A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Walter practiced smiling sheepishly in the mirror, but it was useless. When he bared those sharp, inhuman, canines, his smile became a snarl; he became a threat. Everything about him from his piercing yellow eyes to his thick, tool-like, toenails screamed villain. There was no house of straw, or stick, or even brick that he couldn’t be accused of blowing down. No three innocents they wouldn’t have him hanged for killing. No creature in all the lands that wouldn’t hear his tale and cringe. Except, of course, Gale. He had to get to Gale. A man of his size, temper, and smarts would not turn Walter away – he hoped.

In Gale’s dimly lit office, crowded with antiques from far and wide, Walter sat as still as any of the statues that lined the walls. He could feel his chest anxiously heaving. Gale stood against his own desk, looking down on Walter – analyzing every last bit of him. His eyes narrowed, head slightly tilted; the intensity thickened the air.

“You’re a monster, Walter. Why should I take your case?”

Walter felt his left eye twitch at the insult.

“They made me a monster, sir.”

“And the three dead cops? Who do you suppose took them out, if not you?” Gale was lighting a cigarette now, the glowing ember directed right at Walter – a target.

Feeling a rage building in his tightening chest, Walter’s low voice slowly turned to a growl. “They came at me. I – Self-defence. We still allow that in this tyranny. Don’t we?”

Gale and Walter’s eyes met and locked into a hardened standoff.

“And the girl? Val,” Gale finally asked, not breaking his stare – not even for a blink.

Walter leapt to his feet and in one quick stride was overtop of Gale, breathing so wildly the ember began to flicker. The edge of the desk was digging into the small of Gale’s back now, but still, he didn’t blink. Slowly, he brought the cigarette back to his lips and sucked hard, reigniting its power.

Walter shook his head violently, as if to release his anger. He moved an inch or two back, and huffed.

“I loved her,” he finally said. “And she me.”

With the silence hanging heavy over them, Walter collapsed back into his chair, eyes torn away from Gale’s. He finished, “But – yes. I killed her.”

Tears pushed forcefully out of his eyelids, but he made no sound other than the heaving huffs of a madman. Gale watched patiently.

“She – She said she’d defend me. She said – she said she’d make them see what she saw.” After a long pause, Walter grunted. “I suppose that’s exactly what she did; let them see me as she saw me. Wild, dangerous, exotic. A monster. A monster she could call her own.”

Walter looked up after what seemed an eternity. The ember had gone out, and on the edge of the desk Gale now sat behind was a contract. Stunned, Walter looked up at Gale.

“I ask nothing of my clients but the truth. The truth can always be defended.”

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

 

 

 

 

Song and Salacity

It had begun as a typical night.  There was a light howl in the wind, whispering desires through the air; a flutter to the crisp leaves that hung from the branches above, plotting their descent; a flap of wings, eager to dance to the sirens’ song.

Percie had just completed a tiresome novel by the fire.  The sun had just begun to set and she decided to ease her eyes by letting the night pour in.  She smothered the fire and breathed deeply, allowing the scent of char to wash through her.  In the kitchen, Percie prepared herself a cup of warm milk on the gas stove.  The crickets had begun their annoying symphony, but she knew her songstress’ would put an end to it soon.  Anything that bothered Percie was considered a threat in the eyes of her winged protectors.

As she sipped her milk, Percie gazed at the blackness outside of her back window.  It was not unusual for her to do this; it calmed her to affix her sights on something non-specific.  Otherwise, they grew weary, and she became utterly aware of her aching body.  But tonight, something felt different.  There was an eeriness about the night that seemed to be staring right back at her.  Believing it to mean her subconscious was warning her that she had forgotten to tend to her garden, Percie placed her cup down and reluctantly walked over to the sink.  The crickets had hushed and a low rhythmic humming was in the air now.  Her songstress’ had fed, but only a little.

Outside, she flitted about the garden, swiping her dainty fingertips against petals to check for dampness.  It did seem as though all of her plants had been watered, which all the more confused her.  Something was making her uneasy.  As her heart rate sped up, the humming grew louder.  Her songstress’ could sense her distress and were growing anxious by it.  She was happy to have their protection, but also needed to assure them that, for the moment, everything seemed alright.  If she did not, they may become undisciplined.  Temperamental as they were, she loved them.  She offered a reassuring whistle, lacing it with a familiar cadence that they returned before falling back to their quiet, watchful, humming.

Back inside, Percie let the rest of her milk flow down the drain.  She watched it spiral away, tickled by the image of disappearance, until she was jarred back to reality by a squawk so violently intrusive that she had to bring both hands to her ears.  Losing her balance, she fell over and cried out gently.

It was her songstress’; their worry and tension had suddenly turned to erratic vexation.

Percie scrabbled about until she was on all fours, simultaneously basking in the pain and trying to detach herself from it.  That was the thing about sirens, their pain was inviting. Even Percie, a keeper and beloved friend, was not immune.

The squawking continued to rise.  The pitch seemed impossible, and yet, there it was forcing its way into her.  The songstress’ had found a real threat.  Something terrible was out there.  Against her better instincts, Percie began the tedious task of crawling out to the garden.  For this, she had to rely upon her forearms and fingertips, for, her legs were incapacitated by the invasive song.  Her hair was in her eyes now, and she grunted in a high pitch, almost matching her songstress’ emphatic levels.

When she finally made it to the back door the squawking had begun to lull. Sensation tingled a return up Percie’s legs, making their throb more apparent.  Every muscle in her body screamed.  It was always like this when they fed – always.  Percie staggered through the gardens and around to the back of their tree.  She knew she would find them there, and she did.

As she came upon her protectors she squinted impotently through the dark, but their shadows were immediately apparent.  Three heads bobbed up and down excitedly.  Their song was now reduced to a croon, backed by a ruffle as their wings flapped with appeasement.

Although he made no sound, Percie could see their slender arms pulling and tugging at their victim.  A man who thought he could creep about, unnoticed – watching, lurking.  A man who thought he was a predator when in fact he was merely prey.

One feeder sensed Percie’s presence and rose from the earth, elongating her crouched legs.  Percie caught a glimpse of her bouncing breasts in the moonlight as she turned to face her.  She smiled graciously, knowing the songstress could see her well.  The other two continued to feast, though there could not have been much of the man left. The thrilling obscenity of the picture caused Percie’s heart to pound against her chest.

The standing songstress soon curled herself back to a perched position, guarding the others.  She let her wide bronze wings fold over one another so that only one eye would remain exposed.  Percie could not see this exactly, but knew the posture well enough to imagine it distinctly.  Drained from the ordeal, she let herself drop to the cold ground, and then lied flat against it.  All she felt now was an exhaustive satisfaction.

When the songstress’ had had their fill, they took flight over Percie’s amative body, offering a resuscitating breeze.  It was as welcomed as the bright moon.  Their eyes twinkled until they disappeared again into the treetops, while Percie slept deeply, and fully.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

Daddy’s Little Girl (Part 4 – Finale)

“It’s the winter’s moon, I think,” Charlotte posited as they stalked through the castle halls. “He’s simply not right, during it.”
They kept on the move, sneaking past his chambers and then his office. Not knowing where he was made the task of hiding from him all the more difficult. But Charlotte led the way, fearlessly and cautiously. Ellie remembered her as a child, so full of energy, and questions. She had always been such a treasure to spend time with, and always enjoyed spending it with her maid. It was peculiar, when she began calling her Ellie rather than Ms. Eleanor, but it was welcomed. As she grew, their affections did too until they built a true friendship. It was the real reason Ellie stayed, even when things were strange.

Charlotte motioned for Ellie to run to the front door while she hung back standing guard. With the coast clear, Ellie broke for it and jammed her key into the appropriate hole. When the door opened, a slight breeze whistled in and the two of them froze and winced at the sound. When no one seemed to be coming after them, they exited and ran down the grounds path. It was only then that Charlotte felt a pang in her stomach, wishing she had left a note for her mother. But, it was too late and she was betting she would understand. Their feet slapped hard against the cement and their lips blued as they fought against the cold air, but neither slowed them down. However, it wasn’t long before a coach and carriage blocking their way stopped them.

At first, it was difficult to see who the culprit was though the fog. But between the swirls of haze Charlotte eventually caught the eyes of her prince. He was early. Damn it. He was early. His eyes pierced her own, amused by her rambunctious nature and pleased with his own triumph. He reached out and locked a hand around her dainty wrist.

“How nice of you to come out and meet me. We shouldn’t waste time with goodbyes then, shall we?” He laughed. It was the type of laugh that buried itself inside of Charlotte’s chest and made her heart thump with resentment.

Charlotte pulled away but it did no good. His grip just grew tighter, his smile wider.

“Don’t get me wrong Princess, I like a good hunt, but I’m not stupid enough to release an easy catch.”

The moonlight reflected off of his teeth and his sharp incisors sparkled ominously. Before her eyes, they seemed to grow. She tugged harder now, and Ellie wrapped her arms around her waist to pull. But the two women’s efforts failed miserably, and made the Prince’s laughter heartier. Through the blue haze of nighttime fog, Ellie squinted in disbelief. His eyes glowed red now, she was almost sure of it.

“NO!”

In a heartbeat, the man became more beast, growling in disdain. His skin tore open revealing fur black as darkness and as thick as a wolf. His height increased along with his muscles, and he towered over them casting a shadow of pure evil across their faces. He lunged at Ellie, and she let out a mortal cry that must have shattered her windpipes as it carried across the Kingdom. It was only then that the horse reacted, crying out and wrenching back on his hind legs. The coachman, who had been otherwise invisible, was thrown landing akimbo on the ground.

Charlotte watched it all unfold, and it was as if time had slowed down. The sound of the crickets pierced through the muck in her mind, along with the flap of a crow’s wings above her head. She tried to blink away the disaster but it didn’t work. The prince – the monster – was headed for Ellie and the only thing Charlotte’s body could do was counter. And it did. Adrenaline surged through her as she leapt through the air, making direct contact with the beast. She landed flat on top of him and felt a bolt of electricity push through her skin until it burst open. Her teeth sharpened and her maw widened to release a vengeful roar before she tore into the prince’s furry throat. Charlotte could see only in red, and wasn’t sure if it was her anger, her eyes, or the blood she was guzzling. All the same, she kept fighting, kept growling, kept feasting.

It wasn’t until the prince’s monstrous head had been disconnected from his body that Charlotte stopped to take in her surroundings. She rose slowly, half-beast half-woman, and all rage. Ellie was on the ground, unconscious, as was the coachman. The crow she had heard was perched on a low hanging branch within her reach. The fog had begun to dissolve and the moonlight was brighter than ever. Charlotte could only hear the pace of her heart banging against her chest now, and could only feel power inside of her. It was like nothing she had ever known before.

A slow and steady clap began behind her. It was the King. His smirk told Charlotte that he had witnessed enough of the event, and was impressed.

“You’re fiercer than I expected. I underestimated you – a woman and a half-breed. But I suppose you really are daddy’s little girl, after all.”

With that, he turned and headed back to the castle, where Charlotte could see her mother gazing down at her from a window. There was absolutely nothing behind her eyes.

THE END.

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Daddy’s Little Girl (Part 3)

“AHHHHHHH!”

The shriek entered through the open windows and echoed through the castle. The Queen shot upright in bed, assaulted by the fresh morning’s sun. The screaming continued as she jogged through the halls to alert the guards. Of course, they were already making their way towards the sound, so the Queen followed unnoticed. Outside, the cook stood over the garden, looking as pale as death. At the arrival of the concerned crowd, she looked up, and whimpered.

“I came to get tomatoes,” she whispered through quivering lips.

At her feet lied the gardener, or what was left of him. He had been torn to shreds. His blood was splattered across the vegetables and ground into the dirt. His limbs were unattached, his head evidently gnawed upon by something inhuman.

“Wolves Madame, the wolves are back,” the guard stated calmly, and started away.

******

“How could you? He was a perfectly humble man. No trouble at all,” the Queen pleaded uselessly.

The King cut his eyes at her, and sipped his red wine. “He had become trouble,” he finally said.

The Queen rolled her eyes and plopped into her chair. It was nearly dinnertime, but they had asked for privacy tonight. The King would not need to eat, anyways. And the Queen was losing her appetite by the minute.

“He grew, curious,” he continued. “Always out there, at all hours. He’d seen me on my runs. Eyed me when I’d come in.”

“Why would he be out so late?” the Queen asked, genuinely concerned.

“Watching me, I suppose.”

“Well, it would seem he got an eyeful.”

“Yes, it would.”

The King gulped back the rest of his glass’ contents and set it on the table in front of his Queen. She sighed, and refilled it. On the other side of the wall, the maid pulled her ear away from the door and gasped. Shakily, she ran back to her chambers, chased by the memory of the beast.

******

Outside, a thick fog was rolling in. The prince would be sending a carriage for Charlotte at dawn but in such conditions it was sure to be late. She wanted her last evening to be special, but could barely pull herself out of bed after the morning’s events. She had decided to visit her greatest confidante, the maid. Only she was not in her chambers when Charlotte arrived, but hurried in just moments later, grasping for air.

“What’s the matter Ellie?” Charlotte asked.

The maid turned with a start. She had expected her room to be empty.

“Oh! Princess, you frightened me.” She tried to smile and catch her breath but Charlotte was not convinced.

“Do tell me,” she insisted, rising from the bed now.

Still shaken up, Ellie broke into tears and embraced the girl. She wanted to blurt out the horrible truth, that the King was a monster – the beast she had seen so many years ago. But she couldn’t. Instead, she wept for Charlotte, who had to carry this man’s genes.

“Is it my father?” Charlotte whispered in a calm, omniscient, tone.

Ellie looked into her eyes and saw in them beautiful, pure, truth.

“We should get out of here,” Charlotte whispered lower now, never breaking her stare. When the maid did not respond she repeated: “Ellie, please. Let’s get out of here. I don’t want to go with the prince, nor stay here with my father.”

“You know?” Ellie asked.

Charlotte nodded and looked away. “I saw him, just before my… illness. He tore our coachman to bits and pieces. It was horrific. That’s why he – that’s why he got rid of me.”

Ellie fought the dizziness. The coachman? The coachman who had suddenly quit last winter? Of course, that coachman. How many of the resigned groundskeepers and castle employees had really just been – no. The thought was too much. Charlotte was right; they had to leave.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Daddy’s Little Girl (Part 2)

The next morning, a viewing of Princess Charlotte was the Kingdom’s main event. Princes and Kings came from all across the lands to gaze upon the resting beauty. All were taken aback by her, and brought gifts they soon decided could not possibly be worthy of her. One by one the butler escorted the men in to have their look, leave their gifts, and postulate their plans to win her hand. One by one they were escorted out, deemed undeserving by the King. Some left angry and foul mouthed, spewing threats that sent shivers up the maid’s spine. Others left in tears, desperate for one last chance. The effect Charlotte seemed to have over them was powerful and unexpected, but the King and Queen were not at all surprised. In fact, they seemed bored.

“May I ask what qualities in a mate you are seeking for her?” the maid asked the Queen that evening while she bathed.

“I seek nothing. It is the King who has strong ideals about what she might need.” Squeezing water from a sponge, the Queen took a moment to ponder on this before continuing, “and I think I’d agree. She should be with someone who can handle her potential for voracity.”

The maid wondered what that meant, but decided not to ask. The Queen had been quite herself all day and she saw no reason to disturb that. Instead, she nodded, and prepared the towel.

“The men who visited today were all handsome, but so weak,” The Queen stated as she stepped out of the tub.

The maid wrapped the Queen in the towel and used another to dry her hair. Some did cry, that was true, but others seemed very strong-minded. Preferring not to disagree with her highness, the maid continued to nod.

“You might need to rest some more. You’re awfully quiet today. I hope you didn’t hurt your head when you fell.”

“I didn’t,” the maid smiled. “I’m just a little tired. I might take my sleep earlier tonight. Once you’re settled down.”

“I’m settled,” the Queen insisted. “I’d rather like a night cap by the fire. But otherwise, I’m fine. Please, go on.” She smiled warmly, a familiar sentiment that eased the maid.

In the library, the Queen made herself cozy on a chair by the fire. She brought the strong liquid to her lips and held it there, teasing herself with its delectable scent. She was always very thankful for night caps. The first sip melted over her tongue, tingled her throat, and finally warmed her belly. It was just what she needed after a day like today. Her husband would be far from the grounds by now, assumed secure in his chambers. It was on these nights that she could really unwind.

Being with him was not nearly as treacherous as she had expected it to be when he first took her. There was a brief time in which she even believed she loved him and wanted to stay. Now, she had simply accepted her fate. After Charlotte’s birth some seventeen years ago, she knew there was no turning away. If she had been able to escape before, she might have, but not now. Now, she simply basked in nights like these when he was away, and she could roam freely.

Of course, her favorite place to come to was still the library. Being alone with her books, her mind fluttering from the liquor, reminded her of being a girl again; a naive, impressionable, girl. She was happy to know that her daughter would not be so. Inheriting the beast from her father, dormant as it might be, had made her feisty in a way that appealed to the Queen. If she had learned anything living in this world with the King, it was that it was better to have a little fight in you – better to be the predator than the prey.

The Queen watched as the fire cast dancing shadows upon the wall, and drifted into a dream of her youthful days, dancing at balls, laughing a genuine laugh, smiling a believable smile. She missed those days, no matter how she tried to deny it.

“Your Highness, Your Highness! It’s the Princess, she’s awake!”

The Queen’s eyes shot open, her nasal cavity immediately invaded by the scent of peat from both the dead fire and the spilled whiskey on her dress. “Wh-What..” she started as she tried to focus on her surroundings.

“A Prince,” the maid exclaimed, “A prince came and woke her with a kiss. We cannot find the King.”

At the news the Queen perked up, alert, and dove off of the chair and towards the door – because she had to get to her Princess; had to know she was safe.

In the viewing room, she found Charlotte rightfully confused. She was fighting the Prince off of her, while guards stood as steadfast observers. She had tears in her eyes but was not exactly crying; just very frustrated and confused.

“Darling!” the Queen hollered and the room fell still, all eyes on her. It took a moment for the guards and prince to remember to bow, and as they did so Charlotte leapt off of her bed of captivity, letting the thorns tear at her skin as she rushed to the Queen.

“What’s happening, mother? Please, tell me what’s happening!”

“Shhh.” Pulling her in for a hug the Queen explained, “We discussed this Charlotte, you fell ill and we decided it was best to let you sleep until”

“Until a madman touches me!” Charlotte shot a glare at the prince who huffed at the insult but said nothing.

After a moment of jarring silence, the King strode in. Charlotte was scolded for her rudeness and made to thank the prince for awakening her and curing her ailments. As she knelt to him respectfully, she felt a sudden cold rush through her. She might have been woken, but she knew the nightmare had only just begun.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Daddy’s Little Girl (Part 1)

Like all fairytale princesses, little Charlotte’s birth was nothing short of a miracle; a beauty in an ugly place of ignorance and prejudice, not as far far away as some might expect. She was darling, silent, and obedient. But as she grew more curious, and more rambunctious, the King became wary. He sought advice from the Kingdom’s well respected doctor, who had a dreary conclusion to draw: Bestowed with cleverness, and a proclivity towards intellect, he was sure hysteria would soon be upon the Princess Charlotte.

So very closely she was watched, that after being found defiantly sneaking about the castle at the tender age of fifteen (thus proving the doctor’s theory), Charlotte was put to rest on a bed of roses that adorned the vicinity with thorns. There, in the deepest of induced sleeps, Charlotte would lie until a suitable prince might come along – one who might be trusted with the task of keeping her safe, and quiet.

“This will do. Remember to give her one dose each morning. We wouldn’t want the effects to ware off at an inopportune time,” the doctor chuckled as he was escorted out of the castle.

“Oh, of course.” The King returned the smile, anxious to be rid of his company.

As the doctor turned to leave, he paused and glanced back at the King. “I must ask, if it’s not an imposition – you said she was poking around, did she happen upon –”

“Dr. Kitz, I told you that in confidence. I expect the matter will not be brought up again.”

The doctor bowed his head apologetically, and stuttered a vow of silence. The King closed the heavy doors in the man’s face and grunted his disapproval. The doctor had been intrusive, but at least he had provided the King with a definite solution to his problem. Charlotte would no longer be an issue.

******

“There’s a storm coming, your highness. Shall I fix the fires?”

The Queen looked up from her daze and met the eyes of her maid, but seemed to look right through them. After a moment the maid backed away, unnerved by her Queen’s empty glare. It had been nearly two decades since she had seen that look in her eyes.

She shuddered to remember the first night it happened. She had only been at the castle for a few weeks. The King and Queen had been newlywed and the Kingdom’s celebratory festivities were just starting to wind down. It was the first quiet night since her arrival, and the maid was looking forward to it. She had been getting along quite well with the Queen, and had even made her giggle once or twice. It had set her completely at ease. That particular night, she had been doing her rounds of the castle, sure to open all of the shutters to let in the bright harvest moonlight. Then, humming a tune through the dissipating darkness, the maid had caught the sight of what she could only describe as a beast through the window. It stood on two sturdy hind legs in the distance; its fur white as snow, eyes red as blood, soul black as night.

Startled, the maid yelped and let her candle tumble to the floor. Despite the yards of space between them, the monster seemed to sense her fear, and turned so that its eyes met hers before it leapt into the shadows of the trees and disappeared. In her catatonia, the maid hardly noticed the candle had set her skirt ablaze. It was only when she turned to run, hyperventilating, that she came face to face with the Queen who had been silently watching the events unfold. The maid yelled out, frightened by both the realization that she was not alone, and by the fact that her highness was standing so very still. Suddenly, the maid could feel the heat sneaking up her legs, and smell her own flesh melting away. She jumped, breaking the Queen’s empty gaze. Snapping out of what seemed to be nothing short of a hypnotic state, the Queen poured her glass of water onto the small but painful flames below them. The maid had not even noticed the water, and wondered if she had been holding it the whole time. She might have asked if she were not overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all. Instead, she watched, mouth gaping and heart pounding, as the Queen wandered off down the hall.

Frightened and confused, the maid had told no one about the monster she had seen. Eventually, the memory became less tangible and more oneiric.

Tonight, the Queen had that same eerie look in her eyes. The recognition sent the memory of that night flooding back to the maid. It washed over her like a wave, so that she was woozy and unsteady on her feet. In her mind’s eye, images of the beast flashed incoherently until she felt her body succumb to the exhaustion. She collapsed to the floor and it was only then that the Queen rose, and came to her side (though with very little urgency). The world blackened and the maid soon awoke in her chambers, tucked into bed with a cool breeze grazing her face. She let her eyes flutter open and saw that the Queen was just leaving, closing the door behind her.

The window was wide open, sheer curtains blowing in the wind. Much like that night so many years ago, moonlight poured in splashing her in the face. Only now, it was not so welcomed. She turned her back to it, squeezed her eyes shut, and said a silent prayer. In the distance, she thought she heard a howl. So, she prayed again.

Down the hall, the princess slept, sound as death.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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