A Twist in the Tale in Kat Chiron Author | World Anvil

A Twist in the Tale

Scarlet drove steadily down into the village of Lower Threlfall. Spruce and Larch surrounded the hillsides cradling the village in Mother Earth’s arms. Scarlet had many happy memories of this place and visiting her Gran at the cottage. When she was a child she sometimes stayed with her Gran during the school holidays and would go on adventures into the forest with Lugh, one of the local boys. Was Lugh still there….the thought of possibly seeing him again sent a thrill through her, but then seeing the sign for Lower Threlfall reminded her of the sombre reason for coming here. Gran had been taken ill suddenly and wasn’t expected to survive another night. Dad’s latest wife had been nursing Gran over the last week as Dad was away on business. Scarlet hoped that he would make it back here before the day was over, not only to be with his Mother in her final hours but so Scarlet didn’t have to have too much to do with Sophie who’s age and demeanour left a lot to be desired.

Scarlet reached the cottage. Nothing had changed. It still looked like the most magical house on earth with it’s blooming front garden and pink roses climbing up and over the front porch. She decided not to knock on the door and rummaged around the bottom of her bag for the spare key. As she opened the door Sophie was making her way down the stairs with a tray of uneaten food.

‘Hi Sophie. How is she?’, Scarlet said announcing her arrival.

Sophie stumbled for a second and looked surprised to see someone else in the cottage.

‘Oh Scarlet. I wasn’t expecting you so soon,’ she said quickly recomposing herself. ‘Your Gran’s really not good I’m afraid. She won’t eat and slips in and out of sleep constantly now. Why don’t you put your bags in the spare room and pop in to sit with her a while. I’ll make us an herbal tea and bring it up.’

Sophie seemed pretty genuine perhaps Scarlet had been a little too judgemental. She decided to try and put the bad thoughts to one side and made her way up to the spare room. It must be at least two years since she had stayed here but the room was exactly how she remembered it. Vintage flower patterns on all furnishings and an antique dressing table topped with the most beautifully decorated mirror that had a fairy carved into either side of the wooden frame. Scarlet would have the most fantastical dreams after looking into it including faraway lands, castles, fairies, giants. She could have written a book from them all. She plopped her bags down on the bed, took another look round the room, sighed and moved across the landing to her Gran’s room. The door was slightly ajar. She could see Gran lying there, propped up by several pillows. Her breathing was slightly laboured but she didn’t seem in too much discomfort or distress. Scarlet pushed the door open further and made her way over to the old rocking chair next to her bed.

‘Oh Gran’, she whispered. Gran stirred slightly and her lips trembled.

Scarlet could hear footsteps clacking up the stairs and Sophie appeared in the doorway with the tea.

‘Here you go love’, she said carefully placing it on the bedside cabinet. As Scarlet followed with her eyes she noticed the book of fairy tales also sat there.

‘Wow….it’s a long time since I’ve heard any stories from this’, said Scarlet amazed that Gran had kept it after all this time.

‘Yes your Gran specifically asked me to read them to her the last few evenings. I’m not sure how much she’s listening too but it seems to calm her. Perhaps you could read some of them to her now while I pop out and try and get hold of your Dad. For some reason the landline’s not working and I’ve had to go up to the end of the lane to get a signal on my mobile…I could never live in a place like this full time’, she said as she left the room.

Scarlet took a sip of her tea, a fragrant lavender and camomile. ‘It must be one of Gran’s concoctions that Sophie’s found in one of the cupboards’, she thought. Gran was renowned in these parts for her herbal remedies and pick-me-ups. Then Scarlet picked up the book and opened it to where a worn leather bookmark nestled between the pages.

‘Little Red Riding Hood’ she started to read to Gran.

As she read she took regular sips of tea. As she got to the part about the wolf pretending to be Grandma she started to picture Sophie hiding pointy ears under her long auburn tresses and that her neatly manicured fake nails covered sharp claws. ‘This tea is doing a right number on me’, she thought slightly amused. She finished reading and took a few more sips of the ‘trippy’ tea. She was feeling quite drowsy now so decided to lie down on the bed in the spare room and rest her eyes for ten minutes.

When she awoke she felt a sense of panic as it was nearly dark. She must have dozed off for far longer than she’d planned. Why hadn’t she been awoken by Sophie? Scarlet felt distinctly odd like she was still dreaming or inside a story. She sat up on the bed and was drawn to look in the dressing table mirror. What she saw made her feel faint and confused. In the mirror the woman sat on the bed wore a red cloak. She looked down at herself and was stunned to realise that she was the woman in the mirror. There was also a basket on the bed next to her. ‘I must be dreaming about the story I read to Gran’, she thought. She looked in the basket which contained some juicy red apples, a torch and a folded piece of paper. She opened the piece of paper.


Scarlet knew she had to follow the lead and got up to head downstairs. Gran was still asleep in her room, no worse, no better than before. There was no sign of Sophie but that did not surprise her as she might not be part of the dream.

When she left the house it was dark. Really dark. The moon hid behind the clouds and no light emanated from the village centre below. She took the torch out of the basket and aimed the beam up the lane. Nothing. Her chest felt slightly constricted but adrenaline took over and compelled her to move on up the lane towards the forest. Trees began to loom up either side of the lane. Howls began to fill the air either side of her. Her breath became shallower, fear and altitude making her feel light headed. She swung the beam of the torch from side to side convinced she could see hellish eyes between the trunks. Too much for her, she felt like many hands were pulling at her and collapsed to the ground. As she lost consciousness she saw the hell hounds move in.

A small kerosene lamp sat on the table next to where she lay. It barely reached the corners of the room. But that was ok as her head hurt and she wasn’t quite ready to find out what her predicament was. She heard heavy footsteps in the next room and tried to focus ready to react to whatever was going to happen next.

‘Well Scarlet in the Hood it’s been a while’, a man’s voice she recognised entered the room.

The recognition cleared the fuzziness from her head.

‘Ohhh. Myyy. Goodness! Lugh! What the hell is going on here!!’, she squealed.

‘You remember me then’, he said sarcastically.

She walked over to him and embraced him, looking up to check they were still friends. His strong arms stretched round her and hugged her back before releasing her. ‘We must move fast if we are to save your Gran’, he said brusquely as he strode to the corner of the room and picked up the hunter’s rifle. ‘We need to fulfil your destiny and defeat the evil Queen that resides in the castle at the top of the hill. She has stolen the antidote to the poison that she has given you and your Gran!’

The seriousness of her own situation did not quite register but she was spurred into action for the sake of her Gran.

‘But how do we get past the wolverine hell out there?’, she asked as her shoulders quivered in trepidation.

Lugh looked surprised, ‘Did you not know they were your saviours out there?’ Scarlet’s eyes nearly popped out, ‘No way! I thought you’d saved me from their evil clutches?’

‘They’re you’re guardians Scarlet. You are their Queen. The rightful sovereign of this land. Now you’re up-to-date on our mission let’s get on with it!’

They left the relative safety of the small sentry cabin and ventured upwards into the thickening trees. Howls surrounded their flank and sides but their baying was now more of a comfort than the terror it was before.

The trees began to thin again as they reached the top of the hill and the stone wall of a castle.

‘We’ve reached our destination. The apples in your basket are our way in’, said Lugh.

Scarlet knew she had to finish this alone and kissed Lugh tenderly on the cheek before turning and running towards the castle gates. At the gates she told the guards that she had brought the magic apples as requested by her majesty. The wicked Queen who looked remarkably like Sophie had been waiting for them. ‘Your majesty’, said Scarlet curtseying, ‘My Lady Witch has toiled day and night to complete your request and hopes you will be most pleased with her efforts’.

The Queen was so impatient to test the magical powers given by the apples that she bit into one without a thought. Moments later she began to cough, then choke, and as she started to realise her fate she also saw who was shrouded beneath the red cloak. As she crumpled to the ground Lugh appeared.

‘Quick…time is of the essence. We must go into the castle and find the antidote’, he said pulling her arm as he ran through the gates.

When they had found it Scarlet asked, ‘What do I do now?’

‘Now you have to choose’, said Lugh, sadness in his eyes.

Scarlet looked at the vial in her hand. Her jaw dropped as she realised the choice she had to make. Time had ran out.

Clearing her throat she opened the vial and tilted her head back. Nothing seemed to happen but when she looked down again she caught sight of a mirror framed by fairies across the room. In it she could see what was happening in the real world. She was led on the bed, her skin was pale and no breath came from her body. Almost as though someone was filming the unfolding story the view moved through to her Gran’s room. Her Gran was sat up in bed talking to some paramedics. A police officer left the room and made their way out to the front of the house. Sophie was handcuffed and being pushed into the back of a police car. The police officer turned to his colleague, ‘Can’t quite put me finger on it but the whole thing makes me thing of tales I ‘eard as a kid.’ The police car drove back down the lane.

Two wolves howled from the top of the hill as the moon bathed it’s cool bright light over the land.


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