Red - An Alternate Telling of a Classic

The night air felt clean and brisk as Red ran through the woods, ducking under low hanging branches as she made her way to the clearing. Shadows abounded in this part of the woods; even the light of day had trouble penetrating the canopy of thick tree tops. Her superior, supernatural vision enhanced her ability to make her way through the dense woods. Red's heart raced as she felt a sudden surge of energy as she approached the clearing, her thoughts drifted to her beloved.

As Red entered the clearing, jumping over fallen brambles and trees, she could see Canis knelt down in the middle of the clearing; just his head visible over the tall grass and heather that covered the ground. She ran faster and leaped into the air, twisting and turning, and landing right beside him. She touched his shoulder and tried to look into his eyes. Canis's head hung low, eyes studying the dirt beneath him. He was gasping breath and clutching his left side.

"What is it, Hun?" She asked, checking him over with a cursory glance.

"Hunters," he said as he nodded over to the edge of the clearing behind him and to the right. "They shot me Red. Those mother fuckers! Silver shards this time."

She moved around to his other side and moved his hand away from the wound with her petite hand. The smoldering hole in his side was oozing thick, red blood; speckles of silver dust around the entry point smoked as it melted deeper into his flesh. Red pulled her shirt over her head and pressed it against the wound firmly. Canis cringed but kept his composure. She glanced back and focused on the area in the tree line that her love indicated and through her mind's eye she saw them approaching the clearing.

"Time to go, Baby," she stood up, topless; her nipples erect in the cold night air, and helped Canis to his feet. He stood a full four feet over her, even hunched over in pain. His powerful muscles rippling under the dark, matted fur that covered his body in Chronos Form; half human, half wolf. Red pulled at him to get moving, her dark crimson hair flowing behind her as they set out toward the opposite side of the clearing.

Luckily Red fed earlier this evening, but those hunters sound pretty good as a late night snack; Holy Blood is always the sweetest. She will have her revenge against those who sought to kill her chosen mate; the ones who perpetuated this merciless attack on her betrothed.

Now is not the time for revenge, she reminded herself. With renewed vigor, she assisted Canis out of the meadow and into the woods where it would be much harder for the hunters to track them. Even wounded, Canis was surprisingly agile and quick and they were lost in the forest in no time at all.

"Up here, darling," Red motioned up a tall, buff tree. "We can tend to that nasty hole in peace."

The two lovers scrambled up the tree about mid-way and braced themselves against the many outcroppings of branches. Canis let the pressure off of the wound and saw that it was not bleeding any longer; one of the benefits of being "supernatural." He handed the scarlet shirt back to Red who took it, and slipped the blood-soaked cloth over her body; the dark red liquid staining her pale skin.

"You'll be needing this." Red brought her wrist up to her mouth and tore at her skin with her extended fangs and offered it to Canis.

"No Red. I can't do that to you again."

"Nonsense, Lover. It is the only way to cleanse you of the silver. Do it baby, I'm a big girl." She pushed, once again, her bleeding wrist to Canis's mouth. Accepting her gift, he drank briefly, just enough to heal himself, then stopped.

"You need more darling..."

"No!" he realized that he was raising his voice as he looked down to the path and over the meadow in the distance, looking for anyone who might have heard him. He whispered, "No. I have had enough, now lick your wound and let's get out of here."

"Fine." Red licked her skin where it was bleeding and within seconds the laceration was completely healed. She rapidly made her way down to the forest floor, listening with her superior hearing for any sounds of a threat but found none. Canis was last, moving a little slower but with more life and spring in his step.

"Let's go home, Lover." Red turned on the path and ran off toward her cottage, a small hide-a-way deep in the forest and well away from any path. Her closest neighbor was a woodsman who lived about a mile away, but he rarely came out here anymore. Perhaps he was scared off by the howling that Canis liked to partake in when the moon was high and bright in the sky.

As they quickly made their way through the thick, dense overgrowth that made up the forest floor, they came upon the clearing where Red's house stood. It's gingerbread facade has all but faded in color, but was still solid looking; sturdy. 

She started walking towards the door when a furry, clawed hand held her at the shoulder. She turned back to see her magnificent lover, his head hung low, fall to his knees. "Baby!" Red immediately knelt beside him, cradling his head in her arms. "What's wrong?"

"Something... other than silver..." Canis fell completely to the floor as his breathing became more shallow. Red could now see the pool of blood forming on the floor under him. She leaned over him to discover that the wound, once partially healed, has begun to fester and putrefy.

Magic... Red detested magic. Her long history as a potential subject of incantations has taught her that Magic was bad to be anywhere around. "Oh, Canis," she sighed "What have you done, lover?"

She dragged him up to the house and onto the porch. His wound was once again starting to smoke; brief little wisps of smoke at first but now a constant stream. With the door now opened, she pulled Canis into the cottage and onto the bed he had frequented many times. 

Canis tried to settle into the familiar surroundings, but fever and pain made that difficult. He opened his eyes thinly enough to see Red scrambling around for medicine. Suddenly she stopped and sighed deeply. She straightened up and regained her composure then turned towards the bed.

"Okay Baby. You need to stay here and try not to go to sleep. I am going to find the Woodsman, his kind are nature's magicians... healing." She knelt down and gave Canis a long, deep, passionate kiss on his perfect lips. She kissed his earlobe and whispered, "I love you, Canis."

As she got up to leave, Canis grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to him. He reached up and grabbed her long, scarlet hair and pulled her down to him. Their lips met, once again, and she pressed herself against him, relishing in his warmth and reality. She bolted up and cocked her head at the very loud sound of an axe making good contact with a tree. "The Woodsman!! Maybe it's not too late..." Red started for the door, running her fingers along Canis's body as she went. 

Once outside, another Thwack! This one louder... closer... from the left. Red turned and, in the moonlight and with her exceptional vision, saw a large man with a large, dark beard standing with a hand resting on his axe that was swung into the trunk of a pine tree. Why does he always heft his axe to wood at night?, she often wondered. He stood just on the edge of the clearing that Red's cottage was on.

"Please! Can you help me?" Red started for him as he easily pulled the axe from the tree and held it in both hands, separating him from her. "My love has been... Please. I know you can help me. You're a Woodsman, you can heal him..." Red dropped down to her knees as she reached him and slunk down, chin on her chest... sobbing.

"My child, what is wrong? Your husband you say? Sick?" The Woodsman let his arm down, away from his axe, and helped her to her feet. He was tall, almost seven feet tall to be exact. His frame was broad and stocky as his beard showed the earliest signs of graying. "Take me to him my child..."

She slowly stood, with the Woodsman's help, and turned towards the cottage, pulling the Woodsman along with her. She tried, in vain, to move faster but the Woodsman didn't seem to be in as big a hurry as her; or it was his lumbering form that made his progress slow. Either way, Red was getting angry.

Once to the cottage, Red opened the door and pulled the Woodsman inside. The Woodsman saw the wisps of smoke coming up from the pen wounds on Canis's side. "Oh... I... uh. I see." He stood there, stroking his beard and assessing the situation and environment, for a moment and then ran back outside to a small patch of green clover just outside off the entry path.

"What are you doing?" Red asked impatiently. She was really getting a little more than upset at his lackadaisical demeanor. "Canis is inside you daft..."

"Hush, child. Canis you say? Well little one, Canis needs medicine. This clover would do nicely for starters." He stood up and walked around the grounds, head hung low as he scanned the ground for his next ingredient. "What I need is..." He lifted his gaze up to the canopy and pointed, "mistletoe."

Red jumped, with lightning speed and grace, up the tree and over the branch and easily broke off the mistletoe and dropped it down to the Woodsman.

"Thank you, my child." He walked into the cottage and grabbed a large pot that was hanging on the wall by the fireplace. He handed it to Red and asked, "can you fill this up with water about half way to the top?"

Red grabbed the pot and ran down to the creek, filled the pot and ran back. The Woodsman had crushed the clover and mistletoe together and added some salt and sugar to the mix. He dumped it in the pot and hung the pot on the fireplace.

He walked over to Canis and placed his hand on his rapidly rising and falling chest. He cocked his head slightly, as if listening to something inaudible to anyone else. Squatting down, the Woodsman took a closer look at the wound. "Ah... I see now why you are in so much pain. Your kind does not do well with silver. I can help you but you will need to trust me, Canis." 

Canis opened his eyes slightly, looking toward the deep, rugged voice that sounded so reassuring in his painful darkness. He saw the long, wild-haired head of a very large man as he tried to sit up. A large hand found his chest again and held him down.

"You will want to remain still, young one."

Canis, engulfed by agony and unconsciousness, fell still once again. His breathing still labored and rapid, like an injured dog. The Woodsman went over to the pot and stirred it once more as he leaned in and took in a long whiff of the pungent odor. "Almost ready."

Red paced back and forth in her kitchen, angry and worried; she felt so helpless, so worthless. It was hard for her because she was used to being able to do anything she wanted; she was a Vampire after all. It had been a very long time since she felt so unable to do anything. Trusting others was not her strong suit... Except for Canis. She trusted him the moment she saw and fell in love with him.

"Alright, the remedy is ready," The Woodsman took a ladle off of the wall and slid it into the mixture and poured it in a goblet that he found sitting on a nearby hutch, "I will need your help, Red."

Red went over to Canis and held him up as The Woodsman administered his medicine. Canis regained a little bit of consciousness, enough to drink and swallow. "Good... Good!" The Woodsman said heartily. He looked over and winked at Red. "I think he is going to be just fine."

Just then, loud sounds erupted from outside and splinters of wood exploded from the wall at Red's front door. Red ducked and pulled Canis off of the bed and onto the floor. The Woodsman just stood there, reaching into his pocket for something. He opened the door and walked out, saying "Whoa there, men! What are you doing? Have I offended you somehow? I beg you to leave and take your drunken revelry somewhere else!" He shut the door behind him, sealing Red and Canis off from the conversation.

"You are harboring monsters, mister!" One of the men shouted.

"I assure you that I am no more harboring monsters as you are raising little monsters."

The men looked confused and glanced at each other nervously. "Hand over the demons and we won't hurt you, Woodsman!"

The Woodsman laughed heartily, "Hurt me you say? Little men, leave now before you are not able to leave on your own accord." His eyes widened as he took a very confident step forward, causing the men to step back. He raised his hands and a wind started to blow around the cottage, stirring up dust and leaves in the eyes of the mob of men.

The men stammered back, hands over their eyes. "What kind of magic is this Woodsman?"

"Come closer and find out! I am going back inside, when this gale dissipates I expect you to be gone or I will force you gone." With that the Woodsman went back inside.

Red was still administering the remedy to Canis while he lay on the floor. The smoking and bleeding had stopped and he sat up on his own. The Woodsman went over to Canis's side and and pulled out a mash of green moss and leaves from his pocket and dipped it into the remedy and offered it to him.

"Chew on this but don't swallow. Once the taste is too much to bear, spit it out. This will give you the energy to travel for a day." He got up and looked out the window, "The mob is still outside. I will take care of them while you two leave out the back. Go fast and go far. Good luck."

"I won't leave my home Woodsman! They will not force me out. I will deal with them now." Red got up but was forced back down by a very large hand from the Woodsman.

"Child, you can kill them but more will come. Their minds need to be changed and that will not happen this night. Go far away and don't look back. Trust me. You two will survive. If you love this creature, you will go... now!" He walked to the door, opened it, and went outside.

Red heard commotion and gunfire outside as well as trees falling and screaming. She got Canis up on his feet as he spat out the mossy concoction. 

"My love are you..."

"I'm okay, Red. Let's go." Canis gave his love a kiss on her perfect lips as he leaned on his lover for support.

"Okay. I guess we must find a new life."

"As long you are with me, Red, we will be just fine."

The two left out the back and ran into the darkened woods. The sounds of uprooted trees, gale-force winds and gunfire dwindled as they ran farther and farther away. As they ran, ducking under branches, Canis slowed momentarily.

"Where should we go, Red?"

"Well, I have an old family friend; she is a Vampire, like me. I used to call her Grandmother..."