Back in college, we had an exercise in English class called Tall Tales, whose rule was to invent an alternate climax to any popular story, as far as our imaginations took us. I chose The Hare and the Tortoise after a few wheels spun in my head and produced my composition, the revised edition of which I wished to share with my readers.
To refresh the tale, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race after he witnesses him bragging about his speed. The proud hare deliberately stops a few feet away from the finishing line and takes a nap, deciding to rub his victory in the tortoise’s face when he catches up. He eventually dozes off and jerks awake in horror to see the tortoise holding the trophy.
My Tall Tale:
The hare ran at top speed, exultant and imperious. Looking over his furry shoulder as he whizzed through the lane, he cackled. The tortoise would never catch him. The foolish little better would be struggling to take his third step by the time he crosses the finishing line. What was the stupid shelled slowcoach thinking anyway? In which part of his wishful brain did he imagine he could ever beat him, the speed king, at a race? He was built for speed!
Flashing a wide buck-toothed smile at himself, he hoped the silly animal had thought to have a large meal before the whistle was blown. There was no way he was reaching the line before the sun went down –
His velocity got the better of his small distraction and sent him flying over the edge and tumbling into the pond. The chilly water froze into his fur.
‘Oh dear, oh dear!’ he cried out as he surfaced. ‘I’m freezing to death!’
He kicked and paddled with his abnormally large feet towards the bank but froze when he felt something jump on him.
‘Hey!’ he said.
Rolling his eyes upward, he found a bright green frog perched on top of his head, happily eating a fly and croaking wetly.
The hare groaned in annoyance. ‘Get off, you disgusting animal!’
The frog ignored him.
‘Ouch!’ the hare cried out as something nipped the soles of his paws. Paying no more attention to the frog that refused to budge, he made a beeline for the shore. Once he fell on the sand, he inspected his paws. They didn’t seem to be in bad shape. He could still win this race.
A series of splashes later, something small and shiny leapt out of the water and bit him on the nose.
‘Yeow!’ he shouted. It was a fish with sharp teeth. ‘Bad fish!’
The fish stuck out its tongue and the frog hopped off his head, bounced off his nose, and dived into the pond. The hare breathed heavily, still shivering, and heard some voices from behind. He looked over his shoulder and saw Mr Squirrel and Mr Bird.
Mr Squirrel gave a shout of horror. ‘The hare is injured! He must be hospitalised! Ambulance!’
Before the hare could protest, Mr Bird let out a loud squawk and two chipmunks instantly rushed over with a long piece of vertically cut log. Ignoring the hare’s pleas, the chipmunks hauled the poor creature off the ground and dumped him onto the stretcher.
‘Let-me-go!’ the hare struggled against the chipmunks’ grips.
Meanwhile, Mr Bird started flying ahead, screeching, ‘Emergency! Emergency!’
The forest doctors, two giggling monkeys, rushed forward, took the stretcher and dashed into the hollow of a tree. The other animals followed in. Some were in tears. Once the hare was set down, the monkeys started to apply weird looking liquids, moss and moist mud to the faint scratches. Nobody gave an ear to the hare, who was repeatedly yelling he was all right and that he needed to finish the race.
The chipmunks were assisted by two other monkeys to hold him down.
‘I am afraid you are not fit to race today, Mr Hare,’ said one of the doctors. ‘This will not do. We need to keep you here for the rest of the night. Eat a hundred bananas too.’
‘What?’ the hare shouted, terrified, and he successfully kicked the two monkeys off him before jumping out of range. He ran as fast as he could towards the race lane, spattering mud everywhere, and as he victoriously leapt over the finishing line, he crashed into the tortoise and the trophy he’d just been awarded with.
The hare turned pale once they were upright.
‘When did you –? How did –? What?’ he stammered.
And he fainted, allowing the chipmunks to take him back to the hospital again.