Big Bad

23/01/2016 13:25

New flash fiction from Blackship Books/F3. This one is about the life of a fairy tale character before they made it into the more familiar story. Hope you enjoy!


There was a time when I ran with the pack. Second in command, no less. My brother, Grey Cloud, was the Alpha. He was a good leader. Kept us well fed, protected the cubs, everything a pack leader should do. It was my pleasure to support him.

And then she came. She had the palest fur I've ever seen, but golden not grey, and her eyes were golden, too. Her name was Star, or so she said. I've often wondered. Not that it really matters, now. The other females, especially Ghost the Alpha, were all wary of her at first. But she made such a fuss of the cubs, always ready to play with them.

She made sure to make a special effort with Ghost's latest litter who were at that restless age, not old enough to join the hunt but chafing at being left behind. Star offered to keep them under her eye, close enough to see the kill but not in any danger. They were thrilled and Ghost gave in. But she insisted on staying with them, which meant she wasn't in on the kill that night. Now, she was the Alpha female, so she still got the first choice but I could see some of the others giving her sideways glances.

Grey Cloud saw it too and I heard them talking late that night. “You have to join us for the kill next time,” he told her.

“Then the cubs stay back here with the sitters.”

“You don't trust Star? But it's not in her interest to harm them! Or to let them come to harm.”

Ghost sighed. “I don't know what it is, Grey, but I don't like her. She's too smooth, too eager to please.”

“She's new to the pack, of course she's trying her hardest to fit in. Maybe she's trying a bit too hard, but you can understand that, can't you? You've lived in the same pack all your life but she's in a new place, with wolves she doesn't know. Just give her a chance.”

“That's the other thing! Just what happened with her old pack? And why did she pick on ours as her new one?”

“She told us she wanted to travel, remember?”

“Then let her travel. As far from us as possible!”

I stopped listening, then. I wanted Star to stay and could tell that Grey Cloud did, too. And he would get what he wanted because he was the Alpha. Ghost wouldn't hold out against him for long. The next morning, Star had a permanent role as minder to the cubs and Ghost was back on the hunt.

Everything went quiet for a while after that. Ghost's cubs stayed close to Star during the hunt but were always affectionate with their mother. And, in fact, they were only a few weeks from actually joining in, anyway. The first time they came on the hunt, they ran with Star so that they would not get in the way of the leaders but they weren't far from the front. Ghost made the kill, raised her bloody muzzle to the moon and howled. Then she called the cubs and Star over to eat.

With Star an accepted member of the pack, I thought I could make a move. I went to Grey Cloud and asked for permission to mate with her. That was the proper way to do it. He was the Alpha and had first pick but three of the pack females were pregnant with his cubs, including Ghost. There was no law against me fathering cubs, it was just etiquette.

I was pretty sure that Star was willing, too. She had been finding excuses to get close to me over the last couple of days, wagging her tail whenever she saw me, touching noses just a little longer than necessary in greeting. So, when I went to Grey Cloud, it was really out of politeness more than anything. Of course, breeding rights belonged to him and me only, Alpha and Beta respectively. None of the other males got a look in. Dust was currently carrying our second litter.

I waited until we were alone and then said I had something to ask him.

“Go ahead, Bro. You can ask me anything, you know that.”

“Yeah, I know. And well, I don't really have to ask about this, I suppose. I just want to do it right.”

“Get on with it, will you? All this mystery is making me nervous!”

“It.. it's about Star. I think she likes me and I really like her and...”

“Hold on a minute! You think Star's interested in you?” And then he laughed. He actually laughed in my face.

I stared at him stupidly. “Well, er, yeah. I think she's been encouraging me and...”

“Sorry, Bro, sorry,” he said, getting himself under control. “But, you see, she and I have... Well, whatever you thought was going on, wasn't. That pretty golden tail is all mine.”

I felt as breathless as if he'd butted me in the stomach. “You've mated with her?”

He paused for a moment. “Well, no, not as such. But it's only a matter of time.”

“Then how can you be sure...?”

That's when he turned on me, his upper lip curled back in a snarl. “Are you questioning my authority, Blaze?”

I backed up a little, dropping my head and tail to show submission. “Of course not! It's just that... well, I thought...”

“I've already told you, you thought wrong,” he snapped, before turning and stalking away from me.

I stayed where he left me, my heart pounding, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Grey Cloud and I had never had a cross word in our lives, yet here we were arguing over a female! It didn't make any kind of sense to me.

For the next couple of days, I avoided Star but I made myself as obliging as I could to my brother, and, as far as I could tell it worked. Things seemed to be back to normal between us. But then Star made her move.

I had just been down to the river for a drink before settling down for the night, when she came out from the bushes. “There you are, Blaze. If I didn't know better, I'd have said that you've been avoiding me.”

“Why would I want to do that?” I asked, trying to keep my voice light. But I didn't stop; I kept walking towards the pack.

She got in front of me so that I couldn't go on without knocking her over. “I have no idea why you'd avoid me, that's why I'm asking you.”

“Look, Star, I enjoy my position here and I'm not going to jeopardise it for anyone. So, you and Grey go and make cubs with my blessing, OK? Just leave me alone.”

“Me and... But I'm not interested in Grey Cloud! I only want you, Blaze. But... I don't want to mate with a Beta.”

“What are you... You'll only mate with me if I'm the Alpha?”

Just then there was a growl from the bushes. Before I could move, Grey Cloud was on me, his jaws snapping at my throat. I managed to get out from under him, and backed off, belly close to the ground, whining my submission.

“You don't fool me, Bro,” he snarled. “This was your plan all along, wasn't it? To supplant me!”

“No, Grey, no! You've got it all wrong...”

But he wasn't listening. As he charged, I threw myself into the river and let it carry me away. I've never been back.

A wolf on his own is a sorry sight. I've got pretty good at catching rabbits – as long as they're old (and tough) or young (need at least three to feel like you've had a meal) – but I can't tackle anything bigger on my own. So, when I saw that little girl with her basket of goodies...

Well, what you have done in my place?

Big Bad

What else to do indeed...

Date: 03/02/2016 | By: Joyce Juzwik

This is a great peek into the hierarchy of the pack, and how simple it would be for an outsider to rock the boat. There's strength in numbers, but on his own, no more five-star meals. Although, a little girl, alone, carrying treats...

Slick lead in to the fairy tale, with a perfect ending. Great job, Rose.


Date: 31/01/2016 | By: Dave

Got swept along with this and didn't see where it was going. Nice one Rose

Not his fault?

Date: 29/01/2016 | By: Mike

Very nice. I could sort of see where it was going, but not. Good description of the pack dynamics and sibling rivalry.

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