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by Cameron Davis
I make my van skid reluctantly as I smash the brake petal. A piercing noise shot
through my ears as the tires struggled against the pavement. The vehicle came to a complete stop. All for a good reason—a human skull lies in the middle of the road! No lie. I get out the van and glance behind my vehicle. It's a one-way road. No vehicle can be seen in the near facade. Forest surrounds each side of the road. Then I look around, inspecting my surroundings—maybe this a big fat hoax. Of course it is...How else did this skull make it smack in the middle of the road? Seeing not a soul with my naked eye, I proceed to check out the human skull. It sits face up, like it was buried at the beach from the neck down. Strangely, it is clean and white as rice. Almost, its molars are grinning. I go closer. Take my hat off my head and scratch. “Look at this shit, here?” I mumble to no one in particular. The skull looks different upon further inspection; it
is smaller than a fully grown human skull. Whatever it is, its been dead for a while... Next, I take my driving glasses off. Clutching my hat, I tap the shitty skull. Not a hard tap, just enough to draw movement. And then as it falls to its left jaw side, that mocking smile disappears from its mouth on contact. On observation, I notice the skull has bite marks. Some animal had chewed it up. Then I heard movement from the forest to the left side of the road. Something was moving. I stand up, looking in the vicinity I heard the movement. Animals. They have a reputation here in Africa, these wild animals do. Wild lions, snakes, and even ants have been blamed for many deaths in Africa lately. “Ah muddy pockets...” I say. My hat somehow blew near the trees, free of my discretion. I walk in the direction of my hat. “I gotta job to make...” I mumble. Forget that skull. Watch me leave it in the middle of the road. Let me grab my hat and get out of here with a quickness. Then the intercom in my van goes off. “Jox...ya' there mi man? The' GPS monitor says that your ten minut' behinde' scedule'...Tell mi' wassup? gotten' in any trouble or sumdin'. Holler bak.” As I stride to my hat, I debate yelling out to him that I'm good. But as I pick up
my cap, a shiny flick of white makes me stop. Straining, I make out what looks like two pupils watching me from the forest. “What in tha shit hole?...” It is not uncommon to see a human skeleton in Africa. But whatever this creature is on the edge of the jungle is a bit abnormal. My intuition told me to run to the van. But then I saw him. Our eyes connected like Wifi, and, at that moment, every ounce of blood froze inside me. This is when all hail broke lose. “OUAURGH!” The wild animal growls like the beast that it was, as it jumped out the shrubbery. Onto the raggedy concrete it stepped. Its paws were menacing, its fur made it appear like the minx of a golden King. Its mane is thick. This animal is nothing short of a Beast. And then I hear the discombobulated voice of my location manager, on my intercom. Can't hear much, but I manage out what sounded like: “Jox!...Was that a freakin' lion roar?...Get out o' dere Jox! Are ya there'? If you don't respon' in five minut' I'm sendin' help for ya!...” Suiting, the beast frowns its face up something ugly and makes a growl so fierce even the birds are silenced. “AUORAGH!!!” By now I've dropped to my knees; my hat I was previously worried about is
somewhere crushed between my legs (I'm too scared to look.) After his growl, I bowed my head. Not in submission, but in lethargy. The sight of this bestial creature is tiring enough. Makes me take a big deep breath. Wonder if my man over the intercom is calling for help? Wonder if this beast will eat me alive? And then the last thing I remember before passing out is being dragged into the jungle.
Like I said, all I remembered was being pulled into the forest. When I regained
consciousness, I found I was a few yards from my delivery van. This was strange. Somehow, I had been dragged a few yards into the forbidden forest. One of my forearms was sore, like it had been pulled or mangled with. It was still daylight, despite being unconscious for what felt like forever. I wondered what time it was. How mad were The Taliban terrorist, realizing that their weaponry was late? We were suppose to make a deal: Our weapons for their land. We were suppose to shake hands and smile. Things were not suppose to go like this... And then I noticed it. Lying down, I guess I didn't expect it to be next to me. Lying there peaceful, all grand like.
It was the human skull. I picked it up and fumble with it. And that's when I hear his voice: “AARGH!!” He scares the heaven out of me, but I don't faint this time. Instead I turn around and face him, my heart racing like a sprint. He was in the middle of taking a shit. Literally. The hind legs of the Beast were stretched and stiff. He is staring at me directly. I look down on the Beast, knowing not to look into his eyes. Then I look away completely. My wandering eyes caught sight of his testicles. Quickly, I look away. Shaking my head in disapproval. I wonder why this stud lion isn't in a pack? Why doesn't he have any females hunting for him? Did he put the skull on the road to lure me in on purpose? Has he done it before? Why and why? And then he charged me. The Beast is such a specimen that I didn't hear him until he was halfway to me. His gallop was sturdy. He probably finished taking a dump, saw me with his skull, and said, 'I'm going to eat you alive before you fuck with anything more of mine!' Adrenaline shot though my blood like a bullet piercing through bone. No lie. Can't explain the butterfly's going through my body at this moment... And so with the mighty lion running at me with full force, I do the only thing
that I can. I put my eyes to the sun and sit up in a crawling stance like a baby learning to crawl. And then I make the loudest and most threatening lion roar possible: “AUOARGH!!” My echo lingers inside my brain afterward...But it worked! The Beast stopped dead in his tracks! My van remains visible on the road. If I could just stall The Beast longer, surely my man could rescue me. Kill the lion and deliver our truck to The Taliban. Better late than never. But The Beast starts moving toward me again, slowly, circling my body. Finally he makes a fair sounding growl: “Auhgora..!...” Though threatening, this growl sounded like The Beast was trying to communicate. Silly as this sounds, I made a growl back, keeping my gaze clear from his eyes: “Aah...” I don't even yell it. I'm trying to ask The Beast if he will eat me? “Haugh...hauu...” he growls back. No lie. But his growl is a plea, not a threat. And I think the lion just said, “I need food for my kids. I was waiting for them to wake up. I thought you died out on the road...” “Aauhh...” I ask; In lion language, this means: What kids?
That's when he turns around and makes one large growl and three medium sized lion cubs come out from behind a rock. Beautiful creatures they are. And then the lion makes another growl telling them to stop. And they do. All three freeze in a sitting position. The Beast speaks again. “And that's my skull you were playing with. You know the person whose skull that belonged to shot and killed my kids mother. I kept his skeleton after we chewed his corpse clean.” “Shit.” I'd never predicted I could speak Lion...I must be dreaming. But I'm not. I hear that voice from the intercom again. Except its his real voice this time. “Jox? You here' mi man? Where ya'? I bought an extra man by mi syde jus' en' case...” I could see him. He was in my van, searching. “We gon' kill dat lion...ya' here mi'...” I could see the other man taking a gun from my van... I look at The Beast. And I look at his cubs. Then I remember The African Taliban. This turns my eyes aback at The Beast. I remembered the inhumane things that The African Taliban did to lions, especially adult male lions. Those bastards would shoot every animal in their way, including their own African people. Greed has changed this rich land into a place where life is survival. The mane of a fully
grown male lion can be worth tons. As a result, The African Lions are dying out. This time, I initiate the conversation, growling to The Beast. “We must leave here now. I will help you and your kids get to a safe location.” “I want to kill those men so my kids can eat them,” says The Beast. “No, you don't want to do that. They have weapons and shit.” I stand up on each feet. “Lets go now. They're coming and won't stop til they find me, dead or alive. I can lead us to my house from here. From their your kids can stay until I find a animal refuge, or some place safe.”
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