Locked and Loaded
Twisted from Red Riding Hood
For hours upon end, the young girl had been traversing the forest in search of food. Alas, she had come to nothing and only had an empty canteen to show for her poor marksmanship. She had earned several images of fleeting animals bounding away into nature’s embrace. Everything she came across had escaped such close encounters that she concluded Mother Earth was teasing her pitiable ability, and to make matters worse, any missed shots with her rifle simply alarmed the whole area of her presence and lowered her chances of nabbing anything. The week had been cruel on her, with each day a vicious repeat of the previous.
Feeling defeated, the girl began to walk back home upon the grassy path, dappled with sunlight. The trees all seemed to blur together into a sea of green, making her wonder how much progress she had really made. With the endless onslaught of unattainable prey, she had also lost her sense of time. Perhaps she would become trapped, doomed forever to chase the unachievable. Maybe she would perish of malnutrition, alone.
And thus, she suffered a barrage of her own thoughts, growing increasingly twisted as the day dragged on. Exhausted and famished, she continued walking until she reached a shaded area, and slowly lowered herself onto the ground to rest. When she lay on her back, her eyes spotted a red-brown blur not too far from her current position. She could feel her heart beat faster. Was this her big break? She had never tried to shoot a wolf before, and it would be a messy job, no doubt, but it was right in front of her eyes. The girl gradually rolled over onto her stomach and adjusted her riding hood. The wolf was upwind of her, unable to scent her company.
She could tell it was a young red wolf. It was padding leisurely down the path with a small mammal in its mouth, with its senses overwhelmed by its prey. The girl questioned nothing and didn’t think about it, too focused to let her chance escape. She stood her rifle up and began to position it. Shaking, she lowered her head to look through the scope, reminding herself to aim directly at the wolf and not slightly away, like how she had previously. Out of nowhere, there was a sharp click. She had been too impatient with setting up the rifle properly.
The wolf pricked its ears.
She pulled the trigger.
The deafening crack of the shot seemed to echo incessantly, leaving her ears ringing. The birds, formerly concealed by the heavy foliage of the vegetation, left, squawking into the distant blue. When the resonance of the noise finally faded away, she was met with the curious silence of the forest once again …