A modern update to Hansel & Gretel…

So as a part of my writing prompts, one of the items was “Write a different version of the fairy tale, “Hansel & Gretel.” I had half a page, which really wasn’t anywhere close to enough, so here’s my Peter Jackson treatment to what I wrote. Behold, the new and improved Hansel & Gretel.

Once upon a time, there was a pair of children named Hansel & Gretel. Hansel and Gretel like to explore the woods near their home, searching for wild mushrooms that their dear mother could add it to her stroganoff. One day, the pair decided to wander out farther than usual.

“Oh, but Hansel!” cried Gretel. “What if we become lost?”

Hansel, thinking himself clever, had a plan.

“It’s simple, my dear Gretel,” he said. “I have the crusts from my sandwich from lunch in my pocket. I shall simply leave a trail of breadcrumbs so we can follow them back home.”

Gretel, not terribly clever herself, decided this seemed like a good plan, so she went on with it.

They were far into the woods, when Hansel, realizing he was running out of breadcrumbs, turned to look back. Instead of breadcrumbs, Hansel found a murder of crows, fighting over the last breadcrumb he had tossed out.

You see, these crows were unusually particular about their food—they didn’t go for the usual, “early bird catches the worm,” nonsense, and in fact had an all organic diet. The problem with this, of course, is that there aren’t any Whole Foods markets located in the middle of the woods, and the crows being of an exceedingly stubborn sort, were extremely hungry. Meanwhile, the sandwich crust that Hansel had was from Dave’s Killer Bread. Good Seed. All organic, exactly what these crows were looking for, and so they quietly followed behind the children, snatching up the crumbs as quickly as Hansel dropped them.

“You fools!” he shouted. “You’ve gone and gotten us lost!”

“Sorry about that,” one of the crows replied. “Excellent bread, though.” With that, the crows flew off.

“Hansel—did those birds…talk?”

“It’s funny, Gretel,” Hansel said. “I was about to ask when you took up ventriloquism.”

Lost, lonely, and long past dinner time, the two’s tummies began to grumble horribly.

“Oh Hansel,” Gretel said. “I feel as though if I don’t eat, I shan’t survive.”

Hansel again thought himself clever.

“Just wait, dear sister, he said, grasping into his other pocket. “Behold, our salvation!” he raised his iPhone into the air with a twinkle in his eye.

“Hooray!” said Gretel.

Unfortunately, Hansel’s parents, beyond the lunacy of giving their ten-year old his own cell phone, had gotten him a cell phone on T-Mobile, which meant he couldn’t get reception in his own house, much less in the middle of the old growth forest, making the phone good for little more than sitting down to play Angry Birds.

Helplessly, Hansel attempted everything. He tried calling his mother, no signal. He googled “How do I get un-lost in a forest?” to no avail. Eventually, he just wore out the battery playing Angry Birds, which he told Gretel was “Helping him think.”

“Maybe…” he said, “If we built a giant slingshot…”

“Shut up, Hansel.”

Gretel, now fed up by her brother’s uselessness, suggested they wander deeper into the forest in an attempt to find their way out. They wandered, as the sun became lower and lower, and the darkness began to encircle them, Gretel smelled baked goods, and saw a faint light off in the distance. She led her brother on towards the light, and they eventually came within sight of a well-manicured lawn, and upon the lawn sat a gingerbread house, bigger than any they had ever seen.

“Oh Hansel,” she said. “perhaps there is someone home who will feed us and call our parents!”

The duo knocked on the front door, but there was no answer. Gretel pressed the green gumdrop she assumed to be a doorbell, and somewhere inside the gingerbread house “The Candyman” chimed, but alas, no answer still.

“Gretel, I’ve got it!” Hansel said, not quite ready to give up on his cleverness. “We can eat a hole in the side of the house, then borrow their phone to call mum.”

“I don’t know, Hansel,” Gretel said. “What if the owner gets mad?”

“Pish posh,” Hansel said, waving her off. “We’ll bake them a new piece of gingerbread.”

Well, Gretel was rather hungry, and if it got them home, what could it hurt? So they began to nibble below one of the windows, and were almost through the wall when they heard footsteps, and turned to find a haggard old woman standing over them, aghast.

“Why you… you little hellions!” she shrieked. “You’ve eaten a hole in my house!”

“Please, ma’am, let me explain.”

“Explain nothing!” she cried. “I’m calling the constable!” and with that, she dragged the pair into the house by the ear and locked them in the pantry.

It’s this fact that the history books constantly get wrong—it was assumed that a) the old lady was a witch and b) she planned on eating the children. In fact, old Mrs. Graham was not a witch, she was simply flustered by the sight of two little hooligans eating a hole in her house. Imagine, if you will, you found two children with a small chainsaw, cutting a hold into your home, and I imagine you’d have an idea how she felt. Also, she had no intention of eating them, as it happened Mrs. Graham was a strict vegan, and any indication that she was given to cannibalism was something made up by Hansel and Gretel’s parents in a desperate attempt to get their children out of trouble with the law.

It didn’t work—in fact, Hansel and Gretel were sent to juvenile detention, and their parents were sent to prison for failure to supervise their children, which the legal system deemed their fault for allowing a pair of ten year olds to wander aimlessly in the woods, and who bally well cares if that’s how their parents raised them? This is enlightened society, and if you don’t have a livestreaming camera on your child at all times, clearly you are a terrible parent.

As for Mrs. Graham, while it may be expected that she felt good about nosing into other people’s parenting practices and dropping the hammer on the ten year old beasts that damaged her home, she received an unpleasant surprise when the county condemned her house as being structurally unsound, and she was evicted, forced to watch as they demolished her house. As it happens, gingerbread was not an approved building material, and by her calling the police, she brought herself under the spotlight and got caught.


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