THE GRIMM METHOD • by Tim Boiteau

The wolf clambered across the roof of the brick house, wriggled into the chimney, fell and plunged into a cauldron of boiling water. The three pigs cheered, their beady eyes flashing within the deep recesses of their doughy faces, as the wolf screamed and thrashed, the fur and flesh melting off his bones—

He sat bolt upright in bed, pawing at his chest and arms. They were fine. No burnt flesh, no sloughing-off fur.

“A dream!” he shouted, barely registering the odd nightgown he was wearing. “I was just dreaming.”

He lay back in bed and rubbed his tummy. It was painful and swollen to an incredible size. Something was … moving in there.

The door burst inward, and a burly, bearded woodman charged in, shining axe raised high. The wolf howled, covering his head with his arms, trying to block the axe from cleaving it in two—

The axe vanished. The wolf was whole, no longer wearing the nightgown, his stomach empty — in fact, it was grumbling from hunger.

And there before the wolf’s eyes was a flock of plump white sheep. Oh, his mouth watered looking at their sturdy legs and round rumps. What a feast!

He began to lope forward, when he smelled something suspicious. He paused, head darting left and right, scanning the rocky hills with both eyes and nose. There was a little hamlet down in the valley, chimneys puffing cheery smoke. A boy napped in the grass nearby. Yes, it was too good to be true.

A trap.

No, he wouldn’t be fooled again, he thought, loping back to the woods—

“And as we can see,” the ovine scientist explained after pausing the video, “after applying the Grimm Method, the behavior of even the most incorrigible predator can be molded to suit our purpose.”

On a table in the center of the stage, the wolf was strapped down, whimpering, blinders covering his eyes, electrodes strapped to his head, his legs paddling as if he were trying to run, to escape.

The audience of sheep filling the auditorium bah-ed zealously, smashing their hooves together. The Age of the Sheep was dawning.

Tim Boiteau is a Writers of the Future winner with short fiction appearing in Daily Science Fiction, Deep Magic, and Dream of Shadows. His horror novel Iltday is coming soon in 2022.

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