Public Domain Story Time: Little Red Riding Hood
Written By: Jeff
Glorious Artwork By: Joe

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Little Red Riding Hood. She lived with her mother in a house on the west side of a small village where she would spend most of her days playing at a ball field with the other children. Everyone in the village called her Little Red Riding Hood for she was always wearing a bright red hooded cloak given to her by her grandmother whom she loved very much.

One day during the early fall, Little Red Riding Hood's mother was busy in her kitchen preparing a gift basket while reading a sheet of paper. The content of this basket was an odd assortment of goodies such as a raw steak, a fresh fish and an open jar of honey with some cloth placed over the top to keep it covered. She then called for her daughter to see her by the front door as she held the basket and continued reading the paper.

"Yes, Mother?" said Little Red Riding Hood, with a glowing smile.

"Sweetie, how would you like to do a special favor for me today?"

"I'd be happy to, Mother", the little girl replied and happy indeed she was for Little Red Riding Hood loved nothing more than helping people and would never hesitate to do so.

"Wonderful", the mother said as she handed her daughter the basket. "All I need you to do is take these treats to your grandma. She's not feeling too well and I fear she's not long for this world so we need to take extra good care of her."

Little Red Riding Hood nodded in agreement and, as she put on her trademark cloak, her eyes caught a glimpse of the paper her mother had been reading. She slowly read the large printed words at the top of the page along with her name written below them.

"Ly-fa In-shur-ants", she said, trying to sound out the words. "What does that mean, Mother, and why is my name on it?"

A look of surprise crossed her mother's face as she quickly shoved the paper into her shirt while her mind raced for a response.

"Well, honey, what it means is that this paper will...ensure that you...have the best possible life a little girl could hope for!"

She stared at her daughter in silence before the girl shot her a smile for, you see, she was quite naïve when it came to noticing the lies of others. Breathing a sigh of relief, Little Red Riding Hood's mother opened the front door and motioned for the girl to head outside.

"You remember where Grandma's house is don't you?" asked the mother.

"How could I possibly forget, you send me there whenever we get a visit from the milkman, postman, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, mayor, sheriff, jailer, fire brigade..."

"Ok, that's enough", the mother interrupted, "You best be on your way, don't want to keep Grandma waiting."

"Aren't you coming with we me, Mother, it's been such a long time since you've seen Grandma."

"Sweetheart, if I wanted to see that decrepit bitch I would've asked the doctor to shove a wire up my crotch nine years ago instead of giving birth to you to deal with her for me." The child looked a bit puzzled by this but soon she began to giggle and smile.

"Oh, Mother, you say the funniest things", she replied, while lacing up her shoes then skipping to the front gate.

"All right, on your way and be sure to watch for bears, they're getting ready to hibernate soon and should be nice and friendly so do pet one should you get the chance."

"I will, Mother!" yelled Little Red Riding Hood as she followed the road out of the village and into the forest.

While walking along the road, Little Red Riding Hood gazed at all the wonderful colors and listened to the sounds of the many woodland critters. Birds sang as they flew overhead disappearing into the amber and red hue of the changing leaves. She hummed a small tune her grandma had taught her the year before and continued to stroll along until being startled by the sudden sound of snapping twigs.

"Who dat?" she asked, as a dark silhouette emerged between the trees and walked towards her, snapping more twigs with each step. "Come any closer and I'll yell rape!" she added, not knowing what that meant but she had heard her mother say it to chase away bill collectors.

The figure stopped in its tracks and, as a breeze came through the forest and shook the leaves, a beam of sunlight hit the dark wooded area to reveal a wolf. This wolf was larger than most with dark gray fur all over except for it's front right leg, which was all white. It stared at the girl and she stared back for what felt to them like hours until finally opening its mouth to speak.

"Easy there, sunshine'", it said in a raspy voice, "I‘m not looking for any trouble here."

"Trouble?" the girl replied, "I'm just going to my sick grandma's house to deliver this basket of food to her."

"Well then, why didn‘t you say so?" the wolf said while slowly circling the girl. "Instead of screaming, of all things, the "R" word, you could have simply said "Hello there, Mr. wolf, I'm going to my Grandmother's house, the poor woman is old and nearing death's door so I'm bringing her this basket of goodies to tide her over until she cashes in her bingo card.""

"I'm sorry", Red answered, grabbing the basket's handle tight. "It's just that you startled me a bit and Grandma always told me to watch out for wild animals."

"A wise woman she is too, that Granny, with all the dangerous creatures lurking around this forest." The wolf stopped pacing and stood in front of the girl. "Why, just the other day, I heard an elk had been killed by a stampede of wild horses, real shame, left behind three kids and a mortgage. Enough about that, though, I wouldn't want to keep you here while dear, sweet, loving Grandma is all alone wondering were, uh, what was your name?"

"Everybody calls me Little Red Riding Hood", the girl answered with a curtsy.

"Ah, like that thing you're wearing...cute." the wolf added, as it walked behind the girl and readied itself to pounce. "Well then, little lady, far be it from me to further slow you down as I‘m sure you‘ll want to be out of this forest by noon."

"Oh, I don‘t have to leave the forest", she said, causing the wolf to retract his claws and walk in front of her again, curious about what she had to say. "Grandma only lives about a mile from here in a beautiful little cottage on a small hill overlooking a pond surrounded by oak trees. It's easy to miss because the grass has grown over the path so I just head right at the dead maple tree down the road and keep going until I see it."

"I know where that is", the wolf thought, "I could beat her there easily, take out the old lady and then have myself a little red hamburger dinner. I'd better think of something to slow her down for a bit in case the old bat gives me any trouble."

"Mr. Wolf, are you all right?" asked Little Red Riding Hood, breaking the scheming mongrel's train of thought.

"Of course I am, buttercup, and I've got a great idea. Why don't you pick some flowers for your dear grandma? There's a whole field of them past those trees in all kinds of colors, yes sir, help yourself and make a dandy bouquet for your lovely granny.

"That's a wonderful idea!" the girl said as she smiled at the wolf then ran out into the field to gather flowers. As Little Red Riding Hood happily went about her business, she didn't see the wolf running down the road towards her grandma's house.

Meanwhile, at the small cottage, Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother was reevaluating her will when she heard a knock.

"Who is it?" the old woman asked, as she shuffled her way to the door.

"It's me, Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma", the voice answered, "I've brought you some bran muffins and Geritol because you're old'n stuff."

"HOT DIGGITY DAMN!" she yelled and swung the door open only to see the wolf on the other side giving her a hungry stare.

"Sorry to trick you like that, old woman, but I'm a bit hungry you see and I think you‘ll make a fine appetizer with your granddaughter as the main course, in you go now", the wolf calmly said and he swallowed the grandmother in one gulp. With that taken care of, the beast grabbed a nightgown from his victim's closet, tossed it on, then jumped into her bed to lay in wait for his next meal.

Unaware of what had just happened to her grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood happily continued picking flowers and singing to herself. With each flower she picked, she'd spot a much nicer one a few feet away and on and on until she had strayed far from view of the road. As she moved about, a faint banging noise grew louder and louder which she paid no mind to until the sound changed into one of breaking and suddenly, she was thrown off her feet as the world started spinning.

"Hey, kid, are you all right?" a voiced asked, shaking the girl.

Little Red Riding Hood, while still a bit dazed, nodded and then found herself being picked up by a tall bearded man and placed atop a downed tree that hadn't been there a moment ago.

"You gotta be more careful there, kid, you could've been killed." the man said as he picked up an axe and held it at his side. "Didn't you hear me cutting that tree down?"

"I'm sorry, I thought it was a woodpecker", the girl said, "Why did you cut this tree down anyway?"

"Cause it's my job, well, not really. I used to be a hunter until a few years ago but that‘s in the past and now I get paid to kill trees instead of animals."

"What happened, mister?" she asked, not knowing what to call the man.

"Rick, people call me Rick. Anyway, I used to be the best hunter out here, there wasn't anything I couldn't catch, kill and skin. Yep, made my living selling the hides to the village tailor who'd turn them into expensive clothes for the wealthy while I'd smoke the meat for myself and give some to a sweet old woman who lives in a cottage around here. Man, I tell you, she used to have this daughter that was just...WOW, you know, just thinking about her is enough to bring a man to his knees and thank the almighty. I remember one week during the end of summer about, oh, almost ten years ago now, we would go at it like rabbits from dusk til dawn. Yeah, she was always good for a quick 'pick me up' if you know what I mean but one day, the following winter, I went to pay her a visit and to my surprise she had a bit of gut on her. Now, I'll deal with a wild boar or mean grizzly any day of the week but if there's one thing 'ole Rick won't do, it's fat chicks."

Rick continued telling his story, using odd words and gestures that Little Red Riding Hood was unfamiliar with but nodding in agreement at any time that seemed appropriate. After a few hours passed the girl had learned everything she could want to know about the man along with a few extras such as the proper way to gut a pig and why orphans are the nations most abundant untapped fuel source. Soon she felt her eyes getting heavy as the cool breeze mixed with Rick's story made her tired until he said something which caught her attention.

"I just wish I could've have gotten that wolf before everything happened"

"What wolf?" she asked, now fully awake.

"A big one with dark gray fur except for his front right leg, that was white. I was hired to get his hide by the tailor so he could make it into a coat for the queen herself, even paid me half the money upfront. So, I manage to trap the wolf and, when I went in for the kill, it starts to speak. 'Before you kill me, good sir, would you be so kind as to give me a last meal?' it said. I couldn't believe it so I decided to hear him out and then we struck a deal, he'd get his last meal and, in return, I'd get his hide. Little did I know that while I was killing his dinner, he was freeing himself from my trap and once he finished his meal, the blasted thing ran off with it's tail in the air. My employer was none too happy, as one could expect, and called in the police saying I swindled him out of his money, which I returned, mind you. Long story short, I lost my hunting license and had to find the only other job an axe swinging man such as myself could do."

"That's the same wolf I saw before your tree fell on me," Little Red Riding Hood said while jumping off the tree. "I met him along the road while going to my grandma‘s house...oh no, I forgot about her."

"Saw that wolf around, did ya, I might have to take a look then, me'n him has got some unfinished business. I don't know where your grandma lives, but why don't you stop by that cottage I mentioned earlier and see if the old woman there can help you out, it's just a ways past that clearing."

Rick pointed Little Red Riding Hood in the direction of the clearing and she ran off with a quick wave. Once she was out of sight, he pulled a sharpening stone from his pocket then went to work preparing his axe for the next time he and the wolf would meet. It was about midday when the young girl finally reached her grandma's house and knocked on the front door.

"Who is it?" a voiced called out.

"It's me, Grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood, I've brought some..." her voiced trail off as she realized she had left her basket on the fallen tree.

"Come on in, cupcake, the door's open and I‘m just resting a bit in my bed" the voice said.

Little Red Riding Hood walked into the house and saw all the curtains were pulled, making it very dark inside. She told herself it was probably so her grandmother could get some rest without the sunlight keeping her awake and slowly made her way into the bedroom. Inside was a bed with its curtains semi-closed and her grandmother sitting up with the sheets pulled over most of her face.

"Hello, dear" her grandmother said, motioning with her hand. "Come closer so I can get a good look at you."

Little Red Riding Hood did as she was asked and moved closer to the bed. With each step, her grandmother's face began to look different than it usually did; almost swollen but, again, she told herself that it must be because of her illness.

"Grandma, what big eyes you have."

"The better to see you with, my dear."

"Grandma, what big ears you have."

"The better to hear you with, my dear"

"Grandma, what a big nose you have."

"Hey, you don't see me pointing out your problems here, do you?"

"Grandma, what big teeth you have."

"Yeah, these puppies can cut through a tin can, oh I mean, THE BETTER TO EAT YOU WITH, MY DEAR!"

With that, the wolf threw off its disguise and ate Little Red Riding Hood in a single gulp. Feeling mighty satisfied for what he had done, the wolf lay in bed until he was overcome with the Itis and entered a deep sleep.

Shortly afterwards, Rick, while tracking down the wolf, came upon the cottage and decided to find out if the old woman inside had seen it. He saw the front door had been left open and all the curtains drawn so he readied his axe and slowly made his way room to room until the sound of snoring filled the air. Too loud to be from an old woman, he followed the noise into the bedroom where a now pudgy wolf was sleeping.

"Hmm, either the wolf has eaten the old woman or she's sleeping inside it for warmth" Rick thought to himself, but just to be sure he pulled out his skinning knife and cut open it's stomach. To his surprise, he found not only the old woman, but also Little Red Riding Hood as well, both alive and with only minor emotional scarring. The two hugged and thanked their hero as he came up with a plan to put the wolf in its place.

"Uh, little girl" he said pointing to Little Red Riding Hood "I need you to go to the pond and gather as many stones as you can. As for you, old woman, ready a needle and thread so when the girl comes back, we'll fill the wolf's stomach with stones and then sew him up."

Both did as they were told, like women should, while Rick examined the wolf's hide admiring its sheen and thickness. "You would've made a great coat," he said with a sigh as Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother returned.

Quickly they filled its stomach and sealed it shut just as the wolf awakened from its nap and gazed at them from the bed. Laying its sights on the girl and her Grandmother, the wolf thought he was still dreaming and was about to close his eyes again until they caught a glimmer from the hunter's axe. Shocked at the sight of the person he had screwed years before, the wolf tried to leap off the bed but couldn't for there was a heavy weight where his dinner used to be. Unable to move, the wolf's only choice was to watch in horror as the hunter escorted the two ladies out of the house then returned with his shirt missing and humming a tune.

"Now I'm going to do to you what you did to me," Rick said to the wolf as he flipped it over the bed.

Outside near the pond, Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother were washing the wolf's blood from their clothes.

"What do you think he's going to do to the wolf, Grandma?" ask the girl.

"My guess would be kill and skin it like he used to do."

Suddenly, they heard yelling coming from inside the cottage, not from the hunter but from the wolf.

"Come any closer and I'll yell rape!" the creature cried, followed by a chorus of the word echoing throughout the land.

"Oh, dear lord" the grandmother said, placing her hand upon her forehead.

"Grandma," Little Red Riding Hood asked, "What does rape mean?"

"It means your grandma's gonna have to burn her bed, sweetheart."

A little while later, a smiling Rick emerged from the house smoking a pipe and carrying the wolf's hide. He made his way to the pond to tell the two his goodbyes before heading back into the forest.

"All done, that wolf isn't going to bother anyone ever again" he said, patting the hide around his shoulder. He bid them farewell and started down the trail before stopping. "Oh yeah, you forgot your basket at the tree, kid, but it was probably for the best. A couple minutes after you left, a bear showed up and ran straight at it. There must've been something inside that it really wanted, likely would‘ve tore your face off to get to it. Anyway, I‘m off, see you around and good luck getting to your grandma‘s house, kid."

"My word," the Grandmother said, "Just what were you bringing me, child?"

"I don't know, Mother packed it all before I left. She said you were sick and it would help you feel better."

The grandmother held her head down at the realization that her daughter had tried to get her own child killed. She didn't know the reason why but placed the blame on her own heavy drinking during her pregnancy.

"Well, help me move my bed outside so we can start a fire, then I'll make us dinner and tomorrow morning we'll go pay child services a visit."

"I love you, Grandma." Little Red Riding Hood said with a bright smile as she skipped up the hill and into the house.

"I think you're all right too."

The End.

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