fairy tales retold (1)

The Domestication of the Other

Speculative Flash Fiction By Thaddeus Howze
Expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that…you are free. — Jim Morrison
She comes. Today is the day.
We will avenge our kin.
The morning fog lay over the forest, deadening all sounds even to ears such as his. But he was not using his ears today. Today, her scent told him she was coming. She smelled of her hearth, smoky and bitter, the smell of rushes clung to her feet. The clay dyes, used to color her cloak made her smell of the earth, cool and hard. She has had her winter bath. Water is hard to come by for the two legs, so they bathe sparingly.
We are grateful for this. We are able to recognize them long before they can see us.
It hasn’t helped us to survive.
When she entered the clearing she stopped. Her leather boots squished in the mud and her cloak was pulled over her head. It protected her from the torrent. She stood still and looked into the forest ahead of her. They waited for her. The last two. He told her they would be there. He went into the forest and did not return. He told her he would not. It was time for her to be on her own.
“I know you’re there. Come out.”
Why would we do that? We have eaten her father. We can just wait.
Why should we wait. I think we should devour her now. Her clan has all but killed ours. We can end this today.
You don’t understand.
What is there to understand? We killed her father. I thought it would be harder. You can wait if you like. I can wait no longer.
The large grey wolfen strode forth from the forest, twelve hands at the shoulder. He towered over the child.
“I am here. I am your Death child. Why did you call me forth? Do you plan to beg for your life?”
“Did my father?”
“You lie. He would never beg for his life. You did not know him.”
How could she know?
“You are not from here. Your look, your color, your scent says you are from far away. You do not know my family at all.”
“You are but Men, the Other. Namers of beasts, growers of grass, makers of fire. Of the three, only the making of fire impresses me.”
The child looked at the wolfen, stared deeply into its eyes.
Why am I so afraid of her? What does she know that she can look at me and I quiver in fear? I have nothing to fear. I will consume her. NOW!
“So why don’t you? You’re thinking you should eat me now. I am just a little girl, after all?”
The wolfen hesitated. He bared his fangs but it was the baring of indecision not conquest, not domination. It was just shy of fear and submission.
“My father killed one hundred of your kind by the time he was twelve years old. Unlike your kind, we grow weaker with age. When he came to you today, he was relinquishing his power to me. In my current state, I could kill a thousand of you as easily as I breathe. I am only nine years old.”
It isn’t possible. It defies all that I know to be true. Age is power. Size is strength. The sharpest fang tears the deepest wound. She has none of those things.
“I will tell you one more thing. Then you leave or join me. Any other decision is death for you.”
“Look up.” The storm had subsided and the sky cleared showing the last stars before sunrise. “See that star right there. The dim one. My family and all like me came from that world. We were the last survivors of a world poisoned by our greed and filth. We were forced to change ourselves to survive there. Then we learned how to travel from our world to yours. But your people were stronger than mine then. We were forced to change ourselves one last time. Now your world will belong to us. The question is, will you be allies or blankets on cold nights.”
The wolfen bristled. His fur rose, spiky, hard as steel, he bared his fangs, his decision made. He never saw her move.
The cooling body of the wolfen lay at her feet. Wiping her hands on her blood red cloak, she approached the second wolfen who was too paralyzed to move.
No other words were spoken. She handed him a meatpie from her basket. He bent low allowing her to climb on. They would make better time to the next town.
Domestication of the Other © Thaddeus Howze, 2013; All Rights Reserved
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