For an easier life Circulation: 115,191,906 Issue: 230 | 9th day of Running, Y8
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Winners Never Quit


by arrielle5

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"I am so ready for this race!" Kavi exclaimed, preparing her tube for the big race. She smiled and looked about the shore of Kiko Lake. Numerous Kikos had shown up, some only there to cheer on the racers, and others to do the actual racing. Kavi waved to a few of her friends along the shore and they waved back. Yes. There was no doubt about it. Kavi would win this race!

     "Would all racers please enter the lake at the starting line," cried a red Kiko wearing a striped, black and white shirt. He had a whistle hanging limply around his neck. "The races will begin shortly!"

     "This is it…" Kavi muttered. Letting out a sigh, she grabbed hold of her red and white tube and headed for the starting line. There were many cheers coming from the crowd as the racers readied themselves.

     "Go Riley!" cried one of the smaller Kikos, waving a small white flag in her paw frantically. In bold, blue lettering were the words, 'You're # 1!'

     "You get 'em, Riley!"

     Curiously, Kavi looked over in the direction the Kiko was cheering, only to find another surly looking, Skunk one staring right back. He rolled his eyes at the cheering Kiko before grunting, "What are you looking at?"

     "Sorry," Kavi mumbled, facing forward. There was no need to be rude… Everyone fell silent as the referee from before stepped behind the starting line. Confidently, he puffed out his chest and smirked at the crowd.

     "Alright, so you're all familiar with the rules," he called out to the determined racers. "No pushing, shoving, dunking, or physical contact of any kind while racing! This means the only way you can touch each other is if your tubes bump into one another on accident. Second, no paddles, flippers, oars, or anything else to help you cheat! Your only paddles are your arms.

     "And third," he turned to the crowd. "Do not help the racers in any way, or distract them in any way! Are we clear?"

     There was a loud, excited cry from the crowd. Smiling, the referee nodded, placed his whistle in his mouth and raised a paw high in the air.

     "On your mark…"

     The racers plopped themselves on top of their tubes, looking ahead with determined faces.

     "Get set…"

     One by one, the racers placed their paws in the water, ready to paddle their ways to victory. The atmosphere was tense. The referee brought down his paw and blew the whistle. And the racers were off… Every single racer, all twelve of them, were bumping each other this way and that, whether it be on purpose or on accident. In the lead was the Skunk Kiko, Riley. Oh, no you don't, thought Kavi, splashing some water into another racer's face. This race is all me!

     She paddled her paws as fast as they would allow. She loved the cool feeling she would get every time her paws went under the rushing water. The current only helped to speed things up. Speed things up… As if on cue, one of the smaller, bonus currents popped up in front of Kavi, and wearing a smirk, she paddled into it.

     She had a strange sensation as the water sent her straight up to Riley's side. He looked sideways at her incredulously.

     "What are you looking at?" Kavi chuckled, paddling forward. Riley wrinkled his brow and plunged forward. The two were nose to nose. All of a sudden, it seemed like the competition was just between those two…

     "I'm winning, and that's all there is to it!" Riley snapped, bumping her tube aside. Kavi nearly lost her balance. No way! He was breaking the rules! Once more, Riley bumped her, only this time harder. Kavi regained her balance again and bumped back. No one messed with her!

     "What makes you think you can win?" she asked him bitterly over the loud rushing of the water. "How do you know you'll win?"

     "Because I'm a winner, and winners never quit! I will win this race, and you're not taking the glory away from me!"

     With that, Riley gave her one last bump, causing her to spin around in the opposite direction. Kavi let out a frightened cry as she spun all the way into the opposite side of the lake where it split into two streams. Riley let out a cold laugh and continued on, soon followed by other racers.

     Kavi couldn't regain control of her tube! It was spinning much too fast! She held on for dear life, spinning round and round. Her brain rattled in her head. Was this it? Was she going to lose the race? No. Kavi promised herself she'd win, and she'd do just that. After a few more moments of spinning, Kavi tried desperately to make her way to the side of the river. A very unwise idea… Sure, Kavi's tube had ceased its head throbbing spinning, but soon something else came into view: a masked Kiko standing on the shore. In his paws, he held a bow and arrow. Oh boy…

     Surely he wouldn't shoot a little girl? He proved Kavi wrong. Quickly he knocked his arrow and aimed for her tube. Get out now, Kavi, she told herself, pushing off the shore in panic. Hastily, she began to paddle harder than before, eager to get away. Something whizzed by her ear. He had missed her by an inch… The Kiko muttered something to himself angrily and picked up another arrow that sat at his side. But by the time he had readied it, Kavi was out of shooting range… Well…at least out of his shooting range. As Kavi paddled further along the stream, she saw several other Kikos with bows and arrows…

     Kavi began to think that losing this race was the least of her troubles.

     "This race is getting nuttier by the moment," Kavi muttered nervously, feeling rather small and defenseless. As the Kikos shot their arrows, she ducked and dodged as best as she could, suddenly wishing more than ever that it all could end. She looked ahead, swerving out of an arrows way; the point where the two streams merged once more was a little ways ahead, and rushing into that point and surging forward were the other racers. She could still win this thing…

     Quickly, Kavi plunged forward. SMACK! One of the arrows hit its target on Kavi's left. Oh no! Kavi's tube began to deflate, making bubbles in the water. She could hear the Kikos laughing at her flabbergasted expression. Kavi, who refused to give in so easily, made to paddle a bit further. She was just barely out of the stream… Yet another arrow pierced her tube, causing more deflating and more bubbles.

     "No!" Kavi cried, paddling further. She glanced back bitterly at the Kikos, but somehow, they had disappeared from the shore completely… Heart beating fast, Kavi slipped off her tube and began to swim the rest of the way to the other racers. Would she be disqualified if she swam? Kavi didn't care anymore, even if all the racers were far ahead of her. She just wanted out. Just when she thought things couldn't get any worse, the water she was swimming in had somehow turned a murky greenish color.

     Annoyed, she sighed and looked around at the water. No wonder it was green! There were all kinds of junk and trash in here!

     "This--is--disgusting--"

     Shuddering, Kavi continued on. The smell was unbearable, there were flies buzzing noisily around large clusters of garbage…and there was a noise… Kavi couldn't explain it, but it sounded like someone gurgling…like a drain. Kavi turned her head this way and that to find the source of the noise, but saw nothing. Shrugging, Kavi went on, but soon felt something pull her back. Some sort of force from behind… It was then that Kavi noticed what she had swam into: a whirlpool.

     "No!" she screamed, trying with all hr might to swim away, but the force was too strong. She felt herself beginning to sink down a bit.

     "No, no, no!"

     The water was rising to her mouth now… She was going to drown! Kavi's eyes became wide with horror. She had to give up. She had to give in… Something poked her in the side. Kavi tried to turn to see what was poking her; someone had stuck out the thickest branch she had ever seen.

     "Grab on!" yelled a voice from the shore. Someone was rescuing her! Without hesitation, Kavi grabbed hold onto the branch, and allowed herself to be lifted from the whirlpool. When she was able to swim freely once more, Kavi made the rest of her way to the shore, breathing heavily.

     "Of all the pets…" she muttered when she reached the shore. Riley helped her clamber onto land to dry off.

     "I thought you were in the lead," Kavi said to him once she got herself together, a small smile across her lips. He sighed and shook his head, smiling as well.

     "I heard you scream and looked back, so I turned around and went off to the side…"

     "You could've won! You didn't have to quit!" Kavi exclaimed, frowning slightly. Riley chuckled and shook his head once more.

     "I didn't quit the race, exactly. There's always next year…"

     The two began to walk along the shore, keeping a safe distance away from the very edge.

     "Anyway," Riley added with a shrug. "I know I would've gotten across the finish line anyway, so in a way I already won. Besides, winners never quit…"

The End

 
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