Not a fairytale ending – Reboot

It came to my attention that if I was going for the “character” aspect of M.I.C.E. with this post I fell short in bringing it to a resolution.  Check out the description of this element again (see below) then come on back up here.

See?  In this little tale my character is bored with her job and to properly wrap it up I should have showed that she either became satisfied with it or reconciled to it.  Never mind that she was satisfied in other ways…

Consequently, I’m trying a re-write of this post to include resolution.  Let me know what you think.

RAUNCH ALERT!  RAUNCH ALERT!

You have been warned so if you find yourself offended you have no one to blame but yourself.  So there.

Yesterday I posted about M.I.C.E. and included my story based on the milieu element.  I struggled with the I in M.I.C.E. and finally postponed that one, jumping to the C – character.  If you didn’t get a chance to review the elements of M.I.C.E, the character element was described as follows:

character story starts when the character is dissatisfied with their life or some aspect of it, and finishes when they become either satisfied with or reconciled to it.
Example: Most romance fiction.

Here’s my rewrite of Little Red Riding Hood using the character element as my main focus.  One last warning, this is bawdy with a capital bawd so if you are easily offended do not proceed further.  That is all.

When the alarm went off Red groaned and buried her head under the pillow.  Obviously that didn’t turn the damned thing off and it kept pestering her until she stretched her arm over to hit the snooze button.  “Ten more minutes,” she murmured, turning on her side.  Ten minutes later she was still half-awake when it sounded again.  Red sat up and turned off the alarm, then wandered into her tiny kitchen where she lit a joint and poured a cup of cold coffee.  While waiting for the java to nuke she looked into the fridge hoping something delish would have magically appeared.  No such luck.  Her life was pretty darn predictable.  Taking the reheated coffee, she went to grab a shower.

Work went as work did – slowly.  Office work was so boring!  Red wanted to be challenged or at the very least for something exciting to happen!  From her desk beside the window she could see the county park across the street and she daydreamed it was a forest and she was one of the characters in a fairytale like those her grandmother had told once upon a time.  Not a namby pamby princess, she thought.  I’d be strong enough to take care of myself; who the hell needs Prince Charming?  The Wolf though had always fascinated her, she remembered.  As she stared out at the park she caught a glimpse of something moving just inside the tree line.  She thought at first it was an animal but then it, or he – for now she could see it was a man – stepped out of the trees.  Tall, Dark and Muscular continued through the park to the street and Red saw him mount a Harley Davidson motorcycle parked on the street in front of her office.

“Be still my heart,” she mumbled.  “That is the single most attractive man I’ve seen in – well, ever.”  What the heck was he doing back in the woods, she wondered.  Not one to ignore her impulses, Red resolved to find out.  After work she donned her sweater and strode across the street, then into the trees.  As she went deeper the canopy screened the sun and the light dimmed.  Shadows played with her imagination and she shuddered once when she thought there was someone hiding behind one of the trees.  “Come on Red, get a grip.”

Having no idea what she was looking for, Red wasn’t sure how far to go, how long a walk she wanted to take knowing she’d have to make the return trek at some point.  The path grew darker still and she checked her phone for the time.  What?!  She’d been walking for twenty minutes already?  The park wasn’t that big was it?  “Well screw this!  It’s after six and I want a beer dammit!”  Doing an about face, Red began retracing her steps.  She’d gone only a few yards when she came face to face with Tall, Dark, and Oh-So-Yummy.

He wore tight denim jeans with a white tee shirt and leather jacket a la James Dean.  Dark hair waved over one sharp eye and he stared at her predatorily.  Between the hair and his gaze he reminded her of a wolf on the prowl.

“What the fuck?”

“That’s nice talk,” Red replied, cocking one hip and crossing her arms.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he growled.

“It’s a free country; I’m taking a walk.”

“In those shoes.”  It wasn’t a question but she glanced down guiltily at her Jimmy Choos which were being mutilated by the forest path.

“What’s it to you?  Don’t tell me, this is your territory and you’ve come back to mark it like a…,” she started to say dog but realized that wasn’t quite right.  He was definitely a wolf.

“Like a what?” he sneered.

“A wolf,” she admitted honestly.  “You remind me of a wolf.”

“And what does that make you?  Little Red Riding Hood?”  He raked her with an insolent stare, looking from the top of her deep red hair to her completely inappropriate footwear.  “I think you’d better leave.”  The earlier menace in his gaze was now clear in his voice.

Her Irish temper took control and she closed the gap between them to poke his chest with her finger.  “I’ll leave when I’m goddamned ready Wolf!”  Anger brought red flags of color to her cheeks and her eyes sparked with heat.

The next moment Tall, Dark, and Hunky had crushed her mouth with his and gathered her into a vise-like embrace.  Fingers wove into her auburn hair as he deepened the kiss.  Moments later when their lips parted they were both breathing hard.

Wow, Red thought, holding his eyes and noticing they were no longer threatening.

His voice was raspy and breathless.  “I’m going to fuck you like you’ve never been fucked before!”

Red smiled slyly, pulling out her .357.

“No you’re not.  You’re going to eat me like the story says.”

***

Some time later, Red took a drag from the cigarette and passed it to Wolf.  Sitting up she looked around for her clothing.  This had been fun but she couldn’t see it going anywhere and she had to work the next day.

“Where are you going?” growled the Wolf.

She glanced at him over her shoulder.  “Home.  I have to get up early for work.”

“So that’s it?  Wham! Bam! Thank you man?”

“What did you expect?  Happily ever after?” Red smirked.  She shimmied into her lace panties and reached for the matching bra.

“Of course not.”  He shuddered at the thought.

“Then what?  Where do you see this going?”

“My place?” he grinned at her.

“All in good time,” she smiled.  “I still have to work tomorrow.”

“Work is overrated.”

“You’re telling me!”  Red pulled her blouse over her head and tucked it into her skirt.

“Why don’t you work for me?”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”  He said it with a straight face but Red cracked up.

Seriously?

“I’m dead serious,” he replied, taking no offense.  He was used to that reaction.  “And I need a research assistant.”

Intrigued now, Red paused with one arm in her sweater.  “What would I need to do?”

“A lot of reading, some typing, organization of my notes.”

“So, office stuff huh?”

“With fringe benefits,” he added, smiling.

“Hmm,” Red traced her finger down his jaw and met his eyes.  “I can live with that.”

Of M.I.C.E. and Wolves

With apologies to John Steinbeck.

The other day Wendy Barron blogged about a workshop she attended on short fiction:  Short Fiction, MICE Quotient, and Nesting Codes.  I found it quite interesting and especially enjoyed the podcast she linked to which you can check out here.  At the end of the podcast there was homework given.  Take a fairytale, say Little Red Riding Hood, and rewrite it using the elements of the M.I.C.E. Quotient.  I don’t have time to reinvent the wheel here; if you aren’t familiar with Orson Scott Card’s M.I.C.E. Quotient go check out Wendy’s blog post; she illustrates it very well.  The podcast is icing on the cake (and only about 15 minutes).

The assignment was to write a one page story based on each element.  Below is my attempt for the first element – milieu.  I hope to work up posts for the other three elements: idea, character and event.  We’ll see how it goes.

Milieu

The forest was too quiet.  Usually the birds were chirping or there was rustling in the bushes along the path as some small animal scurried through.  But today not even the tree limbs creaked.  Red, normally very comfortable walking through the woods to Grandma’s, was a little unnerved.  The silence was so complete her breath resounded in her ears.

As she neared the Great Oak which marked the halfway point Red paused and held her breath as though that would allow her to hear better.  The silence was unnatural, she thought.  When all the animals and birds grow still it’s because they’re frightened.

“Cut that out,” she scolded herself sharply.  “Get a move on or you’ll be late to Grandma’s house!”  Adjusting her hooded cape, she set off again and if her pace was slightly faster no one except she knew.

Leaving the forest behind a few minutes later, Red entered the clearing where her grandmother’s cabin stood.  Smoke curled from the weathered chimney and Red felt herself relax.  To one side lay Grandma’s carefully weeded garden with its neat rows of vegetables.  An ancient tree shaded the other side of the cabin and Red had fond memories of climbing it with her older brothers.

Crossing the clearing, Red let herself through the gate and started up the walk.  Odd, she thought.  Grandma was usually waiting on the step.  She knocked on the door and it swung inward, startling her.  Red hesitated on the threshold, suddenly afraid.  Stepping inside, she started to call out but inexplicably stopped herself.  If there was an intruder she didn’t want to alert them.

Walking as lightly as she could, Red entered her grandmother’s cozy living room, pleased to see it looked normal.  The squashy sofa and oversized chair were as inviting as ever.  The other furniture gleamed as though Grandma had just finished her dusting.  Beyond the living room, the kitchen was empty but she’d evidently been busy in there earlier.  Grandma’s favorite deep blue mixing bowl was on the counter and the aroma of her peanut butter cookies lingered.  So where was she?

Red started to turn toward the hallway leading to Grandma’s bedroom when she heard a noise behind her and everything went black.

Consciousness returned slowly and painfully.  Red opened her eyes and had a moment of panic when she couldn’t see anything.  Once her eyes adjusted, she could see that she was being carried along like a sack flung over a man’s shoulder.  A mountain of a man, she thought taking in the breadth of his shoulders and how high off the ground she was.

Outraged, she pounded on his broad back.  “What is the meaning of this!”

“I saved you from a certain, horrible death,” said the man without stopping.  “You nearly walked in on the Wolf.”

“What,” she choked on the word.  “What happened to my Grandmother?”

“She’s at peace now.  No sense dwelling on how she got there.”

Red felt her eyes prick with unshed tears.  In the distance she could see the smoke curling from Grandma’s chimney and realized they were back on the trail through the forest.