sheeple came in droves, and for every one Red and Mary destroyed another ten showed up. Pinky was quickly becoming overwhelmed. Peter must have run away with Muttonchop because there was no sign of him.
“Little help here!” said Red struggling with the Sheeple.
“Peep!” cried, Mary. Her vines filled with sheep, and still more were approaching her.
The children had not arrived at the witches house by accident. The witch had a daughter who would go out murder the mothers of children. Then she would bewitch their grief-stricken fathers. Convincing them to send their children to their doom. She would later kill the men and inherit their fortunes. She arrived one day to find her mother’s house empty, the children gone. She found her mothers burned body dying in the oven.
As the charred thing that was her mother died, the witch spoke these words:
“I curse these woods! I curse this house! And most of all daughter I curse your failure! Forever shall you and your descendants live as beasts till the day the world is rid the of the bloodline that wrought my end!”
The daughter fell to her knees screaming in pain as her body changed shape from woman to wolf. And thus the feud between the wolves and the children of Gretel began.
With all their power Red and Mary could bearly manage to keep the sheeple at bay, Pinky was no match. “Help me!?” he shouted. “Screw this! I will not die for you!” he said. He started running away using his gun to clear a path. They caught him while he was reloading, hundred of wool cover hands grabbed every limb and held tight, and drew his delicate flesh close to their mashing teeth. He had no time to scream.
And so it was that the conspiracy theorist was proven right, but died a cowardly death devoured by sheeple…
Despite the best efforts of Mary and Red the Sheeple encroached on the still motionless Peep. She could not move she just listened to her own voice inside her head.
A long time ago an orphan girl got lost in the woods. She had found something that terrified her and she ran blindly not knowing where to go. She ran into a kindly grandma. ‘What is it dear?’ the grandmother asked.
The sheeple washed over Peep like a flood, grabbing her and holding her like Pinky.
The girl could not speak she did not know how. Instead, she pointed in the direction of the monsters she saw. The grandmother looked up and saw three bears chasing after her. ‘Oh my.’ Said the grandmother. ‘Are those bears after you?’ The girl nodded. ‘Well not to worry. Some of my best friends are bears.’ laughed the grandmother.
The sheeple’s teeth clattered with anticipation as they drew Peep close.
The bears meant the girl no harm and even adopted her, she got to visit grandma every day who gave her the name Peep, because of how quiet she was when she spoke.
Peep’s eyes met the eyes of the sheep. Their eyes told the tale they were in pain they suffered they begged for release.
Peep often felt annoyed by her little brother, who was to one day take over his parents sheep farm, but she loved him greatly. The bears only asked of her one simple task to watch out for her little brother. She thought she was doing a good job, but then one day she found him dead. Lying in the woods. There were no clues there were no signs of a struggle. She had failed. If she could not save him she thought she would take his place and watch his sheep.
Peep could not protect her brother she could not protect the sheep, but she could avenge them! She could release them!
She called upon the light deep within her and it began shining all around her. Burning the flesh of the sheeple. In a brilliant explosion of light, the darkness was pushed back for the briefest of moments. Whatever foul curse had made the sheeple was burned away by the light, as was their bodies. The sheep’s cries were painful at first but if you listened closely you could also hear a hint of gratitude as their spirits were released.
Peep fell to the ground, breathing in labored breaths and crying bitter tears. Her sheep were gone, her family was gone. What else could the wolf take from her?
Mary ran up to Peep wrapping her arms around her. “You’re okay!” she cried. “I thought I lost you! I love you so much!”
“What did you say?” Peep looked at Mary, she didn’t know what to think at that moment. She had loved Mary, had always loved Mary. She wanted it to be true, but she also didn’t, the Wolf was going after everything she loved. This was the worst thing that could happen right now.
Two hearts so close they could have touched, were held apart by the walls of misunderstanding. They longed for each other but they could not know the other yearned for them too… But beware! Love is a weapon in the paws of a wolf.
Part Five: Rule of Three
Mary didn’t know what to say, she didn’t mean to blurt out her feelings. Seeing Peep safe just made them boil up inside of her. She didn’t know what to do so she did the only thing she could think of. Something she may never get a second chance to do. She kissed Peep.
Did Peep want this, yes, but now all her emotions were screwed up inside her? She didn’t know how to be happy. How could she make someone else happy? The two of them melted into that kiss and it seemed to last forever. Neither wanting to be the one to break it, it was Peep who finally had to ask. “What about Peter?” she asked with tears in her eye’s.
“It was never Peter. It was always you,” said Mary. Who was also crying? “I just didn’t know how to tell you. You seemed to like boys so I just pretended to like them too.”
“You didn’t have to do that. I would have been cool with you liking girls,” said Peep. “For the record. I like boys and girls.”
“One question,” said Peep. “If you like girls why did I find your panties at Peters?”
“It was for you,” said Mary. “I wanted you to know it was okay for you to be with Peter. I just wanted you to be happy.”
Red began to laugh. It was a dark laugh a troubling laugh.”You two are pathetic!” said Red. “Everyone but you knew that you two were crazy for each other. The wolf wanted to reveal it to you, but I convinced him this was so much better…” Her eyes were glowing red.
Having killed the witch the two children encountered a master in the wood. An old goat whose name was long forgotten. Impressed by their dead he agreed to train them. They trained alongside another student named Jack. He would grow up to be known as Jack the giant slayer. Though he rarely slew alone, always at his side was Hansel and Gretel, famed witch hunters.
Peep stood up and took her weapon. “When!” she demanded. “When did the wolf turn you?”
“That’s easy,” said Red. Jumping into the tree’s above. Only her red eyes could be seen as she darted from tree to tree. “That would have to be the day you showed up.”
There once was a little girl whose family had quite forgotten her. Too proud of their oldest child a boy named Jack.
Jack and Gretel fell in love and they had a son Jack Jr. Like his mother and father before him, he became a worrier and fought many battles. One day he rescued a woman from a troll. She would become his wife.
“I get it Red! You hate me. You always did…” said Peep.
Jack was the responsible one. The Great One. The one to carry on the family name. He had already slain one giant at the top of the beanstalk. His sister was nothing. No matter how hard she trained, how hard she fought they never saw her.
Jack Jr. and his wife had two children, but then Jack heard of the wolf’s terrible deeds and he went to fight it. He never returned.
“Fight me!” said Peep. “I’m the one you want to kill. Leave Mary out of this!”
“Fuck you Peep!” said Mary. “You are not excluding me from this! Whatever happens, we fight together!”
Then things got worse, a little orphan bitch showed up and everyone thought she was just so great. Red became invisible to everyone. Everyone but the wolf. The wolf saw her potential.
“Oh, we don’t want to kill you!” said Red. There was a thundering in the distance.
While the wolf took care of grandma. The little girl met her brother by the old well. She challenged him, but things were different. The wolf had shared her power and she was much stronger, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill was now his better.
“Why are you doing this Jill?” asked Mary. “You use to be our friend.”
“Don’t ever call me Jill!” said Red. “We were never friends! I pretended to get close to you so I could learn your secrets.”
Things didn’t go as red intended, while she killed her brother the wolf murdered her grandma Grettle, but the woodsman, Grettle’s brother, came back early and killed the wolf. It was all she could do to convince them that she had been tricked by the wolf.
Jill died that day and became Red, but Red was lost, not knowing where to go. It was Peep and Mary who tried to comfort her. Finally, someone knew that Red was alive. Despite Red’s dark secret, she allowed Peep and Mary into her heart, but one day she realized that Peep and Mary were getting closer. The spent more and more time together and less time with Red. Red couldn’t take being forgotten again. So she left.
A giant monster seemed to fall from the sky. It landed in front of Peep and Mary. It’s Towering mass loomed over them like a dark god. Peep looked up at the miles of mangy hair to see a familiar face. “This is impossible!” said Peep. “He’s dead.”
Red landed on its shoulder and call down to Peep and Mary. “What is dead can be made undead!”
“How could you! You bitch!” cried Peep leaping into the air.
“How could I not?” asked Red. “After all I killed him…”
Red remembered that she hated Peep. The orphan girl who took everything away from her. That’s when she found out that the wolf had a son and he had a plan. It was by chance that Baby Bear heard them conspiring. He could not be allowed to tell his big sister. So Red killed him, the son of the wolf, the second wolf did not want to waste such an opportunity. After the funeral, the second wolf used dark science to reanimate the corpse. It was beautiful.
“This is but a hollow shell,” said Peep as she was about to hit the monster with her crook. When it spoke to her.
“Sister?!” It called in a deep haunting voice.
“Baby? What is this?” said Peep letting down her guard. She was batted down by a massive bear paw.
“Isn’t it beautiful?!” asked Red. “He completely self-aware, but has no control over what he does! The wolf is an artist!”
“Sister.” said the Giant Baby Bear zombie. “Sister where are you it’s dark.” His arm came crashing down on Peep who just got out of the way. Mary tried to bind its paw but the bear shrugged it off. “Sister I hurt. It hurts so bad.”
“I know Baby! I’m sorry,” said Peep. Leaping up the tall form of her brother like she was climbing a mountain. “It’s going to be over soon!”
“Please sister.” Begged the voice of her brother as his paw tried to catch her. “Please kill me…”
“I will!” said Peep. “I just got to say one thing!”
“It hurts so bad!” said Baby.
“I just want you to know I’m sorry! I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you!” cried Peep! “Now Mary!” Peep moved out of the way and Mary who had been following right behind her sliced the giant Bear Zombie in half with her scythe. The two halves of the zombie fell to the ground and Began to dissolve.
“The pain is gone! I see a light!” cried Baby. His voice fading to a whisper. “Thank you so much! Peep it’s not your fault.” His voice was all but gone at that point. The two have become dirt and crumbled to dust.
Peep, Mary, and Red landed on the ground. Red smiled darkly. “How did it feel?” she asked. “To have your lover kill you baby brother again? Tell me I must know?”
“Fuck you!” cried Peep. “What do you want?”
“I told you once Peep!” said Red. “I don’t want to kill you.” Her voice distorted and her shape began to transform. She grew several times taller as her body became covered in fur. She became the third wolf. “I want to destroy you! I want to deconstruct you! To take everything from you like you took everything from me! I want to leave you broken!”
There once was a girl who wanted to be the best. Now there was only one thing standing in her way.
Part Six: Dark Hearts
In the darkest part of the woods, there is a house that was cursed by the witch that once lived there. She also cursed her daughter and all of her descendants to live as beasts until the bloodline of Grettle was destroyed. But the daughter did not hate her curse, no. She quite enjoyed it. She wanted revenge on the house of Grettle but not to lose her power.
Red the third wolf loomed over Peep and Mary. Pinky had been eaten by sheeple, and Peter had run away with Muttonchop Mary’s lamb. They stood in front of the abandoned house still looking quite ominous.
“So you want to destroy me?” asked Peep. “That’s why you and the other wolf took my sheep and turned my brother into that thing?”
“Yes!” said Red. “How much does it hurt Peep?” She asked. “How badly do you want to kill me right now?”
“Mary…” said Peep.
“No!” said Mary. “I’m not leaving you, we will fight this thing, together.”
N: The wolf schemed a plot to keep her power but still get her revenge. She knew that Jack Jr, the son of Jack the Giant Slayer and Gretel the Witch slayer would come if she killed enough people. So she laid a trap for him.
“Peep! Mary! Help!” Peter cried. “The wolf has got me! I’m trapped in the house.”
“What will you do?” asked Red. “I’ll let one of you go to help him, but only one.”
“Mary,” said Peep. “You should go.”
“No,” said Mary. “This is what they want. We should go together.”
Jack Jr, as he was known was headstrong and cocksure as they say. He often went into danger alone, despite the warnings of his father and mother. They asked his uncle Hansel also known as the woodsman to watch over him, but Jack wanted to prove himself and went off on his own. He left behind his wife and two children.
“Mary!” Cried the voice of Petter. “They’ve got Muttonchop you have to come!”
Mary started to move but then she hesitated.
“Tick…” Said Red.
“Go!” said Peep. “Before we lose any more of our friends!”
“You’re not pushing me away to save me!” said Mary.
“I’m trusting you to kill the other wolf for me,” said Peep. “Go I got Red!”
“Tock…” Said Red a smile on her face.
“Don’t you dare die on me!” said Mary.
“Don’t worry.” Said Peep smiling at Mary. “I got something to live for.”
Mary ran into the house.
The wolf had cornered Jack Jr. His only hope was a desperate jump to safety, but the wolf had tripped him with a candlestick and took him, prisoner. “Let me go monster!” he said to her.
“But husband… ” said the wolf. “Are you not glad to see you own wife?”
“I’m so glad she’s finally gone. Aren’t you?” asked Red. Her fur rippling with anticipation. “Do you think she bought it?”
“Shut up!” said Peep. She couldn’t deny to herself that this is what she wanted to finally settle things. To win to be the greatest To wipe that smile right of Red’s face.
“What are you looking at?” said Red grinning.
“We doing this?” asked Peep.
“Yes!” said Red and the two of them exploded into the air.
The wolf had replaced Jack Jr’s wife right after the birth of his son. With him, the wolf bore Jack Jr a daughter, but she wasn’t done. For her plan to work she needed another child a secret child. Jack tried to resist but the wolf was too strong, in the end, she got her son, and Killed Jack Jr.
Red’s claws were fast! They slashed through the air with the force of a lightning bolt leaving a hurricane strength wind behind them. Felling the tree’s wherever they were pointed. He fist smashed through solid rock like it was paper.
It was all Peep could do to dodge Red’s devastating attacks, and somehow Peep got the sense that Red was toying with her.
By merging the bloodlines the wolf insured that the curse would never be removed, and set about her plan for revenge. Perhaps Jill’s family had always sensed it, but for whatever reason, they seemed to forget about her. The wolf didn’t find it hard to convince her. She murdered her own brother while the wolf killed her grandma. It had not all gone as planned.
Red walked in to see her grandmas blood everywhere, “Grandma?”
“In here!” cried the wolf dressed in grandmas clothing.
Red pretended to be surprised, “Grandma what big eyes you have…”
“All the better to see you with,” the wolf said.
“What big ear’s you have.” Red giggled.
“All the better to hear you with,” joked the wolf.
“And what big teeth you have?” said Red.
“All the better to eat you with!” Said The wolf giving chase as Red pretended to run away. That’s when the woodsman, Hansel showed up. Much had been said about the heroics of Jack the giant slayer and Gretel the witch hunter, but perhaps on that day, Hansel eclipsed them both. Despite the wolfs overwhelming power he managed to beat her and spoil her plans.
“I’m surprised,” said Peep. Vanishing before the Red’s giant wolf claw smashed the ground beneath her. She appeared above the wolfs head. “Why didn’t you bring ‘him’ back from the dead?” She vanished again before Red’s claws smashed together erupting in a giant shockwave.
“Insect!” cried Red. “If you must know The woodsman died of natural causes. He was dead for too long for us to use him.” Red was lying, the wolves could have brought him back but chose not to. Red was too scared of the old man’s power. She had seen it first hand. She would never admit it, not even to herself.
What of the boy? What was his part in the wolfs plan? Simplicity itself. The boy was the distraction. When the wolf wanted, it was the boy’s job to lure the woodsman away. ‘Wolf!’ he would cry, and the woodsman would come running. It worked when the wolf contacted Red, it worked on the day Red killed her brother, but on the day the wolf had killed Gretel, Hansel had grown wise to the deception and he did not come.
“What’s the wrong Peep?” asked Red. “Too strong for you? Or too fast?”
Peep had been on the defensive for far too long. It was time to take the battle to Red. Peep could only see one way to do that. Red had been giving her obvious openings again, Peep knew too well this was a trap, but he could not get in front of Red. She decided if she was going to fall into the trap she was going to make it worth it.
She summoned all her power and began to glow brightly.
“Finally getting the courage to do something I see,” said Red. “Hit me with your best.”
Peep readied her Crook, she stranded herself in water as before. There. Red left a small gap between her shoulders. She committed herself to the attack. Swinging the Shepherd cook behind her she lept in ready to strike. To her surprise, the wolf disappeared and the giant claw appeared in its place. The tip of Peep’s crock connected with the hard as steel claws and broke off.
The claw closed itself around Peep bursting Peeps protective shell of water. It held her tight leaving only the arm with the broken cook hanging out. “Now I got you!”
“What’s the matter?” said Red. Clutching Peep tight feeling the much tinier person struggling against her bonds. “Can’t get free? I’ll help!” Red smashed her fist holding Peep into a tree, Peep felt the force of the impact as Red tightened her fist to punch. The tree exploded into a rain of splinters many of them embedding in Peep’s exposed flesh.
“Does this help?” said Red her fist ramming into the ground! Transforming the soil into a stinging spray of dirt. “Or this?” Red plunged Peep into a cold empty lake. Squeezing tighter to remove the breath from her. Red brought her up and then her fist collided with the side of a giant rock creating a spray of pebbles that pelted Peep and bruised her face.
Red held Peep up to her face. Peep looked bloodied and broke. “You don’t look so good!” said Red with a dark laughter. “I told my baby brother that I’d keep you alive, but you know what he brought the bear back. Why not you?”
“Brother?” asked Peep.
“That’s the best part…” said Red.
Mary entered the house. There were no signs of the wolf Peter sat there with Muttonchop in his hands. “Peter?”
“Hello.” said, Peter. He was wearing thick horned rimmed glasses that seemed to gleam in the dark.
The boy couldn’t just go home, could he? The woodsman suspected. He did the only thing he could think of, he used his claws and bloodied himself. Telling everyone the wolf had got him. His story became a cautionary tale for others. Reminding them not to cry wolf unless there was one. When he grew up, he got something of another reputation. That boy was me… Peter! I’m the wolf!
“That’s right,” said Red. “The whole time you’ve been sleeping with the enemy!” Red brought Peep in close. “How to kill you I wonder? Maybe I’ll just squeeze you until your head pops off.”
“You talk too much!” Said Peep. It was now or never for Peep as Red’s hand tightened she gathered all her strength and threw the broken crook, which was little more than a pointy stick at the eye of Red. It hit home. Red’s eye exploded with a spray of crimson. Red screamed in pain and released her hand enough to slip out.
Sure Peep over-committed sometimes, that was true, but Red never missed a chance to gloat. Peeps feed barely touched the ground her fist began to glow with white fire. the moved so fast they were but a blur, you could not even see where they hit only the afterimage as shockwave exploded all over Red’s chest. The sound from it echoed like concussive blasts in the dark and silent forest.
Red skin was as hard as the hardest metal and still, the fury of Peeps blows twisted and contorted it. Peep didn’t quit, she didn’t dare stop until Red was a red stain on the countryside. It was the only way. Finally, after much-beating Peeps, explosion strength attacks finally managed to tear the impossibly strong flesh of the wolf. Her fist sinking deep into the pit of Red’s stomach, returning covered in the wolfs blood followed by a spray of fresh blood.
Feeling the pain from the new wound brought Red to her senses and she brought her arms up defensively. She blocked the continued attacks of Peep. Who was running out of strength to sustain the attack… Peep collapsed to her knees and panted desperately. In all, she had pushed the wolf several miles. Leaving a gigantic scar in the woods.
“What are you doing?” asked Mary trying to move closer.
“I suggest you stay back.” said, Peter. Holding a needle to Muttonchop. “I don’t think you want me to use this…”
“What is this Peter? First Red now you?” Mary was confused.
“I’m the second wolf.” Said, Peter. “Or the third one seeing as how Jill was born first. It gets confusing. I’m the one you came here to find.”
“How? Why?” asked Mary.
An explosion like sounds could be heard outside. “They do like to show off. I hope sister is having fun. In answer to your question, I’m the child of The first wolf and Jack & Jill’s father. She also was the mother of Red. My sister. It’s a long story.”
“I’ll bet! Let my lamb go!” Mary commanded.
“Not before I tell you.” said, Peter.
“Tell me what?” asked Mary.
“The answer to your second question…” said, Peter.
Red clutched her side as she dug the stick out of her eye. “I underestimated you,” she said.
“Maybe…” said Peep still panting. “Maybe you overestimated yourself.”
“Your strong Peep. That’s why everyone loved you.” Red began to pace back and forth. She picked up a stone and began tossing it into the air. “That and your whole wounded loner thing… I mean just look at you. ‘I’m so tuff and I go my own way but deep down I have a soft side. Love me!’ It makes me want to puke.”
“Is that why you copied it?” asked Peep.
Red caught the bolder in her hand and crushed in frustration. “Your strong Peep,” she said with no joy in her voice, “but I have gone beyond you. You think it was smart making me bleed? Did you forget how my power worked?” Red clenched her fist in the air as blood began pouring from her wounds. It sounded here and ignited. She became engulfed in flames. “Behold Peep! The birth of a new goddess!”
In her giant hand, she clutched her tiny sword, the one built for a human. She closed her claws around it and it became a full-sized flaming blade. “Behold the Goddes of Blood and Fire!”
“Do you know what’s in this syringe?” asked Peter.
“What?” asked Mary.
“Mothers milk,” said Peter, “no really, I harvested from her memory glans after she died.” A tank of green glowing ooze was sitting in the background.
“Gross!” said Mary.
“Yes indeed!” said Peter, “My mother’s milk is quite volatile, in the right doses it can be quite destructive. All the monsters you’ve seen so far, they’ve been my experiments. Trial and error trying to perfect the perfect formula.”
The woods were on fire and inferno sounded Peep. With every step Red took towards here the Inferno got hotter, and the choking smoke got thicker. Peep tried to summon her water powers, but they were of no use the fire was too strong.
“You took everything from me!” cried Red. “Grandma! My Great uncle! My Brother! It was you Peep!” Peep was running for her life. She had never faced so terrible a creature. “I’m going to take it all from you! Leave you small and weak and without freedom!” Red clutched her sword.
“So you’re some kind of mad monster making scientist?” asked Mary.
“Scientist?” Asked Peter. “Scientist experiment to prove or disprove a hypothesis, I’m not a Scientist. I’m much more a mad engineer. I’ve been working for years to perfect the perfect formula. The perfect love formula.” He looked at Mary. “I know why you haven’t killed me yet.”
“Why?” asked Mary.
“Because you are stalling. You want to give Peep time to kill my sister. She won’t.” smiled Peter.
“Why a love potion?” said Mary.
“It’s for Peep,” said, Peter.
Once the child of the wolf had nobody to turn to he met a stranger. A young orphan girl likes him. The wolf fell in love but lo, the girl did not love him back. That’s when the wolf resolved to win her love with science. He found his grandmothers house and found his grandmothers recipes, he looked up every potion and transformed their recipes to science experiments.
He found out the most potent ingredient of all was the milk of a beast woman, fortunately, he knew where one was. He toiled for years enlisting the help of his sister. There was just one obstacle…
“I love her,” said Peter softly. “Do you know how to kill a child of death?” He asked.
Mary knew of course she knew, why was he asking this.
“You have to kill them with their own scythe,” said Peter. “That can be a bit tricky.” Sensing something amiss Mary summoned her Scythe behind her back. “A child of deaths scythe is bound to them and to touch it is death to one’s self…”
Muttonchop said, ‘baa.’ As if in response.
“Stop!” cried Mary.
There once was a child of death who was gifted a lamb by her father. His fleece as white as snow.
This was no ordinary gift, it was intended by death that is daughter should reap the lamb’s soul, to carry on in his footprints. Mary was not ready to be a reaper and did not do it. Instead, she kept the lamb as a pet.
It followed her to school one day and made Mary even more of a spectacle. The only one to stand up for her was Peep. So they became fast friends!
The lamb did get old, and her father implored her again to help the aging animal find rest. Mary did defy him again, sharing her power with the lamb he was made young again. Though his fleece became black as coal.
Mary’s scythe flew past Peters’ head. He had almost not dodged it. “Too late,” he said. The needle plunged deep into Muttonchop’s neck. Peter stepped away.
The lamb fell to the floor coughing up nasty green mucus. “Now sister,” said Peter.
The roof of the house disappeared. It was there and then it was gone. Sliced off by Red’s sword.
The lamb began to struggle with its transformation as green fluid began glowing from its veins. “Muttonchop.” Cried Mary looking her beloved pet in the eyes. Muttonchop looked back, but he was slipping, his light fading into darkness. Mary could see him struggling to hang on.
Red giggled gleefully at this site. Her hand hovered over the house she dropped from it a broken bloodied singed peep.
“Peep!” cried Peter running over to her. “You didn’t kill her! You said you wouldn’t kill her!”
“Relax,” said Red. “She’s alive.”
Peep looked up at the sight, though blurry and darkening vision she saw Mary sitting over an ailing Muttonchops. “You see Peep my darling, If Mary uses her scythe on Muttonchop it will kill him but will doom her in the process. Can she bear for her beloved lamb be a monster? What do you think.”
Peep couldn’t even muster a “Fuck you.”
“This is it!” said Red. “The moment that breaks Peep! The pain is delicious.”
“You two are pathetic!” said Mary. Drawing her scythe, “You think this matters! You have no idea what love is!”
The Lamb baaed in pain its body shaking violently.
Peep sat there looking at the woman she loved, and for the first time, she knew she really knew that she did love her. “Do it,” she whispered.
“I’ll be waiting for you,” said Mary. As her scythe struck true. Muttonchop’s long life had finally ended, and so was severed Mary’s link to the mortal world. She faded away mouthing the words “I love you, I’ll see you soon.”
“Awwwww,” said Red. “How precious. But you won’t be seeing her for a very long time.”
Peter took out another syringe this one glowing pink. “No my lovely Peep! I claim you as my bride.”
Peep batted it away. It flew across the room and smashed upon the wall. Peter looked mad. “Do you know how much it took to make that? It’s not like I couldn’t make more.”
Peep got to her feet. Peter got scared and stood at the back of the house. “Oh, what is this?” asked Red. “You have no strength left. You could bearly handle me as a human, you got lucky when I was a wolf, what do you hope to do?”
Pep’s powers began to coalesce around her. She held onto the love she felt for Mary. The love she felt for everyone. She took those feelings pushed them deep inside her. The night might have been long and dark but she knew somewhere somehow her friends were with her. “I’m not going to let you win,” she said to Red.
She lifted off the ground, her light becoming brighter and brighter it pushed the blackness of the night away. She was transforming.
Red could not bear to look at the light. “No!” she cried. “It can’t be! You’re…” she hesitated to even say it. “You’re like him…”
“What’s happening sister?” asked Peter as torrential winds began to encompass them. A singular beam of light shot up from Peep. Igniting the heavens. When it finally faded. Peep was as tall as Red. Her pale skin glowed with white light. Her hair a white fire. Her eyes shined like the sun. With a wave of her hand, the inferno that Red had created stopped.
“She’s beautiful,” said, Peter. Gazing at the amazing creature that Peep had become. His joy and wonderment were short-lived as the scythe of Mary pierced his chest.
Mary spoke in his ear. “My father would like to speak to you about profaning the dead. I volunteered to deliver the message… personally.”
“No!” cried Red. “I will not let this happen. I am a goddess! You can’t stop me!”
Peeps voice was ethereal and it echoed through the woods like a crack of thunder. “You talk too much.”
Red’s sword slashed the air intended for Peep. It only caught an after image. Peeps fist exploded across her face. Red slashed again and again and again. Every time her attacks were met with punishing blows from Peep. “It can’t end this way!” cried Red. “You hear me?!”
Peep appeared in front of her and she swung her sword again. Peep caught it in her hand. “No!” demanded Red. “Blood is thicker than water!”
Peep smashed the sword, “but hope is stronger than fire!” Her fist smashed through Reds stomach knocking the wolf to the ground her flames going out. Peep formed a staff out of light. A beautiful staff, one worthy of a goddess. She pointed it at a broken bleeding Red. “Give Mary my regards.”
Peep flew into the air and a white-hot light shot through Red a burned her flesh as she screamed in pain.
Peep floated to the ground and her form reverted back to normal. She ran to the cabin to face the last challenge. Peter. She found him bleeding, and dying.
Peter Peter pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn’t keep her…
Part Seven: The Demon of Blood and Fire
Peter sat with a hand full of his intestine clenched to the wound in his stomach. His face had turned the color of off gray. His expression agonized. “This sucks,” he said. “I didn’t even get to transform.” He looked up to see Peep. “Mary sends her regards…”
“Why?” Asked Peep.
“I think it was because…” Peter coughed up some blood. “She loves you. That’s something we have in common her and I, but what you really mean to ask is why did I help my sister do all this. The answer is because I love you…” he coughed again.
“That’s not good enough!” said Peep.
“I knew you could never love me back,” said Peter wiping the blood from his mouth on the sleeve of his free hand. “So I resolved to make you my puppet. To enslave your mind and keep you like my doll.”
“What did Red think of that?” asked Peep.
“She said she could think of nothing better than for you to be my plaything for the rest of my life. She especially loved the how. You see, the potion only worked on someone who had nothing to live for…” he grounded in pain.
“You took everything from me, for an empty shell of a girlfriend?” said Peep. “There were so many who liked you, wanted to be with you… You could have found someone else.”
“Peep…” said, Peter. “There’s not much time. I want to tell you something. A story I heard from my mother…” Peter retched up more blood. “One last secret to reveal.” Peter lied down. “Look at the stars… so many beautiful colors… but it’s nothing compared to you…”
“Is that what you wanted to tell me?”
Peter shook it off. “Sorry, blood loss… You know I tried to get rid of Mary so she couldn’t use that scythe on me, ironic, that action seemed to guarantee she would use it on me. Self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose; the harder you try to avoid a consequence the more you ensure it’s imminent arrival…”
“Peter!” said Peep.
“Right…” his voice getting weak. “My mother once told me the woodsman never married but had many students. She said that she overheard the woodsman with one of his students, that to his great shame, he had a child with her. He was an old man and she a young lady, of course, it was shameful…”
“I didn’t know my mother either Peter. I was a child when they found me,” said Peep.
“I don’t know who your mother was Peep…” Peter winced in pain. “But she must have been smart, she left you alone in the woods where she was sure you would be found by your father…” Peter lifted his head a little bit. “That makes us cousins, but that’s okay lots of kings and queens are cousins… it’s no big deal when your… royalty.” His head fell back to the ground and the life finally left his body.
Peep picked up a piece of wood. It was a decently sized of wooden debris with a nice sharp edge.
Peter might not have been dead. Strange to think just a few hours ago she was in his bed. Peep had gone numb, she didn’t want to think she didn’t want to feel. She just wanted the darkness to wash over her and surrender to it. Maybe if she stopped fighting it would kill her too and she could finally be with Mary… She looked down at the corpse of Peter. His eyes empty and cold. He was dead definitely dead. Mary’s scythe kills anyone it cut. Wolfs were no exception.
She wanted to drive the stake through his heart. Make sure he was dead, maybe just to make herself feel better, but that wasn’t going to happen. She dropped the sharp piece of wooden shrapnel.
Peep began walking away, “Yours is the biggest.” She turned around to see Red standing next to the vat of green glowing goo, the stuff Peter used to make monsters. She had been very badly burnt on her left side. Her skin was seared off and her eye was missing as was her left arm. She sat hunched over looking pained.
“How did you?” asked Peep.
“I moved at the last possible moment…” said Red. “Even then the power of your blast nearly ended me. Impressive. That was the power I saw kill my mother. What did the old man call it? The spirit of the forest.”
“He told me the tale, made me promise never to tell anyone. While Grandma and Grandpa were model students, the old Goat saved his best teachings for your father. We don’t know why he was chosen to carry the mantle, but it seems, in his wisdom, he passed it to you. His daughter.”
She climbed onto the vat and removed the lid. “I always wanted to know, to really know, which one of us was best. You never really showed me everything.”
“Red. I didn’t know I had this power within me,” said Peep. “I always gave you everything I had.”
Red smiled a half smile. “Liar,” she looked down at the vat. “You may not have known your full potential, but you knew you had more to fight with. You could feel it couldn’t you?”
“Maybe,” said Peep feeling ashamed.
“Whatever!” said Red. “Now we know. It’s out there for everyone to see…” She looked at Peters dead body. “Oh, they’re all dead, aren’t they? That’s okay, we know! I admit it! You win! But you want to know something?”
“What?” asked Peep her body tensing for an attack…
“I’m a sore loser…” said Red. She looked at the vat one last time. “Mothers milk, my brother’s science, and my body… Let’s see if three wolfs can prevail where one had failed.”
“Red you don’t know what’s going to happen in there! Think what it did to the others!” said Peep.
“The others got but tiny doses! Even Peter was scared of what would happen if someone fell in the vat.” with that, she jumped.
Peep tried to stop her, but it was too late.
Red’s body became alive with pain, it screamed with pain, it danced with pain. Red heard her grandmothers voice the old witch that had been her mother’s mother. Her every syllable shattered Red’s spine, every word tore Red red apart and put her back together.
“You think you know pain child?!” asked the old witch. “You know nothing of pain until you’ve felt the thorny prick of Satan himself! Even then you’ll only have felt a fraction of my pain!” All the darkness of the house now poured into Red’s broken body choking her scream as it did. Her body began to swell and her flesh began to tear.
Reds cries of agony were bloodcurdling. Her shrieks of pain echoed across the forest and could be heard by the villagers who had just now discovered the grim scene at the Little homestead.
Red’s body transformed again. This time though it was warped by the power of her mother’s milk and her grandma’s curse. All of the dark power that had resided in that house now poured into Reds body. Transforming her into a gigantic demonic form. A gigantic demon of flesh and bone whose skull was that of a wolf but bore the wounds that Red had suffered at the hands of Peep, half of its skull was exposed. Still, gigantic horns had sprouted from it and it’s missing eye was now glowing with fire.
Reds body had sprouted massive wings that seemed to shroud all the land in darkness, her missing arm was replaced by a tentacle-like appendage. Her whole body dripped with blood. The skies became darker with a blood red hew. It was dawn but none who looked up could see the sun that morning. The whole world over everyone saw the same sky. Then the rain began to fall, small droplets of crimson from the sky, a rain of blood.
Peep heard a voice one she did not recognize but new immediately. “You child!” The old witch called. “You are the last living blood relative of Gretel the Witch slayer! The Putrid seed of Hansel her brother! I have escaped the bowels of hell itself to have my revenge on your ilk! Come chill and face your better.”
Peep found that she could transform again, that even a small respite seemed to recharge her power, but even transformed she was much smaller than the demonic form that had been Red’s body. She flew up to meet the monster head on. She formed her staff and Blasted the monster with her power, the same as she had done to Red.
“Ha!” cried the monster. “You think the power of the Forest protector is going to help you?” A gigantic hand slapped her away and as she flew the monster appeared behind her and slammed her to the ground. The monster then vomited up a stream of blood and darkness that splashed over Peep and burned her skin like acid, and seemed to taint her very soul.
A gigantic hand slapped her away and as she flew the monster appeared behind her and slammed her to the ground. The monster then vomited up a stream of blood and darkness that splashed over Peep and burned her skin like acid, and seemed to taint her very soul.
Peep got up and she forced herself to fight the stream of putrid darkness and pushed it back to the mouth of the monster stopping it with a swift punch to the jaw.
“You and Red have something in common,” said Peep.
“I have nothing in common with my disappointment of a grandchild,” said the monster. All the while Red heard every word. Somewhere aware of what was happening and still in great pain, the words of her grandmother were what hurt the most.
“Yes, you do,” said Peep with a smile. “You talk too much!” With that Peep launched into a series of attacks, but it was like trying to punch a mountain if that mountain moved like lightning and was trying to punch you back. Despite her bravado Peep had no idea how she was going to overcome this opponent. The only thing that she seemed to have going for here is that Red’s grandmother did not have the skill that Red herself did. Otherwise, This fight would have been over.
Deep inside the monster’s mind, Red fought through the pain, she found that she and her grandma’s mental link went both ways. “Peep!” cried Red. Taking control of the monster’s body. “Atack the heart Peep!”
“What are you doing!? You insolent child! If I die so do you! Let go!” cried the old witch.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you hag! But if listing to you old cackle is all I have to look forward to I’d rather die!” said Red. “Now!”
Peep launched into an all-out attack at the chest of the monster.
“No!” cried the Witch. “If I die! I’m taking the world with me!” As her words echoed across the land the falling blood caught on fire. “Burn!” she cried.
“Don’t stop Peep!” Red struggled. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold her…”
Peep put all of her power into that one final punch. Slamming through the chest of the monster and creating a mile wide hole in it. The monster exploded and all went black for Peep.
She thought she had died. She hoped she had died. She hoped she would soon be in the arms of her love Mary. “Wake up.” cried a new voice.
She awoke her vision blurry and the world un-formed. “Am I dead?” she asked.
“I’m afraid not.” said the voice. As the vision came into she saw herself or what she must have looked like transformed, only more. This version of her wore a crown of antlers and a cloak of leaves. “You are the protector of the forest and therefore can not die.”
“But how?” asked Peep.
“Your father gave you the power,” said the ghostly reflection of her transformed state.
“Who are you?” asked Peep.
“I am the spirit of the forest,” said the Spirit. “Our souls are intertwined.”
“When did that happen?”
“You will remember in time,” said the Spirit. “Now that you have awakened the power your memory will return.”
“What about the fire? What happened?”
“The fires were terrible, but many survived. The world will need your help to heal,” said the Spirit of the Forest. With that, the spirit vanished and Peep stood up to see the world The sun had risen on a wasteland of ruin and destruction. Peep could hardly believe such destruction was possible. How was she going to help heal this? Especially since she didn’t know how she was going to heal the pain she was feeling inside?
He stepped into the light. It had been years since he had seen the sun. This world that he once lived in was now painful to him. This mattered little to him. Blinding sun and the inability to breathe through his nose were trade-offs for the constant cold and the smell of wet death of the underground. He would breathe through his mouth and squint his eyes until he adjusted to this environment again.
He took his bearings and then began walking. His course was carefully plotted to avoid all settlements and as many roads as possible. Secrecy was his product and his quality was utmost. He would travel a thousand miles before stopping again. Twelve days passed water and food were found on the way. He did not need sleep, at least not in the way he once did. It took energy to stave off sleep and fatigue. He would have to replenish that energy before his next task.
He made camp. It was at the edge of a high waterfall overlooking an ancient mountain lake. He meditated for a time. Night had fallen and the Gluon the night moon was high in the sky it’s pale reflection shown on the water it was close to full. If you looked closely you could just make out the edge of Graviton the hidden moon. Gluon constant companion. It was a small moon of irregular shape like a black rock that can’t be seen except on nights the night moon was full. Graviton was the smallest of the five moons Gluon was the biggest. The other three were Photon and the Boson twins Doubleu and Zee. Doubleu and Zee were the farthest away and passed through the sky once every few days they were known as the twin moons because they seemed to dance around each other as they passed through the sky. Photon was the quickest moon not much bigger than the twins and passed through the sky twice a day. These were the human names of course. The elf names are Lunogs, Tigavrons, Tsoonph, Zons & Wobs.
It was Graviton that caught his imagination. He was the youngest of the five children and the only half mortal amongst them. Vitasrag the only got to not have children and the first of the gods one day became infatuated with an elven woman. He disguised himself as a man and they begot Graviton. Graviton was born with dark skin darker than obsidian. The elves who cherished their golden skin could not believe it. Despite being the son of a god he was rejected by the elves. Because they rejected Vitasrang banished the elves from the sea and told them never to return. Vitasrang asked Gluon to look after Graviton as he wandered the world.
Graviton found his place amongst the unintended race of men. As outsiders themselves the humans accepted him with little trouble. Although humans were a race of many colors many tribes many of the humans shared the same skin color as Graviton. The humans began to revere him as the demigod powers made him without equal.
Some of the elves saw humans as an abomination and sought to destroy them to gain favor with the gods again. After many battles, humans lead by Graviton finally defeated the Elves in a long a bloody conflict. His long life allowed him to rule justly over the humans for long years and he fathered many children. It was his children that defeated the cursed races and founded the empire. Graviton himself faded from the world there is no clear record of his death. He now lives outside of mortal existence.
The Outsider shook off those thoughts. He returned to his meditation. Photon was passing through the sky to signal the approach of the morning it wouldn’t be seen again till close to nightfall. He didn’t need the whole night but he waited for the sun to come up. He removed his pack and took out the troll head that was inside. Trolls were one of the cursed races, and as such didn’t do well in direct sunlight. As the son hit the troll’s head it’s somber face became frozen in stone. He was the leader of the trolls, the outsider was commissioned to kill him. There was a tenuous pact between humans and trolls. Humans longed for the gold under the mountains the trolls made a home. Humans outnumbered the trolls and could easily overpower them above ground, but it was quite different under the rock of the mountains. So a pact was stuck, humans would stay away from the mountains of the trolls if the trolls brought the gold and other precious ores as a tribute.
Did this troll oppose this pact? Did he plan to break it? Nothing so noble. He was invited to dinner with Emperor. He dared to insult the wife of a wealthy baron. The Barron paid the price and the troll died in an “accident.” This was so the trolls would not suspect human involvement and maintain the pact. The outsider even ensured that his replacement was also supportive of the arrangement.
Creating the accident and retrieving the head where before it was burned in the funeral fire were no easy feats but it was ensuring the troll selected the right leader for the job was the most difficult. It was a test of strength and the outsider’s influence could not be seen. Spears broke at the right moment, shields shattered, minor but costly slips happened, and one particularly powerful troll died of a heart attack in mid-swing of his mighty sword. To the other trolls it was seen as destiny, to the outsider it was part of the job.
He put the troll head back in his bag and carefully hid the bag amongst the rocks. He looked down at the lake below. Mountain the trolls lived in was thought to be an abandoned Dwarf-mine. Perhaps once this was true, but there was a difference in architecture only a few knew this secret, human scholars who caught a glimpse of the city under the mountain a whisper among the scholarly that was more legend than truth. It was the lost city of shadow, Yestmiropolious. The outsider was a dealer in secrets, but his skills paled in comparison to the builders of that ancient city. It took him three years of searching to find the entrance of the great library. From there it took five more years to translate the shadow elf language. The baron who hired him pilfered the only copy of a blood elf spellbook. The blood elf language was also dead but the blood elves didn’t try to hide their words in a labyrinth of symbols and unnecessary words.
He translated the blood elf language first, it’s easy if you know the ancient high elf language, then he compared sentence structure and used a trial and error system until he began to think like the shadow elves themselves. It took him two years to solve the great riddle of the shadow elves the secret to finding their temple to Yestmira. Patron of secrets. That lead him here.
He stepped to the cliff’s edge overlooking the lake. He dove off. He plunged into the crystal clear waters of the lake and dove into the deep water below. His lungs strained against him begging for air, but he had to keep going. Deeper and deeper into the shadows he swam. Until the last shreds of light faded and everything was as dark as he was. His eyes adjusted there was light but a very faint one it came from ahead.
As he was swimming he became aware that he wasn’t swimming alone something was following him. He paid no attention to it, he would deal with if he had too. The creature took his inaction as a sign of weakness the massive monster realized a tentacle at him like a harpoon. He managed to dodge but only just the water slowed him down considerably. He was at a disadvantage. He chose to run instead of attack, his lungs were hurting badly he could feel a tingling in the tips of his fingers. He didn’t have the time nor the will for a prolonged battle. Another tentacle shot at him like a lightning bolt it missed two. The monster apparently abandoned the stealth approach. Its body lit up with a thousand lights of every color of the rainbow.
The outsider had seen a lot of things in this world but nothing so wondrous as this. Its body was a massive shell-like structure like a lobster or a shrimp. The harpoon-like tentacles came from two massive claws that it wielded with deadly precision. It had leg-like tentacles that hung from its body but it was a massive tail that propelled it. The creature would have been beautiful to behold if it were not so deadly.
It’s two massive eyes seemed to hone in on him although he did his best to evade the monsters attacks its massive claw smashed into him. Bubbles erupted around him from the sheer speed of the blow. He saw stars as he reeled from the blow, it had been so massive he smashed into the rocky lake bed below. The only fortunate thing was he was near the source of the light he sought. He scrambled towards the light clawing and struggling for air, he actually feared for his life! This was no ordinary monster. He struggled into the cave a short way in was an air pocket. He almost made it to the pocket but he felt the monster’s tentacle around his waist. The monster began to pull on him and he began to slide back out of the cave but he managed to grab onto the rock wall. With the monster pulling against him with all its strength and blacking out from the lack of air, it was all he could do to drag himself to the air pocket.
As his head finally burst above the water he exhaled the molten hot air that had been burning his lungs. And drew in a sweet gulp of breathable air. He couldn’t expand his lungs all the way through. The tentacle restricted his lungs. He lost his concentration and he was pulled back under and out of the cave by the monster. He felt the creatures elephant sized claw clamp onto him with crushing force. The monster began to bring him close to its beak-like mouth. It seemed smaller claws were positioned near the mouth to help with feeding.
The outsider was done with this he called upon his great strength and began to force the creature’s claw open. He released himself from its grip and confronted the monster ready to fight. The creatures other claw hurled at him with the same deadly force as before. This time he was ready for it. He took the brunt of the blow by crossing his arms to block it. The bubbles erupted around him with the force of great explosions just as before. When it ended he saw the monsters claw retreating slowly. It was fast hit but slow to wind up it seemed. The outsider took advantage of this. He interlaced his fingers and took a mighty swing at the claw. As his fist collided the same bubbles erupted from his blow. The shell of the claw began to crack, the monster gave a shrill cry and began to pull the claw away in response. He did not let up he followed the claw smashing into the claw making the crack bigger and bigger until with a final intense blow he destroyed the claw. With shrill cry’s of pain the monster was defeated it swam away in a panic. It’s glowing lights turned off, and it emitted a black inky cloud to cover its retreat.
The outsider made it back to the cave now he could see with some amazement the Shadow elf temple. Amazement because no matter how hard it was for The outsider to make it here it was still impossible for an elf. When Vitasrang banished the Elf from the sea he made it so a terrible curse would befall any elf who dared return to the water. The shadow elves were indeed the masters of secrets.
He entered through the ornate doors into the temple chamber beyond. He began to study the walls to figure out if he could define great secret of the shadow elves people the secret of shadow. He was only there for a moment when a voice called to him. “I did not expect to see you here child.”
“I thought you were busy propping up an imposter on the throne.” Said the outsider.
“We could use your help.” Said Yestmira. “Your support could…”
“No! I will not support a lie!” Said the outsider.
“Then perhaps I could help you.” Said Yestmira, and he took his eyes off what he was studying for the first time. Yestmira was a Patron a herald of the god and master over secrets and shadows. Despite her hiding in the shadows, she was loyal to the gods. She had chosen the form of a young shadow elf woman. Strong and beautiful.
“No thanks.” Said the Outsider. “I’ve been burned by the gods and their favors before.”
“Would owing me a favor really be so bad given the circumstances?” Said Yestmira. “Afterall no one wants things to go back to the way they were.”
“Do you really think I want things to go back to the way they were. Why would I help you do that?”
“It’s better than the alternative.” Said Yestmira. She waved her hand over the wall and many mechanisms began unlocking. A panel opened and inside was a black book bound in leather with shadow elf marking all over it. Another wave of her hand and the word returned to regular elven. “This is what you are looking for.” She said picking up the book and handing to the outsider.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“No tricks, no strings nothing like that.” Said Yestmira. “We know what you’re trying to do and we hope you succeed. You need this, it’s yours.” With that, she vanished. No strings attached? That was a bold claim for a woman who regularly wore the visage of a spider and operated from the shadows.
Still without her help who knows how long he would have spent in the temple solving her riddles. He read the book of shadow skill and finally, he understood. In just a few days he mastered the techniques it to shadow elf masters years to understand. He imagined the shadow elf secret to be many things but nothing like what he found. No hint or whisper ever suggested they could become as shadows themselves. This was why they were the best spies and assassins. They could hide anywhere.
With his newfound knowledge making it back to the surface was easy. The elves never touched the water. They traveled in the shadows under the lake bed safe from the curse they would have barred should they tried to swim through it. He retrieved his things and made his way to his last stop on this trip. The home of the Baron who hired him. He ascertained the barons whereabouts and followed him until he was alone. The Baron had made it to his garden to sit in front of his wife’s grave. He found the petrified head of his troll enemy sitting on the grave. The Baron gasped in surprise. “It’s you!” He cried.
The outsider appeared behind him. “It’s me.”
“Looking for a job well done?” Asked the Baron. “You can forget it! It’s been ten years! I could have killed him myself in that amount of time.”
“Yes, but then you’d be at war with the trolls.” Said the outsider. “And your land would suffer the most for it.”
“You know what the worst of it is?” Said the Baron. “We made up he and I. Sort of. He saved my life about five years ago.”
“I know I saw it happen.” Said the outsider.
“After that, I felt guilty knowing what I did. That you were still out there. I kind of hoped you had died or given up or something…”
“No such luck.” Said the outsider.
“I guess I knew that deep down.”Said the Baron. “So why did it take so long?”
“It took time to collect my payment.” Said the outsider handing back the red elf spellbook.
“I hope it was worth it.” Said the Baron. “I got into a lot of trouble when I told them I lost this book.”
“I doubt you suffered grievously.” Said the outsider.
“I got banned from the Imperial Library!” Said the Baron.
“Like I said.” With that, the outsider took his leave. The outsider didn’t care about the baron’s quest for vengeance. He knew in time that his rage at the trolls slight would dull over time, but by killing their leader and creating a power vacuum, the outsider got to see who amongst the trolls was against the pact with men. He eliminated many of those trolls and insured that the empire’s interest had been looked after. Those who knew the outsider thought him a simple assassin. Few realized he had been its silent protector from the beginning. A role he was going to leave soon. He couldn’t leave the empire unguarded.
With the book of shadow skill, he could train in secret an organization that could do the job for him. A shadow society who could protect the empire from the shadows and remain unseen. This had been his goal all along. He trained his new agents for ten years and when they were ready he disappeared not to be seen again for a very long time.