“THE WOLF’S PAW” (PART 2 of 3) by Scott Donnelly #MicroTerrors
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“Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids”™ 2023
SHOW OPEN: Welcome to Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids, where it’s always the spooky season – full of chills, thrills, and spine-tingling spooks! Micro Terrors are family-friendly frights for those ages 8 and up. And while our stories are for younger ears, we are still talking about things that go bump in the night, and some children may not be able to handle what others can. Parental consent is recommended. Now… for tonight’s MICRO TERROR!!!!
STORY: THE WOLF’S PAW
The Criley brothers dreaded hearing the news. Their father, Ernest Criley, had been found dead next to the body of an immense, great wolf. The search lasted hours before the disturbing scene was uncovered. Ernest — who had shot the beast to death — was missing his head, yet victoriously gripping the severed claw of the wolf in his hand.
It was Claude Ahlborn who brought the news to Ernest’s two boys, Henry and Oscar. They were alone at their home when Claude came knocking. Somber and regretful, Claude Ahlborn explained to the young men what had happened. Claude was an old friend of their father’s, so it was only fitting that he would have been the member of the search party to relay the news.
Claude told the Criley boys about the wolf and how immensely large and powerful it was. He told them Ernest was a hero, because when the wolf was opened up for examination, they found the remains of an old woman, as well as a young girl inside of its belly.
“He saved more lives from being lost to the wolf,” Claude said. “The wolf is dead because your father was able to bring it down. You boys should be proud of him. I know he was, of you.”
Claude reached into a brown satchel that he carried around his body and pulled out something unexpected; the wolf’s severed paw. The wrist portion had been cauterized to a hardened, black medium, as did the area that once held one of its four digits. The paw itself was larger than Claude’s hand and covered in gray fur.
“He had this in his grip,” Claude said. “I knew your father well. This was a trophy; validation of his conquest.” Claude extended the paw to the boys.
Henry and Oscar looked at one another briefly and then Henry reached out to accept it.
“He would want you to have it as a way to remember his final act in this life,” Claude said, choking up. He wiped a tear from his face and opened the front door. “I’ll send my daughter in the morning with a meal for you. I’m so sorry.”
Claude walked out the door and just before he closed it, he looked at Henry and Oscar once more. He smiled, seeing Ernest in their eyes, their stance, their sorrow. “I wish Ernest could see you one last time.”
Claude closed the door and it latched with a click.
Henry and Ocscar looked at one another; they were two young brothers who were all alone now. The orphanage would come for them any day.
Suddenly, the wolf’s paw twisted like a serpent within Henry’s grip. The startling nature of it caused Henry to drop the grotesque appendage. It clunked on the floor and rolled over. One of its three remaining claws bent and cracked until it was flush with the underside of the paw.
Henry and Oscar were speechless and unnerved. “A postmortem spasm?” Oscar asked his brother.
Henry wasn’t sure, but it was all he could think of as well. They both remembered stories their father had told them about his successful hunts in the woods. Sometimes, even after death, there were still signs of life.
It was shortly after midnight when the knocking started. Henry sat up in bed, thinking at first it was just a dream. He looked over to the other bed in the room. Oscar was sitting up with a candle lit at his side, holding one of their father’s old Stetson hats in his hands. He caressed it like one would a lap dog.
Henry heard the knocks again. They were coming from the front door.
“Do you hear that?” Henry asked his brother. Oscar didn’t respond, he just admired the hat, falling deeper and deeper into his memories.
“Oscar?” Henry called out again in a loud whisper. But Oscar wasn’t with it. Henry crawled out of bed, lit a candle of his own and crept through the house until he reached the front door. The knocks were louder the closer he got to the door.
They were unnerving; Why so late? Henry wondered. He reached for the doorknob, but his instincts sprung to life and told him not to open it. Instead, he shuffled to the window and looked outside.
The night was darker than usual, as if to announce something strange and unnatural within its embodiment. In the soft glow of the candle he held, Henry saw someone at the front door. And that someone was the strange and unnatural thing the night had so ominously ushered in. It was a man of a strong build, dressed in familiar hunting attire …their father’s hunting attire. The brown coat, the baggy pants, the rifle still slung over his back. However, his head was missing, cauterized black at the neck just like the wolf’s paw that Claude Ahlborn had brought into their home.
Henry was startled. It looked like their father, but it couldn’t have been. He was dead! There was no way this moment was real; surely it was just a dream.
The headless man outside continued to knock, each pounding of the door severing another nerve within Henry. He trembled, backed away from the window and rushed up the stairs to their bedroom.
“Oscar!” Henry screamed upon his entry. The urgency in his voice was enough this time to rip Oscar’s attention away from the old hat.
“What?” Oscar asked, dazed but concerned.
“Father’s at the front door,” Henry trembled.
Oscar shifted himself to the edge of the bed. “What do you mean?”
“He’s knocking on the door. His head is gone.”
Oscar confused his brother’s fear for sorrow. He nodded sympathetically. “I miss him too,” Oscar said. “I haven’t been able to sleep all night. I’ve just been thinking about him and everything he’ll miss out on. Everything we’ll miss out on.”
Henry shook his head. “No! I’m not out of sorts, Oscar. Father is here. At the front door. His head is missing, cauterized at the neck like that repulsive paw!”
Henry pointed to a small table opposite the beds where the wolf’s paw lay, one of the digits still bent underneath it.
A thought hit Henry at that moment. The claw had bent after Claude Ahlborn’s departure. The last thing Claude said was that he wished their father could see them one more time. A WISH —
The claw curled after the wish, and that wish had now come true. Their father had come.
“The paw!” Henry screamed, rushing for the cleaved limb. He grabbed and held it in his hand, shaking it at Oscar. “This paw is cursed! The stories of those woods are true! This thing is evil!”
Oscar stood from his bed and faced his brother. Both of them went silent, and then Oscar heard the knocking too. They were loud and reverberating through their small home. Oscar didn’t know what to make of it.
“There has to be an explanation,” Oscar said. “Something real and not of the arcane.”
“Those woods where Father hunted, you’ve heard the stories, Oscar. The magic, the evil that lurks within them.”
Oscar knew of the stories, everyone in their sleepy little valley did. The woods were tainted by a darkness that few understood. It was, and had always been, part of the land they lived on.
“Father…” Oscar said in a breathy exhale. Henry could see his brother’s expression go from confused to curious. There was almost a sense of relief in his stare.
Henry shook his head. “It’s Father, but he’s all wrong,” Henry said. The knocks grew louder with each strike. “He’s undead! A spook!”
“But you’re sure it’s him?” Oscar asked, weakly.
Henry could tell his brother wasn’t grasping the severity of the situation. It wasn’t their true father at the door. It was a spectral spawn; an evil, unnatural resurrection that shouldn’t be.
The knocks were now more frequent, louder and bolder. They became almost demanding of an answer, commanding the boys to let the obscure entity in.
Henry couldn’t take it anymore. He held the paw out in front of him and said, “I wish Father to rest in peace; to leave our plane and return to his.”
The knocks continued and the paw remained idle.
Henry was sure it would have worked. His eyes widened, his lips trembled and his heart began to beat so fast that his chest felt pain. But then, abruptly, the knocks stopped…
The silence that invaded their home now was overwhelming. Henry felt the paw writhe within his grip. The brother’s watched as another one of its digits bent and cracked like snapping bones until it folded against the bottom of the paw.
One claw now remained.
Henry and Oscar breathed heavily, calming their nerves the best they could. Henry sat the paw down on the table and picked up his candle. He needed to make sure the ghoul at their front door was gone. “Come on,” he instructed his brother.
Creeping slowly and cautiously through the house, the wooden floor creaked underneath each footstep. Henry was the first one to reach the window. He peered out into the inky night, and within the glow of his candle, he saw nobody. Their headless father was gone, finally at rest.
“He’s gone,” Henry said to his brother, breathing a trembling sigh of relief. He turned around to comfort his brother, only Oscar wasn’t there.
Henry stepped away from the window and into the main room of their home. “Oscar?”
Oscar came out from the bedroom, holding his bedside candle and looking mournful, possibly even remorseful. In his other hand was the wolf’s paw. The third and final claw was now bent. Henry went numb with fear.
And then, the knocking started again.
OUR STORY CONTINUES NEXT TIME…
SHOW CLOSE: Thank you for listening to Micro Terrors!!! Join us each Saturday for another scary story! For more fun, visit our website at MicroTerrors.com where we also have spooky games you can print out and play — like wicked word searches, mysterious mazes, and more! MicroTerrors.com is also where you can find us on your favorite social media and even send in your own scary story for us to tell! Plus, you’ll learn more about our author, Scott Donnelly, who has other horrors for both young and old! I hope you’ll join me again soon for Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids!