Prompt: Twist the Little Red Riding Hood story, spinning it from the threads that interest you, into a new variant of the old tale.
Little Ruddy Bus Rider
“Ruddy, hurry, it is almost time for the bus!,” Mom shouted from downstairs. Ruddy tossed his Nintendo Switch onto his beanbag chair and reached for his uniform shirt. He groaned as he put it on. The school colors, burgundy and gold, clashed with his bright red hair. He hated wearing that shirt. Ruddy threw his bookbag over his shoulder and ran down the stairs. He saw the bus enter the neighborhood and rushed up the street to his stop.
Every morning, he sat next to Abby on the bus. He was the only boy whose assigned seat was next to a girl, but he didn’t mind. She was two years older than him and every time one of the fifth graders made fun of him, she would defend him. The bus ride was fifteen minutes long. Usually, Abby and Ruddy would play “hot shot”, a game where you claim the cars you want as they pass by. Abby liked the big trucks and SUV’s. She said she wanted lots of space to carry her musical instruments and art supplies. Ruddy liked the slingshots and motorcycles best. They both tried to call “hot shot” whenever they saw a Tesla because the doors opened up like wings.
This morning, when Ruddy stepped onto the bus, he heard someone laughing in the back. He sat down next to Abby and asked her what was going on. Apparently, a couple boys were watching an inappropriate video in the back of the bus. The boy with the dyed pink hair moved from seat to seat, showing the video to all the kids, until the bus driver caught on, stopped the bus, and rearranged the assigned seats. From his new assigned seat, Ruddy counted three Teslas that he wouldn’t get to claim because he’d been separated from Abby.
Ruddy walked across the bus lot and into the back entrance of the school building. He walked his usual route up the stairs, down past the library, and toward his class. At the water fountains, just before the turn to the third grade hall, Ruddy heard a low voice say, “Rudolph Blaze Garnet, I need to speak with you.” Wide eyed, Ruddy looked up to see a tall man with big shoulders. He was wearing big black boots, dark pants, and a dark shirt. There was a heavy belt around his waist and a gold shield on his chest. On the shield was a name, Officer Devland.
Scowling, Officer Devland asked Ruddy about the incident on the bus. Eager to get away quickly, Ruddy nervously explained what happened. Officer Devland glared at Ruddy for a long time and then dismissed him to class. Ruddy felt a sense of relief when he got to his desk. As the first bell rang, he pinched off a small bite of the granola bar his mom had packed him.
By lunchtime, Ruddy was ready to eat. He headed to the cafeteria with his class, waited in line to buy his milk, and sat down at the lunch table. Lunch was the best time of the day. He loved trading snacks with his friends. Two seats down from him, he saw his friend unpack the best snack of all, Chocolate pudding. Ruddy would give up oreos for a chance at chocolate pudding. Just as he was about to make the exchange, a voice came from the front of the cafeteria.
“Third Graders,” announced Principle Daft, “I would like to introduce you to Officer Devland. Officer Devland is the new school resource officer. Please give him your undivided attention.” Officer Devland’s low voice boomed throughout the cafeteria. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a dangerous incident occurred on a bus this morning. A young man with reddish hair was seen moving from seat to seat while the bus was in motion. There are reports of inappropriate videos being shared with other children.” Officer Devland went on, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a serious offense. Risking the safety of fellow students could cost lives. If you are caught causing a dangerous incident on a school bus, you could go to jail.”
Officer Devland fixed his eyes on Ruddy. Everyone began to turn their heads to see who it was that Officer Devland was staring at. Ruddy could hear others starting to whisper, “Was it Ruddy? Did Ruddy do it? Oh, it was Ruddy!” Officer Devland’s ears seemed to perk up, “What’s that I hear? It was Ruddy? Come with Me!”
Before Ruddy could say anything, Officer Devland yanked up Ruddy by his armpits and pushed him down the hall. In the principle’s office, Officer Devland growled, “Rudolph Blaze Garnet.” Ruddy shuddered. No one called him by his formal name. “Mr. Garnet, You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Ruddy showed mom his inked finger tips when she got to the police station. He started to explain to her what happened. She quickly shooshed him and gently put her arm around him as they walked to the car. In the quiet of the car, she turned to him and said, “Ruddy, we can’t talk about what happened inside the police station. The wolves will hear. They are watching. It’s just you and me in here. Tell me what happened.”