Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)
TITLE: Basket Case
By Gregory Kane
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Ket wasn’t his real name. His older brother had coined the nickname, short for ‘basket case’, and it had stuck. Mind you, the young woman had an unusual name of her own. She had been accompanied the day before by a gaggle of laughing, jostling girls - presumably her younger sisters or cousins. Ket had strained his ears to make out the name of the eldest. Among all the shouting and tomfoolery, they seemed to refer to her as Zip. Must be short for something, but what?
He cast another curious glance at the woman. She was alone by the well. A dozen scrawny goats were shoving one another, anxious for the water pail to be filled. A cloud of dust hung in the distance, heralding the later arrival of the rest of the flocks. Ket couldn’t quite fathom the reason for his fascination with this girl. She was shapely enough, but not exactly what you would call a looker. Ket had been out with plenty of girls in the past. It was fun to hold a girl in your arms and kiss her until it hurt. But he found that so many were shallow and self-absorbed. Besides, if he was honest, most of them were more interested in who his older brother was than in any of Ket’s virtues or good looks. But there was something about the dark-haired stranger that he couldn’t put his finger on, something about the way her eyes sparkled when she laughed…
Ket didn’t see where the three men came from. One moment the girl was all alone, the next she was being surrounded. Ket saw her glance behind at the approaching dust cloud, saw her face fall when she realised how very alone she was. It was when the tallest of the men grabbed hold of the woman’s dress that Ket knew that he simply had to act. Picking up his staff, he threw himself down the grassy incline. A well-aimed blow to the back of the head brought down the first attacker. The second man jumped to one side but Ket took his legs from under him with a powerful sweep of his staff, followed by a satisfyingly noisy kick that must have cracked several ribs. The remaining assailant recovered quickly, wrenching a wickedly curved blade from under his belt. But then he hesitated - looking in horror at his two fallen comrades - before taking the measure of the young man before him. Did the stranger have it in him to take down a knife-man with only a stick of wood? Ket stepped forward and the man’s nerve broke - turning tail, he ran for his life.
“I suppose you expect me to say that I am grateful to be rescued.”
Ket blinked in surprise. The woman’s folded arms and stern expression belied the gratitude in her eyes.
“Don’t think that I didn’t know that you were there,” she said, a smile transfiguring her beautiful lips. “I have been watching you for the past three days, wondering when you were going to show yourself.”
Ket found himself lost for words. She was a good deal more attractive than he had first supposed. But it was the fire in her spirit had beguiled him so completely.
“Well? Are you going to tell me your name or do you propose to stand there all day looking like a lopsided scarecrow? I suppose that I ought to bring you home and let my family see the face of my rescuer. Besides, you look like you could do with a good meal. My name is Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel. And you are?”
“I am called Ket,” he began. “I mean, that is to say, that’s only my nickname. I’m Egyptian. My name is Moses.”
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