I’m not dead. But since it’s summer and my research isn’t going so well, I’ve been working more seriously on my second novel. It’s to be called Ashes: A Fairy Tale.
It will be a frame-story narrative, broken up by shorter episodes that are based in other fairy tales, such as the Pied Piper, Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood.
Speaking of which, here is a preview of my re-imagining of that fairy tale… re-titled “Wolf Eyes.”
Emma ran through the snowy forest, not bothering to try to be quiet. She knew her tracks in the snow would give her away to her Count and his dogs. Clutching the stolen silver in her arms, she cursed her luck. Her confederate had betrayed her—told the steward, who in turn alerted the Count.
She could hear the hounds barking even now, trying to find her trail. And if they caught her… God only knew what they would do to her. She wondered if she dared ask Him for protection—she was a thief. But her Count was cruel to everyone in his household, family or servant. Liberal with the switch and with his affections— she could not stay with him. But she couldn’t manage on her own. And he could spare fifty times the worth of what she had managed to grab without a squeeze.
The daylight was dying. Even through the clouds that was obvious. She slowed her run because she could feel the cold cutting through her chest like a knife. Walking, she could breathe more easily.
One of the dogs howled in the distance, and she nearly dropped her sack of coin. Emma began to run again, but tripped on a root hidden under the snow and fell, cutting her face. Cursing and trying not to cry, she sat up and tried to gather as much of her silver as she could. The dogs were making more noise now, and the men shouted with them.
Blood dropped into the snow as she staggered to her feet. She felt slightly dizzy and could not now stop the tears that tore at her eyes. Salt ran into her cut, and she had to lean against the cold trunk of a tree until the pain was manageable.
They would catch her, Emma realized. If she did not die here in the woods, she would face the Count’s wrath when they took her back to his castle. In tears, she raised her head and looked into two glowing canine red eyes just visible in the snow ahead.
She gasped in terror, and they disappeared. A moment later the noise of the hunt ceased. A deafening silence settled in the air, replacing the baying and shouting. Emma shivered and gingerly touched the cut on her face. Her fingers came back scarlet, and she sucked the blood off them, knowing she had to keep moving.