Saturday, October 31, 2015


Several years ago Michael Alexander's fairy tale adaptation of Red Riding Hood hit the market. For this Halloween, we have the opportunity to bring it here to the blog. Happy Halloween.

Ah my friend, what would you have of me this night?  Perhaps a tale of love would suit you, with a cheerful ending to stir the soul?  Or are you in the mood for a tragedy of broken hearts and unrequited passion?  Or is it our legend, the myth of the Ulv, the creature that roams these parts, howling in the twilight, that you seek?  I know not well if you have heard the whispered rumors, for they are dark and monstrous, but the story I can tell you is hard; spoken best in daylight, instead of here, in the shadows, and left for braver hearts.  Nay?  You must know how it happened?  Very well then.  Brace yourself, steel your heart.  Take another sip of your wine and fortify your spirit.  Because when I have finished my tale, you will know the truth that begets the myth.  A myth that is only a child’s shadow of the true evil worked that night.
I must start at the beginning, as most stories do, and tell you not of the Ulv, but of a girl.  She was a beautiful lass, with skin like fresh snow and eyes as green as a pair of svaltarf’s emeralds.  Her lips were full and soft, luscious and wanting, and the slope of her breast, full and curved as it dipped into her bodice.  Her appearance made men from around the countryside weak-kneed and breathless.  But none of these descriptions were what marked the girl as truly intoxicating.  No, it was her hair, a scarlet mass of curls that cascaded down her brow like the waters of the Manafossen, caught in the last rays of a setting, scarlet sun.  Crimson and ruby and rose, every spectrum of vermillion curled around her delicate face. Her name was Iðunnr, but almost from the moment she began coming to town, we simply called her “Red.”
Stream of the Manafossen - Roald Goossen
She lived yonder, an hour’s journey from town, with her family, a simple woodcutter and his wife.  They were happy, if a bit poor, and the girl spent her days helping her mother in the cottage, and gathering wild berries, herbs, and nuts from the forest to sell in the market.  Even from a tender age everyone knew she’d grow into a beauty, and eventually she’d ride in on her little donkey, her diminutive frame sitting sideways on the burro’s back, while a gaggle of the town’s boys would make damn fools of themselves, helping her down, and carrying her baskets.
There was one boy who was different though.  He was a lad named Petyr, husky and strong, the son of a vedhogger, and he worked beside his father felling trees and hauling them to the mill for cutting.  His arms bulged with strength and it was a sight to see him swinging that axe of his, or lifting logs around like cords of firewood.  Even my own wife, who loves me dearly, made comment about how comely young Petyr was, and how any woman would be grateful to have such an attractive young man interested in them.  Admittedly, she might have been urging me to lose a few pounds with her comment, but I digress.
Perhaps it was inevitable that two such as Red and Petyr would be attracted to each other.  He did not fawn over her as so many of the others did, but instead admired her from afar.  I think he was shy.  But she was possessed with a heart of spirit and it was she who approached him, winning his attention with promising smiles and fluttering lashes.  While half the lads in town fumed, those of us with eyes saw the melting hearts and throbbing pulses, and knew that the two were destined for each other.  They would meet occasionally in the night, stolen moments away from her parents, who were determined that Red marry a rich man, for the woodcutter knew his daughter’s beauty could give her a life of ease.
But her heart was set on poor Petyr and they would meet in star-filled clearings and moonlit, hay-filled barns, where she would untie the homespun, hooded cloak she wore and pull down her bodice, exposing firm breasts capped with pink tips.  Petyr would wrap his strapping arms around her, his mouth finding her lips, passion practically exploding from him as his hands found her bosom.  Yet, he was tender with her, as if she might break.  Then he would push her skirt and blouse downward, letting the cloth fall around her delicate ankles and sandaled feet.  Slowly he would sink to his knees, his lips suckling her nipples as his hands found her pert bottom. A trimmed triangle of red capped her slit and he would pull her downward, laying her gently back in the hay, spreading her open while his tongue delved into her secrets.  I can only imagine the taste of her upon my tongue.
You may call me a voyeur, but what is a man my age to do when he finds the couple in his own barn?  Interrupt such a spectacle?  Nay, that would be cruel and heartless and I confess I was fond of Petyr, despite my wife’s admiring eye.  And Red?  It is rare for anyone to see such beauty, such physical perfection. How could I not take advantage?  I confess it not to be one of my finer moments, but without it, how could I make you understand just how beautiful the girl truly was?
She moaned of course, eyes closed in the moonlight, the pale circle above us with the light shining into the barn where she lay.  Petyr moved atop her as her fingers found his shirt and pulled it from his strong back.  I watched as they giggled, two younglings exploring pleasure and love, new and fresh-scented.  She pushed him to the side and I watched as she tugged off his boots, her nakedness absolute perfection in the bright light of the full moon.  Her breasts were like mountain peaks, her stomach the flat plains of winter wheat.  And her hair!  My God her hair!  Even in the darkness it flamed.
I watched as she took him in her mouth, and I admit to jealousy.  I suppose it would be bad for me if my wife knew just how Petyr’s manhood compared to mine, but I admit that I wished very hard to be in young Petyr’s place.  His eyes closed and he groaned as Red suckled him, the wealth of copper curls hiding what she did so that all I might tell you is how much it pleased the lad.  Finally he could take no more and pulled her upward until her legs straddled him.  I was at the perfect angle, or I moved to it, to see his member slide upward between her legs, slipping into the wetness of her depths.  And they moved as one, in love, in passion, and in fire.  I have no doubt that these trysts were frequent and while I never observed another one, I count myself blessed for understanding, even witnessing their ardor. 
And now I must tell you of the Ulv.  It is beast some say, with shredding claws and piercing teeth, gleaming in the light of a full moon, for that is when it is heard, and that is when it seen.  Yet, others say it is just a man, savage and wild, terrifying in his murderous aggression.  The Ulv has terrorized these mountains for years, and note I use the present tense of the word, for the beast lives, not slain by Petyr, as many have suspected.  No, it roams, searching, hunting, looking for her, hungry for another taste.  And woe betide the maiden who resembles her, for even a hint of scarlet is worth a girl’s life and to wear the color of blood, a horrible death.
Several summers ago, when the passion of Petyr and Red was too strong within their hearts to keep them indoors, is when our tale becomes not a love a story, but a tragedy, or perhaps something more ghastly.  The girl, with lust in her heart and damp thighs needing, snuck from her home, the door unbarred, and saddling her little burro, began the trek to her trysting place to meet her lover.   
Wait you say?  Her grandmother?  Oh please.  That was what is said amongst the unknowing, or those unwilling to accept the truth.  There was no grandmother, no cookies!  That is an excuse, a lie to trick the mind and preserve innocence, for who would accept the tale of a beautiful young maiden sneaking out to bed a poor local boy?  No, those of us who are worldlier, more accepting of human frailty and needs can understand the motives and passions that rule us. Now let me continue my tale, for you must know the truth.
There is a clearing, deep in the woods, halfway between town and Red’s home.  It was a favorite trysting spot for the young couple, who would lie on a blanket under the stars, their bodies entwined and thrusting, their soft moans filling the air.  I can only imagine the carnal delights that must have taken place there, but it is easy to picture Red and Petyr, hungry mouths devouring each other, suckling and tasting, her feet in the air as he sampled her very nectar. 
But they were not unobserved, for the Ulv had seen them, and like me, it too was jealous of Petyr’s woman.  Satisfied at first with watching their passion, it left them unmolested, taking pleasure in the exquisite sight of their lovemaking.  It watched as Red bestrode Petyr, her loins filled with his shaft, her hips grinding as the wet sounds of their union filled the forest air.  Or perhaps it was her cries of release, the tiny desperate sounds that are so like those of pain, but yet sweeter than honeysuckle.  I suspect it moved the beast and it is there that our tragedy was forged.
Red rode her donkey not toward town that fateful night, but toward the clearing deep in the woods.  The track was in shadow, but she knew the path, and stuck to it, a basket of milk and bread, meant for a midnight picnic with her love, tied to the saddle.  Petyr too left his home, leaving his father asleep and unaware of his son’s departure.  The old man objected to Petyr’s night-time ramblings, not knowing of his son’s lust for the woodcutter’s daughter.  “What if a wolf be hiding in the woods?” the old man asked.  But Petyr scoffed.
“Boys like me aren’t scared of wolves,” Petyr replied. But as was his wont, he took his axe, a massive tool of steel and wood, carried in a loop of leather than he wore across his back.
As Petyr walked through the woods, he began to sense something wrong.  I am not woods wise, so I can not tell you what clues told the young man of danger. Perhaps it was the lack of insects chirping in the darkness, or the song of a nightingale warning of blood.  Regardless, it came too late, and with a growl the Ulv lunged out of shadow and drove young Petyr to the ground.
Claws ripped at the boy, sending him sprawling and the beast attacked with toothful fury.  A blow across the skull ripped open Petyr’s scalp and his eyes filled with blood.  The Ulv’s teeth sank into Petyr’s leg, dragging him into the forest, the boy’s axe was left behind on the trail.  Petyr fought back, flinging hard fists into the Ulv’s form, but the beast was too strong and realizing that its prey still fought, let go of the leg and went for Petyr’s throat.
I do not wish that I had seen the battle, since I would have felt compelled to go to Petyr’s aid, though I do not doubt that I would have been killed.  Compared to the mighty thews of Petyr, I am but a weakling.  Were I armed with a blunderbuss, or a sword, perhaps I might have stood a chance, but even now I fear that I might too have run, frightened away by the monstrosity of the Ulv. 
Petyr lay upon the ground and the Ulv tore the young man’s shirt and trousers off the body.  In a grotesque fashion, it pulled the clothes over its misshapen frame.  It jammed its hind paws into the boy’s boots and then, thinking itself disguised, headed for the clearing and Red’s arrival.
An hour later, the beautiful girl arrived at the forest veldt. The full moon had risen and cast a gentle luminosity across the meadow and a sweet breeze blew the locks of her hair away from the ivory cheeks of her face.  She made her way to the center of the field and spread out her blanket.  The milk and bread was set aside, still in its basket, and then with a wicked smile, she began undressing, intending to surprise her lover with her sweet body already open and ready for him.
She settled down, staring up at the moon, one hand between her legs, gently rubbing at her honeyed slit, her incredible breasts already rising and falling with deep breaths of desire.  Her nipples were hard and risen, two perfect points of utter beauty.  The lithe and nubile lengths of her legs were turned and she had even removed her sandals, leaving the arches of her delicate feet bare for his exploring fingers.
Red heard him approach and glanced toward the edge of the clearing.  She saw the distinctive markings of his shirt, the embroidered trim, and she smiled.  Turning away, she stretched her arms out above her head, closing her eyes.  One knee came up, and the seductive beauty took a pose that would have aroused any man into immediate action, wife or no wife. 
She kept her eyes closed as he came closer, wanting to feel his touch and she quivered in desire and expectation.  But as he sat down next to her and placed his hand upon her bosom, her eyes flew open in shock. 
The Ulv sat beside her, Petyr’s torn shirt and pants upon its frame.  The scent of blood filled Red’s nose and terror struck her.  Her throat seized and fortunately for her, she did not scream, the only sign of her fright was the throbbing pulse at her throat.
“I’m here for you, my love,” growled the Ulv, no doubt repeating what it had heard come from Petyr’s mouth before. 
Red’s eyes widened and the smart girl realized that the Ulv had undoubtedly killed Petyr to get his clothes, and would now kill her if she resisted.  Again terror at her fate filled her as did her worry for Petyr, and she thought desperately of her options.  Finally she stalled for time as she inched toward her clothing.
“Petyr, my love.  It has been ages since I’ve seen you,” she said softly, even seductively.  “Your eyes seem to have gotten bigger,”
The Ulv, unknowing that she had seen through its disguise, grunted. “The better to see your loveliness my dear,” it replied.  It moved and once again touched her, its claws lying gently on her tender thigh, so near to her sex that she felt its talon against her petals.  She stiffened, but then reached down and took the paw in her hand, stroking it.
“And your fingers! They are so big and strong and manly!” she exclaimed. 
The Ulv, enjoying her caress, huffed.  “The better to touch you with, my dear.  I want to feel your body, every inch of it.”  The Ulv pulled its paw away and began dragging a nail across her torso.  Red sat there, enduring it silently as the Ulv touched her nipple, teasing it back into hardness. 
She shook, only then realizing that there are worse things than death.  As the beast stroked her flesh, her mind worked furiously. 
“But Petyr, wait…” she whispered.  “I must ask!  Why have your ears grown so long?  They look positively wolfish!”
The Ulv grinned, its sharp teeth flashing in the moonlight. “The better to hear your cries of pleasure, my dear.”  Then it pushed her down, causing her to gasp as it swung a leg over her body, pinning her to the ground.
Red clamped her legs shut, fearing the worst, readying herself to fight, knowing that her meager strength would mean nothing against the terrible beast.  The Ulv’s face hung over hers, its stinking breath fetid and decayed.  It was everything she could do not to scream.  Its tongue extruded from its jaws and saliva dripped down upon her cheek.  She squirmed beneath it and she trembled under its weight.
“My, what a long tongue you have!” she declared.
“The better to taste you, my dear!” and with that it licked at her breasts, the rough tongue lapping at the tips.  Red let out a tiny cry and brought her hands up to cover herself, but the Ulv was fast. It grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the sides of her body, just near her hips.  Red screamed then, wriggling and fighting, but the Ulv was too much for her and discounted her struggles.  Or perhaps it mistook them for ardor.  I have no idea.  All I know was that it slid down her body, its panting tongue lapping and sampling her flesh, moving lower until its muzzle dipped into the clenched softness of her thighs.  Against the beast’s strength she had no recourse and with her hands still held tightly, it pushed open her legs and she felt the creature’s tongue against her clit.
She did not expect pleasure.  Everything about it was wrong.  It slid its tongue through her petals, tasting her and lapping at her flower as if she were soup set in front of a starving man.  Her mind screamed at her to fight, to resist, but the beast held her in its grasp and she was unable to move.  Her heels thumped the ground in impotent fury as the Ulv tasted her, reveling in her scent and flavor like a dog to a bone full of marrow.  It lapped at her sex and she sobbed, her body betraying her as her flower ripened again. 
And then the Ulv rose up.  It ripped Petyr’s trousers from its loins and a massive, knobbed, and misshapen cock appeared.  Red screamed as the beast moved forward.  Her tiny fists, freed from the creature’s grasp swung, striking it on the nose as it bent down toward her face and it growled in anger, swiping its claws across her cheek.  Blood welled to the surface of the cuts and Red’s cry of agony filled the clearing.  It moved into position, ready to take her and an axe, thrown from a mighty arm, flew through the night and struck the Ulv in the back, sending it sprawling, flung away from the half-blinded, screaming girl.
Petyr, not dead, stood at the edge of the clearing.  A thousand cuts covered his arms and face and sheets of blood turned his visage red.  A stout branch was held in his hands and he ran forward with a cry of fury and rage.  The Ulv turned toward Petyr, desperately but not mortally wounded from the axe that extruded from its back. The monster reached up, grabbed the weapon, and hurled it into the tree line, away from Petyr. They circled each other, each looking for the right moment to strike as Red shivered and clutched a hand to her torn face. 
“Petyr!” she cried, one clear eye seeing the monster lunge.  But the lad saw it as well and brought up the branch.  The two collided and struggled, claws and teeth flashing as wood and fist pounded into the beast.  It yelped, and stumbled away, only to turn again and growl. 
“I shall kill you, wolf!” shouted Petyr.  Cuts and bruises marred his body and his left arm now hung limply at his side. 
“And I will take your woman once I’ve killed you again,” it growled back, red eyes flashing with hatred. 
Petyr’s eyes hardened and he bared his teeth. “Red, run.  I will hold the beast off.”  And then before she could even reply, the man fell upon the Ulv.
Red’s burro was gone, frightened into fleeing.  Still bleeding, she grabbed her clothes and ran barefoot from the meadow.  She heard the crash behind her, the shouts and growls, and then a scream.  To her credit, or perhaps foolishness, she slid to a stop. 
“Petyr!” she cried out, turning to look back.  She dropped her clothes upon the ground and quickly went back to the clearing.  Ignoring the fearsome battle, she searched near the edge of the treeline.  Minutes passed as she searched and searched, desperate and terrified. 
For Petyr, the fight was not going well.  Wounded from their first encounter, he was not able to turn his full and prodigious strength against the monster.  Again and again the two would circle, looking for the opportunity of victory, until finally, tired and hurting, Petyr fell against the violent onslaught of the Ulv.
It pinned the man to the ground, blood dripping from its wounds and it snapped at Petyr’s face.  The young man flinched, his good arm coming up to block the killing bite, only to be torn as well.  Petyr screamed in agony and the Ulv shook him.  Then it let go and placed one sharp talon against the man’s heart.  Petyr stared up at it in fury.
“I am about to run down your woman.  The things I do to her will make her forget you. I have tasted her and will again.  I will torture her and hang her naked so I might use her at any time.  And when I am done, I shall father dark things upon her!”
And then the woman’s voice rang out.  “The hell you will!” Red said ferociously, and slammed Petyr’s axe into the Ulv’s head.
The Ulv howled in agony as it rolled away from Petyr and Red, scrambling in the dirt.  Blood streamed from its head and its eyes burned with both pain and fury.  Red stood above her man, holding the axe as if she too were a lumberjack.  The axe was huge in her tiny hands and her nakedness was smeared with blood.  But I must tell you, at that moment, I suspect that to Petyr, she never looked more lovely, more incredible, and more woman than any man could ever have.
Petyr rose to his feet and turned to face the Ulv, standing next to Red. He looked at the beast, eyes narrow.  “Go. Or I will destroy you,” he said.  He held out his hand, blood dripping from his fingers and Red handed him the axe. He hefted it up, clearly ready to hew the creature in half.
 The Ulv froze. “I will never stop hunting you. She will be mine!” it screamed, and then it fled the clearing, howling in anger and pain.
Red turned to Petyr and seeing her love wounded and damaged, she began sobbing.  The tears stung her own hurts, but he dropped the axe and turned toward her.  He wrapped one arm around her, pulling her muddy and bloody body to his, their skin touching.  She cried against him, copper curls against his chest. 
They began walking down the path and she found her fallen clothes.  Ripping the skirt and shirt into bandages, she tended Petyr as best she could, binding his wounds and making a sling for his arm.  He kept one hand on his axe though and with her help, they limped back toward town.
It was nearing four in the morning when the knocking on my door woke me.  You can imagine my surprise to find Red, still naked, drenched in blood, three cuts across her face, supporting an almost unconscious Petyr.  My wife and I helped them in and we began tending to their injuries.  I must admit that my wife took Red and clothed her, but only after giving her the privacy of our bedroom, to wash away the filth and blood.  When she came out, I stitched one of the cuts and applied salve to the others.  I knew in an instant that her stunning beauty was lost.
Petyr’s left arm was out of its socket and that was the easiest of injuries to tend.  He had countless cuts and his right arm was scored with the beast’s teeth.  I sterilized the wounds as best I could and wrapped them in fresh, clean linen.  He slept fitfully and when he woke, he asked for Red.
She went to him, but with a veil across her face.  I understood.  The perfect beauty of her smile was gone.  There would be hideous scars.  Watching from the doorway, I saw her go to him, tears in her eyes.
“I am no longer the woman you loved,” she whispered as she sat down at his bedside.
He took her hand. “And I am not the same man.”  He reached up to remove her veil and she turned her head away.
“Do not look upon me now. Remember me as I was, please?” she begged.
Petyr shook his head. “I need not remember you, for you will be with me always.”
It was Red’s turn to object. “I can not. You will be forever shamed with the woman whose scars make her hideous.  I can not bear it.”
He rose up, sitting, and reached out.  “You will bear it, as you will my children.  For you will become my wife.  The scars are a mark of what we have been through together.  And I have never loved you just for your beauty, but for the fact that you choose me of all others.”
She turned back to him.  “Truly?” she asked, tears filling her eyes.  Petyr lifted his hand and removed the veil.  The right side of her face was darkened with the bruise of the blow, the cuts of the claw, but her eyes were burning emeralds. 
“I love you, Iðunnr.”
And then they kissed, a kiss so deep and so passionate that I blush to tell you of it.  I stood there watching as the kiss deepened and then the simple shift my wife had given the girl fell.  She moved bare breasts against him and I watched in wonder as she slid downward to pleasure him, his shaft hardened into expectant ecstasy. 
My wife yanked me away then, so I missed the rest, but I went to my own bed and the sweetness of the woman that I love, who lacks the coloring of Little Red, but not the passion.
They left the next morning, leaving me letters for family and I watched as Petyr set his new wife upon a horse.  She wore a hooded cloak, partially to conceal the wounds, but also in case the Ulv was slinking nearby. Petyr knew that the Ulv would never stop hunting for Red, that the small taste it had stolen would forever dominate its thoughts.  They left for parts unknown, bodies wounded but hearts whole.
And the Ulv?  It still roams the mountains nearby, waiting for the lovers to meet again, so that it might wreak revenge upon the Petyr and take for its own pleasure, the succulent beauty and strength, of our little Red.  So I warn you.  Do not wander the paths of the Trollheimen without caution.  And for God’s sake, do not wear anything the color red, for the Ulv still looks for her, still wants her, and a single taste - is not enough.

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