Little Red

mohawk haan crows close up

Sit down everybody and listen closely, for I have a story to tell. You all know about things that go bump in the night, the mystical and mysterious creatures of legend. You all know about werewolves, witches, and vampires. You’ve all heard about The Jersey Devil and El Chupacabra, but how many of you know about Little Red?…

My name is Rob and I’m documenting what I know about Little Red on my voice-recorder. Why am I speaking into this machine instead of writing this down? Let’s just say that it’s easier to speak it than it is to write it down.

This all happened a few years ago when I lived in an apartment complex called “The Redwood.” The Redwood was, well, I’m not going to mince words, the Redwood was a shithole plain and simple. It was an apartment complex in the “bad part of town,” and it of course had its share of less than desirable people.

There was Paula from 2263 who I found out was only a few years older than me, but if you were to look at her, you would think that she was in her late 60’s or early 70’s. A lifetime of bad decisions from drinking daily to smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day will do that to you. She had dingy, stringy black hair that was the worst dye job that you had ever seen on a woman. If Marilyn Manson had been a woman, this is what he would look like.

There was Linda from 2060 who had a string of failed marriages and had also made a bunch of bad decisions throughout her life and she ended up at The Redwood as well. I could always hear her coming while I was out and about in the complex because she had a bluetooth speaker that she wore attached to her belt loop and she would play the pop music that the Zoomers today find popular. Linda had short blonde hair and at first glance she looked sort of like a Q-Tip with her hairdo. She loved her whiskey, her weed, and her Lortabs though.

And then there was “The Troll.” I say that because I don’t even want to know her name. All I know is that she lives across from me in 2166. The first thing that I see when I go to leave for work is the Troll sitting out on her balcony every morning or every evening, depending on my work schedule. The Troll would sit out on her balcony and she would be blasting whatever horrible music that it was that she liked to listen to and usually she would be drinking and screaming at Jeff, her boyfriend. She would be so loud sometimes that her voice would carry over the entire complex. How else would I know that she hadn’t been properly laid in months and that she had chronic pain from an injury that she received in a car accident?

I remember the first time that I had any interaction with the Troll and it was one of the many times that she was screaming at Jeff about whatever. It was early August and I had the window to my apartment open, hoping to catch a little breeze to cool me off. The cheap, tiny air conditioner unit that was stuck in my window was dead. Again. And my apartment was an oven. I stared out the window at the Troll who happened to look in my direction at the same time. She screeched at me, “Mind your own fucking business!” Normally, that’s exactly what I do, but it was a hot afternoon and I had had enough and so I yelled back at her, “That’s what I’m trying to do, except you’re making your shit my fucking business! Go inside!” And it was “on” from there.

My war with the Troll never really escalated beyond sneers from her and smiles and waves from me and although she never tried to hide the fact that she didn’t like me, I just acted all the more nicer just to piss her off. It worked. Her daily yelling and screaming became so normal and so tiring that one day I couldn’t stand it anymore and so I turned her in to the apartment management and to my surprise, they actually did something about it for once. They called the cops on her.

While the police had corralled the Troll in her apartment with Jeff, I was standing out in the courtyard, having a cigarette. That’s when I first met Linda and Paula that I mentioned earlier. They were giggling like a couple of schoolgirls and I could smell the weed and the booze on them. It wafted and exuded out of their pores like a toxic fog.

Even though it was building management that had called the cops on the Troll, everybody in the complex just assumed it was me that did it. In a roundabout way, I guess they were right.

So there I was, having a cigarette and trying to cool off and relax when Linda and Paula came over to talk to me. Like I said earlier, both of them ended up at The Redwood due to poor life choices. Now that I think about it, what does that say about me? Nevermind. While I was standing there, listening to these two drunk, stoned women prattle on about the comings and goings in the complex, I noticed a young couple with a young child and a very large dog, walking through the complex. The dog’s name was “Bee.” I have no idea what it stands for or if it’s a shortened version of something else, I just know that I’ve heard the guy when he calls for the dog, he calls it “Bee.”

Paula noticed me looking at the couple and the dog, and she said, “Lots of pets in this complex. You got Bee over there, a mangy, yellow tabby cat named Rufus from 1839 that runs around here, pissing on everything like he owns it, and somewhere around here, there’s a three legged, one earred, half blind mongrel named Lucky. He looks good compared to his owner.”

“Sure are a lot of animals around here,” I agreed noncommittally. “I’m still waiting to wake up and see deer in the common area.”

“Oh for sure!” Linda cackled. “It’s only a matter of time before they come in.”

“Hey have you seen the chicken?” Paula butted in.

“Chicken?” I asked.

“Lord yes! There’s a chicken that hangs around here!” Linda piped up before Paula could get the chance to continue.

I started wondering about this chicken and where it was and where it had come from. I guess I got so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t realize that Linda and Paula had started fighting with each other. All I know is that I had to jump in the middle of these two older ladies and pull them off of each other. Both of them had small clumps of each other’s hair in their hands.

I told them both goodnight and went back to my apartment, I don’t have time for that kind of bullshit and I don’t want any part of it. Besides, the police were still there dealing with Jeff and the Troll and the last thing that I needed was them turning their attention towards us.

I woke up early the next morning since I was on the morning shift at my job that day and when I went outside to go and get into my car, that’s when I saw it for the first time.

The chicken.

I didn’t know what to expect when I saw it, but it was somewhat disappointing. I guess I was hoping for a big, red rooster. This bird was a little, brownish colored hen. She was sitting on the landing of my building, next to my neighbor’s door. She had been sitting there, roosting from last night if I had to guess, and if she hadn’t stood up, done that head bobbing thing that chickens do, and flapped her wings, I would have stepped on her. That’s how close she had been to me.

I stopped and slowly backed up and went back inside my apartment. I had some bread in the fridge that I wanted to feed to her because to me, she looked hungry. I came back out and she was still there. I pulled pieces and chunks from the couple of slices of bread that I had and threw them towards her. She initially flapped and kind of ran away from them, but when she realized what they were, she came back and began pecking at them and eating them. I finished throwing the pieces of bread towards her and then I left and went to work.

If she was still around later when I got back, I would feed her some birdseed, I thought. If she’s still around when I get back, I’m going to give her a name. I’m going to call her, Little Red.

When I got home from work that afternoon, Little Red was down by the dog run. Pecking around, looking for worms I imagine. I tore open the bag of birdseed that I had picked up after I got off work and threw a couple of handfuls towards her. She immediately darted towards where I threw the seed and began pecking away.

I felt so happy that she was eating my birdseed and I knew that I was doing a good and kind thing. I kept sprinkling out little handfuls of seed and was working my way closer to her, I wanted to see if I could actually touch her.

So there I was, sprinkling and moving ever closer, and Little Red, the now unofficial mascot of The Redwood, was pecking and clucking at the seed. I finally ended up right next to her and I slowly leaned down and touched her.

She was soft and sort of silky and she didn’t seem the least bit scared of me. In fact, she cocked her head to the side and looked at me quizzically, as if trying to decide something. She made a couple of clucks and pecked at the ground while I had visions and fantasies of this chicken being the mascot and sort of “pet” for the apartment complex. Paula and Linda would “ooh and ahh” over my taming of the bird, and everybody would come around and want to see and pet my new friend.

I was talking softly to Little Red about this, about her status as the mascot for The Redwood and how everybody would want to pet her and feed her and how everybody would go looking for her after that day, telling each other and anybody who would listen about her, when it happened.

Although it’s been several years since it happened, I can see it in my mind’s eye plain as day as if it had happened yesterday.

I was talking to Little Red about all of these wonderful things that were going to happen for her here at The Redwood, when she cocked her head as if listening to me, and maybe she actually was, and then she opened her beak, clucked once, and then she flapped her wings and attacked me.

I was so startled by her change of behavior and demeanor that she totally caught me off-guard. I was too slow and had my hands full with birdseed in one and the bag of seed in the other that I wasn’t able to fend her off or defend myself.

The pain of her talons scratching my face was excruciating and when she went for my eyes, it was as if someone had poked me with a white-hot poker. I saw blazing white and felt warm liquid running down my face and I remember screaming and beating about my head, trying to get Little Red off of me, and that’s when everything went dark.

I woke up later in the hospital and to my shock and horror, everything was black. No hint of grey, no blurry images or smeared colors, but complete and absolute black.

I told you at the beginning that I was documenting this on my voice recorder because it was easier to say it than it was to write it down, and that’s because Little Red scratched both of my eyes out.

Sharpen Your Mind. Weaponize It. Start here and here. Sign up for my newsletter.

Knights and Dragons Part Three

ancient animal antique architecture

Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.

The sounds of shrieks and pain and anger filled the air. The battle had indeed come, and by the sound of it, it was ferocious.

The woman looked worriedly at the Wizard. He pointed to a stone staircase, gesturing for her to climb. They climbed the stairs and went through a thick wooden door into a parapet. The Wizard indicated that they were going to climb the spiral staircase, going up, ever up, until they reached the room that opened up onto the ramparts.

The woman would glance through the occasional window to the battle below. All she could see was men fighting men, horses galloping around and rearing up, and all she could hear were the cries of men and sounds of steel upon steel.

After a time, they reached a door that lead to the ramparts. The woman and the Wizard stopped to look out an accompanying window to look upon the carnage below. Down below and outside of the castle walls, the battle was coming to a peak. Men fighting men. Men screaming. Men burning. Men crawling away. Men dying.

“What is this?!” She exclaimed. “I see the knights below fighting, and yet I see not the Black Knight or any of his men?!”

“That is because there is no Black Knight, nor any men that are his. Those men did not come here for the Black Knight. They came here for the Dragon. Those men are fighting each other and fighting with themselves,” said the Wizard.

“The Dragon?! They came here for the Dragon?” She said.

“Of course they did my love, that is what is different this time. In the past, they came for the Black Knight, but today, today they come for the Dragon. I figured that out when I saw the flames and the bodies.”

“But is the Dragon here?” She queried, looking around through the window up at the sky and gazing out at the horizon.

“Of course not. Not yet anyways. But you know that.” The Wizard said as he gently poked her in the ribs.

“Stop it!” She giggled. “How is it that some of them are burning then?”

“They are setting themselves on fire. Watch and see.” The Wizard pointed to a couple of knights who were applying pitch to themselves. A moment later, another knight appeared with a burning torch, to which he touched it to an extended arm. The knight went up in flames almost immediately. The knight then ran about wildly, screaming and flayling his arms about him. His entire body engulfed in flames.

“The Dragon! The Dragon got me!” He shrieked. “You men must avenge me and slay that Dragon for he has smote me with his terrible fire!” And with that, the knight collapsed onto the battlefield and began rolling around. Other knights ran to his aide, with blankets in hand, throwing them on top of the burning knight, hoping to smother the flames.

Another knight was on his knees, screaming at the top of his lungs, “My Lady! I have been slain for you! And I gladly die for you! If only I had more lives to give, I would gladly give them!” And with that, the knight put the hilt of his sword into the ground, placed the tip onto his chest, and impaled himself upon it.

This scene played itself out over many times as the Wizard and the woman watched from above. Men setting themselves on fire, some having the flames extinguished before they met their fate, others not so fortunate. Men put their sword hilts into the ground and drove themselves down on top of them, committing suicide with the words, “M’Lady!” upon their dying lips. Men fighting each other, saying to one another, “Dragon! You have arrived! I will slay thee!” while clashing their swords against one another. Men being thrown from their frightened and rearing horses, some to be so unfortunate as to be trampled underfoot by their own steeds.

The Wizard and the woman watched as the battle raged on, but the Wizard grew tired. “It’s time, my dear. I’ll signal for you when it’s time for you to come. Until then, wait here.”

The Wizard then strode out onto the ramparts, listening to the fighting below. “This is where it always gets interesting,” he thought. “It doesn’t hurt, exactly, it just feels a little strange. And you would think that I would have gotten used to it after all of these years.”

The transformation began as he was thinking to himself. His feet and arms grew heavy. His face began to stretch and morph. He looked down at his arms and saw the scales pushing through his skin, the dark green almost black color, coming out. He pulled his cloak off of himself absently, tossing it away. “I won’t be needing that for awhile,” he thought. His weight began to increase as he began to elongate, his body getting heavy. After a moment, he could no longer walk on two legs and so he leaned forward and continued on all fours, his powerful, scaly forearms rippling with muscle.

Talons shot out from where his fingers had once been. Only a small amount of blood had been lost this time. The part that felt the most strange though, the part that he still hadn’t gotten used to, was the leathery wings that sprouted up out of his back. He glanced momentarily at them as he extended them to their full width and shook them, beating the air.

The Wizard who was now the Dragon, put his front legs, what had been his forearms onto the rampart and gazed out over the battlefield. None of the knights had seen his transformation, and none of them had seen him yet. None had even bothered to look up.

“Excuse me!” He coughed. His voice was a deep, low, rumbling bass.

The fighting, burning, and dying continued as before.

“I said, excuse me!” He said even louder, his voice shaking the walls, and still nothing from the battlefield below.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” He roared as he lifted his massive head to the sky and shot out a huge arcing stream of fire. It was red and orange with flecks of green. It was huge, it was brilliant, and it was deadly. The fires from the pitch below paled in comparison.

The fighting and shrieking below stopped at once, as if someone had turned off the volume. All heads turned towards the castle ramparts. A hush descended upon the knights. As a collective everyone had inhaled and were now waiting to release their breath.

“Look upon me you White Knights!” The Dragon roared. “And know this! I walk amongst you. I live amongst you. I know your tales, I’ve heard your secrets, and I know that you know not what you do! You men down there, claiming to fight me, you know nothing. None of you has ever seen a Dragon until this day, and none of you have ever fought one. I would know because the last time Man and Dragon actually fought was over four hundred years ago, and I was the one who fought a Man.”

“He was more of a Knight than any of you will ever be. He actually faced his fears and took me head on. If only you cowards below would dare to do the same. But no, you would rather die on your own swords then face true adversity. You would rather set yourselves and each other on fire and claim a fake victory to one another to bolster your own egos instead of actually facing me. You claim you came here to fight me for your Lady’s Honor. So here I am! Come and fight me! Take me on if you dare!”

Shrieks of horror and pure terror filled the battlefield below. Men grabbed up the reins of terrified mounts and beat a hasty retreat. Men dropped their swords and shields where they stood and began to run.

“Before you go, know this!” The Dragon called after them. He turned his head towards the parpet, and with a taloned claw, beckoned the woman to come to him. As she approached, he turned and faced his fleeing adversaries.

“All women yearn for and understand a Dragon!” He called out. “I do not take them against their wills, for they come to me willingly. You with your codes and your ideals, your women care nothing for these things. They want adventure, they want to feel, and they want to live! I see them for who and what they are, and they know me for what I am. They come to me willingly, gratefully.”

The woman placed her arms around the Dragon’s neck as he finished, “Look upon me you White Knights, look upon me and despair!” The Dragon then shot a jet of liquid fire at the retreating knights’ feet, further speeding up their retreat.

As the sound of the shrieks and cries of terror diminished and the smoke from the fire began to clear, one lone Knight stepped forward.

The Dragon and the woman looked down upon him with interest.

The Knight pulled his sword from his scabbard and then threw the blade onto the ground.

“What is this?” The Dragon grumbled aloud to himself.

The Knight then removed his helmet, looked at it for a moment, and then threw it aside.

“Will you teach me? Dragon? Will you teach me your ways and how to be like you? Will you make me into a Dragon like you were once made yourself?” The Knight asked.

“Oh, this is going to be interesting.” Chuckled the Dragon as he turned and looked down at his smiling woman.

The End

Sharpen Your Mind. Weaponize It. Start here and here. Sign up for my newsletter.


Knights And Dragons Part Two

ancient animal antique architecture

Part 1 can be found here.

Dragons are real and they walk amongst us. Men think that they are either a figment of imagination, a fiction, or that they did actually exist at one point in history, but are now extinct. But they are neither. They do exist, and they do walk among us. – The Wizard.

“How do I know they are real? Because I have seen them. I’ve seen them walking among men. I’ve seen them in the shops and the bizarres. I’ve seen them serving wine to barons and kings and warlords. I even knew one that was a king of a kingdom, but that was a long time ago. I’ve seen them interacting with the children of the kingdom and I’ve seen one of them playing a lyre.”

“I’ve heard the knights telling their stories about how they have seen a dragon. I’ve heard them talk about riding deep into the woods or into some foreign countryside, and finding a dragon in his den, his lair. I’ve heard them regale each other with tales of battle with these dragons, and of course, the knight would always win. How else could he be telling his tale? Of course, it’s all a lie. There hasn’t been a genuine sighting of a dragon in over one hundred years. And the last time that man and dragon faced each other down in genuine combat has been over four hundred years ago. I know, because I witnessed it. I was there.”

“The truth is, these men, these knights, wouldn’t know what to do with a dragon if they knew that they had actually encountered one. They definitely wouldn’t know how to fight one. But who am I to argue with them? They wouldn’t listen to me if I told them, and they wouldn’t believe me if they did deign to listen. And that’s okay, their stories are amusing to me, and besides a beautiful woman, there is nothing more that I like to do than have a good tale and a good laugh. I live for a good story, a good tale, and I love to laugh.”

“When did dragons come about? That I don’t know. Perhaps they have been around since the beginning. They’ve been around longer than I have, and I have been around for a very long time. I do know that some dragons are born, but they are extremely rare. Most are created. Neither is better or necessarily stronger or more powerful than the other.”

“What’s that? Why yes, most dragons are actually created. You didn’t know that did you? Of course you didn’t, but that’s because you are not a dragon, and until very recently, at least to your knowledge, you had never seen or met a dragon. I promise you, you have. You just didn’t know it at the time.”

“How are dragons created? That’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked. First, you have to have met a dragon, and know that they are a dragon. Dragons haven’t gone around flaunting their ‘dragon status’ as it were, in a very long time. Then you would have to ask the dragon if they would be willing to ‘re-create’ you in their image. Some might be flattered and honored at your request, and they might grant it. Most of the time though, they would likely refuse you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because being a dragon is a ‘curse,’ but more like most people couldn’t actually handle being a dragon. You definitely become an outsider to your community if you do, and if the knights knew that you existed and you were around, they would most likely come after you. That can be a huge headache.”

“But let’s say that you met a dragon, and you knew it was a dragon, and you asked to become a dragon, like him, and he accepted your request? He would transfer some of his ‘essence’ to you. It could be some of his blood, it could be a bite or a scratch. It could come from his saliva. Every dragon has a different way of transferring his ‘essence’ to you. No two dragons are really the same when it comes to that. After the transference is done, the dragon would take you under his wing, both metaphorically and literally and teach you what you need to know now that you are a dragon. He would tutor you in the ways of transformation, of flight, and of course, of fire. That tutoring could go on for years and years, or it could only take a few months to a year. That all depends on you, the new dragon, and your willingness to learn, and what experiences you have already brought to your transformation.”

“After that, you are free to do as you choose. You get to go on and live your life. You get to do what you want to do and have your adventures. You would most likely see and meet other dragons, because after all, like knows like. You would see them wherever they are and you would both smile and nod at each other, giving each other a wink. You might even make friends with some of the other dragons that are out there, and you would probably do things with them. There’s nothing more magnificent than watching a couple or a group of dragons doing things in tandem. It is truly a sight to behold.”

“There is more that I could tell you, but time is running short and I want to go. It’s time we get down to the castle and see what is afoot. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready,” she beamed. She was stunning. All dressed and ready to go, her radiant hair down over her shoulders, touching the swell of her breasts. Her clothing back on, she was truly beautiful.

“You look amazing my dear, but then again, you look better naked in my bed,” said the Wizard.

“You stop!” She blushed and punched him lightly on the shoulder as he put an arm around her waist and tickled the small of her back.

“Maybe we should stay here yet a little while longer,” he teased. “The knights aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and my appetite is back.”

“You’re incorrigible!” She said with false indignation, giggling and playfully slapping at the Wizard.

“Yes I am. And that is what you love about me.” He said as he lightly bit her ear. “But we’ve fooled around long enough, it’s time to go and see what there is to be seen.”

The Wizard pulled the woman close to him and uttered an incantation, just barely under his breath.

Moments later, they were standing in the courtyard of the castle that was in the valley below. The screams of combat could be heard from over the castle walls, the sounds of swords on shields and armor pierced the air; the din and cacophony was enormous. The battle had been joined.

To be continued…

Sharpen Your Mind. Weaponize It. Start here and here. Sign up for my newsletter.