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LJ Idol Topic #26a: Turtles All The Way Down

May 19th, 2011 (01:10 am)

There was once a mighty river.

Turtle spent his days happily crossing the river. But Scorpion could not, for he was made for stinging, not swimming.

He said, "Turtle, oh Turtle, will you carry me on your back?"

"What?" asked Turtle. "Do I look stupid to you? You will sting me, and I will drown!"

"I wouldn't!" said Scorpion. "If I sting you, then BOTH of us will drown!"

So Turtle considered, and agreed to let Scorpion ride on his back. But when they were halfway across the great river, Scorpion stung Turtle very fiercely.

"Why have you done this?" asked Turtle. "Now we shall both drown!"

"I could not help it," answered Scorpion. "It is in my nature."

"I thought it was a frog," I said. "Frog and Scorpion. It's the story from The Crying Game. And Mr. Arkadin. It's a frog."

"It is a frog, sometimes," said my father. "And sometimes, it's a fox. But if you go back the farthest, to the earliest version of the story, the Sanskrit version of the story, it's a turtle."

"It doesn't make sense," I pointed out. "If it's a turtle, how does the scorpion sting it, anyway? It has a shell."

"Ah," answered my father, his eyes twinkling. "Well, you see, they only tell you half the story."

My own eyes narrowed. "This isn't one of your made-up stories, is it?"

"Oh, no," said my father. "I didn't make this one up."

You see, it was in Scorpion's nature to sting Turtle, but like everyone who cannot help what he does, he instantly regretted it. So he called to Eagle, who was flying high in the sky.

"Why should I help you?" asked Eagle. "You, who stings my eaglets."

"I'm reforming," said Scorpion. "Please! Please help. If you do not help, I will surely drown."

"And wouldn't that be a boon to us all?" asked Eagle. "You do nothing good for anyone."

"But Turtle will die with me!" pointed out Scorpion.

Now, it was just at this moment, that Rabbit came hopping along. Remember Rabbit? It had not been a week since Rabbit had challenged Turtle to a race, and he was still feeling the sting from losing to the slowest creature in the animal kingdom.

"If I save you," he called to the drowning animals. "Will Turtle agree to a rematch?"

Turtle, of course, was reeling from the venom of Scorpion's sting. "Yes, yes, of course!" answered Scorpion, hoping Turtle would forgive him later. "Anything, so long as you pull us from this terrible coursing river before we drown."

Now, Rabbit could not swim. But as he was very practiced in hypocrisy, he also was very quick to point it out in other people-- or, as it were, animals. "Eagle!" he called to Eagle. "How can you fault Scorpion? You have plucked more than one of my kits, and you are complaining because Scorpion here has stung a few egglets?"

"Eaglets!" corrected Eagle.

"Who cares?" Rabbit replied, shrugging blithely. "Come down here and rescue them! You should be ashamed of yourself. I'll tell your wife on you!"

Well, there was little in the forest that could threaten Eagle more, so, grudgingly, Eagle flew down to rescue the two drowning animals, and lay them gently on the side of the bank.

"And now!" said Rabbit. "In return for my brave rescue--"

"Whose brave rescue?" demanded Eagle.

"As I was saying, in return for my brave rescue, I demand a rematch."

But it was quite clear that Turtle was still dazed from the poison, even if it would not kill him, and was in no shape for a rematch.

Scorpion was mightily tempted to sting everyone, because, love it or hate it, he was a creature who stung things, but recognizing that it was stinging that had gotten him into this mess in the first place, he very valiantly put up an effort not to sting anything at all.

"As I am to blame for our need of rescue, and as I am now a reformed Scorpion," said Scorpion, "I shall offer to run in Turtle's place, for the glory of Turtle's name."

Rabbit looked Scorpion up and down, considering. "You're one of those scuttley critters, aren't you?" he asked.

"Why, yes," said Scorpion. "And I am very proud of my scuttle. You shall find no better scuttle in the animal kingdom."

Rabbit nodded in agreement. "Very well," said Rabbit. "Name the time and place."

So Scorpion named it, and then they all went to see that Turtle would not die from the poison.

The next day, they met at the appointed time and place, and Scorpion and Rabbit lined up at the starting line.

Turtle was much better, and so they asked him to call the race.

"On your mark!" said Turtle, and the two racers took their places.

"Get set!" said Turtle. Rabbit made a very big show of stretching his long haunches. But Scorpion didn't really have much to stretch.

"Go!" said Turtle.

And Scorpion promptly stung Rabbit.

"Sorry!" said Scorpion. "I'm...you know. I'm trying!"


Posted by: Lost in time and inner space... (serpentpixie)
Posted at: May 19th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)

Hahahaha, AWESOME.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)


Posted by: here i am in my bucket today (hellboy)
Posted at: May 19th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
i felt a funeral in my brain

HA. Okay, that was awesome and hilarious and all things wonderful! Poor Scorpion, he's trying so haaarrrrrrrd D:

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)


Posted by: horosha (horosha)
Posted at: May 19th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)

I laughed out loud.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)

Yay, hooray, thanks!

Posted by: Grey (beautyofgrey)
Posted at: May 19th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)

*laughing* This is MARVELOUS! ♥

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: Myrna (myrna_bird)
Posted at: May 19th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)

This was terrific.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)


Posted by: m strobel (mstrobel)
Posted at: May 20th, 2011 10:20 am (UTC)

*giggles* Scorpion certainly is very trying! I thoroughly enjoyed this, not just the tale itself but the fact that it was a story within a story and I love that kind of thing!

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)

I like that kind of thing, too! I'm not even sure why I wrote it that way; I guess I felt like the comic needed a segue.

Posted by: Kristen (pixiebelle)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)

I always kinda liked the original folktale as it is...

And you went and made it all kinds of AWESOME and I seriously giggled a lot while reading this!

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)

Hee, thanks! And yeah, it's one of my favorites. When I was in high school, I always wore a scorpion bracelet because of it.

Posted by: Amenquohi (amenquohi)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)

Fabulous ending - I loved it!

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: basric (basric)
Posted at: May 24th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)

I enjoyed it.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)


Posted by: Aleph (alephz)
Posted at: May 24th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)

At first it was just one of my favourite folktales (though I knew the fox version best). Adding on the last bits of text made it an even better entry.

Eat it, Rabbit. You smug prick.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)

Poor Rabbit! He can't help being a smug prick, it's in his nature.

Posted by: Joey Tiberius Michaels (joeymichaels)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 10:01 am (UTC)

This story was retold in Fables a year or two back with a fun alternate ending which I won't reveal.

I love how you told it and illustrated it. The Scorpion looks so friendly and helpless. He didn't want to do it, he just had to.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)

Oooh, I haven't read that far in Fables.

And thanks! Yeah, I wanted to make Scorpion look sweet and cute and stuff, to get across the whole point that he's what he is and it's not about good versus evil or betrayal or anything. He's not bad, he's just drawn that way!

Posted by: hours in the rain (nyxocity)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)

:D It's his nature, after all.

Posted by: the_vernacular (the_vernacular)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)

It is!

Posted by: This here is my juke joint. (wyliekat)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)

This is totally awesome. I love the idea that the last thing the Rabbit heard was "But I'm TRYING to be good!" ;-}

Posted by: ArmagedDan (hosticle_fifer)
Posted at: May 25th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)

"You lissinen'? Okay. Grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and brudda? I sting people."

Posted by: similiesslip (similiesslip)
Posted at: May 27th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)

I'm not sure how to revise it. I liked it as it is....


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