Every now and then, in the deepest parts of the woods, one could hear the wolves howl and growl to the rising of the moon. On such nights like it was not many people would have the courage to speak so much as a whisper, for just the tiniest bit of sound they felt would be found, but there hidden in a faraway cabin stood a young woman who was not afraid of such superstitions, wherein the heart of it all she plucked the most beautiful of daisies a woman could ever lay her eyes upon.
The daisies were gorgeous. One of a kind. Some turquoise, some salmon, some turning purple on the days that it rained, ironically, and doing what she’d always done best the young woman overtime would become one of the most sought-after florists of the town known as Wimborne.
Business for the young woman was as they say today, booming. It was so good, in fact, it seemed that she was running low of inventory, which was bad news for what she had lined up on her calendar for the week. Although the night was much colder than usual, still, the young woman through on her rose-colored winter coat and headed out for the night. She took her usual route. Safely through the thorn bushes and past the two oak trees, that of which she’d for no reason at all named Hansel and Gretel. Once past the oak trees, the young woman would then have to make her way through misty parts of the woods that not many dared to travel. Snakes, quicksand, giant centipedes, and more, which would all be too invisible to see on the floor.
It was said that before a group of lumberjacks had gone through the same route. They were told that in the heart of the woods they would find dry wood that would burn forever. Desperate as they were the lumberjacks continued though the woods, but little did they know what they would be facing the deeper they had gone.
A week later, officers of Wimborne would discover that the lumberjacks had either been killed or taken captive
“There’s just no way Bob would leave his favorite hat behind like this. There’s just no way…” said Sheriff Vice, puzzled.
“What should we do Sheriff? Should we tell their families?” asked Deputy Dabel.
“We Sheriff Vice then pulled out a cigar from the pocket of his shirt. He lighted it, and then took one of the best puffs he could without chocking of nervousness.
“For now, let’s just keep this all under the table. I don’t want to cause a panic. Just tell the families that we are close and will have good news for them shortly,” said Sheriff Vice.
Deputy Dabel had a look of concern, for he felt that good news was the least thing the families would be hearing. While the Sheriff and the Deputy pondered on what would be done next, the young woman closed her eyes and continued down the very path the lumberjacks had traveled. Three steps to the left, two steps back, one hop to the left, and then sprint straight ahead until the count of ten, she’d told herself. It had always worked. So, surely it had to work still.
For the first three steps she took, hundreds of snakes would hiss and snip at her feet. Surprisingly, she remained calm and collected, eagerly moving past each snake one by one. It was on to the next move. Two steps back and now she would nearly be in what looked to be quicksand.
“Strange… That hasn’t always been there,” she said, surprised.
Trying her best to not delay any further, without hesitation Laurel then hopped as hard as she could to her left. There was a squishing sound, with a slight crunch to it. Immediately, she’d feel something crawl up her leg. Laurel sighed.
“I knew I should have just worn pants today, but no Laurel you always have be so fashionable miss congeniality,” she said, shaking off whatever had clung to her.
Last, was the sprint. Laurel took a deep breath, and before she’d realized it, she was already on the count of six.
“Almost there,” she whispered. “Just a few more strides,” she’d reminded herself.
From her left and to her right shadows followed, and with those shadows there would be growling. Laurel searched everywhere for an exit, but unfortunately the entire place had become too foggy to see what lied ahead, or behind for that matter. Although, something would by good grace change. Just a couple of more feet in front of Laurel would shine a crimson light. There was no time to think. Laurel ran as hard as she could and the wolves would do the same. just before entering the light, out of nowhere a large grey wolf would get a souvenir by the end of it all, which would be one of Laurels shoes. Laurel was now safe, however, outside the light the wolves waited.
On the outside of the crimson light it was sere chaos, but on the inside, heavenly. Everything glowed, like reefs at the bottom of the sea, and in the middle of it all lied the daisies. The daisies were enormous. Almost the size of Laurels head, whenever she’d put one up to her face.
Laurel plucked as many as she could take with her, which wasn’t many, as the daisies were about two to three pounds each. Seeing how she still had to get past the wolves when she walked out from the light, the last thing she needed was to be waited down from running.
After a few minutes Laurel was ready to head back to Wimborne. She’d made her way back to the exit to where the crimson light had shined, but the closer she’d gotten to the exit the ground would gradually shake of an evil aura.
“Hissssss… Who do you thhhhink you arrrrree?” hissed a strange voice.
All sorts of things had ran through Laurels head; to make a run for it or slowly turn around, or to not even move at all and just hoped to become invisible to the one asking the question. Maybe if she stood still enough she would be seen as a statue.
“Hissss… I asssssked you a quessssstion girl. Who do you thhhhhink you arrrree?”
There was no avoiding it. Whatever Laurel had done it would not be forgotten neither forgiven.
Cautiously, Laurel turned around. Her eyes would meet golden eyes, which pierced through her soul now like cold steel from a dagger. It was daunting.
“Y-You’re a snake… A snake that can talk…” said Laurel, frightened.
“Yesssssss. And I am the guardian to the heart of these woods,” hissed the snake. “It issssss forbidden to take from the heart, girl. Who do you think you arrrrree?”
“I’m Just a woman. My names Laurel and I’m just doing my best to survive. I’m sorry but I can’t return what I’ve taken. I need them.”
“Hissssss! Then if you wanted to survive you sure did come to the wrong placccceeee girrrrrl,” said the snake, coiling around Laurel. “I should ssssssnap you like a twig right now and feed you to the wolves.”
Laurel struggled to swallow down her fear.
“No! Please… I’ll do anything you want.”
“Hisssss! Anything you say?”
The snake then uncoiled itself from Laurel. It flicked its tongue back and forward rapidly.
“Bring to me a bride,” said the snake. “One with your olive ssssssskin and your emerald eyessssss.”
“Hissssss! Bring me a bride with brown hair that smells as sssssweet as honey, but… mosssssst importantly, this bride must have a heart that is pure.”
Laurel thought long and hard about it. There was only one woman that she knew of with such a heart and that woman would be getting married in three days.
“Okay…” said Laurel. “I’ll bring her here. I know just the woman but if I do this will I be able to continue to return here?”
The snake then coiled itself around Laurel again, tightly enough to make her regret the question she’d asked.
“Hisssss!. You may continue to come back here, but if you fail then I will take you as my bride instead. You have forty-eight hours to get it done. Tick tock.”
The snake then uncoiled itself once more. Laurel made her way out of the light with her legs wobbling. The wolves, of course, were still waiting, but strangely the further Laurel had stepped out from the crimson light the wolves would revert themselves back into the shadows they had once expelled from. They had already been given orders to let Laurel pass, which she assumed could only have been the snakes doing.
Laurel felt as though she was walking through an entirely different part of the woods. What was once quicksand was now just a patch of dirt, and for the hundreds of tiny snakes that snipped at her feet, they would now be worms. Laurel nearly vomited by the sight of it.
Nevertheless, Laurel eventually returned home. She paced back and forward around her living room unwilling to do what she knew she had to. It all felt wrong. To take such a loyal client and trick them into a scheme they didn’t sign up for was without a doubt dishonorable, but what other choice did she have? The thought of being with the snake forever was not pleasing to the mind at all, neither was it making someone else do that deed either. Then again, as selfish as it was, the thought of not being able to get the daisies to keep her business running was all that mattered. Laurel then picked up the phone and dialed.
“Hello… May I please speak with Mrs. Wesley?” she asked, innocently.
“Yes, this is she…” replied Mrs. Wesley.
“Hi, this is Laurel. I had a question to ask you if you have a moment?”
“Oh my god! Laurel! Yes, I remember now! How’s it going with the daisies? Did you find more?” asked Mrs. Wesley, excitingly.
Laurel paused for a bit. She really did feel bad about the whole situation. In her mind, she wanted to tell Mrs. Wesley the truth to why she had called, but who would believe such a story as a giant snake wanting a green-eyed woman that’s hair smelled like honey for a bride. Laurel chuckled a bit. It was ridiculous even saying it in her mind.
It was in that moment Laurel began doubting if she should go through with the plan at all, but then seconds later from behind her cabin, the wolves would appear. They all stood side by side as their teeth expelled past their curled lips like a shark. It was a warning, Laurel thought to herself.
“Hello? Laurel are you still there?” asked Mrs. Wesley.
“Y-yes, sorry about that Mrs. Wesley. I lost my train of thought. I was going to ask, are you at all available to come in today? I have your daisies but I wanted to get your thoughts on them or rather if they are up to your liking.”
“Yes! Of course! Lucas and I are in town. We’ll stop by in fifteen minutes. .”
“No!” shouted Laurel, with trouble under her tongue.
Mrs. Wesley stood by on the phone cut off guard.
“I’m sorry…” she asked.
“I mean. No, there’s no need for Lucas to come. It’s kind of a ladies thing if you catch my drift,” replied Laurel.
“Oh no, yes! Of course! I’ll have him wait in the car or go run an errand while us ladies talk it up,” said Mrs. Wesley, innocently.
“Fantastic! I’ll see you soon Mrs. Wesley!”
Laurel then hung up the phone. For the entire time her and Mrs. Wesley had been talking her eyes had never left the wolves and theirs had never left hers. Once the call was over the wolves would revert into the woods to supposedly to give the snake good news of what Laurel had done. About half an hour later Mrs. Wesley would arrive.
When Mrs. Wesley walked in, she smelt of her usual scent that of which was not honey but cinnamon. On the contrary, her eyes were indeed the color of honey, but unfortunately had gone against the snake’s request for emerald eyes.
Mrs. Wesley’s hair bounced with curls as she made her way to the register.
Without a doubt Mrs. Wesley wasn’t exactly what the snake had wanted, however, it was close enough. At least it was to Laurel. All that really mattered was that the snake got a bride.
“Ah, Laurel, it’s so good to see you again,” said Mrs. Wesley, kissing Laurel on both sides of her cheeks. “Shall we get started.”
Laurel paused for a moment.
“Of course. Let’s do it,” smiled Laurel, nervously.
Again, Laurel took her usual route through the thorn bushes and past the two oak trees she called Hansel and Gretel. Unlike before the path was entirely clear and lighting it would again be the crimson light.
“How beautiful,” smiled Mrs. Wesley. “Where are we?”
Laurel swallowed down her ner fear as best she could. She hadn’t broke a sweat since the time she was a little girl, but there she stood pouring of it profusely.
“Laurel, are you feeling, okay? You don’t look well,” said Mrs. Wesley, concerned. Laurel this time had no words to say, which now made Mrs. Wesley fearful of what was going on.
Still not replying to Mrs. Wesley’s question, Laurel entered the crimson light, but Mrs. Wesley did not follow.
“Laurel… What’s going on? What is this?” asked Mrs. Wesley, but still Laurel was to frightened to say a word.
“Hisss! My bride, you brought me my beautiful bride,” hissed the snake from behind the light. Mrs. Wesley then took a step back but keeping her from going any further would be the wolves who growled and barked loud enough to make the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
Any other woman would have run for their life’s, yet, as it stood there really wasn’t anywhere for Mrs. Wesley to run off too.
Mrs. Wesley moved not a single muscle, neither did Laurel. Although, as Mrs. Wesley looked in Laurels eyes she could now see what move had been played, ironically. Urgent for the little time that it had, the snake expelled from the crimson light and coiled itself around Mrs. Wesley.
“Delicioussssssss… You smell like csssssssssinnamon,” said the snake. “Its nothing like honey but it will do.”
Mrs. Wesley then screamed for her life.
“Laurel! Help!” she shouted.
Laurel was still speechless. She wanted to do something but what? How could a woman that weigh only a buck twenty-five go against wolves and giant snake? It was ridiculous.
“Your hair is too curly. And your arms….” Paused the snake “Hissss! What issssss thisss!”
Mrs. Wesleys arms felt muscular, hairy and rough. Not of the softness of a woman but rather the toughness of a man, which the snake knew all too well. Disgusted by the touch of Mrs. Wesley alone the snake uncoiled itself.
After that Mrs. Wesley would pull off her hair. She’d tear off her dress, and once she tore of her top a red flannel would be revealed.
“Hisssssss!!” said the snake. “Lumberjack!”
“This my friend is the end of you,” said Mrs. Wesley with a deep voice. “Did you really think I was just going to stand around and let you take my wife.”
Laurels eyes popped open wide.
“Mr. Wesley?” she said, with shock.
“Get back Laurel!” shouted who was now revealed to be Mrs. Wesley’s husband, Mr. Wesley. “This is between me and the serpent who took my friends and who is now trying to take my wife.”
Laurel did as Mr. Wesley did and took a step back. However, the snake was not letting her off the hook so easily.
“Hisss! You’re not going anywhere!” yelled the snake. “You set me up!”
“No! I swear I didn’t know!”
“It doesn’t matter if she set you up intentionally or not snake. What should concern you is the fact that I’m about to end this little charade of yours once and for all.”
Mr. Wesley without hesitation took his first slash at the snake with a tomahawk. Surprisingly, it was a direct hit. The snake had given a sound never heard from by a snake. It sounded like nails to a chalkboard, which had made Laurel cover her ears and made the wolves pull their ears back.
For the first time in its life, the snake could feel pain. Aggravatingly it whipped its tail as hard as it could, knocking Mr. Wesley ten feet out. Before he could begin to recollect himself of what had just happened, the snake would be coiled around him in a matter of seconds. Bone after bone crackled and popped around the entirety of Mr. Wesley’s body, as he shouted with agony.
“Hiss! Who do you thhhhink you arrrrrre?” asked the snake, flicking its tongue against the man’s face.
“Your worst nightmare!” spat Mr. Wesley, and the more his bones would break.
“Stop!” yelled Laurel. “Let him go! I’m the one whos failed you. So, take me as your bride instead.”
The snake paused and looked over towards Laurel with excited eyes. The snake had always wanted Laurel, however, trusting her was now debatable.
“I’ll cook for you every night. I’ll peel the dead skin from your back. I’ll shower myself in honey so that I smell like it for you. I’ll do anything that is requested of me.”
The snake then uncoiled itself from Mr. Wesley, and Mr. Wesley could finally feel air passing through his lungs again. Not wanting to waste a second more, the snake then sidewinded itself towards Laurel, coiling itself around her again, but this time in a much gentler manner.
“To finalizzzzzze the agreement all I require now is a kisssssss,” said the snake, perking its lips, which wasn’t a perk at all for the snake had no lips.
Laurel hesitantly closed her eyes and perked her lips as well, that which were painted crimson like the light that shined. As Laurel and the snake gradually made way for a connection, Laurel could feel the snakes grip loosening. She’d opened her eyes and when she did, the snakes head would be by her feet. Mr. Wesley was down on one knee still trying to recover from the attack he’d dealt prior.
“Did my wife ever tell you?” he asked, exhaustingly.
Laurel found herself at a loss of what to say. Afterall, Mr. Wesley did just slay the snake that she is including all creatures of the woods feared.
“Mention what?” said Laurel, on guard.
Mr. Wesley smiled. “Well, you see I run a big lumberjack company here in Wimborne, and that snake you just tried to sell my wife to had taken some of my best workers away, but luckily one made it out alive to tell me the story of what the hell was going on”
Mr. Wesley chortled.
“I didn’t believe him at first, but then I started hearing from the towns folk about these wolves and snakes in the woods, and then there was also the Crimson light which made me feel like a few of them were joking with me.”
The only thing Laurel could feel were chills up her spine. She’d been played the whole time, but she consciously reminded herself that it was a good thing.
“You know my wife told me all about yo, how some woman who was a florist went into the woods all by herself, bringing back daisies that looked like they came from another planet. I figured, well, since you came in and out of the woods as you pleased, that maybe, just maybe you and the snake were friends of the sort.”
“No, it wasn’t like that at all! The snake…”
“Shut up!” shouted Mr. Wesley. “I wasn’t finished.”
Laurel now became dumbstruck, and Mr. Wesley would continue.
“Like I said, I figured you two were friends, and seeing how my wife is by far the most beautiful in town, I knew any day now you would try to send her away to be unwillingly entangled with that disgusting serpent. So, I dolled myself like the almighty Thor once did when slaying the king of the frost giants, put myself in this silly little dress and waited for the slithering bastard to come out before I revealed myself.”
Step by step Mr. Wesley made his way over to Laurel, holding his shiny yet bloody tomahawk over his shoulder. He had a cynical smile, showing teeth that were aggressively positioned. There was nothing else that needed to be said.
“All of this for your business… all of this!” said Mr. Wesley, aggravatingly. “It’s a shame I’ll have to kill you. I’m going to end all of this once and for all, And then I’m going back to my wife, maybe have a kid or two.”
Mr. Wesley lifted his tomahawk off his shoulder, but just before he swung ut at Laurel, teeth more aggressive than his own would appear from behind. It was a giant black wolf. Laurel hadn’t seen it before, but she assumed it was possibly the pack leader, as its sky -blue eyes would say so. Hence, all the other wolves’ eyes were either black or brown. Sweat dripped from both sides of Mr. Wesley’s face towards the tip of his chin.
“Get back! Get back, all of you I said!” he yelled, tunning as each wolf snipped at his feet. “This isn’t over. I promise you this isn’t over.”
Mr. Wesley retreated with the little pride that he had left for slaying the snake, but Laurel knew very well that it was far from over. Laurel looked back to the wolves. None of them attacked her. They all stood behind the giant black wolf as if they were waiting for orders. The giant black wolf then walked up to Laurel and rubbed its body against her side. The giant wolf was massive. If there was any moment in time that gave a depiction of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood it was that very moment Laurel stood beside the giant black wolf. Although, this wolf was not bad at all, but good strangely.
“You’re not bad at all are you,” smiled Laurel. “So massive, yet so gentle.”
Laurel then looked back towards the path that led back to her home. Her heart ached. She wanted nothing more but to go back, but after what she’d just tried to do with Mr. Wesley’s wife, she’d go to prison or if worst get the death penalty if Mr. Wesley had anything to say about it. Laurel looked into the giant wolfs eyes, they were so innocent and filled with concern. It was apparent that he didn’t feel that it would be smart for Laurel to go back either.
As the months went on many men, searched up, down and all around the woods for Laurels whereabouts, but never did they get close to finding the slightest hint of where that might have been. Some of the people of Winborne were beginning to believe that Laurel was possibly eaten by the wolves after the slaying of the snake, however, Mr. Wesley never bought into the idea of that happening. Every night Mrs. Wesley would watch Mr. Wesley obsess over where Laurel could have been. He’d obsessed over it so much that he hardly even looked at her, let alone, touched her. It had gone on so long to the point Mrs. Wesley would eventually divorce Mr. Wesley and a few years later have her name changed to Mrs. Balmer after remarrying.
While Mr. Wesley sat in his home with molded walls and a leaking roof, there would be a knock on the door.
“Alright Tom!” shouted a man from outside. “It’s time to come on out. You know this house has been sold.”
Mr. Wesley’s eyes rolled over to where the front door was. There was nothing but a paper trail of eviction notices leading all the way to it. Mr. Wesleys eyes then rolled forward where in front of him hanging above the fireplace would be the same tomahawk, he used to slay the snake. It was somewhat of a relic, yet, although he felt dead, Mr. Wesley was far from calling it the quits.
He stood up from his rocking chair and every section of his spine would snap, crackle, and pop. Mr. Wesley walked over towards where the tomahawk rested and retrieved it as if he were trying to retrieve an apple from a tree. It felt heavy. It felt good. Better than sex, said the voice in his head.
Nevertheless, Mr. Wesley made his way to the door opening it so hard that he nearly ripped it off its hinges.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT!” he shouted.
At the door stood Sheriff Vice and Deputy Dabel. They look like they were seeing a ghost. Mr. Wesley looked horrible. Stained teeth, patchy hair, an odor that smelled of a dead skunk and more.
“Jesus Tom… What happened to you?” said Sheriff Vice.
“Life..” paused Mr. Wesley.
Deputy Dabel looked disturbed. Usually, he always had something to say but now he was quiet as church mouse. Mr. Wesley then walked past the two with tomahawk over his shoulder and a blank expression.
“Tom! Stop! Where do you think you’re going?” said Sheriff Vice.
Mr. Wesley then turned around with sardonic smile.
“To cut some wood,” he said, sarcastically. “The house is yours, I won’t be needing it anymore.”
Sheriff Vice shook his head with disappointment. He had already a pretty good idea of what Mr. Wesley was about to do next, and he knew that no matter what he said that Mr. Wesley couldn’t be stopped.
“Sherriff… Are we seriously just going to let him go like that?” said Deputy Dabel. “What if he hurts someone?”
“He won’t,” said Sherriff Vice, confidently. “That man has a personal vendetta, and he won’t stop until he has accomplished what needs to be of it. Its best we just do what we need to with the house and head back to our on homes before it gets too dark.”
Deputy Dabel said nothing else. Together he and Sheriff Vice watched Mr. Wesley fade off and never be seen again. Although, Mr. Wesley would be revealed to someone he hadn’t seen for along time. On his way to the woods Mr. Wesley figured to stop in town for some supplies. He needed more than a tomahawk this time. He needed a gun, nets to trap the wolves, and so many more things that by the end of it his nickname could have been Rambo.
Seeing how he was going to be out in the woods for a while, Mr Wesley figured to make a stop at the local store food. He hadn’t been in Wimborne Traders for years, not at least since he and Mrs. Wesley who is now Mrs. Mrs. Balmer, went their separate ways. Ironically, when Mr. Wesley walked in he could already smell his ex-wife’s perfume from the draft that blew towards him as he walked in. The smell of it brought back the fonder memories the two shared with one another, feelings that Mr. Wesley still regretted that he’d thrown away.
Nevertheless, Mr. Wesley continued inside. Everyone inside had stared at him like he was a ghost.
-Is that the tomahawk slayer?
-What happened to him, he used to be such a handsome man…
-Don’t get too close to him honey, no telling what he might do.
-Sometimes I wonder if he was the snake all along. I mean, look at him, his skin is so dry that it looks like some of it is peeling off.
The whispers, the ranting went on about Mr. Wesley, but none of it mattered to him, for he’d read about plenty of it in the newspapers. Mr. Wesley shrugged and continued to do his shopping. Aisle 5 was where all the cans of beans were. He didn’t have much money left from his savings. So, it was the only thing that could be taken with him on the trip. Mr. Wesley reached for a can of Pork N’ Beans, but before he could a little girl would run into him. The little girl fell to the ground as she’d ran into Mr. Wesley like a brick wall. Mr. Wesley looked down at the little girl annoyingly, but surprisingly the little girl would have fearless eyes.
“You should learn how-to walk-in stores young didn’t your mother teach you any manners?” asked Mr. Wesley with scorn.
The little girl pouted, and then stuck her tongue out at Mr. Wesley. He thought nothing of it at first, but then he noticed something in the girl’s hair that looked familiar. It was a red ribbon, but not just any old red ribbon. It was a red ribbon with yellow ducks on it. It was the same one he’d given to his ex-wife.
“SIRI! SIRI! WHERE ARE YOU?” shouted a woman.
Mr. Wesley recognized the voice immediately. Before she’d come around the corner Mr. Wesley would be hiding over in the next aisle, which was aisle 6.
“Siri! Oh my god, I’ve been looking around all over for you! Didn’t mommy tell you to stay close?”
Mr. Wesley peaked around the corner. It was who he’d thought it was, Mrs. Balmer, once known as Mrs. Wesley. She still smelled as beautiful as she looked. Mr. Wesley stood in aisle 6, sweating with nerves. Eventually Mrs. Balmer and what was revealed to be her daughter Siri faded away somewhere else in the store. Mr. Wesley sighed.
“That was a close one…”
Mr. Wesley then headed towards the checkout. Thankfully there wasn’t much of a crowd for an afternoon.
“Will that be everything for you sir…” said the cashier, suspiciously.
“Yes, that will be all,” said Mr. Wesley, looking around as though someone or something was after him.
“That’ll be $10.98,” smiled the cashier.
Mr. Wesley then reached for his wallet, but his hands were so sweaty that he’d dropped it. Being haste for time, immediately, Mr. Wesley would bend over as best he could with a spine he felt was built for an eighty year old. By the wallet he saw lime green and pink Nike running shoes, and he’d know exactly who’s it was. The jig was up.
“Oh my god, Tommy is that you,” said a gentle voice, excitingly.
Her voice pierced through Mr. Wesley’s heart like a dagger. There were only two people in his life that called him by his full name, which was his mother and Monica. Mr. Wesley hesitated to speak. He figured maybe the longer he stayed down on the floor the sooner she would forget he was ever there. Unfortunately, neither Monica or the cashier would be forgetting him, especially, with him being the only person in the store with a flannel on. It was without a doubt that Mr. Wesley stuck out like a sore thumb.
“Excuse me sir! But I got a big line here” said the cashier, with a loss of patience. “Are you going to pay for the beans or not.”
Mr. Wesley then quickly got back up to his feet.
Mr. Wesley grit his teeth.
“Of course, I’m going to pay you little…” Mr. Wesley paused and chose his next words carefully. He took a deep breath.
“Here’s twenty,” he said. “Keep the change.”
Monica, on the other hand, stood by speechless. She looked happy but somewhat disappointed all in one. Was this the person she married before? She’d asked herself. Mr. Wesley was like looking at a completely different person, but still, Monica felt compelled to ask. The two of them stepped to the side of the line where they wouldn’t be in the way.
“Tommy how are you…” asked Monica, cautiously. There was a part of her that didn’t want to upset Mr. Wesley more than what he had already been.
Mr. Wesley then gave back a cracked smile.
“Oh, I’m fine. I’m actually about to go do some outdoor camping and do some site seeing. Its been while since I’ve taken time to enjoy nature,” he said sarcastically.
Monica had a questionable look upon her face.
“Oh… camping huh… That sounds nice,” she said looking at the tomahawk to his side. Quickly, Mr. Wesley hid behind himself.
“So, how’s life for you? You look…” Mr. Wesley paused.
He wanted to say many things. That Monica was so stunning that she put his heart nearly into shock, that she was so radiant that he’d felt he’d could never seem to get her scent off of him not matter how much he showered, that just hearing her voice alone was enough to make him feel that there was nothing more in life that he needed to experience. But, of course, none of this was said.
“You look great,” Mr. Wesley, continued.
Monica’s question mark of a smile had now gone away, which would be replaced by a smile.
“Tommy, thank you. You’ve always been so sweet. It’s a shame we…”
It was now Monica would pause, choosing her words carefully, but in Mr. Weasley’s mind there would be rooting for her to say it:
-We belong together.
-We should have worked it out. We should have gotteb therapy.
-Lets get back together.
-We can make it work.
The rooting continued on in Mr. Wesley’s head, but it would eventually come to an end once he heard what Monica had to say next.
“Um, never mind. Where was I, yes, I am doing great! I have kid now. This little one by me is Siri. She can sometimes give mommy a headache, but I still love her more than life itself.”
Mr. Wesley’s shoulders slouched forward with disappointment. Monica seemed so happy, and without him. It was the greatest dagger to the heart any man or woman could receive, the thought that is, of the one you love not needing you anymore neither wanting you. On the contrary, life still goes on.
“Well, I’m sure your husband is a pretty happy man,” said Mr. Wesley, again with sarcasm.
Monica’s face went from happy to a look of embarrassment. Her lips trembled. It was too hard to speak of it, especially in front of an ex, but it was apparent that jig was up for her as well. The truth needed to come out.
“Well… That’s a little difficult to explain…” said Monica, worried what Tom would think of her. She kneeled to her daughter Siri and placed some headphones over her ears.
“Here Siri, listen to this why mommy talks to the nice man,” she said.
Siri shrugged as best a child could.
Nonetheless, Monica continued.
“I’m no longer married to him anymore. We got a divorce not long ago. He seemed to be so nice in the beginning you know, but later turned out being an abusive jerk at the end. I’m just glad that its all over now.”
Toim stood furious by what he’d heard. His hands clinched tightly around the tomahawk. If he were anywhere around, Tom would swing his tomahawk as hard as he could at the deadbeat Monica divorced, however, that swing was for someone else. It fact, it had only made him more angry thinking of it. If it wasn’t for that particular woman both he and Monica wouldn’t have gone through what they did.
“Laurel…” he whispered to himself.
“What was that?” said Monica, however, she was pretty sure she heard Tom say a name she wore to never say, for saying Laurels name more than three times felt like calling out the candy man himself.
“Nothing… I just chocked on my spit a bit, but I gotta get going. It was nice seeing you again Monica, as well your daughter Siri. She has your eyes.”
Monica smiled faintly. She wanted to tell Tom that it should have been his daughter, but what good was any of that now. Although, she couldn’t let him just walk off so easily. Sure, he didn’t look as clean cut as he used to, but in Monica’s heart she could still feel that Tom was still Tommy.
“Wait… Before you go, take this. It’s my business card, my cell phone number is on it. Give me a call sometime, I’d love to catch up again,” she said, innocently.
“Of course. I’ll give you a call as soon as I am back from my trip,” said Tom.
“Promise?” asked Monica.
“Alright, I’ll be waiting.”
“Expect a call from me within a week, talk tou again soon.”
Tom then faded out through the store doors, leaving Monica blushingly red. Her pounded faster than it had it had ever done. She kneeled back down and pulled the headphones off Siri’s head.
“Okay honey bunny, you ready to go home?” she asked.
Siri smiled snaggled toothed and nodded. They were on their way home, and as for Tom he would be heading towards a place that wouldn’t be homely at all.
Tom now had everything that he needed. On his way to the wood’s Tom passed by the same place Laurel held her shop. It looked more like a haunted shop than anything now, cobwebs covered all over it, boarded up windows, a crooked sign with letters missing, and graffiti painted for every inch of it. He’d never thought of it until now, but it was ironic how the path to the woods was so close by her shop. I’s as if it was all planned out from the very start. But none of that mattered. Tom carried on. As he entered the woods things were arguably very different than what they were before. It almost felt like a nice vacation resort than anything. The trees were the brightest of green they had ever been. The birds chirped harmonically with one another as if they were putting on a show for whatever audience that came around. But that wasn’t at all the most interesting part, the two ree’s Hansel and Gretel were still there, and larger than ever.
Tom walked up them both. Something was certainly odd about them. Of course, Tom had seen many trees throughout his years as a lumberjack, however, something about these trees had still given him the creeps. Tom then took the palm of his right hand and rubbed his face off with the worry that he had. He walked past the two trees, but right before he did he would hear something in the wind.
“I wouldn’t go that way,” said the voice, which was deep and a rough as a daily smoker.
Tom turned around. There was no one there. Nothing but the trees, Hansel and Gretel, of course.
“W-who’s there? Come on out! “Shouted Tom, but still only would there be silence. He didn’t have time for games, the sun was setting, and he needed to set up camp soon before the night came. Whatever it was that had whispered, Tom paid it no mind and continued forward, clambering up the hill before him.
“Foolish man, you will die,” said another voice, however, this voice was much more soft and gentler, almost like that of a child.
Tom then stopped where he was for only a moment. He thought to himself that maybe it was the trees, Hansel and Gretel that warned him of this, but again it was time was nigh for the night. Tom continued forward and eventually would make his way at the top of the hill. Immediately, he’d set up camp. Being the lumberjack that he was it had taken no time at all to get a fire started. A pot of beans simmered over the fire making Tom’s mouth water just by the site of it. It wasn’t what anyone would call the meal of. All meals, although, being as hungry as Tom made anything look good to eat. Even a squirrel, even a rat, would have settled the rumble in his tummy.
Tom had rushed in to take his bites, with every part of the spoon he’d used burning the tip of his tongue, but his hunger had made him move past the pain.
With his belly full of beans, Tom’s eyelids were shuttered. He was tired and the fire felt cozy enough that he’d felt at home. He’d felt safe, well, not completely safe as not far from his side his tomahawk rested. As a lumberjack, Tom had learned that you couldn’t be naïve going into to the woods, especially knowing the fact that Laurel and her wolves were still somewhere out there .And so, Tom closed his eyes and fell deeply into a dream he wished was still a reality.
In the dream was Monica, walking down a path covered in pedals from the most beautiful flowers. She looked exquisite. She wore a white dress that sparkled as though it had been doused in glitter. On the top her head was a crown made from flowers as well. But the most beautiful thing that had made Toms heart nearly jump out of his chest was Monica’s smile.
Yom tossed and turned in his sleep anxiously waiting for Monica to make her way to him. It felt like forever. The longer she walked, the further it would seem that she was getting away from him. Tom followed desperately. But the further he went out to catch up to her the crimson light sgine like a flashlight in the distant dark.
Tom then awakened in a cold sweat. Monica was gone, as well the whole entire wedding ceremony. All that remained was the crimson light. Within it the growling of wolves echoed.
“Their coming,” said Tom, reaching for his Tomahwk, but strangely it would be gone. It was in that moment Tom had thought to himself that he should have brought more weapons, but it was too late to think of such now. All there was to do now was wait. All that was left now was to brace himself for what was to come.
Out from the crimson light the big black wolf would appear without his pack. His teeth looked just as ferocious as before. By the dozen of scars that wraped around its fdce, it was easy to say that the Black Wolf had held its title of being the alpha of its pack for a long time. And by the way his eyes pierced through Toms soul, there was nothing on gods green earth that would make it surrender its title now. Tom wallowed his nerves down with difficulty, for he could feel the beans he’d ate gradually slithering their way back up his throught, but then he’d forcefully swallowed it down and prepared himself.
Tom grabbed a stick from the fire and waived it around to show the black wolf that he wasn’t afraid, that he’d been waiting for that moment his entire life.
“Come on you mutt!” he shouted.
The Black Wolf closed in quickly and then stopped abruptly by the fire, with fire. In fact, bnruning in the reflection of his eyes. Tom couldn’t tell which was the actual fire, the one he started or the one the black wolf raged, either way the next move wouldn’t be good.
Together Tom and the black wolf circled the fire as if they were playing a game of duck, duck, goose, only there was no ducks, only a wolf and one goose, that being Tom. The wolf then swiped its massive paw from over the fire, kicking up sand and debris from the firewood. Tom’s vison was slightly becoming impaired, but he’d wiped his face quickly for recovery. Unfortunately, he didn’t wipe them fast enough as the Black wolf was right on hm now. Tom swung the stick of fire again. And this time he’d nailed the black wolf right in the snout, which singed some of the fur around it. But the black wolf would immediately return the favor, swiping the stick of fire right from Tom’s grasp. Tom fell to the ground hard and the stick a fire would fall not to far from him, that of which helped him still see that the Black wolf was approaching him.
He Black wolfs entire pack howled of its soon to be victory. And the Black wolf would have a drooling smirk in the midst of it all. The Black wolfs ears pulled back, he lowered his head as low as he could get to the ground. It was about to lunge. It was about to give Tom the final blow.
He didn’t know wy it was now of all moments, but Tom saw a faint vison of Monica and her daughter Siri. He saw them standing at the door of a house. Little Siri would then run over to him and hug him as tight as a child could. And the last thing to come out of her mouth that was like a shot of adrenaline to Toms heart, she said, Daddy!
By now the Black Wolf had lunged and was floating in the air as if it had wings. And behind it the moon would glow. Tom’s hand reached for something, anything, that could save him for as long as the Black wolf was in the air, which wasn’t a long time.
Suddenly, Tom felt the weight of what felt like a body builder pushing against his chest and shoulders. The howls of the crowd then abruptly stopped. There was nothing but silence now. And what Tom would have lying on him now lifeless would be the Black wolf, that of which smelled of wet dog. On the contrary, was a wet dog.
“NO!!!!!” shouted a voice from the dark. Tom immediately recognized it. Laurel, he whispered.
The pack of wolves had resorted back to the dark, whimpering with sadness. Tom had survived the night, however, there would be plenty more nights for him to survive as well.
Tom sighed with relief. “Man, that was close,” he mumbled. For the remainder of the night Tom had slept with one eye open. And then there would be morning.
Exhausted from the night, Tom pondered on what to do next, yawning and eyes fluttering like the blinkers of a car. He had nothing to defend himself with. His tomahawk had disappeared, but he’d already assumed that it was Laurel that might have had it.
Nevertheless, Tom took what he had and continued into the forest. It felt quiet, too quiet. It was apparent that the death of the Black wolf had broken the hearts of the creatures in the woods. Tom could only wonder what the outcome would be now. The wind soddenly shifted to a cold to hot very quickly. Tom wiped his forehead with his forehead to avoid the sweat from dripping in his eyes. The further he’d gone into the forest the more it had would become uncomfortable. It was confusing. Did he make the wrong turn? Was this the same way to when he slayed the snake? Tom wondered.
It was then a cold gush of wind would brush against the back of Toms neck right before changing course. Tom jumped and sinned around. Right before his very eyes calm and collected, Laurel stood, inholding his tomahawk. Although Tom could already see by her slouched shoulders, concealing her tempered eyes that Laurel was far from calm and collected. She was pissed.
“So, this is it huh, me and you, like it should have been from the start,” said Tom, exhaustingly.
Laurel still said not a word. She stood as still as a mannequin. That was all until she’d tilted her head up to the sky, and from the sky would beam down the crimson light. And only then Laurel would speak.
“Do you know what this light is?” she asked.
Tom now had a dumbfounded look on his face.
“I’ll take that stupid look on your face, asyou don’t know. So, let me explain…” said Laurel, and the wolves would circle around her for protection, just in case Tom got the idea to take her talking as vulnerable means of attack. Laurel continued.
“The Crimson light is the light that nurtures these woods. In fact, it is the very reason why the most beautiful daisies bloom here. And well, the snake that you slay years ago was the protector of its creations. Although, it wasn’t your fault at all. The snake got, greedy, however, that does not settle the reason for you coming here. It does not settle the reason for you killing our beloved Alpha, our beloved Black wolf, but his death will not go unnoticed. No… There will be vengeance, Mr. Wesley, for I am now the protector of these woods. And unlike the snake I am not greedy, but I am very, very, UNFORGIVING!”
Like lightning, Laurel had lunged at Tom faster than a bullet. Tom could now feel the cold steel of his tomahawk slightly pressed against his neck, and the blade would be doused with tiny portions of his blood, like a cheap one-dollar shaver from the store. Tom said not a word. He closed his eyes and waited for the moment to come. Tom was never too really the religious kind, not like Monica was, but in that moment he prayed to whomever she did, that on the other side he wouldn’t be burned for eternity like his old man used to always talk about after a few cans od Budweiser. But then everything that was cold would go away.
“You dint think it would be that easy,” said Laurel, chuckling. “Death is too easy Mr. Wesley. I find keeping you a live so much more enjoyable. Watching you every day obsess over me, so much that you even caused your own wife to leave you. Tell me Mr. Wesley, am I all that you desire?”
Laurel took the blunt end of the tomahawk and pressed it against the Toms crotch, licking the side of his neck with a tongue that was forked in two. Tom pushed Laurel off him. She laughed hard enough for a stomachache. Once again, the wolves surrounded her, but she’d waived them to go away pridefully.
“Oh Mr. Wesley, how strong you are,” said Laurel, sarcastically seductive, clapping her hands in applaud.
“Your sick! Look at yourself! You’ve lost yourself in these woods, so much that you’re becoming a goddamn snake yourself!”
“Lets cut to the chase Mr. Wesley, or Tom, can I call you?”
Tom spit to the ground.
“Right, well, you have only two options because the life you had before is no more. You’ve lost your home, you’ve lost everything, and you really have no other place to go. I propose that you stay here with me and the woods, It does get might lonely sometimes. Or I will have to just cut my losses and let the family to the black wolf kill you and feed you to their pups. So, which one is it going to be?”
Tom had no clue what to think of. Of Couse, his answer was neither, but how was he going to get himself out such a dire situation. In the background laurel hummed the wheel of fortune song cynically. It had only made the moment more disturbing than the next. Laurel had really lost her mind.
“What’s it going to be Tom, me or the wolves?” staid Laurel, contendingly. Tom fumbled over his words, part of him wanted to say the hell with it and let the wolves finish him off, but for whatever reason Tom had hope that he would see Monica and her daughter Siri again. The sound of shotgun had then gone off SCHA, SCHA, BOOM!
Laurel fell to the ground but rolled out of it quickly. She held her arm which now was wounded, with blood as black as the ink of an octopus sliding down it. Both Laurel and Tom looked to the left.
“YOU!” shouted Laurel, frustrated.
“M-Monica… What are you… You shouldn’t be here,” said Tom, concerned.
Monica then stepped in front of Tom in a heroic stance, holding a shotgun that looked too big for her to within stand the power of.
“No, it should have been me all along. This all started with me. It was my business to take care of this. The snake wanted me and then everything went downhill from there. It should have been me that killed the snake, not you. I just knew when I saw you at the store with that tomahawk by your side it was for a different reason other than chopping wood. So, I dropped Siri off at my parents, took my dad’s Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun and followed you. I came here to end this once and for all.”
Tom got back up to his feet and stared into Monica’s eyes. Her innocence was gone. She was determined, ready die even if it meant putting an end to the madness. But still, even if that were so, Monica had a daughter to go back home to, which meant she had something to lose if she went down the path she was suggesting to take.
“No,” said Tom, taking the shotgun from Monica’s grasp. “You have Siri to be with. I have nothing. Its me that needs to end this.”
Tom then stepped in front of Monica and stared Laurel down just like a wolf would do its prey. And Laurel would laugh.
“You two really think it will be that easy. Like I said before, I am not like the snake. My power is so much greater and its time for me to stop holding back!”
“Laurel stop! We don’t have to do this,” said Monica, negotiating with who she thought was still a hitman being, but little did she know Laurels humanity had left her body years ago.
“All I ever wanted was to be the best florist in the world. I just wanted everyone to come to my shop and my shop only, but you two took that from me! You are the reason I am what I am!” said Laurel. Tom then pumped the shotgun in his hand.
“The only thing that made you this way is the snake, and your allowance of it!” shouted Tom, and the wolves would surround both him and Monica. One of the wolves rushed in with no hesitation. Tom fired a shot, it was a direct hit, the wolf was down.
“Stay close to me Monica,” he said. More wolves would close in and one by one Tom would fire until they had all been put down. By then end of it there would be eight wolves on the ground, lifeless. Tom pumped the shot gun for another shot to take at Laurel, but by bad chance of luck he’d run out of ammo. Tears flowed like rivers down the sides of Laurels face.
“My family… They were all I ever had… WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY FAMILY!” Laurels voice echoed throughout the entirety of the woods. Before Tom could even blink, Laurel would be behind Monica, holding her by the neck as tightly as she could. Monica’s skin was turning purple by the seconds.
“You take what is mine, and now I take what is yours,” said Laurel, enraged.
Tom slowly made his way over to them, and for every moment that he did the more purple Monica would turn and the more Laurel would drag her closer to what was an edge of a cliff.
“Get back!” shouted Laurel. “Or she dies!”
No matter what Laurel had said, Tom knew very well that Laurel was going to kill Monica regardless of what he did. And it was bcause of that, Tom felt eager to make a move and fast. He didn’t have his tomahawk, he didn’t have a stick of fire, all that he had was a shotgun with no ammo in it. So, he’d thought of the only thing he could think of to free Monica of the grip of Laurel who by her diamond shaped eyes was slowly turning into the snake he was afraid to ever see again. Tom lined himself up, and through the shotgun like a baseball bat at Laurel and Monica. Laurel released Monica, catching the shotgun in midair, and Monica would fall to the ground frantically trying to catch her breath.
It was now Laurel who would be caught off guard as Tom would be right on her, tackling her off the cliff. The two had fallen. It was the quietest the woods had ever been. No birds chirping, no more howling, no more sounds of the wind, just a strange silence that struck a fear into Mónica’s heart that would be with her for the rest of her life. Monica crawled to the edge of where the cliff was and looked, hoping that Tom might have held on to a tree branch or rock, but at the bottom of the cliff there was nothing but fog.
“Tommy!” Monica cried out. Nothing was heard but her echo. It was all over. Monica after that had spent months wondering if Tom was still around. Something about him she could still feel was around. While Monica sat at her favorite coffee shop with her daughter Siri, a man would walk through the door, with his head down, immediately stepping in line. He was about the same height as Tom, same wide shoulders, same poor excuse for fashion. Monica’s hear pounded. Was it him? Was it her Tommy? She jumped up and walked over to the man, puling Siri with her.
“Tommy,” she said, tapping the man’s shoulder, and the mam would turn around. His smile was crooked, his eyes were squinted from the lack of sleep that he had.
“Mam, please, I’m just trying to get something to eat,” said the man with sadness in his eyes. Little Siri took half of her muffin and gave it to the man. “Here you go Mr.,” she said, innocently.
“I’m sorry sir. Here let me buy you something,” said Monica, embarrassed.
“No, no, that’s fine. Your daughter is very kind. This piece of muffin will do,” said the man. “Here take this as in thanks for be so generous. We need mere people like you in the world.”
The old man reached for his pocket and pulled out a tiny box, and then handed it to Monica. “What’s this she asked?”
“It’s a gift. It was something a friend gave long ago to me, and now I’d like for you to have it, but don’t open it until later tonight” said the man. And the man would vanish through the front doors fo the coffee shop to never be seen again.
Later that night, Monica stared at the box anxiously, wondering what it could have been that the man gave her. She’d concerned herself with the thought that it might’ve been a bomb, as it wouldn’t have been the first time to happen in the world. Especially in coffee shops, yet something about the man she felt calm about. A feeling she hadn’t felt in a long time, a feeling that she’d only gotten when she was around the man her heart ached say the name of.
Nevertheless, Monica opened the box. Her eyes became watery, her lips would curl and tremble. It was a pedal from one of her favorite daisy cut out in the shape of the letter T.
Monica had still struggled to say his name, but on her next trembled breath she’d whispered: