The wolf grinned at the camera. His long, pink tongue briefly caressed the tip of his fangs.
“Hello! And welcome to the first edition of Big Designs. Today’s contestants are all brothers; triplets, in fact, but, as we are about to find out, when it comes to building houses, their ideas could not be more different. Let’s meet the first one. Hello, Piggly.”
The first contestant waved a nervous trotter.
“Hello, B.B.,” he squeaked.
“Good to have you on the show.” The wolf fist-bumped the trotter with his paw. “Explain, please, to the viewers at home, the concept behind your build.”
He smiled encouragingly. Piggly’s eyes darted.
“Well, it’s quite basic, really, my design. Using sustainable materials.”
“Good, good.” The wolf winked at the camera. “Sustainable gets my vote. What exactly are you using?”
“Um, just this really.” Piggly stooped to gather up a fistful of dried grass.
“Um, yes. It’s very versatile. See, you can weave it together to make walls, furniture too. Or you can just sort of strew it around the floor as a rough-and-ready carpet.”
“Hmm… And it’ll be strong, your house of straw?”
“How do you mean?”
“Will it be able to withstand the elements? A strong gust of wind, for example.”
“I should think so,” said Piggly, although he didn’t sound convinced.
“Well, good luck,” the wolf’s grin widened. “Now, moving across to the next plot, we find, hard at work, Piggly’s brother, Wiggly. Say hello to the viewers at home, Wiggly.”
The second pig was a little startled. His snout quivered and let out a grunt.
“Tell us, please,” the wolf spoke in unctuous tones, “the concept behind your build.”
“Well, um,” Wiggly took off his hat and scratched his head. “It’s all made from found materials. To keep costs down.”
“Found materials? Care to expand on that? What have you found and where did you find it?”
“Well, um, B.B. Just here in the woods, lying around. Sticks, mainly.”
“Yes. They’re durable, flexible and above all, they’re free.”
“Well, we all like a freebie,” the wolf winked at the camera. “You say durable, but will your house be able to stand up to, I don’t know, say, someone on the roof?”
“Why would there be someone on the roof?”
“I don’t know; I don’t write the questions.”
“I am confident my house of sticks will withstand anything short of a nuclear attack.”
“Even a great wind?”
“With a nuclear bomb, you always get an almighty wind. Or, it could come from another source.”
The wolf’s grin faltered. “Look, I can see I’m distracting you from your building. Good luck.”
“We move on to the third plot, where—oh, my word! Can you see this at home? Isn’t this just the sweetest little house you’ve ever seen? It looks almost finished. But where’s the builder?”
“Let’s see if he’s in, shall we?”
The wolf stepped up to the newly painted front door and knocked. “Mister Pig, Mister Pig,” he sang. “Let me come in!”
“No!” came a squeak from the other side of the door. “Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.”
“Oh, dear, viewers. Looks like someone is camera shy.”
The wolf pushed his snout through the letterbox. “Mister Pig? May I call you Jiggly?”
“No! Piss off!” said the third pig.
The wolf grimaced. “We can bleep that out. But the viewers want to see inside your lovely home. You’ve chosen the traditional material of red bricks. Why is that?”
The pig’s answer was muffled but laced with aggression.
“I’m afraid,” said the wolf, “Unless you show us around, you’ll be disqualified from the competition.”
A loud oink issued from the letterbox. The wolf backed away. He put a claw to his earpiece and consulted with the producer.
“What? That’s crazy. I’m not sure we have the insurance for that—”
“Oh, all right. But I’ll be having words with my agent, you can be sure of that.”
Moments later, the wolf was on the roof of the little red house, having scaled a ladder. “Mister Pig!” he bellowed down the chimney. “Let me in!”
The producer’s voice crackled in his ear.
“You what? That’s insane. I’m not climbing down the fucking chimney. I don’t care if it is good telly—Oh, all right, but I want danger money.”
He sat on the chimney stack and lowered himself into the flue, back legs first.
The camera stayed put, the house filling the frame. There was a splash and a terrifying howl of pain.
A moment later, the front door opened. The camera zoomed in on the grinning face of the third contestant.
“Hello, viewers,” Jiggly grinned. “And welcome to the first edition of my new cooking show. First on the menu: boiled wolf.”