Dailypost came up with the following challenge a couple of weeks ago: “Change the end of any famous story, true or fiction”.
First I wanted to change A Christmas Carol by Dickens, but after changing the last chapter I came to the conclusion that I would have to change the whole story. Something I’m still working on and that has proven more difficult than expected. That’s why I’m posting Hansel and Gretel now and A Christmas Carol as soon as it is finished.
Once upon a time there lived a family in a far, far away land. There was a mother, a father and two children, Hansel and Gretel.
In the beginning of their marriage Mother and Father had been very happy, they loved each other deeply and lived a simple but good and fulfilling life.
All this changed however with the birth of their twin children Hansel and Gretel. These children wouldn’t only give their parents but a moments rest but it soon became clear that Hansel and Gretel would rather suck the love and life out of their parents than do anything productive or to complement this once happy family.
After years of struggling to shape the children’s characters into at least something half way decent, Mother and Father made a decision. Rather than having their lives destroyed, they would send the children away.
It was a fine day when Father conceded, after much pleading from Hansel and Gretel, in taking them to the amusement park (why would kids nowadays want to go for a walk in the woods?).
This trip would finish the last of their savings, but Mother whispered in Father’s ear that this would be “a great opportunity for the children to get out and about, some fresh air would do them a world of good”. So in the half broken down car they went on their way. The park was a long way away, through the forest, cross the lake, then along the hight-way and during the whole trip Hansel and Gretel didn’t stop screaming and bouncing around for even a second. They wanted ice cream, Macdonald’s, KFC, and a progress update\arrival confirmation every two minutes, kicking the chairs when their queries went unacknowledged.
By the time they finally arrived Mother and Father were exhausted, it had been a nerve wrecking journey, not only for the children’s activities but also because of the prospect of abandoning their offspring however evil they might be.
As soon as the car was parked Hansel and Gretel bolted out toward the entrance and of course the parents, not over eagerly (for this may have appeared suspicious), forked out the entrance fee, cheap only in comparison to a lifetime of broken bones, new clothes and suchlike. In the park the children wanted everything: every ride, all the food, every single toy had to be theirs.
While standing in line for a roller coaster ride Mother and Father exchanged a significant look: it was time, now or never for they’d lose their courage. They told the children to go ahead, mummy and daddy would wait on that bench over there. Hansel and Gretel couldn’t care less. Mother and Father sat on the bench and watched their children get on the roller coaster, then they got up and slinked out of the park. The ride home was a silent one and while shame and grief washed over them, there was something else: relief. This was the first time in years they shared the passing minutes in silence. And how long had it been since they kissed, since they’d lean together becoming one in a fury of passion? Neither of them remembered even…
Meanwhile the children felt a same relief although they weren’t able to figure why, nor did they care.
They hardly even noticed their parents weren’t sitting on that bench over there.
They ran around from ride to ride being their usual rude selves, pushing and cutting in line everywhere they could.
As the evening fell the children started to feel hungry and while other visitors started leaving, Hansel and Gretel finally missed their parents for a while. That is not to say they felt a longing for their loving company but rather a longing for food, and something to fight of the oncoming chill of the evening. They had already spent the money they had stolen from their parents and now they wanted hamburgers! So they started through the park in search of their parents, but as the park was getting silent they were nowhere to be found.
“They have abandoned us, Gretel” said Hansel.
“Yes, they have. But why, brother? I don’t understand!”
Hansel looked down to Gretel and sighed, “don’t you know our parents hate us? But don’t worry, little sister, we’re going home and make them sorry for ever leaving us!”
On their way they went, walking all the way home. By the time they reached the lake it was near mid night and they were very tired. Hansel and Gretel curled up together under some bushes and thinking of revenge they drifted off into sleep.
They woke to the sound of the ferry early next morning. And since they didn’t have any money left, they snuck on board.
On the other side of the lake the forest stretched out for miles. Cursing their parents for making their home on such a remote location, they decided to cut right through the woods instead of following the winding road.
As the evening fell the children were well on their way through the forest but without light they could go no further. Tired and very hungry they went to sleep.
In the morning Hansel and Gretel pushed their way further and further into the forest while, without realising it, getting themselves more and more lost.
Around mid day the children stumbled upon a clearing and what they saw made their little hearts leap. In the centre stood a cottage build of ginger bread and cakes with window panes of clear sugar. Hungry and tired Hansel and Gretel started eating the rooftop of the candy house, when the door opened and an old woman came out. “Dear children, stop eating my house and come inside. I will fill your tummies with better food than you’ve ever even set eyes on. Then, when you’re full, I’ll make you a bed so you can sleep the sweetest sleep you ever slept”.
Without another thought the children (Hansel still munching on a candy cobblestone) followed the old woman into her house.
They ate until they could eat no more and lay their heads on the cotton candy beds the woman had prepared. They could hardly believe their luck as they dozed, waking occasionally to chew some more of the lining from their pillows before eventually falling into the deepest of sleeps.
But waking up, there was a less happy surprise awaiting them.
Iron-toffee composite bars surrounded them on all sides and no longer were they in the cosy little bedroom, but in the cold and damp cellar under the house. For the first time during their adventure fear crept into their hearts.
The old woman stepped from the from the shadows, “first I thought to sell you, but I don’t think you two are well suited to serve or pleasure anyone but yourselves whilst alive”.
Hansel and Gretel started screaming and shouting using every profanity they knew to give power to their words.
“Bah! What foul mouths you are,” the woman said, “but it proves my point all right”, and with that she left.
Not much later she returned with plates laden with food and the children, not able to show any restraint, ate everything, even the plates. And so several weeks went by during which Hansel and Gretel grew fat and comfortable forgetting their dangerous circumstances. This wasn’t so bad they thought. Having no imagination what so ever they could not figure the reason for all the feasting and the regular weight checks the old woman gave them. All they thought was that ever it was they were doing, they were doing it well because after the last check the woman was very pleased.
The hag came down again carrying a huge cake, “here you go, children,” she said, setting the plate down in front of them, “enjoy your last meal”.
But Hansel and Gretel didn’t hear her, focussing all their attention on devouring the cake. Halfway through their feast they started to feel drowsy, “what’s going on?” Gretel asked Hansel, but before he could answer they were both fast asleep.
The witch who had been standing in the shadows, waiting, stepped forward with a satisfied smile on her face. “These must be the two stupidest children I have ever encountered”, she muttered opening the cage. She bent over Hansel and slit his throat, then it was Gretel’s turn.
The blood flowed away in the drain while the woman cut the children into pieces, dividing portions in zip lock bags which then disappeared in the big freezer in the corner.
“Children, it seems you’ve finally done someone a service! It looks like I have enough of you to last me a year!”
Thanks to my editor, The Boyfriend! He also added the cotton candy beds and the iron-toffee composite bars (personally I think only the outside of the cottage is made of candy and ginger bread…)