In the Fullness of the Moon: A Fiery Fairytale

She walked along the rocky path, her basket bumping against her knee with each step. Granny and her damn snacks, she thought, glancing angrily at the hamper with its jaunty gingham cover. She spied a run in her tights where the rough cane had caught a thread, laddering all the way up the side of her leg and disappearing under the petticoat ruffles that hung beneath her red velvet skirt. Classy, she thought, and took the wicker handle in both hands, holding the basket out in front of her.

***

Fallen leaves crunched beneath her shoes, as she traipsed deeper into the forest. The trees became denser, the shadows darker, the air cooler, and when she gazed upwards, she could barely see the sky beyond the branches high above.

A rustling noise sounded from the undergrowth, and she stopped and peered into the gloom.

“Who’s there?” she said, her words quivering.

A deep growl rumbled in return, and an enormous grey wolf stepped onto the path in front of her.

Her heart instantly began to pound, thumping against her ribcage. She looked around to see if she was still alone, already knowing that she was.

“Go away,” she yelled at the wolf, fear colouring her voice.

But the wolf kept coming.

She stood perfectly still, transfixed as the beast moved towards her, its huge paws padding silently on the dirt, its amber eyes never once leaving her face.

Her hands began to tremble. “Please,” she cried. “Please… Please… Please hurry up I have an appointment in town at three.”

The wolf rose up on its hind legs, and a rush of heat surged through her body as she lustfully watched her lover transform.

In just moments, he stood before her, naked and human, thick muscles rippling and glistening with sweat from the exertion of the change; a brilliant smile spread across his impossibly handsome face.

She shrugged off her cape and dropped her basket to the ground as she practically sprinted towards him.

He reached out a powerful arm, hooking it around her neck and drawing her into his broad chest.

Their lips crashed together, hungry and urgent, all wetness and teeth, lost in each other’s taste.

He artfully unlaced her bodice, his kiss never faltering, his mouth never leaving hers, and as she wiggled her dress from her shoulders and let it fall to her feet, they tumbled to the ground in a tangled mass of limbs and unchecked passion.

***

“You really need to get over this little red riding hood kink of yours,” she said as she straightened her skirt and dusted the dirt from her tights.

“Maybe next time I can blow your house down,” he said, with a grin. His teeth were already starting to change; canines poking down over his still puffy from kissing lips.

“As long as there’s blowing involved babe, I’m all for it.”

He threw his head back and howled.

***

She sighed as she watched him lope into the cover of the trees, the early afternoon breeze ruffling his soft, grey fur. “Until the next full moon,” she called after him, and a shiver of anticipation ran down her spine when he turned and snarled, his amber eyes glowing with promise against the darkness of the forest.

 

© Amy Hutton 2020

Happy Endings

The sound of horses whinnying jolted Max awake. Groaning, he swung his long legs out of bed. There had been coyotes in the area, which was why his horses were stabled instead of grazing in the fields. He shimmied into his well-worn Levi’s, picked a t-shirt up off the floor and pulled it down over his broad shoulders. Padding sleepily to the door in his socked feet, he slid into his boots, grabbed his rifle and a torch, and stepped into the night.

With his torchlight bouncing across the ground, Max quickly made his way to the stables. Cocking his rifle, he gripped the iron handle of the heavy door and slowly yanked it open. Taking a breath to ready himself, he slipped inside and flicked on the lights.

“Oh!” came a voice to his left.

Max swung around; rifle raised. Standing before him, in a gown of blue satin and clouds of tulle, was a woman. She was startlingly beautiful, with brilliant eyes, and golden ringlets around her face. In her hand was an ivy wrapped twig with a large sunflower on the end, and though he knew it couldn’t be true, Max swore the woman was twinkling.

“Ma’am?” Max said, as calmly as possible, “Is there a reason you’re in my stables at two in the morning?”

The woman blinked.

“Ma’am?”

“I don’t suppose you were going to a ball?”

“Excuse me?”

“A ball?”

“Ma’am, the only kind of ball I know anything about, is a football.”

“Oh dear. I think I made a wrong turn,” she said, as she waved her twig above her head. A shower of stars burst from the sunflower and a map appeared in the air.

Max lurched backwards, tumbling over a bale of hay and landing with a thud.

“I see what happened,” the woman muttered to herself, “I zigged when I should have zagged.” She waved the sunflower again, causing the map to vanish with a ‘pop.’

“Who are you?” Max stammered, as he hoisted himself off the ground.

The woman glanced around the room, “Is this your kingdom?”

“My what?”

“Your kingdom. Your realm.”

“No Ma’am, this is Iowa.”

“So, you’re not a Prince?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Well you’re handsome enough to be a Prince,” she said, casting an appraising eye up and down Max’s tall form.

“Are you flirting with me, Ma’am?” Max said, a grin stretching across his face.

The woman threw her head back, laughing with a sound like wind chimes in a soft breeze. “Well, you are cute and very polite, so if you ever need a fairy godmother…” She handed Max a card.

Max looked at the card in his hand. “Ma’am. You may want to rethink this card.”

“Why?”

“Someone could…um…misunderstand.”

“Could they?”

“Yeah. ‘For a happy ending call 555-FAIRYGM?’” Max said, eyebrows raised. “Happy ending…?”

“But, doesn’t everyone love, a happy ending?” and with a wink the woman vanished in a spray of glitter.

Max looked down at the card again, “Well, I can’t argue with that,” he said, and shrugging, he slid the card into his pocket, and headed back to bed.

 

© Amy Hutton 2020

 

Heaven

Music filled Lily’s ears. A bright, familiar tune that always made a smile stretch wide across her face. She walked with the crowd along the pristine street. The sun was shining and sounds of joy floated on the warm, summer air. Pink and purple blossoms dripped from baskets, and the brass on the lampposts they hung from, positively gleamed.

Lily gazed up at the sky. It was the most perfect shade of blue she had ever seen. “Of course, it is,” she thought. “Could the sky here, be any other way?”

It was still early, so she joined the waiting throng of humanity, soaking up the buzz of their anticipation. Their excitement. Their hope. Their dreams. This place was always awash with dreams. She looked at the little girl beside her, bouncing up and down in a pink, princess gown, her hair piled on top of her head behind a diamond encrusted tiara. She was beaming. Everyone was beaming. It was the only place Lily knew for sure, where everyone was always happy.

Lily closed her eyes and enjoyed the hum of the people around her. She imagined the taste of deep-fried dough and the feeling of its sticky, crystals of sugar that would inevitably wind up coating her lips. The sweetness as she licked them clean. A rush of pleasure whizzed through her at the memory.

Then suddenly, the crowd began to cheer. It was rope drop time and Lily opened her eyes just as the Cast Members cried out, “Five, Four, Three, Two, One! Have a magical day!” A sea of bodies surged forward, and an army of prams barrelled past as they raced towards their favourite land.

But no one saw Lily. Because technically, Lily wasn’t there. Not in the living sense, anyway. Lily died just over a week ago. But a little dying wasn’t going to keep her away from Disneyland.

She drifted through the park, silent and invisible, remembering the irresistible scent of the churros, and the cold tang of Dole Whip ice-cream on her tongue. She remembered how the wind had felt in her hair, as she sat unseen beside a single rider, and raced around the Thunder Mountain Railroad track, screaming unheard screams. She jumped the queue at the Haunted Mansion, and floated amongst the spirits in the ballroom, and laughed as she stood thumb out beside the famous hitchhiking ghosts. She skipped down Main Street at the front of the parade and giggled like crazy as she danced with an oblivious Mickey Mouse. She stood on the castle bridge, and watched in awe, as the fireworks exploded above her in deafening bursts of spectacular colour.

Lily had always said she didn’t believe in Heaven, but the truth was, she always did. And as she sat on a bench with the statue of Walt and Mickey behind her, and her ashes secretly scattered in the flower bed below, she now knew she was right. This was it. This was her very own Heaven. And it was the Happiest Place on Earth.

© Amy Hutton 2020

Killing Christmas

Celeste stuck the last bow on the last gift with a satisfied sigh. She had promised to be more Christmassy this year. Put up decorations. Buy presents not vouchers. Send cards not texts. She even went to the post office for Christ’s sake. Like it was 1985 or something!

Pouring herself another wine, she proudly surveyed the room. It looked like a Christmas warehouse had thrown up all over the place, leaving sparkly puke dripping off every surface. Checking her phone, she was shocked to see it was nearly midnight. She had to get up in six hours to put a damn turkey in the oven. Why had she agreed to do the family lunch? Because she was being Christmassy! She was surprised when she wobbled a bit as she lifted herself off the chair. She’d downed a whole bottle of red without noticing. Probably be hungover tomorrow. As she stumbled to bed, she pictured her sister rolling her eyes.

Celeste woke with a start. She was parched. Like a desert had decided to take over her mouth. She was reaching for the glass of water beside her bed, when she heard a noise below her. A bump. Her arm froze mid-stretch. Another noise. Was that a jingle?

She fumbled around for her phone. It wasn’t there. She cursed herself. Another noise. This time a dragging sound. Celeste sat bolt upright. Someone was in her house. Worse still, someone was stealing the presents from under her tree. The one’s she’d battled the Christmas crowds at the shopping mall for. Fuck that!

She silently rolled out of bed and tiptoed to her wardrobe. Groping around in the dark, she found a metal box, opened it and removed a small pistol. She bought the gun last summer after a spate of home invasions. At the time she wondered if it was an over reaction, but as she heard another sound from the floor below, she was suddenly glad she had it.

As quietly as possible, she stepped onto the pitch-black landing. Then onto the stairs, one hand grasping the banister, the other the gun. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her hands, trembling. As she reached the final step she froze. There was the hulking shape of a man crouched in front of her Christmas tree, backlit by the fairy lights she’d failed to turn off. Celeste panicked. She stumbled backwards, accidentally squeezing the trigger as she fell. A shot rang out. A wisp of smoke sizzled into the air. She heard an “ooff”, followed by a groan, then a thud, then silence.

Celeste pushed herself up and carefully felt her way around the wall to the light switch, flicking it on with a click. A large sack lay beside the fireplace, brightly wrapped boxes spewing across the rug. A smear of blood trailed from the tree to the the sofa. A pair of black boots poked out from behind it. Shiny. Black. Boots.

The gun dropped from Celeste’s hand hitting the floor with a clunk. Her knees buckled, and she landed heavily beside it. She gaped at the grisly scene in front of her. Behind her sofa, eyes open but unseeing, blood splatter staining his snow-white beard, was a very dead, very fat man. In a red suit.

Well fuck, she said, as she hoisted herself up off the floor. After all shopping. After all the decorating. After all the work she put in to making Christmas perfect, what does she go and do?

She kills Santa.

Typical.

© Amy Hutton 2020

Crime and Sacrifice – A Flash Fiction

Five bodies lay sprawled across the small auditorium stage. The rest were slumped inelegantly in their seats. Senior Detective Wesson did a rough count. He figured there was twenty plus people in the room. Twenty plus very dead people. He pulled on his gloves with a sigh, and made his way towards Remington, who he nicknamed Steele, even though Remington was too young to get the joke.

“What’s the story, Steele?”

“Twenty-three people deceased. Cause unknown.”

“A mystery! That should be right up your alley.” Wesson slapped Remington on the back. “By the way, how’s the book coming?”

“Slowly,” Remington said, picking up a water bottle. He unscrewed the lid and put the bottle to his nose.

“What are you looking for? Poison? You’ve read too much Agatha Christie.”

“Poison, or airborne,” Remington said, ignoring the jibe. “Something killed these people, and it was either ingested, or inhaled.” He replaced the lid and carefully repositioned the bottle on the fold-out table attached to the arm of the chair.

Wesson surveyed the crime scene. He hated a mystery. Never understood why people read them. He liked things cut and dried. Questions led to more questions, which led to long nights, and he was too old for long nights. “Where’s the person in charge?” he said. His mood already beginning to colour his voice.

“Over there. The one with puke on his shoes.”

***

Wesson walked towards the gentlemen with the puked-on shoes, who was sitting by the door with a paramedic crouched at his feet.

“You in charge here?” Wesson said. His mood already making him brusque. “Up for some questions?”

The man wiped a handkerchief across his face camouflaging a sob. “I’m not sure what I can tell you?” he said.

“Let’s start with why they were here.”

“For a writing workshop. True crime”

Wesson stifled a laugh. “Well there’s some irony for you,” he muttered. “Hey, Steele,” he called to the younger man, “You should include this one in your book! A silver lining, yes?” He nodded enthusiastically.

***

Remington gave Wesson a tight smile. He hated Wesson. The moron. The man had never opened a book in his life. Remington was sure of it.

He cast an eye around the room. Twenty-three bodies with no obvious cause of death. The press will have a field day, he thought. He could see the headlines now. “The True Crime Murder Mystery.” He’d make sure to drop that line in the interviews he was bound to do. Then naturally, that would become the title of his book. His best-selling book. He smiled to himself at the genius of it all. Write a brilliant true crime story, and then turn that story into a reality. All it took was a little research and a dab of poison on a heating grate. He’d have to wait a while before he could publish, of course. He wouldn’t want to raise suspicions. But he should have the book on the shelves by Christmas. Then there would be the television appearances. The podcasts. Fame and fortune were in his grasp. And all he had to do was kill a few people. Well, twenty-three people.

But then, doesn’t all good writing require sacrifice?

© Amy Hutton 2020