Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by Jenner Michaud [fantasy]

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by Jenner Michaud

B.B. Wolf rode his Harley down the winding road, his wild, unprotected mane tussled by the wind. He was big, and he was bad, and no one would get away with kidnapping the man who gave him a career.

Wolf slowed as he turned onto an unmarked mud path. Careful not to splash his shiny hog, he drove on the edge of the dirt road where it dried and cracked into a brown mosaic. Rows of dead conifers camouflaged the kidnappers’ shack. Wolf turned off the engine. A flute, loud and off key, rose from the structure. He grinned. Fifer was home.

After stashing his bike, Wolf fought his way through the muck in his spiked leather boots. Twenty feet from the shack, he called to the homeowner over the cacophony of the tortured instrument. “Fifer. Come out of that eyesore of a pigsty.”

A straw hat appeared in the uncovered window, and a cheeky pink face came into view. “Private property. Go away.”

“Where’s Mr. D.?” Wolf asked.

“The renegotiation of our contracts doesn’t concern you.”

“You signed the contracts, stand by them. You’d be nothing without Mr. D.”

“I can’t blame a one-trick pony for not understanding ambition.”

“I can’t blame pigs for not being gentlemen.”

Fifer sighed. “It doesn’t concern you, but I rewrote our contracts. Walter needs to sign them, and you need to stay out of the way.”

“I can’t believe you have the nerve to use his first name.”

“We’re done here, Wolf. Buzz off.”

“Just release Mr. D., or you and your fat brothers are going down.” Wolf rammed into the downtrodden home, shaking it free.

“You Big Bad Wolf,” Fifer said from inside. “Stop it, or I’ll make you regret it.”

“There’s nothing you can threaten me with.”

“Red’s a lovely girl. It’d be a shame if anything came between you.”

“Leave Red out of this, you cross-eyed swine.” Wolf huffed, and he puffed as he levelled the dwelling with his bare paws. Fifer and his crew were gone, and all that remained of the shack was a jumble of broken boards.

“I’ll get all of you pigs,” Wolf roared and returned to his bike.

***

B.B. Wolf rode his Harley down the winding road, his mane covered by a dented helmet. He was big and he was bad, and he had the bruises to prove it.

The trailer park’s cobblestone driveway shook the few teeth left in his jaw. Wolf parked and cut the engine before dismounting. The squealers inside made more noise than a band of coyotes.

When he couldn’t find a doorbell, Wolf tapped on the door.

“Hello boys,” he said, disguising his voice by adopting a high-pitched sing-song. “I have some cakes for you.”

Someone wearing a blue sailor jacket with a big black tie cut his way through the white smoke. The window next to the door cracked open, and tendrils of burning skunk drifted out. “Howdy, Wolf. What’s up?”

Wolf pressed his snout against the screen and coughed. “Come out here, Fiddler. You and your brothers have messed with the wrong Wolf. What have you done with Red and Mr. D.?”

The door flew open, and Wolf readied to battle. But instead of one of the kidnappers, the woman who owned his heart stood in the doorway.

“Go away, B.B.” Ice laced her words.

Wolf’s mind raced to understand her reaction. Why did she look so angry that he had come to rescue her? “What’s wrong, Red? Have they hurt you?”

She pulled the crimson hood over her long brunette hair. “You lost the right to ask me anything when you went out with that maid. I don’t know what you saw in that tramp. Her stupid shoe got more social media coverage than she did.”

“But nothing happened with Cindy. I just—”

“You and your lies. Leave me alone.” She slammed the door.

“Her pumpkin broke down and I gave her a ride. That’s all,” Wolf said though the window screen. “Please, Red. You’ve got to believe me.”

Smoke whirled around Red’s hood. “You’re only begging me now because that shoeless girl is back with Charming. I’m not stupid. I know his posse beat you because you seduced his girlfriend. That’s all the proof I need.”

“You’re my one and only, Red. I’ve never lied to you. I mean, not since we—”

“Go away before I shoot you myself, you lying bastard.” The smoke swallowed Red, and Fifer’s plump face replaced hers at the window.

“You heard the lady. Scram.”

“Why, you thieving swine. Hiding in there with your stinky brother. Leave the girl alone and release Mr. D.”

“Don’t worry your little brain about things you can’t understand. Go knit or something.”

“You can’t hold people against their will.”

Fifer snorted a laugh. “Trust me, Red is here of her own accord. Oh, the stories she’s heard about you. My, my. You’ve been a Big Bad Wolf.” Fifer shook his head in mock disapproval.

“Why, you—”

“You’d better leave before she finds the shotgun. She’s so heartbroken, she can’t see straight. But I’ll be a true gentleman and help her take aim.”

Wolf threw a punch at Fifer’s snout, but the pig had been faster and moved out of the way before he connected. Wolf howled in pain as his paw broke through the screen and its jagged edges tore through his skin.

The giggling resumed, and Fifer peered out. “What a loser you are, Wolf. Just retire already. No one needs you. You’re dated and irrelevant. Passé. Expir—”

A gunshot rang out and Wolf ran to his motorbike. “You haven’t seen the last of me, you pigs.”

In his rush to leave, Wolf pulled hard enough on the bike to tip it over, pinning himself underneath it in the process. The humiliation was enough to muffle the new howl of pain wanting to explode out of him.

Fifer walked out of the trailer and smirked. “Better put that helmet back on before Red sees your receding hairline.”

Wolf huffed and he puffed as he righted the bike. “I’ll see you again, Fifer.”

He drove off, hoping he would make it back home despite the thick black smoke pouring out of the clunking engine.

***

B.B. Wolf rode in a taxi, the grey peppering his mane showed at the roots. Locked in the back seat, he said, “You’re going the wrong way. Go back.”

The cabbie snarled. “Shut up. You shorted me on the fare, so you no longer have a say on where I drive you.”

A moment after the car screeched to a stop, the door opened on Wolf’s left and the cabbie dragged him out by the collar.

“This is how far your rolled-up coins have gotten you.” The cabbie dumped Wolf to the side of the road. “Walk the rest of the way, you half-breed mutt.”

The taxi’s wheels spun on the road’s shoulder, splattering Wolf with pebbles and dirt. He dusted himself off and walked towards his destination.

More than an hour later, he reached the tall gate and leaned on it, huffing and puffing with exhaustion. After climbing the wall and fighting through the barbed wire topping it, he dropped to the other side, his clothes tattered and clumps of fur torn out.

The sound of barking dogs greeted him at the front door, but there was no sign of actual guards. Wolf stood on the welcome mat, wiping his dusty boots on it.

“No need to wipe your stupid footwear. You’re not coming inside.”

Wolf found a camera next to an intercom. “Too cheap to have real dogs, eh? Open the door, Practical. I need to speak with Mr. D.”

“He’s not here. Try the castle.”

Liar. Wolf rang the doorbell. “And tell Red I need to talk to her, too.”

“The girl ain’t here either, so bugger off. Tell you what, I’ll open the gate. That way, you’ll still have some fur left by the time you get to the road.”

The gate whirred open at the end of the driveway, and the recorded barking resumed through the speakers.

“Is that the best you can do?”

A thin spray squirted out of the speaker, covering Wolf in a malodorous mist.

“Arrgh, pigsty stink.” He moved out of sight of the camera and spat.

“I gave you fair warning. Leave before we take it up a notch.”

“Little pig, little pig, please let me in.”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.” Laugher burst out of the speakers, Fifer and Fiddler’s laughter joining their brother’s.

Three for one. Wolf licked his snout. He grimaced and spat, the taste of pigsty flaring anew in his mouth.

“That’s enough. Release Mr. D., or I will tear your house down.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Fifer said. “You should enlist reinforcements stronger and scarier than you.”

“Yeah, like a poodle,” one of the brothers said.

Wolf nuzzled the camera. “I am going to tear this house down even if I have to huff and puff.”

“Hard to do with emphysema, Old Man,” Practical said.

“Tra la la la la la,” the brothers chanted.

“We’ll see what you have to say when I pig out on bacon tonight.” Wolf licked his snout before spitting again. He searched the yard for something flammable, but it offered no leaves or branches, not even dead grass.

Fifer appeared on the second-floor balcony and flipped Wolf a cloven hoof, breaking into laughter. “Get a life.”

Wolf howled as he ran to ram the front door. A water balloon smashed him in the face, stopping him in his tracks.

“Very mature.” He shook the water off, annoyed it hadn’t washed off any of the mist’s stink. “What’s next? Uncurling your tails?”

He shuffled aside, avoiding a falling, flaming bag. He retrieved it, careful not to light himself aflame in the process. Thanks for the fire, pigs. Ill burn your house down.

“Drop it,” a voice ordered behind him. “Turn around, nice and slow.”

Wolf dropped the still-lit bag and raised his paws, spinning around. A cop pointed a pistol at his chest and another approached with a bucket. The second cop threw water on the flames, splashing Wolf in the process.

“Hey. Watch it.”

The bucket cop drew his gun. “Don’t give us trouble.”

“I’ve got him covered, Mickey. Get him to the car.”

“Why are you arresting me?” Wolf pointed to the brothers gathered on the balcony. “Arrest them.”

The first officer motioned at the band of brothers. “Could you join us down here? We’ll need statements.”

Fifer waved. “Of course, Donald. We’ll be right down.”

Wolf pleaded his innocence without success as Mickey dragged him away. They passed the gate and the cop deposited him in the backseat of the waiting car. The car took off before the cop could climb in.

“What’s going on?” Wolf asked the two men in the front seat. Both wore dark suits rather than police uniforms.

“Setting things right,” the passenger said in an accented English. “Ms. Hood is pretty shaken up. I think those pigs spun her a very tall tale.”

Wolf could not place the familiar men. “Red knows the truth?”

“We’ve helped her understand your situation with Mr. Charming was a misunderstanding. It’s clear that your story and his don’t belong together. And as for the three little pigs, I think they revealed their true colors, and she’d parted ways with them before we spoke with her.”

“I can’t thank you enough for clearing things up with Red, sirs.”

“Please, call me Wilhelm,” the passenger said. “This is my brother, Jacob.”

Wilhelm and Jacob. Brothers. Did he know them? Did it matter? “What about Mr. D.? Is he safe?”

“Those pigs are more talk than action.” Jacob’s accent matched his brother’s. “Their motives are financial in nature, and your current employer will be fine. I must admit we’ve been keeping an eye on you for some time, and we hope you will soon leave his employ.”

“Leave Mr. D.? Why, I could never—”

Wilhelm faced Wolf. “My brother and I would like to offer you an opportunity to redirect your, shall we say, limited career aspirations. Leave this fairy tale world and take a chance to…expand your repertoire.”

Wolf smiled as he imagined the pigs out of his life, then turned serious as he thought of Mr. D. “I’d love to move on, but I owe Mr. D. He plucked me out of obscurity, gave me a great career. And I signed a lifelong contract.”

“We will take care of any legal issues with your current employer. All we need is for your approval to proceed.”

Wolf swallowed. “Are you also making an offer to the pigs?”

Wilhelm shook his head. “There’s more than pigs out there, Mr. Wolf. Perhaps you would consider something a little more…grim?”

“Grimmer, you say? Interesting.”

“We believe your performance could exceed your predecessor’s. He had some issues with our vision.”

“What issues?”

Wilhelm waived his hand in dismissal. “Let’s not worry about him. He’s not around anymore.”

“He quit on you, did he?”

“One could say that. Regardless, Jacob and I think you’ve not yet reached your potential.”

“Yes.” Jacob locked gazes with Wolf in the rearview mirror. “We have grand plans for you, Mr. Wolf.”

“As well as for Ms. Hood. She’s on her way to her grandmother’s house and looks forward to your reunion.”

Red wants to see me. Mr. D. is safe. The pigs can eat my dust. Everything is right again.

“I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. When can I start?”

Wunderbar.” Wilhelm pulled out his phone. “I’ll call the goats and set it up.”

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