Taxidermy; Do it Yourself!

Amelia stood in the middle of her Grandma’s bedroom, her worn leather boots soaking in the blood that had splattered onto the floorboards. She’d been avoiding looking at the damn lumberjack in the doorway, but she finally turned to him, trying to soften her hard expression
“Take my Grandma to the village immediately. She needs help.”
With a soft kiss to her Grandma’s grey curled locks, matted thick with blood, Amelia helped her to her feet and the man rushed to take her side.  
“I can’t leave you here, you must accompany us.” he spoke with deep confidence, and Amelia smirked as she realised he was trying to sound stern. She crossed the room wordlessly, opening the door for them both.
“Go now, take her straight to the doctor”.
With a sigh, the man nodded and Amelia offered her Nan one last warm, comforting smile, “I’ll clean up here Gran, you’ll be back in your own bed before the day is out”.
Finally alone as the lumberjack helped her Grandma down the front porch, Amelia heaved a huge, shaking sigh, disbelief running her thoughts astray and sending them rushing wildly through the events of the last twenty minutes.

Miss Amelia Hood was lightheartedly named ‘Red Riding Hood’ for the crimson riding coat she wore while hunting. It was often commented that no sane hunter would ever consider wearing something so vibrant, but those comments were quickly shot down with the reminder that Red was the best any of them had ever met, and she always came back successful regardless of the bold colour of her overcoat.
That day Amelia was not hunting, but bringing food to her Grandma. She did so every Thursday to ensure her only living Grandparent stayed well fed and with some company in her old age.

However, earlier that day, upon getting close to the snug little cottage on the outskirts of the forest, she had heard a blood curdling scream, and panic flooded her body when she saw the quaint wooden door of the little home torn open, hanging loosely off its hinges. The grocery bags fell from Red’s arms, forgotten about immediately, and she raced forward, pulling her hunting bow off her back and pushing an arrow into place. The wolf had left a trail of destruction through the small kitchen and Red followed it quickly, leading her to the bedroom where her frail Grandma was crying out, the wolf prowling the length of the space, both of them bloody as the poor, frail old woman had fought the beast off with bare arms.
“Oi!” Red shouted, anger refining her senses, the aim of her arrow precisely pointing to a fatal spot on the huge animal’s neck. It turned at the sound, a monster with coarse black fur and wide, rabid eyes. Prepared, Red pulled back the bow and – suddenly – a large object whooshed past her ear. She faltered, losing her balance for just a moment and sending the arrow shooting off into the ceiling as she fell hard on her ass. The object, a large axe with an aged wooden handle, lodged itself into the wolf’s skull and after a hysterical howl of pain it collapsed, its head falling heavily into the shocked hunter’s lap. Red scrambled to her feet and through the doorway, straight into the muscular chest of a breathless stranger. She screamed out, her heart beating desperately fast and her usual calm composure abandoned.
“You nearly killed me with that axe!”. 
The man, adjusting his plaid shirt with broad arms, examined the dying wolf on the carpet, “I’d actually say I saved your life. I heard screaming and came as quickly as I could.”
“Oh goodness me, how could I ever repay you!?” Red fawned dramatically, hands pressed over her heart. She shot him a hard glare and rushed to her Grandma’s side, “I had it under control. I hunt, and I don’t go throwing axes at people’s heads.”
“It wasn’t thrown at your head, it was thrown at his!” he sighed, gesturing with exasperation at the wolf.
And that was when Red stopped listening to the lumberjack, and started worrying about how to clean the place up and get him out of the way, taking us back to where we found her, stood blood stained in her Grandmother’s bedroom.

Red looked down at the wolf then, long dead, and her panic towards the situation quickly faded, being replaced with a dull irritation. First things first, she whipped the already blood stained sheets from her Grandma’s lonely single bed and threw them under the wolf’s head to prevent any more blood getting onto the carpet, and then set about looking for cleaning equipment. She was rummaging around in the cupboards under the sink looking for some kind of carpet cleaner when her eyes fell upon a dusty, colourful cardboard box. She laughed in disbelief at a rather distant memory of her Grandma showing her a handmade, oddly proportioned stuffed mouse. Brushing the fine layer of grime from the lid, her suspicions were confirmed; she had in her hands a Taxidermy; Do it Yourself! Kit that her Grandma’s late friend had gotten her a few birthdays back. Red wondered where on Earth her Grandma had found that poor dead mouse, and then it hit her – the most brilliant, sick and twisted idea she’d ever had.

It took ages, considering it was her very first time and the instructions were entirely in Swedish. Red was determined to make it utterly perfect. She cleaned the cottage and got to work immediately, and was labouring through the night. The finishing touch was taking one of her Grandma’s white linen night caps and pulling it over the wolf’s head, down past the face forever fashioned into a hilarious yet equally unsettling smile and tied in a neat little bow under the chin. Red really had a knack for taxidermy, it turned out, and the wolf sold for a very considerable amount within hours of its completion, advertised as “a fashionable one off piece for an eccentric with a flair for the dramatic”. Despite the Lumberjack, Paul, trying to take credit for taming the wild beast, no one really cared, for it was Red who had forever humiliated and emasculated the creature, making it nothing more than fancy furniture for the rest of time. Being such a successful hunter, she now had a brand new hobby that meant none of her catch would ever have to go to waste.

Now her business card proudly reads “Miss Amelia Hood, Hunter and Taxidermist”. If there’s one piece of advice I could give you, it would be never to cross her.