The Modern Day Red Riding Hood

Submitted into Contest #88 in response to: Write about an author famous for their fairy tale retellings.... view prompt

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Coming of Age Inspirational

Janet tapped her pencil against the desk, watching small parts if the eraser flick off as the pencil continuously hit the edge of the desk.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Janet?"

She glanced up and her eyes met a blond man with silvery eyes and sharp cheekbones outlining his handsome features.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Uh huh?"

"They want you out onstage in 5 minutes."

"Uh huh."

Tap, tap, tap.

"Janet..."

Taptaptap.

"Yes?"

"You don't seem very"-TAPTAPTAP- "Will you please put the pencil down?!"

Janet sighed, gave the desk one last tap, and tossed the pencil onto her desk, watching it roll across until it came to a stop next to a framed photo of her dog.

"There. I've been muted."

The man looked like he was fighting off a snarky comment as he said "Are you sure you're up for this?"

Janet made her face innocent. "Why would I not be?" She asked calmly.

The man pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "I know you're trying to fake me out, Janet." He dropped the subject right after bringing it up. And there it was again. The sigh.

"I can tell them you're not feeling well if you change your mind."

Janet blew a bubble with the pink gum she'd been chewing. "I love how you say you know what I'm doing and then act like I'm not doing it a second later."

The man sucked in an obviously agitated breath. "Just... look, you have a tendency to disappear from public events, as we both know. So try not to do it this time, okay?"

"Who said I was trying to do it?" Janet countered.

The man closed his eyes and let out his trademark sigh.

Janet rolled her eyes. "Really, Darry, quit the theatrics. The sighs can go."

Darry bit back a nasty retort and turned on his heel. He glanced at his watch. "You need to get onstage," he muttered, his back still turned to her, not bothering to turn around.

Janet slowly stood up, bit her lip, and looked at her pencil. She snatched it up and shoved it in her jean pocket before bolting out onto the stage before she could change her mind.

She was greeted by equal applause and hisses.

Janet gladly took the microphone from her introducer and sat down in the center of the stage, behind a table filled with her new books and...she winced. Her old books.

Janet cleared her throat and spoke clearly into the microphone.

"Hello, everyone! As most of you guys here know, I am Janice "Janet" E. Cooper, and I am the author of the Sky Land series and the The Other Kind of Fairy Tale bestseller book."

Janet had already braced herself for some booing when she mentioned the Sky Land series, but she couldn't help feeling a tiny pang of guilt as more hisses erupted in the crowd. She fingered her pencil with the hand not holding the microphone.

"As you guys know," she started, "The Other Kind of Fairy Tale just came out and it has been a superb hit. Many of you guys enjoy the slogan-" she paused as the crowd cheered and yelled "The Fairy Tale world has finally caught up!"-"And I know that I have plenty of fans out there." Janet finished, smiling at the crowd that had just yelled her favorite line in her whole book.

"So, I know you guys have all been waiting to see the new, modernized Red Riding Hood tale, since I know that plenty of you noticed that that story was notably absent from my new book.

"I was saving it to be published separately, which may not make much sense to you guys, but you'd understand if you were in my shoes. AND, as most of you are aware, today I will be reading to you the Modern-Day Red Riding Hood tale, which is part of The Other Kind of Fairy Tale short story series. All of you know that The Other Kind of Fairy Tale is a collection of short stories, which are old fairy tales that have been modernized in a new way. So this new Red Riding Hood version will be part of the new, modernized Fairy Tale world. Because, as you all said before, "The Fairy Tale world has finally caught up."

Janet gave one quick glance at Darry, who was to her right backstage, and he gave her a quick nod. She watched her pencil hit the table once.

Tap.

She cleared her throat. “Will the audience please maintain a respectable volume as I debut my short story “Modern-Day Red Riding Hood.”

Applause rang through the auditorium as Janet said the title, and once it finally died out, she began to read out of a thin book with a red-velvet cover and gold engravings.

“Sunset was approaching in a shadowed yet well-lit forest. But despite the light from the setting sun, the wood remained eerily dim. The ominous trees had long, thick, black branches that swiped like claws in the wind, and the plants were withered and dark. A strong wind blew through the forest, causing the two young girls wandering about inside of it to shiver.

The first girl, with hazel hair and blue eyes, bore a red crop top and a wire basket. The second girl, with shoulder length brown hair and glasses, held only a phone.

The first girl turned to the one with the phone, letting out a melodramatic sigh.

“Why’d your car have to break down now, Bethany?”

The brunette shrugged, and continued scrolling through her phone. “Well, it said low gas, but I ignored it. Red, that old Toyota has never been right when he says stuff like DEAD BATTERY and all that jazz.”

Red rolled her eyes, annoyed, but left the subject alone. “Have you gotten any more likes on your new Tik Tok dance?”

Bethany nodded. “Yup. 4 more since the last time you asked which was…”- she squinted at her phone- “two minutes ago!”

“Niiiiice.” Red drew out the word and flicked a leaf off her shoulder. After a moment's silence, Bethany said, “Why do we have to bring Advil to your grandma? Isn’t she, like 110?”

Red rolled her eyes again, and said plainly, “Yeah, but--”

Suddenly, a wolf jumped out from behind the trees, letting out a deep howl and startling Red and Bethany. 

“AHHHHH!!!” The girls screamed, Red dropping her basket.

“OMG! It’s, like, totally a wolf!” Red yelled.

“Like, not cool!” Bethany added.

Bethany started rapidly texting on her phone. Red grabbed Bethany’s shoulder to steady herself, hyperventilating, and turned to Bethany.

“What’re you doing?! Calling 911?”

“No!” Bethany shouted, not glancing up from her phone. “I’m posting this! Now everyone will know I’ve had a near-death experience!”

Red whimpered. “Omg, it’s coming closer!”

Bethany fanned her hand in front of her face. “I like, totally can’t right now.”

Red stole a glance at the wolf, letting out a moan as she saw it snarling with pointed white teeth. She looked quickly back at her friend.We’re gonna die…”

“What?!” Bethany screamed. “I’m too young to die!? I still haven’t gotten more likes than Megan on my Tik Tok dance!!

Red let out a gasp, realizing something. “OMG!! What if it puts its eggs in us?!”

Bethany blinked hysterically. “Do wolves even lay eggs?!”

“I don’t know!! Did you pay attention in biology class?!” Red yelled, dragging her hand down her face.

Bethany paused and dropped her hand to the side, forgetting about the phone for the brief moment. “You’re right. I got an F on my last 4 book reports and my history teacher says my IQ is 58 and dropping.”

Red bawled. “OMG!! Bethany, if I die--”

Bethany went back to texting on her phone. “Hold on, I’m texting my Mom my will. Should I give my money to my sister or the zoo’s endangered species fund?”

Red let out a sound that resembled a snarl and yelp. “Bethany, the creature’s like, totally getting closer!”

Bethany tapped her phone. “Done! Don’t worry, like, now I’m calling 911!”

Bethany put her phone to her ear and breathed heavily. Someone picked up, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

The receiver was a woman, with a bored yet authoritative voice. “Hello, this is the emergency line, what’s your emergency?” she asked from the other end of the line.

Bethany practically screamed into the phone. “There’s, like, a wolf bent on eating us!”

The receiver said calmly, “What is your location, please?”

Bethany glanced around, looking for some sort of landmark. “Somewhere in the woods. We’re near the trees!”

The receiver paused, processing what Bethany had just said. “...We’ll have someone over in 15 minutes.”

Bethany nodded quickly as the woman hung up. She turned to the wolf, her hair whipping her face as she said in the loudest voice she could muster;  “Mr. Wolf, could you just wait 15 minutes? That’d be great!”

“C’mon, Mister Wolf!” Red pleaded. “I have to deliver Advil to my grandma! Don’t eat us!”

“Or wait fifteen minutes before striking!” Bethany added weakly, not that it would do much.

The wolf was taken aback by the abnormal request, but quickly gained back his tough and deadly character as he straightened to his full height and shook his head, letting out a deep and frightening howl.

Red, to Bethany’s surprise, seemed to gain more strength from the wolf’s confidence. “Oh, so we gotta do this the hard way then, huh?” Red asked, straightening up herself. “Beth, get this on video and post it on Instagram. Or Tik Tok.”

Bethany nodded and aimed the phone camera at Red.

Red took a deep breath and gave the wolf her fiercest smile. “My daddy always told me to be on my guard-” she reached into her basket. “-Ain’t it a good thing I listened!!!”

Red suddenly pulled a shotgun out from the depths of her basket and loaded it, smirking.

Bethany pumped her fist in the air. “Go, Red! I’m getting all of this! Keep it up!”

Red tossed her hair victoriously. “Goodbye, señor. Nice meeting you.”

BABAM.

The wolf stayed on its hind legs for a moment, before falling to the ground, a rust-color staining the ground beneath him.

Red blew off the smoking gun, wafting away the gray smoke. “You got all that?” she asked Bethany.

Bethany nodded. “I just posted it. OMG, 27 likes already!”

The end.”

Janet set down the small book and let out a deep breath as applause once again erupted from the audience. She managed a smile as she overlooked her fans cheering at her success.

Then Janet caught a glimpse of her Sky Land series.

And her victory shriveled down to black ash laying inside her stomach. She bit her lip and her tongue tasted blood. Janet winced.

“B-before I go,” she said suddenly, ignoring Darry’s motions for her to come offstage. “I wanted to apologize for my epic fail in my Sky Land series. I know that you all were disappointed. I set it up for this epic ending and it never happened, and I’m sorry for disappointing you all. I really am. I just- sometimes you can’t. You can’t do it. I know that’s a lame excuse for not finishing a great series, and I don’t blame you if any of you guys hate me forever. But I have to give you the hard truth- I will most likely not be finishing that series. And I know. It’s sad. I’m sorry. But- I… it’s hard to explain.

"But I can tell you that I will most definitely be continuing this new series, and I will guarantee that I will give it all that I’ve got and more. I don’t want to let you down again. Never ever.”

There was a silence that seemed to stretch for all eternity. Janet gulped, pushed her glasses up her nose, and leaned in to the microphone. “Thank you.”

She walked offstage quickly and disappeared behind the curtain.

“That wasn’t part of the script!” Darry hissed, speed walking to catch up with Janet.

“You think I didn’t know that?!” Janet retorted, annoyed.

Darry rolled his eyes. “You realize this is… publicity.”

“I notice that you’re not saying if it’s good or bad publicity.”

Janet stopped abruptly and turned to face her agent, raising one eyebrow. Darry sighed.

“It’s--”

“I don’t want to know,” Janet interrupted. “My life is hard enough without me paying attention to what people think of me.”

It was Darry’s turn to raise an eyebrow.

“Is that you, Janet?”

“If it wasn’t, who would it be?” Janet countered.

Darry stayed silent. “Very well. Are we done here?”

“I think so.” Janet said in a hushed tone.

Darry cleared his throat after an awkward silence. “So, are you headed home then?”

“But of course.” Janet smiled for the first time in weeks. “I’ve got a book to write, don’t I?”


April 06, 2021 18:00

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