Of course, it was a lion. It wasn’t cowardly. It was angry.
He seemed larger than a typical male lion, but everything seemed unrealistically larger here. His mane was the color of burnt wood and his fur was a rich golden hue. The King’s eyes were glowing green, the shade used in many comic books and cartoons to indicate radioactivity. Here, in this unreal world, it seemed a dangerous reality.
“You’ve caused us some trouble, young Daniel.”
“Am I about to be thrown into the lion’s den?” His terror inspired joke wasn’t intended to be funny. Hearing the lion address him by his given name, reminded the ten year old of the church Sunday School classes his aunt and uncle took him to as a youth (with his parents’ grudging permission).
The shelter around the child and the Kangaroo (who, to his credit, stood his ground) vanished, and they were on a vast Savannah with Daniel facing the apparent architect of all of his strange experiences.
William told Daniel he’d have to face him, the King, the lion. Face him with what? His bare hands? He’d be ripped to shreds. Daniel remembered his almost deadly encounter with Champion the horse. The child happened to have a glass of ice water in his hands which he reflexively threw into the horse’s face when the beast charged.
Amazingly, the ice froze solid on the horse’s face and it fled. When it recovered, its wounds were gone as well as the thing that caused the animal to attack. Was something like that supposed to happen here and now?
Daniel could barely hear William behind him muttering, “C’mon, Danny. You can do it.”
“Do what? I’m all out of ice water.”
Both Daniel and the Lion stood regarding each other. The child thought back to Aunt Abby’s cat Fearful Symmetry. True, William Blake’s poem was describing a tiger, but the poet’s depiction of the awesome presence of such a creature well fit Daniel’s opponent.
“I understand it’s supposed to be your move, boy. What do you propose to do?”
“Run like hell,” Daniel thought. Instead, he took a step forward. So did the lion. He took another step and so did his adversary. Daniel placed his foot, clad in leather shoes suitable for farm work, into a thorn-bush and heard the snapping under his weight.
The Lion took another step forward and too late noticed the same type of bush.
The King roared in pain as a long, thick thorn tore through and buried itself inside its left front paw.
“Okay Danny boy, now let’s beat it.”
Daniel spun on the Kangaroo. “That’s it? I thought I was supposed to fight him or something.”
“Are you crazy? He’s a huge lion. You’re a boy. How could you fight him? You were just to distract him long enough for him to step into this trap. The bushes were strategically placed here by my sister’s kid Joey. Now run.”
A smaller version of William popped up out of the tall grass, winked at Daniel, and then hopped into the larger kangaroo’s pouch. The boy now noticed the inconsistency in a male kangaroo having a pouch, but that was the least of his worries as the creature launched himself and his precious cargo forward.
Daniel did his best to keep up with William, and he could tell the marsupial was going slower so he wouldn’t lose the child.
As the lion’s roars of pain faded into the distance, Daniel wondered what would happen next. He and William had no idea that a group of figures were fast approaching the King who might well decide their fate.
This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best.
The previous story is K is for Kangaroo.
The next story in the series is M is for Mouse.
Let me know what you think.
On my visit to my Mom’s place, I managed to get a little time to myself to craft the next chapter in my A to Z challenge, but I only have one photo left of the “M” puzzle piece. Once I write that story, I’ll have to wait until I get home to take more photos. I don’t even recall what “N” stands for. It’ll only be a few days, so be patient. Thanks.