Little Red Riding Hood

It was one of those wonderful autumn days. There was a bite to the air, the sort of stiff little breeze that ruffles your fur like an affectionate family member. The air was cool and clean, perfect for a brisk walk. The trees were putting out their colourful leaves and the leaves underfoot had a delightful crunch to them. The sun was weak behind the slate-grey clouds, but who needed bright sunshine when they had an exhilarating walk to take and fresh meat pies to bring to their granny? Not me. In fact, I felt benevolent enough, due to the magnificent weather, that I let one of those rabbits-excuse me, meat-pies-to-be-escape its fate this morning. I had some of Mother's oatmeal instead, but it's not nearly as good, so I pride myself on my restraint.

To revisit the recent past: I had been charged with bringing a batch of Mother's delicious meat pies to Granny, who lives on the other side of the woods. I set off in the early morning with a basket of steaming pies bouncing at my side and a red cloak on my back and a warning bouncing in my furry head: don't talk to strangers.

To continue, then. The red cloak that Granny had made me kept me snug and warm in the brisk breeze, and the scent of meat pies helped to quicken my pace. It was a splendid autumn day and I was quite content. However, I received quite a shock as I turned a corner on the well-worn dirt path. For waiting, leaning against an ivy-swathed old tree, was a mysterious stranger, one of the curious people who call themselves humans. Upon seeing me, he doffed his hat and bowed charmingly. 'Hello,' he called from the considerable distance I had stopped at. 'Hello,' I said shyly.

'How did you come to be walking in the woods by yourself?' He asked magnanimously. I was, to say, quite enamoured with his gracious manners-which I did not see much of with so many siblings at home.

'I'm taking meat pies to my grandmother,' I replied shyly, biting my claws.

'Allow me to escort you,' he said, bowing with a flourish. What could I do but accept?

'Of course, thank you,' I responded.

We walked through the woods in silence for a time, enjoying the crisp and clear day. I offered him a meat pie, and we enjoyed the latter during a brief respite from our walk.

'Where does your grandmother live?' He asked kindly, and I told him: 'across the woods.' We chatted for a while amongst the greenery as the birds twittered above our heads and rustled in the brush.

'I must leave,' he said resignedly after finishing the meat pie. I was quite disappointed, but continued on to Granny's.

As I skipped along the dirt path, the forest began to thin. I quickened my pace, scattering the dead leaves to and fro as Granny's homely little house came into view. The red cloak snapped like a flag in wind as I ran on swift paws to the house. I ran my paw along the familiar railing and all but flew up the stairs to bang excitedly on the door.

'Come in,' said two familiar voices. I supposed Granny must have a visitor.

As I stepped in, a frightening scene reached my equally frightened eyes. The human stranger and an accomplice were restraining my Granny, who struggled and snarled to try to get free. What was going on?

'There's another one!' cried the accomplice

'Hold that one as well,' said the familiar voice of the familiar man. 'Wolves are a danger to humankind. Haven't you heard the stories of wolf bites and the missing children?'

'Lies,' puffed Granny.

The accomplice stepped toward me. I crouched against Granny's closet. Wasn't there some way to escape? I was acutely aware, now, of the thick wood of the closet door behind me and the open door and the mortal danger that Granny and I were in. The only thing I could do was what I did: I jumped at him. He bounded back with a cry of distress, and Granny wiggled free from the restraining grasp of my former friend. We dashed out the door to the angry shouts of the men, skidded around the edge of the house. Our paws seemed gifted with wings, now that terror had us by the throats. The trees rushed by in a green blur as we sped away from the now-ominous shadow of the house.

We ran and ran and ran, not knowing where we were headed. When we finally slowed, our legs and underbellies were streaked with mud and we were breathing like a bellows. Here, where we had stopped, were the houses of humans. Suddenly wary, we slunk around the edges of the town, tense like drawn bowstrings. We passed an array of white crosses stuck in the ground, which were set behind a building larger than the rest of the houses. As we stole past the building, we saw a sight at the front door that chilled us to the marrow: nailed to the door of the building was a wolf-skin.

A.N. People really did hate wolves a long while ago-they were considered evil in some places and their skins were nailed to the doors of churches. That was an awful practice, but altogether true. There's been so much fear built up around the wolf that's uncalled for. Read a pro-wolf story today and think differently about wolves!