Free Fiction: Once Bitten, Twice Shy

In January this year our writing group, Writebulb, were set a flash fiction challenge. All we were given was the proverb ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’, and were able to interpret it however we chose.  Here is my take on it. I hope you like it.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The full moon was low in the sky. Instead of its usual brilliance, the orb had a creamy opalescence against the ebony backdrop. She sat at the window seat and gazed out at the shadowed garden which still bore evidence of the latest winter storm. The ice encrusted snow lay thick and heavy in patches, just as it had a year ago. The fateful night that turned her world upside down. Quivers ran down her spine as her memory plunged her back into the nightmare.

Snow had fallen earlier in the day lying soft and feathery on the frozen ground. Marc was restless, pacing the floor in front of the window peering out at the grey snow-filled clouds in the early evening sky. He turned towards her, a speculative expression on his face.

“Do you fancy coming for a walk with me?”

Surprise flittered across her face – this was a first for Marc. A romantic evening stroll through the snow was far from usual for him, but the change was a welcome one.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll just grab my boots,” Rene responded with a grin. She dashed upstairs and rummaged in her wardrobe for her wellies and a hat to keep her head warm. Five minutes later she was bundled up warmly and ready to go. Marc grabbed her hand and they walked out into the cold crisp night.

As they sauntered through the clouds of fluffiness they snuggled closer. The night air nipped at their faces; Rene’s nose tingled and as she wrinkled it, Marc chuckled.

“Awww, you look so cute when you do that!” Rene stuck her tongue out at him and he laughed harder.

“Just because you look like Rudolph’s brother, doesn’t mean you can take the mickey,” she pouted, pretending to be miffed. Marc laughed again and with the speed of a cobra, scooped her up in his arms and deliberately fell into the snow immersing them in its icy softness.

They giggled like two carefree school children. Rene rolled over and scrambled away, scooped up a handful of snow, shaped it into a ball and lobbed it at Marc, catching him on the forehead. She burst out laughing and reached for another handful, but before she could launch another attack a snowball smacked into the back of her head and she heard Marc chuckling behind her. She turned and threw another one then ran, not stopping to see if it found its target. A missile caught the back of her neck and she shrieked as the icy wetness found its way down her back.

Rene bent and grabbed another handful of snow, almost falling as her momentum carried her forward. She could hear Marc gaining on her and she took off over the field, crafting another missile as she ran. This was the most fun they’d had in too long.

Her footsteps masked the sound of his and didn’t realise he was no longer behind her until she heard a terrified scream which could have churned milk into butter at fifty paces. She whirled around, startled to find she was totally alone.

“Marc?” her worried voice appeared muffled in the wide open space, as if she were in a vacuum. She started running back, retracing her steps. Icy panic gripped her heart sending shivers through her torso.

It was a couple of minutes before Rene came across Marc’s footprints. A puzzled expression etched into her features as she noticed them veer to one side and she began to follow. The imprints progressed in an arc close to trees and bushes and then stopped beside two fresh furrows that vanished into the undergrowth. She took a few steps into the bushes then paused. A trail of bright red splashes of differing sizes marred the hoary surface and a coppery odour assaulted her nostrils.

“Marc?” she yelled, the fear in her voice hung among the trees, an almost tangible thing.

Rene staggered back a few steps, gasping in horror. Her breathing accelerated and she was close to hyperventilating. Her eyes gaped in the direction of the blood as a scream began to build in her lungs. A rustling in the bushes ahead drew her attention; her eyes flicked in the direction of the noise and a pair of yellow eyes stared back at her.

Her scream erupted into the night; Rene turned and sprinted back towards home, terror flooding through her. She could hear growling behind her, but no sounds of pursuit. However, she didn’t dare slow her pace or look back. She flung herself through the door and bolted it. As she leaned back against it trying to catch her breath, she heard howling echoing around the outside of the house.

She ran into the kitchen without turning on any lights and peered out at the moonlit vista. Standing six feet from the window, a huge wolf-like creature stood on its hind legs, its head thrown back as it bayed at the sky; the voice filled with agony.

Rene was mesmerised by the creature – she’d never seen anything so strange and terrifying – and scrutinised it from her place of safety. As abruptly as the howling began, it ceased and the beast lowered its head as it dropped to stand on all four paws. It gazed directly at the window where Rene stood; a pitiful whine escaped from its throat and a pair of tormented eyes met her stare.

She inhaled sharply; there was something about the wolf-like animal that she sort of . . .  recognized, yet how could she? Her eyes were unexpectedly drawn to something glinting on one of its front paws which the beast had lifted from the ground and as she realised what it was, her legs gave way and she crumpled to the floor, moaning.

“Marc!” a tortured whisper floated from her lips. Pain flooded her chest as her heart ripped in two. The glint she saw was the engagement ring she’d given to Marc only six months previous and just before he’d disappeared from her view she’d noticed fresh wounds around his neck and shoulder. He’d been bitten.

She couldn’t bring herself to move from the house, it was the only link to Marc she had left. But she didn’t dare venture out at full moon anymore; she’d lost Marc to it, but refused to lose herself.

I really hope you enjoyed that and would love to know what you think. Please feel free to leave a comment or several. 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Free Fiction: Once Bitten, Twice Shy

  1. A powerful tale of fear and love lost. I felt her pain, and the torture of recognising the beast. The wolf is such a symbol of our nightmares, and yet we feel close… Much enjoyed this, well done 😉

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your kind comments – I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      It’s surprising how many people feel some sort of affinity with wolves and they are known to be ‘spirit guides’ for spiritual people. Yet there are others who fear them and, as you say, are a symbol of their nightmares. Curious isn’t it? This is something I could get into quite a deep discussion about, but now isn’t the time!

      Thanks for keeping in touch 😮

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed Once Bitten, Twice Shy and hope you’ll come back again!

      Carlie 😮

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  3. Carlie – a very interesting twist on a werewolf tail. I’m kinda glad it didn’t veer into “Twilight” territory by having her seek to be with him and choose to be bitten. One question it raised for me though was what happens when the full moon is gone? Does she ever see Marc again?

    I don’t know if this will help you but there are some within writers circles who advise against starting a story with a lot of description – that no matter how good it might be, it won’t have enough of a “hook” for the reader. It’s better to add the descriptions in layers throughout the opening scene.

    Excellent exercise and a great draft. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Charity,

      Thanks for your comments/critique – I’m glad you liked it. Whether she sees Marc again is very much left to the reader’s imagination and was quite deliberate on my part to keep people wondering.

      I take your point about starting with description and will give it some thought.

      Thanks for all your comments and for popping by!

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  5. Hi Carlie, I love your writing and look forward to reading your book when it’s finished ♥ Jessica wants to know she once dreamed of a blue girl playing the piano. Based on what she thinks you may be able to shape-shift into a wolf. Jessica is fond of wolves and feels they are misunderstood. She believes you are a very interesting person and very talented indeed. She is excited to learn more about you.

    • Hi MG,

      Thanks so much for your kind words. My first book is finished and under submission right now so I’m playing the waiting game. I’ll let you know what happens.

      Jessica is sort of close, but not quite right. The blue girl used to play the piano, but stopped rather abruptly and hasn’t touched it since. I can’t shape-shift into a wolf, but I do have a very strong connection with wolves and one in particular. I’m glad Jessica finds me interesting, but she’s going to have to try again to guess what my talent is! She’s so sweet for saying I’m talented, but then again so is she! If she looks around this blog, she’ll find my email address so she can email me anytime she wants to fire questions at me or make some more guesses (and so can you). I’m also looking forward to getting to know her, and you, alot better!!

      Thank you both for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments.

      Carlie xo

  6. Dear Carlie,

    You’re very welcome and I feel the same about you, and wishing someone discovers your brilliant talent. Yes, the waiting game can be frustrating. Just keep focusing on writing and something lovely will come your way.

    Jessica says, “DANG!” She wanted me to tell you she has to ponder more about your superpowers, and will get back to you.

    Grandmother Wyrd AKA: The Old Dragonbooger sends her regards as does Grandfather Wyrd AKA: Blubberbelly.

    Thanks so much for participating in the GIVEAWAY Interview. I truly appreciate your generosity and support, MG ♥ ☆ ƸӜƷ☆ ♥

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