29 comments

Nov 07, 2020

Fantasy

The crowd cheered as Theodore and Harry stood at the starting line. The tortoise watched the hare bounce from foot to foot, his ears flopping with every jump.

“Show off,” muttered Theodore.

“Come again?” asked Harry. He cartwheeled over Theordore and the crowd cheered louder.

“READY?” shouted the announcer, Mayor Squire the squirrel. He stood on a small stage to the side, microphone in paw.

The crowd screamed and stomped their feet. Bleachers lined the track for at least a hundred feet until the track faded into the forest at the edge of town.

Theodore cringed at the cheering.

“SET?”

“Still happy about that bet?” hissed Harry over the noise of the crowd.

Theodore groaned. Really, he didn’t know what had gotten into him. But what was a tortoise to do when his opponent challenged him?

“I can outrun Hare in any election!” he said in the first debate of the City Council election. Theordore was running against Harry, the incumbent Councilmember for District 3.

“But you can’t even outrun a snail!” taunted Harry, running in circles around Theordore on that debate stage.

The crowd laughed.

“I can outrun you any day of the week, Harry,” snarled Theodore.

“Prove it,” said Harry.

And two days later, they ended up at the starting line.

“GO!”

Harry shot off, leaving Theodore to cough on his dust.

“Go Dad, go!” shouted a high voice to his left. Theodore slowly turned his head and nodded at his daughter, Trish. 

“Right you are, sweetheart.” His smile at his daughter faded to a grimace when he met his wife’s eyes.

“You can do this, Tortoise,” said Tanya. “Stop psyching yourself out. Go!”

And, with his wife and daughter’s love at his side, Theordore slowly stepped over the starting line.

Theodore grunted as he trudged along the dusty track, trying and failing to ignore the big pawprints in the dirt. He gritted his teeth; he could only see a small dot in the distance where Harry ran.

But he walked on, his head held high, until he entered the forest and the audience voices disappeared.

“Stupid rodent,” he muttered under his breath. He sighed and hung his head.

“Hare got you down?” murmured a voice to his right.

Theordore froze, swinging his head to the side. There was no one within the trees. “Who’s there?” he asked, his voice wavering.

A fox wearing a small backpack padded out from behind a raspberry bush and sat on his haunches in front of Theodore. He lifted a paw to his snout and licked it.

“Finley Foxington, at your service,” said the fox, bowing his head.

“Er--Theodore Tortega, District 3 Councilmember,” said Theodore. He tilted his head at the newcomer. “Can..can I help you?”

“A better question: can I help you?” The fox bounded to his feet and pranced around Theordore, sniffing noisily.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re losing, yes?”

“I--well,” sputtered Theodore. “I could be doing better, I suppose.”

“You could be doing much better.”

“Excuse you, sir, but I’m--”

“You could be doing much better, with this.” Finley ripped open his backpack with his teeth and pulled out a small vial full of liquid.

“What is that?” asked Theordore. He swiveled his head around, suddenly nervous. He didn’t like the look of the liquid; it was a bright, neon blue, something he’d never seen before.

“A winner, that’s what it is,” murmured Finley. “You’ll win in no time with this. Blue Mushroom Sap.”

“Blue mushroom sap…” Theordore narrowed his eyes. “I’ve heard of that, somewhere.” He gasped. “Are you trying to drug me? Are you insane? I’m a Councilmember, I have to report this!”

Tortoise turned around to yell before Fox sidled up next to him and whispered in his ear, “Are you sure? The race won’t be the only thing you’ll lose.”

Tortoise froze and snapped his mouth shut. “What do you mean?” he asked, turning to the fox.

Finley lay down, crossing his paws. “Who would vote for an animal so slow he can run one lap in the time it takes his opponent to run ten?”

“Speed has nothing to do with politics.”

“No, but it has everything to do with pride.”

Theodore glared at Finley.

Finley grinned. “Am I wrong, tortoise?”

Tortoise opened his mouth and closed it just as fast.

I’d like to say that Theodore refused the drug and held his head high as he walked determinedly to the finish line. I’d like to say that he smiled as he passed Harry, who had decided to take a nap against an apple tree near the end of the track. I’d like to say that Theodore Tortega won the Councilmember seat for District 3 and went on to become the mayor in the next year, because everyone just couldn’t get enough of him

But, dear reader, Theordore was a politician. More importantly, he was an animal, and all animals made mistakes.

Theodore swallowed the liquid, not seeing the sparrow reporter crouched in the tree above, who flew to the news office immediately to type up the story. He widened his eyes as he felt it--the speed course through his body. His very blood felt electric, and he cried out in victory as he ran toward the finish line.

The fox grinned and slinked back into the forest, never to be seen by Theodore again.

He didn’t even see Harry snoozing near the finish line; he sprinted right past him to the surprised cheers of the crowd awaiting him.

“I’ve never seen a tortoise run that fast!” the mayor shouted into the microphone.

Theodore Tortega won the race. He did not lose the election; in fact, he was so disgraced from the news story released the next day, that he dropped out of the running. He faced an intervention only a year later for his steroid addiction. His wife divorced him not long after and received full custody of Trish.

The end.

This story is from the collection Modern Fables: Realistic Morals for the 21st Century.

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29 comments

Leilani Lane
03:40 Nov 07, 2020

Rushing a bit to meet the deadline, can edit more soon. Well this was just approved so can’t edit, sorry guys!

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Gip Roberts
21:31 Nov 13, 2020

The sparrow sitting in the tree listening as a symbol of the classic nosy reporter was very inventive, as was the twist on the ending of this fable. It gave me one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments. Good job :)

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Leilani Lane
22:49 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you so much, Gip! :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:24 Nov 10, 2020

LOVE this. Any story that takes a children’s tale and twists it into something hilariously adult is a win in my book. And you have a short story collection?? 😮 If all of them look like this I’m more than happy to check it out!

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Leilani Lane
01:04 Nov 12, 2020

Thank you so much!!! And the collection is more of an idea...but if there are prompts that suit more stories like this I'd love to write them! :)

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Stephen Closson
09:29 Nov 07, 2020

Omg, this was such a cool take on the 'The Tortoise and the Hare' fable! I know this isn't a super critique-y review, but I just have to say I friggin' love this. The witty dialogue, the character names, that abrupt, brilliant ending, the whole kit and caboodle was absolutely hilarious. I hope you release that collection soon, I'll be sure to buy a copy!

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Leilani Lane
14:24 Nov 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Stephen!! I would definitely love to continue this collection with other fables. :) I wish I could edit this more, it was already accepting gr!

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hahahhaahaha Good job! Why did he take it....

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Leilani Lane
22:49 Nov 18, 2020

I know right?? Thank you for reading!!

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Lourenço Amorim
15:16 Nov 13, 2020

Nice recreation of the fable, very optimist may I say. I like your writing style.

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Leilani Lane
15:20 Nov 13, 2020

Thank you! :)

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Lina Ozz
04:34 Nov 12, 2020

Okay I have to ask because I'm dying to know: IS THIS INSPIRED BY COMPOUND V FROM THE BOYS? This story is AWESOME. An amazing twist to a traditional story (and a modern one). So cool! And hilarious. Awesome work.

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Leilani Lane
22:50 Nov 18, 2020

Omg it is not!!! It's just a generic steroid drug I guess XD But I LOVE THE BOYS!!! Thank you so much!

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Molly Leasure
20:30 Nov 10, 2020

I love the narrator's voice. It killed me at the end when he decided to just squash our hopes right then and there. What a sassy narrator indeed. And that little aside about politicians and how they aren't very moral, oof, all too realistic. And I love the names. It actually helped me a lot to keep track of the different animals because their names all started with the same letter of the type of animal they were. But I think Finley is by far my favorite of their names. Finley Foxington. What a glorious renown a name like that could have...Fo...

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Leilani Lane
01:05 Nov 12, 2020

Oh my gosh, I didn't even realize I did both Foxington and Chaddington LOL. Thank you so much, Molly, as always!!! I have totally slacked in replying to all your comments, life is TOO DANG BUSY UGH. Catching up now!!

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Molly Leasure
22:11 Nov 13, 2020

HAHAHA well, I like both of them ;). Don't worry about it! I think everyone is pretty busy this month! Too much to think about for us writers...!

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Claire Lewis
00:55 Nov 10, 2020

I can't decide what my favorite thing is about this but I love the modern twist on the old story, the names of your characters are so charming and perfect, and the tone throughout was just spot on! I thought the choice to have Theodore do the wrong thing was really smart, as was the decision for him to be a politician- very apropos.

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Leilani Lane
01:05 Nov 12, 2020

Thank you so much, Claire!! I still need to check out your new stories ahhhh!!!

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Claire Lewis
04:27 Nov 12, 2020

No worries, friend! It’s been a busy month, I’m very behind on reading and slowly trying to catch up, so I feel you. Hope you are well! 😊

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Regina Perry
07:16 Nov 08, 2020

I love retold tales with new endings, and this one is no different. As soon as I saw the fox enter the scene, my every instinct was screaming. Never trust a fox! I thought at first it was going to be a gingerbread-type situation where the fox offers the tortoise a ride and then eats him.

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Leilani Lane
14:25 Nov 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Regina! Haha I love your version too! :D I definitely want to take a bunch of fairy tales and make them modern sometime!

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Regina Perry
15:42 Nov 08, 2020

You're welcome. Yeah, me too. I have this idea for sleeping beauty where the prince is leaning over the princess, about to kiss her to wake her up, and she slaps him and mumbles, "five more minutes!" much the way you would an alarm clock.

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Leilani Lane
15:53 Nov 08, 2020

Oh my gosh, PLEASE write that, that's amazing!! Would be a fantastic comedy :)

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Aisa M
11:13 Nov 07, 2020

This is a creative take on this prompt! Well done!

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Leilani Lane
14:25 Nov 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Aisa! :)

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Mango Chutney
20:41 Feb 13, 2021

Wow.. Love your writing style. Very well written. Enjoyed your story :)

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The realistic twist on the classic children's tale is thrilling.

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Prathamesh Chavan
13:46 Nov 10, 2020

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