Flash Fairy Tales
Edited by Megan Larson
This column combines two literary traditions, the fairy tale and flash fiction. Flash fiction is an unusually short story form, usually at least under 1,000 words, and often under 500. Flash fiction can be a demanding format to work in, but its size makes it wonderfully useful for publishing. These flash stories will all be fairy tale or children story retellings, and would probably be best appreciated if readers are familiar with the original tales behind the retelling. Of course, with so many cultural traditions among the members of Elfwood, this is not always possible, and so is not a requirement.
We'd love to see your stories -- be sure to take a look at the submissions guidelines below before sending anything in.
What Scares Wolves?
by Melinda Morelli
He was a lumberjack now going on three years on the job. He considered himself to be pretty darn good at it, too. So far, he hadn’t lost any limbs or been severely, or even mildly, crushed. Hell, the worst he had suffered was one or two of the more vicious splinters in the world. You know, the kind that bury themselves so deep in your skin that if you don’t bust out the precision Swiss tweezers and dig the thing out it’ll get into your blood stream and travel to your heart.
He was masculine and quite proud of the fact. There would be none of that flying circus junk with him. It was because of his intense masculinity, strapping muscles and all the testosterone this initialed, that he strode unaccompanied into one of the darker areas of the forest that early fall day with no worries, or thoughts as to what could be dwelling there in.
He had with him a sling pack which contained his lunch and a can of spray paint to mark his trail along with a few other necessities for travel in the woods. Every few trees or so he would, with the aerosol can, spray an arrow pointing back toward the last tree he had marked. His job today was to meet the truck crew from another camp and sign off on the cutting of a thicket of oak trees deep in the thicket, well, not so deep - there was a main road not a mile from where they would be working.
The lumberjack had been walking and marking his progress for about half an hour when he noticed the occasional snapping twig, and the beating thuds of something, probably paw pads, on the forest floor. The noises where drawing closer rather swiftly.
Then, about six trees to his right and about twenty feet ahead of him a pack of wolves jumped from the underbrush and then bounded past paying him no mind. There were eight wolves and they weren’t focused on chasing something that was meant to be lunch and probably dinner. Perhaps even breakfast. The wolves seemed to be fleeing something.
It was odd, really. What would spook a pack of wolves like that? The lumberjack only stood there pondering this a short while, no more than a minute, in fact. He had his trusty chainsaw after all, and if that didn’t do it he had his equally trusty six shot Smith and Wesson with his lunch in that bag of tricks.
So he continued on through the forest.
After a few more minutes of travel the lumberjack heard another twig snap that was not his doing. He looked around expecting to see a bear or another wolf pack, one with a considerably larger alpha male than the one traveling with the pack he had encountered earlier. Neither of these things presented themselves.
What he did see was a patch of red fabric from behind a tree a few feet ahead of him. Something moved and he saw that there was a leg and so, likely a person behind the tree in question.
He drew closer to the tree and saw that there was a small girl in a red dress leaning against the tree. She was practically a porcelain doll with rosy cheeks and blond curly hair beneath a red velvet cap. On the forest floor by her feet was a wicker picnic basket with a red and white gingham napkin poking out of it. She looked by his guess to be about ten years old.
“What are you doing out here? Don’t you know it’s dangerous?” The lumberjack asked, putting a hand on the tree.
“I’m on my way to my grandma’s house,” the little girl answered, dragging her foot through the dead leaves at the base of the tree. The action left a wide groove showing the soil hiding beneath the top blanket of discarded foliage.
“She’s very sick,” the girl added, looking up at the lumberjack with large blue eyes.
“You should still be on the road,” he said, a slight frown creasing his forehead. He had work to get to, but he couldn’t very well leave her there on her own. Especially with wolves and something scaring wolves lose and about in the forest.
“I was but I saw some flowers I thought my gran would like growing just off the road. I went to pick some to bring to her and got lost.”
He sighed and took off his hat and mopped his face with it.
“Well my name is Robert, what’s yours?” He pulled his hat back over his tousled hair as he said this.
“All right Lillian. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll get you a ride to your grandma’s.” He put a hand on top of her velvet cap.
“My mother told me never to travel on an empty stomach,” Lillian said, looking at her shoes a smile creeping onto her face.
“Well, why don’t you have something from that picnic basket then?” Robert said still with his hand on her head.
“That food is for gran,” she replied before she grabbed the hand on her head, her smile growing wider to show razor sharp teeth. Her fingers sprouted claws and with a sharp jerk she, or rather it, pulled Robert’s throat in range of the deadly sharp teeth.
As we know, Robert was a strong man so he fought back. He reeled and kicked at the creature as he dug his free arm into his bag for the gun. But just as he got his fingertips on the cold steel the creature in the red dress sunk its pointed fangs into his neck.
A few miles further into the woods, the truck crew had arrived at the sight to find no one there. They waited a little while longer before they sent two guys out into the woods to try and find him. After a while the men came across a little girl dressed in red. She wiped a hand across her mouth and grinned to herself as they drew near.
Flash Fairy Tales are retellings of classic fairy tales or beloved children's stories.
There are a few guidelines to remember for submissions:
* 1000 words or less
* Fairy Tale Retellings or Reimaginings
*In the email that you submit, please include the name of the original fairy tale on which your story is based.
* Stories should be proofread and edited before they are submited. Stories with lots of errors simply will be rejected.
* Woodworks retains first publication rights. This means your story should not appear on your shelf, on your website, or anywhere else until we've either accepted and published it or rejected it, or four months have gone by from your original submission without a reply.
* If your story is accepted and published, we'd like to ask that you wait until next month's publication before having the story appear somewhere else.
* Stories can be sent in at any time. However, only stories received before the first of the month will be considered for publication in that month's issue.
Send submissions to
. Questions can be directed to our contact form.
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