Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic is:
In honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's CINDER, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!
I wanted to be a bit creative this week. I couldn't resist when I saw that this week's topic was on retellings so I gathered up my courage and just sat down and wrote a retelling. It's short and only a first draft but it's just a bit of fun and the story came to me straight away, begging to be written. If this was a project I was serious about I would have honestly worked harder on and developed more. But I still hope you enjoy my short retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf with a little supernatural horror twist to it.
When the Wolf Moon rises and darkness creeps across the North York Moors they start to howl. In Hocklington men slowly sneak out, peering out around the village around them. Guns in hand. Silver knives in the other. They step out into the darkness, briefly acknowledging each other and pausing at those howls echoing around.
Their partners are quick to lock the doors behind them. Curtains are drawn. Windows sealed shut. No-one peeks out and children are taken to the safety of their room, ready to be tucked in by their mothers and together they say their prayers.
They always say their prayers.
Except one boy.
Oliver sat with a frown on his face, looking down over the rails to the bed below him. His mother and younger brother were kneeling down with their elbows resting on the bed. Their chins gently touching their clasped hands and he could hear them whispering away. Softly and slowly together.
“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright,” Oliver said and Michael glanced up. His little brother’s eyes widened. Oliver grinned.
“There’s no use praying for your soul. If a werewolf gets you, you’re damned.”
His mother glared up at him. “Oliver!”
Her eldest son shrugged. “It’s only a joke. Werewolves aren’t real, Michael.”
“You’ve heard those howls for twelve years. There is something out there,” his mother said.
“Free, wild wolves perhaps but not actual werewolves. Everyone from this village is here and human. No-one has ever been attacked. Nobody has even seen one.”
“The wolfsbane around the village protects us.”
“You’re all ridiculous,” Oliver grumbled and lay down. He stared up at the ceiling, listening to his mother and brother finish their prayers and then whispering ‘goodnight’ to each other.
“Goodnight, Oliver,” his mother said.
Oliver turned over. “Night.”
He heard her footsteps tapping against the wooden floorboards as she walked out and the light in the room suddenly disappeared. Michael squeaked in the bed below and Oliver sighed.
“Michael it’s okay. We have to keep lights off. It doesn’t bring attention to the village,” their mother explained.
“This whole village is frightened of something that doesn’t exist,” Oliver said.
“Goodnight, Oliver.” And his mother closed the door.
Idiots, Oliver thought and peeked through the curtains, looking out into the village. All the men for the first watch were wandering around, keeping their guns close to their chest. Silver glinted from their knife sheaths.
He had lived with this sort of behaviour for twelve years now. And while everyone else had respect and worry for these “brave” guards Oliver would laugh his arse off. They were fools, believing and hunting for something that has never set foot in the village or near the village for twelve years. Outsiders made fun of Hocklington and he did not blame them.
He wanted to make fun of them as well.
Oliver sat up and listened in the darkness. Below he could hear Michael’s little snores. He could hear laughter and voices coming from his mother’s room. The television was on already. Oliver threw the duvet off and slowly climbed down the ladder, taking one step at a time. His foot touched the cold floorboards and he tiptoed through the darkness, arms stretched out in front as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Near the doorway he bent down, patting his hand around on the floor until he touched smooth rubber. He sat on the floor as he slipped on his wellies and took his dressing gown down from the coat peg next to the door.
The corridor was just as dark when Oliver peeked out. His mother’s door was closed and he heard a muffled theme tune for some programme. Good, the television was still on and he crept down the stairs.
One of the advantages of being small and skinny for his age was that the cat flap was a brilliant means of escape. He wriggled through it, hands touching icy ground and he stood up shivering at the sudden change of temperature and rubbed his hands together. He breathed out through his mouth, watching how white his breath was and how it disappeared into the air.
He trod through the snow, going around to the gate and opening it up. He looked out for any of the guards and the street in front of him was empty. Smiling he walked out and quietly closed the gate. He stomped through the snow, going down the alley right next to his house. The street behind was also empty and Oliver could see all the footsteps in the snow, all going towards the moors at the end of this street. He headed that way, biting down on his lip. That didn’t stop that giggling and he covered his mouth.
He could see all the men in the distance, wandering and keeping their eyes peeled. A howl echoed through the village and the guards jumped at the noise, tensing their shoulders and freezing on the spot. Oliver snorted. How stupid were they?
Also, how gullible would they be?
Oliver hid in a neighbour's garden, tucking himself into the corner of the high fence and he took a deep breath.
“WEREWOLF!” he screamed. “WEREWOLF IN THE VILLAGE!”
He ducked down, staying still as possible as he heard the men shout.
“Someone in the village!”
“One’s got in!”
“A child! It was a child shouting!”
Oliver snickered as footsteps ran past him. His snickering was stopped short when a shadow lurked over him and he glanced up to see a scowling, wide eyed woman. His mother’s friend, Mrs Faring.
“Oh no,” he groaned.
“Oliver Ritchings. You silly, silly boy!”
She grabbed his dressing gown, pulling him up and he muttered under his breath.
I’m in so much trouble, he thought and was marched into the street.
Oliver groaned and turned his head. “Hi, dad.”
“Oh tell me you didn’t…” his father groaned.
“I’m afraid your boy has cried wolf and messed with all of you,” Mrs Faring snapped. For a woman who looked younger than her thirty three year she had the stern glare of a Victorian headmistress and she glared down at Oliver with her lips pursed.
“Do you know how serious our situation is?” his father said, advancing forward. “Oliver, look at me when I talk to you.”
Oliver glanced up into his father’s wide, angry eyes and he saw the guards around them, muttering and shaking their heads. He wished the ground below him would turn into a hole that he could sink into and stay buried underneath, away from the mix of disappointed and furious faces of the villagers.
“You’ve never taken these werewolves seriously,” his father continued.
“What werewolves, dad? I’ve never seen them.”
“They’re out there. There have been sightings.”
“Not while I’ve been alive.”
“I want you home right now. Go home and go straight to bed. I’ll have a word with you in the morning.”
“No. Go home.”
Mrs Faring let go of him and he kept his head down. Slowly the men began to walk back to the moors where the wolfsbane lay and made a protective circle around the village. Oliver’s father turned away, not even looking back once and nothing had stung so much than seeing his own dad unable to look at him any longer. It felt like being punched in the heart and he trudged through the snow, back towards his house.
While the men had been surrounding Oliver Mrs Garth at the end of the street was shaking her head as she shuffled away to the moors, digging her walking stick into the snow. She moved further down the field where the back of the houses on King Edward Road overlooked the moors in the horizon. She bent down and looked into the distance. Yellow eyes gleamed back at her and she smiled.
“I’m afraid there’s a boy who doesn’t believe in you,” she muttered and started pulling up the wolfsbane, leaving a large gap in the circle and the beasts inched forward, snarling. She put a finger to her lips.
“Ssh, my darlings,” she said. “Quietly. We’ve been so good at avoiding capture so far.”
One came forward, towering over her on its long back legs. It stood straight like a human and huffed. Mrs Garth smiled.
“Naughty children ought to be punished,” she said and walked away. The werewolf past through the circle, safe from any wolfsbane touching its skin and having its poison seep straight through.
Mrs Garth was wandering back to her house as the men returned to their posts.
“Mrs Garth, are you joining us in keeping watch?” Oliver’s father grinned.
She chuckled and waved a hand. “I’d do a rubbish job with this cataract of mine. I’d see a werewolf when it’s actually a tree.”
Mr Kuang near them laughed and reached out for her. “In you go, love. It’s cold and dangerous out here.”
“I fancied having a look,” she smiled sweetly, tottering past. “Nothing there. Don’t be too angry at the boy, Patrick, I know I’ve only been here twelve years too but I’ve never seen anything. He just doesn’t understand if he hasn’t seen any of the beasts he’s been raised to fear.”
Mr Ritchings nodded quietly and watched her go back inside. She smiled again at the men as she closed the door. The sweetness disappeared as soon as the door closed and the candles that were placed on each step of the staircase lit up. The smile widened, baring yellow teeth and her eyes gleamed. A small chuckle escaped her throat.
“I haven’t recruited a new pet for quite a while now,” she said to herself and made her way upstairs. Her beautiful beast would be quick to find that child and the ritual needed to be started straight away.
In the streets Oliver kicked snow out of his way as he made his way home. He had just entered the alley way when he heard the growl close by and he froze. He turned behind him and saw the tall, lanky figure standing under the street light. He frowned at first, not quick to make it out. But he saw the claws. He saw all the hair. The beast stood straight like a human and his face was distorted and twisted. A human shape but beastly features. Sharp teeth, glowing yellow eyes. It snarled at him and darted towards him, fast and silent. Oliver screamed and started running down the alley.
“WEREWOLF!” he cried. “WEREWOLF! DAAAAAAAAD!
Teeth clamped onto his ankle and he fell face down into the snow. He cried out, weeping.
Mr Ritchings turned back when he heard the screams and everyone around him just stood there, glancing at each other.
“He hasn’t learned anything,” Mr Ritchings sighed and shook his head. “Ignore him. We have a duty and we can’t keep falling for my son’s tricks. I’ll talk to him in the morning.”
The wolf dragged Oliver back into the street, turning away from the men at the moors and darted towards Rigton Avenue. It held Oliver in its hairy arms as it ran through the gardens and leaping over fences until it reached the gap in the wolfsbane circle.
“Daaaaaaad!” Oliver screamed but his cry was hidden by the howling. The werewolf threw him down into the snow and dragged him away from the village. Under the Wolf Moon the pain was quick to start in Oliver’s body. Bones started snapping by themselves and he screamed as they cracked and lengthened. The werewolves surrounded him, howling in glee as the young boy twitched and shook.
Soon his scream was just another howl in the distance.
In her home Mrs Garth sat in her rocking chair, staring out of her window and into the moors with a pleased smirk on her face.
And at the edge of the village Mr Ritchings was still fuming over his son’s dangerous lies.