*** Inspired by Margarete Atwood's Masterclass ***
It was dark inside the wolf. Her swollen knees tucked at her chest. Her nightgown covered in the slime of canine saliva. She had a gash in her leg from where the wolf had bit down.
Her own wound pooling within the barely stuffed stomach.
Being gobbled up had not been on Grandma's to-do list today.
The blood that pooled around her sloshed as the gaffer wolf stalked the room. Clanking through her belongings for God knew what.
She could hear him still licking his chops and felt him rubbing against the stomach wall with his large paw.
The muffled sound of a burp echoed down his esophagus and Grandma saw a brief light above when he did so.
If she hadn't been fighting off a cold she would have never let him get the better of her. She sniffed and wiped her nose as the wolf took a seat and the stomach walls adjusted its shape.
"Hey!" She grumbled and punched the stomach lining.
A light pat responded and the wolf lay down, causing the slime and blood that pooled to shift as Grandma found herself in an uncomfortable fetal position.
It wasn't long before there was a knock at the door and the wolf's heartbeat picked up.
Grandma heard the wolf chuckle before he called out, "Who is it?"
"It's me, Granny- Red!" Said the familiar but muffled voice of Little Red Riding Hood.
Grandma perked up and realized there was going to be a second trapped inside this wolf. She punched at the walls of the stomach and the wolf let out another hellish burp.
"I mean! Come in dear! Come in!" The wolf called out in its sweetest pitch it could manage.
"Afternoon Granny, are you feeling any better?" Red asked as she approached the bed.
"Oh, I'm doing much better now that you're here dear..."
"Momma said to check you for fever," and the wolf adjusted slightly in bed to accommodate Red's hand.
A deep whiff of Red's smell ventured through the wolf's nose and down into its belly. Grandma caught a hint of baked apples, honey, and wildflowers.
The sort the girl usually picked for her on every visit.
"My granny, you look a bit rough today."
"Oh, it's nothing dear, just this cold," the wolf lied.
"But your eyes are much larger than they were last week."
"All the better to see you with my dear."
"And your ears, Granny. They're larger and warmer than mother would like."
"All the better to hear you with my dear..."
"Hmm," Red considered and the sound of her voice seemed farther away. "I think you should try some of this soup and bread," she said. "I will feed it to you."
"Oh, I do enjoy your willingness to feed me, dear," the wolf chuckled it's high pitched facade. Masking its deep guttural amusement.
The closer Red got to the bed the quicker the wolf's heartbeat became.
"Try this," the girl offered and warm chicken soup rained down on Grandma's head.
"Mmm! It is very tasty."
"Oh, granny! Your teeth have gotten so large since my last visit!" Red announced, but she didn't sound all too surprised.
"All the better to ea-AAAAAH!!!" The wolf let out a terrible yell and a sharp object pierced through the wolf's stomach.
Grandma grinned at the sight of the bread knife's edge poking in to say hello.
"Where is my grandmother?" Red demanded as the wolf bounced out of bed and Grandma positioned herself for escape.
"I don't know who you mean!" The wolf growled with annoyance. "Now come here qt once!"
Grandma bounced around inside the wolf's stomach. The muffled sound of furniture crashing could be heard. A scuffle ensued beyond the stomach lining.
A howl left the wolf when the knife greeted him again in the side.
Unable to see the action Grandma tried her best to peek an eye out from where Red had initially stabbed the wolf.
She recognized that they were in the living room and Red was brandishing her knife like a seasoned pro.
"Fake! Granny," Red taunted in a sing-song sort of voice. "I'm going to need you to cooperate a little more."
"Fuck you!" The wolf yelled. "You're insane!"
Red laughed, "Now, now, you're trespassing fake granny. And until the real granny arrives I can't possibly let you leave."
"Your granny isn't ever coming back, you stupid twat! I've eaten her just as I will you!"
"Ooh!" Red looked down at the wolf's stomach and made immediate eye contact with Grandma. "There you are, Granny!"
Grandma backed up as far as she could inside of the wolf's stomach. A kick and a punch bounced against the walls of the space with Red's muffled, "Sorry Gran! Sorry!"
A few more muffled sounds of a fight ensued and then finally a final long howl left the wolf.
The tip of the bread knife had returned to the stomach wall and this time sawed upward to the wolf's chin.
Grandma was relieved to finally be able to stand again. As the wolf's hide fell from her the goop of wolf insides dripped from her nightgown.
Before Grandma could say anything clever Red wrapped her arms around her waist and squeezed.
They held each other for a long moment the smell of baked apples, honey and wildflowers danced in Grandma's nose.
A knock at the door pulled them from their embrace.
The cottage frame creaked open and outside stood a burly man in red and black plaid and denim blue jeans.
"Oh, hello, Walter," Grandma smiled.
The look on the man's face was shock and confusion, "Is everything... alright, Granny? I heard a tussle..."
"Yes, quite alright," Grandma nodded. "Red was just practicing her wolf hunting skills."
"I got a big one this time," Red smiled gleefully and pushed open the door to reveal the trashed living room turned slaughterhouse.
"Yes," Grandma nodded. "Next time we'll have to work on letting Granny know ahead of time."
"Sorry about that," Red grimaced. "I didn't think he'd get here before me."
"The big ones can be much faster than you think," Walter chuckled.
Birds chirped in the distance and the melody of dark-humored laughter echoed through the forest. If any wolves were near they'd be wise to steer clear.
It was hunting season after all.