Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: Are You Sure Mr. Aesop?
By Veronica Winley
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Tortoise had won and everyone had cheered for the underdog. "Underdog" my great Aunt Fanny, Hare thought. They didn’t know the real Tortoise or his terrible buddies; sneaky, slow-moving, egg-laying criminals, every one.
Hare remembered the day he passed Tortoise on the road, after a day of fruitless foraging. He had stopped reluctantly when Tortoise called him because he was nothing, if not polite. Standing at a distance, he watched as Tortoise, moving as slowly as cold molasses, approached.
“How may I help you?” he asked.
Tortoise’s beady eyes gleamed. “I’m so glad you asked, Friend Hare.”
“Friend?” Hare said incredulously. “Since when?”
“Oh come now.” Tortoise gave a dry, scratchy chuckle. “We’ve had our differences but we’re neighbors after all.” He took one lumbering step forward, causing Hare to take two hops back. Tortoise shook his head in feigned sadness.
“I have a proposition for you.” He cocked his head to the side, looking at Hare slyly.
Hare waited, resisting the urge to hop away.
Encouraged, Tortoise said, “I’m proposing a race between us. The loser must raid the farmer’s garden and give the winner all he gets.”
Hare wanted to refuse, should have refused; even suspected there was a catch, but… The fields hadn’t yielded much lately and besides, everyone knew he was the fastest thing around. Remembering the farmer’s garden had lettuce, turnips, carrots and potatoes, his mouth started to water. Why not?
Tortoise watched Hare’s face with cunning amusement, knowing just what was going on in his mind.
They struck the deal and set the day, place and time.
Word spread quickly and on the day of the race, spectators lined the road. Hare was a loner and stood off by himself, while Tortoise and a few of his disreputable cronies milled around.
At the starting sound, Hare shot off as Tortoise began a slow shuffle forward.
You think you know the rest of the story, don’t you? Hare got so far ahead that he became cocky and stepped off the road to catch a nap, right? Well, you’re wrong -he was hijacked!
At one point, the road chosen (by Tortoise) had a sharp bend, out of sight of the spectators. A rope across the road, a knock on the head and the race was lost. When Hare came to and staggered to the finish line, everyone was chanting, “Slow but steady wins the race.” They looked at Hare with contempt when he tried to explain what happened.
Now he was on the run because he had reneged on the deal. The Tortoise clan had hired some baboons to “get” him and only his knowledge of the forest and some fancy zipping and dodging had saved him so far. His pursuers had strength, cunning and a reputation for violence; all Hare had was speed.
Crouching down at the base of the bush, Hare quietly mourned his greed and pride. What could he do now? He was exhausted.
Hearing the two baboons crashing through the treetops, he suddenly had an idea. It was dangerous, possibly even fatal, but if it worked, he was home free.
The Boon goons, looking down, spotted Hare and with a banshee yell, dropped to the ground and pounced. The smaller one picked up Hare’s limp body and vigorously shook it. Getting no response, he dropped it and turned to his brother.
“Whatsa matta with him?” he growled. His brother, angry that it took so long to catch Hare, gave him a vicious kick. When nothing happened, he picked him up and yanked on both ears. Still nothing. Frustrated, he flung him against a tree.
“Looks dead. Probably frightened him to death. Come on. Let’s tell the tortoises, ‘cause they owe us big time.” He sniggered maliciously. “They won’t care how he died.”
Hare waited until he was sure they were gone before gingerly raising himself to a sitting position. He was in agony all over, especially where he’d been kicked - but he was alive.
He decided to hole up until he healed and then visit his down country relatives for a while. However unlike hares, tortoises have small brains and short memories. He would return. Just you wait, Treacherous Tortoise, he thought, just you wait.
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