Adèle sat in the highest bough of the red eucalyptus tree with her tiny, white hands folded in her lap. Below sat the Wolf running its tongue along its pearly, sharp teeth that glinted in the moonlight every time Adèle looked down. The Wolf’s lips curled back into a wicked grin.
I can wait, child. For years I can wait. You will grow weary and I will be here.
Adèle found herself slouching from exhaustion and pulled her back up straight to help keep alert. How long had it been, now? Three hours? Three days? Time cannot not be measured when the moon never moves and the sun never returns. She rubbed her toes that were beginning to tingle from the lack of blood.
She lay back into the rustling leaves of the tree. They gave off a red glow on her skin. Like blood, she thought. She looked up into the black sky that seemed so near for all its darkness. She had to put a hand in front of her face to remind her that her eyes were still open.
“I cannot fall asleep,” she thought, “or I will fall through these thin branches and be eaten, surely.” But her lids were heavy like stones and with each blink her body said, yes, yes it is nice to sleep, isn’t it?
Whether it was a sound or a movement that woke her, Adèle sat up with a start. She was already slipping through the arms of the tree.
Do not worry, precious gem, the Wolf hissed below, I am still here when you fall.
Not ‘if’ but ‘when’. Adèle shivered at the sweetness of the Wolf’s call. She would not close her eyes again.
She looked out over the land that was dotted with murky figures; forests spread out in clumps. She could only imagine what sort of horrors lived in those trees when something so terrible as the Wolf lived out in the open. She could barely distinguish the land from the sky; the varying black shapes seeped into each other. Off in the distance, little dots of light winked. She couldn’t tell if they were a village or the stars.
Adèle looked up into the velvety sky trying to get the image of the Wolf out of her mind but all she could see was its razorback fur and its haunting red eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut but could not get rid of the image. She rolled over and rested her head against the leaves.
“I’ll only lay here a moment and then,” her mouth stretched into a yawn, “I’ll figure out what to do.”
I will be here, child.
It wasn’t long after Adèle drifted off that she realized there were two red eyes looking directly at her. And then four eyes. And then hundreds of red eyes glowed around her. Every way she turned there were red eyes bearing down into hers.
“No!” She screamed. “No! NO NO NO-NO-NO!”
But it was too late.
Adèle’s tiny body slipped through the sparse twigs of the red eucalyptus tree and fell down, down, down into darkness and pearly, sharp teeth.
Written by Wyatt Willis
Illustrated by Evan Heasman