December 15, 2011

Alive in the Wolf's Belly, By Sarah Hans

eing eaten alive by the wolf was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was also the worst. 

The story goes that when he knocked on my front door I was so myopic or senile that I thought he was Jenny, my granddaughter. But my eyesight, and my mind, have never been keener. 

That’s the scandalous truth: I knew all along that I was letting the wolf into my parlor. 

There was a moment, after he knocked, when I shuffled to the door and heard his heavy breathing on the other side, that I remember well: A moment of decision. The porch creaked under his weight. The scent of his musky fur wafted in through the cracked window. I looked through the peephole and saw his huge, black eyes, peering back at me. 

I thought about my life. I thought about the endless afghan I was crocheting, the tea steeping on the stove that I made each day in the hopes of a visit from children or grandchildren who rarely bothered, the loneliness since my husband had died six years before. 

And then I opened the door. 

The wolf was bigger than I could have imagined. He flowed into the room and filled it with his bulk. He brought with him the scent of the forest, and the mysteries of the shadows were close on his heels. He was a creature older and greater than I could comprehend. 

His eyes as he regarded me were not full of malice, as you might think. They were wise, intelligent eyes...but they were hungry. 

He opened his mouth and I smelled the sickly-sweet scent of fresh blood and chewed meat.  His great jaw touched the floor, and I climbed into his mouth, as one would mount the steps of a carriage, using his fangs as hand-holds. Once I was comfortable on his tongue, his jaws snapped shut, and I was swallowed whole. 

Encased in darkness, I was squeezed into the creature’s gullet, and from there his stomach, where I rested in a pool of acid. It was painful and horrible and wonderful all at once. It reminded me of birthing my daughters, when the pain was so intense that it seemed to consume the world, and my focus became a needle-sharp point. All the loneliness and sadness and bitterness was swept away in a wash of pain. 

And then the creature roared, and I was jostled, and then a great split appeared, spilling light into the tight darkness of the beast’s stomach. Two pairs of hands reached in and pulled me out, into the light. 

Jenny and the huntsman poured water over me and scrubbed the acid from my skin. I trembled and wept. They wrapped me in Jenny’s red cloak and put me in bed with a cup of tea steaming on the nightstand. 

The next morning I found that the wolf’s carcass had been taken away, all except the head. The huntsman wanted to take that too, but I told him I wanted it. He gave me an odd look, but as so often happens, I got my way, because it’s excusable to be a bit eccentric when you’re my age. 

The wolf’s head is mounted on my wall. I wish I had his skin, so I could wrap myself in it, but I make due. The floors are still stained red with his blood, and on those lonely nights when no one visits me, and the acid burns on my legs itch, I curl naked on the floor beneath his massive jaws and remember what it was like to be alive. 



Brief bio: Sarah Hans was once a morbid child obsessed with vampires, ghosts, and werewolves. Now she's a morbid adult whose horror stories appear in anthologies such as The Crimson Pactand Candle in the Attic Window. You can follow her adventures at http://sarahhans.com/

7 comments

  1. I would never have thought about telling this story from Grandmother's point of view. I rather liked this!

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  2. Morbid stories are the most fascinating. :)

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  3. This short story had an interesting twist on the tale “Little Red Riding Hood” given from the grandmother’s point of view. At first, I thought the grandmother to be a little odd but she’s actually an extremely bored and lonely widow. Most people would be terrified to be eaten by a big, scary wolf, but for Grandmother, it was the best thing that ever happened to her. It was also the worst. The experience of being eaten by the wolf reminded her of giving birth to her daughters which is a very fond memory that a mother holds near and dear to them. It took her back to a time that she felt very happy, in spite of the great amount of pain endured during labor. When she says “All the loneliness, bitterness, and sadness was swept away in a wash of pain” that explains it all. She felt alive again, and as soon as she knew it, it was taken away from her. Now she can only remember the experience and hold on to the memory. Lauren D.

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  4. Very interesting! This story definately has a unique perspective. I loved that she knew what she was getting into. She saw the eyes and had a sense of the wolf, but still allowed the wolf to come in and thought about her life right then and there. The way you described how she felt like it was a rebirth was very cool. I knew exactly what you were trying to get across. It was like she had a new start and a new beginning and she was able to look at life as her first day being born. The ending was very unique. I love how she wanted to hang the wolf up and have his skin to keep her warm. It is something that she will be able to cherish and look at as a way to contemplate how her new beginning started from that experience. Amazing! Keep up the good work!

    Hannah R.

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  5. When I first saw the title of this story I knew I had to read it. The idea the grandmother from “Little Red Riding Hood” being alive in the wolf’s belly is something I find both comical and amusing. This reminds me of a cartoon when I was very young, I can’t remember what it was or where it came from but it had a similar idea. In the cartoon the wolf went about his business after eating the grandma, only to have pains from the grandmother moving around inside. What I find even funnier about this particular story is that the grandmother for some reason seemed completely fine in allowing the wolf to eat her. When people read the classic tales of Little Red Riding Hood I don’t think many envision that the grandmother was voluntarily eaten by the wolf, but that’s what makes this story great.

    -Thomas L

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  6. This was such a wonderful take on what happened to the grandmother in the little red riding hood. There were so many strong and vivid descriptions that I almost felt as if I was the grandmother, being eaten up by the wolf. My favorite part was when she described being inside his stomach, remember what it was like to give birth to her children. It was so sad, knowing that she was so lonely because nobody ever visited, and after she was saved, she still felt that same loneliness. It was interesting how she felt more alive in his stomach, because in reality, you were basically dead because the acid would have eventually eaten away at her skin. It was almost as if when Jenny and the huntsman pulled her out, that she was being born again. I almost liked this much better than the real version, just because the grandmother lives.

    Taylor B.

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  7. I can’t help but feel a tad disturbed by this side of the story. I also feel more than a little saddened for Red’s grandmother, because somehow the pain and enclosure of the wolf’s belly was better than her every day life. To feel more alive in the face of death than in one’s own life is a terrible pain. More than anything else, the grandmother must have felt so alone and in pain to make the decision to let the wolf in. I applaud the author for making this detail clear, that the grandmother made a choice. It brings great depth to her character because this is a choice so full of pain. Most disturbingly, the grandmother has moments of desire after she’s rescued from the wolf’s belly to lay naked on the bloodstained wood floor, and imagine she is back in his stomach. One would hope that the actions of her granddaughter and the huntsman saving her would help her realize she isn’t quite as alone as she feels she is. This can be related quite well to people who face depression, because even in a room full of people, one can feel utterly alone.
    Rachel B.

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