A Short Story by
A James Hindle

 There was a knock at the door. The dog barked — the cat meowed —
I went to the door and opened it. There was no one there, so I closed it.

Confused, I went back to whatever it was I was doing. Then, strangely, there was another knock at the door. The dog barked again. The cat again meowed, and I once more went to answer the door. Still nobody. 
I wondered . . . . ,
Was the knocking just the wind, or were we being ‘Knock A Door Gingered’?
That’s a game I played as a child . . . .  Oh, never mind.

Standing in the open doorway, a disgusting odour wafted past the three of us. The stench was truly horrible. Nausea and shivers ran through my body — the cat and dog shook uncontrollably in reaction to the foul smell. Although their condition could have been from the dozen or so slices of pepperoni and tabasco sauce pizza that they had just scoffed off my supper table. Little shites! They deserve whatever pain they feel. Better them than me, I say.

But curiosity had beckoned us outdoors and into the forest. Together, we left the safety of the cozy cottage and ventured into the nearby wilderness.

Not far in, we were confronted by an enormous wolf that had just burped loudly after apparently finishing a satiating meal. Bad breath? Oh My Gawd! It was the same odour we’d witnessed in the cabin’s doorway. At least, I thought it was a burp. What else could he have possibly done to cause such an evil aroma . . . . . . . ?

On the ground before me was a red cloak-n-hoody sort of thing. My imagination was aroused. Was this the cape of the shepherd, Little Bo? Surely not! I knew she was still in the hospital after giving birth to a little ba-a-a-a-stard after she was sexually assaulted by a rogue ram while tending her sheep in a meadow somewhere up the mountain. Disgusting story . . . maybe for later . . . but getting back to this one . . .  No! This must have been the cloak and hoody of  Little Rrrr-rrr . . .  Little Rrrr. I couldn’t bring myself to say her name.

My thoughts were interrupted when the wolf, I suppose feeling comfortably full and no longer hungry, asked if I happened to have a cigarette. I knew I did not because I’m allergic to all tobacco products, alcohol, sex, and vulgar words ever since my mother told me as a boy that I was allergic to all tobacco products, alcohol, sex, and vulgar words. She said if I ever were to use any of them, I would turn into a dog and cat molester . . .  well . . . we don’t have to go there right now. Just because I love my dog and cat doesn’t mean I . . . . .  . I really don’t want to talk about that!

I knew I had to think fast before the wolf, hungry or not, ate us, too. In desperation, I told him about a stash of funny grass the cat was hiding in her bed back at the cabin and that it could be smoked if one were in the need of such respite. I knew it was just dog hair because when I had rolled it in paper and lit it there was a funny smell, kind of like when you roll dog hair in paper and light it.
You’re probably curious why there’s dog hair in my . . .  I mean, the cat’s bed. I’m uncertain, but I think they’re having a kinky affair. But that’s another story.

Anyway, I thought if I told him about it—if he took the bait—it would give me some time to come up with a better plan to save us from his drooling fangs. So, we all started back to the shack.

Now, I’m sure my plan would have worked, but just as we were leaving the edge of the forest, heading back toward the shed, it happened.

Like ketchup from a bottle when you shake it, thinking the cap is on tight, but it’s not, and ketchup flies all over the room — well, kind of like that — blood was flying everywhere.

With the energy of a blast from a gun barrel, the large birds attacked.  Talons outstretched; beaks so big and open they could swallow a Cocker Spaniel whole . . . (Pause) . . . . . .

“Rex? Here Rex!” Oh, my Gawd! Where was Rex? Was he already . . . . (sniff). He had been such a good dog!

But I had no time to pine. They came from the treetops at the edge of the forest. Streaking down on us in a voracious fury — their fiery, emblazoned eyes locked on us,  their prey — their ear-piercing screeches wreaking fear and horror over their intended victims . . . . . us! Their razor-sharp talons and slashing beaks tore into their prey in a rampage of explosive and vicious energy.

Then . . .  , just as they had arrived, they were gone.

I was lying on the ground, certain I was cut and bruised because that’s what happens when you’ve been attacked by a murder of killing-intent crows. Checking my pants . . .  I mean my body . . . , I appeared to be unstained — if you know what I mean. No cuts, no bruises, no broken bones. It had happened so fast.

I gathered what energy I had and lifted myself to my feet, turning slowly, surveying the area, soaking in the carnage that had just happened. The wolf was dead—bits and pieces of him were everywhere: legs, chunks of fur, a big paw, a wolf’s head. That was the clincher — a severed, mutilated head. Yeah! He was dead all right. Somehow, it could have just been luck, but I was alive and unharmed. But poor Rex and Freckles. Who would I have to talk to, to dine with, to . . . . . Never mind.

Suddenly, a rush of pleasure flashed through me.
Well, not the pleasure one would feel during some ‘rush-of-pleasure’ things . . . . . we won’t go there right now.
 But it was a real rush of happiness. There she was: My cat, Freckles. I called her Freckles because she was jet black with one little white spot between her eyes. It was kind of a freckle. Made me think of a target’s bullseye. Now, why would I ever think a thought like that . . .  .

Anyway, this was great! Freckles was alive, hiding in a hole under a log. All her hair was standing straight up — she looked like a large puffer fish with hair. She was just staring up at me, and I could tell she wanted to leap out of the hole, paws . . . with claws . . . outstretched into my arms, in a fit of excited, eager relief and celebration.
Gads!’ I thought. ‘This could turn out worse than the bird’s attack.’

Then more elation raced through my traumatized body. There, gazing up at me, was another set of eyes, sparkling in the darkness from behind Freckles. It was Rex! He was alive! Oh, glory days. The three of us had survived. Only the wolf had bought it in that venomous wrath of assault and carnage.

It had been a traumatizing experience and made me wonder . . . had it been a strange ‘hit’ by nature? Could the wolf have been punished by nature for killing . . .  and eating . . .  the owner of the red cape? And, was that victim really Little Rrrr . . . . Little Rrrr . . . ? I still couldn’t bring myself to say her name.  Perhaps she had been coming for a visit with us when the wolf had taken her? GADS! We all so enjoyed her visits. She so loved Freckles and Rex. And she always brought such good cookies. Damn wolf! He must have eaten the cookies too!

Was it really her that had been devoured by the wolf? Or had he just had his lunch wrapped up in a red cape to keep it warm? I knew I would be pondering this for some time to come — at least until Little Red visited us again . . . if she could. We continued on our way back to the hut.

I couldn’t help thinking, who were those pecksey—get it, pecksey, not pec . . . oh, never mind—who were those birds?
What was their driving force? I mean besides their wings.’
Were they ‘Special Agents of Creation’?
Natures Assassins of Control?

But, I’m sure that that’s another tail . . . , umm . . .  , tale . . . , no . . .  , tail . . .  .
Whatever,  that’s another story, when I get it all figured out.

So that’s the end, for now. Next time you’re in the forest, drop by. BYE.
Hmmmm, I just noticed that. . . . . by bye. Get it . . .

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