by Cameron Davis
I make my van skid, reluctantly, as I mesh the break petal. “Skrrr!” My vehicle comes to a whole 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. Its a one-way road. No vehicle can be seen in the facade. Then I look around, inspecting my surroundings—maybe this a big fat hoax. Of course it is!... How else in the law of physics did this skull make it smack in the middle of the road? Seeing not a sole 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. Weirdly, it is clean and white as rice. Almost, its molars seems to be grinning at the woods to the right shoulder of the road. Ain't that a bitch? I get 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.
Upon further inspection, I notice that it is a tad smaller than a fully grown human skull. Whatever it is, the shit has been dead for a while... Next, I take my driving glasses off. Clutching my hat, I tap the shitty skull to make it move. Not a hard tap, but enough to draw movement. And then it falls to its left jaw side, that mocking smile disappears from its mouth on contact. In closer observation, I notice this skull has bite marks on it. Some animal chewed it up. Then I hear movement from the forest to the left of the road. Something was moving. I stand up, looking in the vicinity I heard the movement. Animals. They have a reputation out here in Africa, these wild animals do. “Ah muddy pockets!...” I say, walking in that direction: My hat somehow blew near the trees, free of my discretion. Don't remember it leaving my hands tho... “I got a job to make...shit,” I repeat, mumbling. Forget that skull. Watch me leave it in the middle of the road. Let me grab my hat and I'm outta here with a quickness. No lie! I got shit to do. Then my intercom in my van goes off. “Jox...Jox...ya' dere', mi man'? Da' GPS monitor says that ur' 10 minutt' behine' scetule'...Tell mi' wassup', gottin' in trouble or sumdin'. Holler bak.” As I stride toward my hat, I think about yelling out to him that I'm good. But as I
pick up my maroon cap with da' liquor logo, a shiny flic of white makes me stop. Straining, I make out what looks like two pupils... “What in tha' shit hole?...” It is not uncommon to see human skeleton's 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. Me and him, our eyes connected like Wifi, and, at that very moment, every ounce of blood froze inside me. That's when all hail broke lose. “OUAURGH!!!” The wild animal growls like the beast that it is, as it jumped out the thick shrubbery. It jumps straight on the road. Onto the raggedy concrete it steps. Its paws are menacing, its fur makes it appear like the minx of a golden king. Its mane is thick. This animal is nothing short of a Beast. Beast. And then I hear the discombobulated voice of my location manager, on da' intercom. Can't hear much, but I manage out what sounds like: “Jox!...Was that a freekin' lion roar...Get outta o' dere...Jox! Are ya dere'? If you don't respon' in 5 minut' I'm sendin' help phor ya!...” Suiting, the beast frowns its face up something ugly and makes a growl so fierce even the birds stop making noise. “AUORAGH!!!”
By now I've dropped to both my knees, my hat I was recently worried about is crushed between my legs somewhere. After his growl, I bowed my head down. Not in submission, but in lethargy. The site of this bestial creature is tiring enough. Makes me take a 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.
— All I remember was being tugged into the forest, like I said. When I regained consciousness, I found I was only a few yards away from my delivery van. This was strange. Somehow, I had been dragged a few meters into the forbidden forest. One of my forearms were sore, like it had been mangled. It is still daylight, despite me being unconscious for what felt like forever. Meanwhile I wonder what time it is, exactly. How mad are The Taliban terrorist, realizing that their weaponry is late! And then I notice it. Lying down, I guess I didn't expect it to be next to me. Lying here peacefully, all “grand” like. Its the human skull. I pick it up and fumble with it. And that's when I hear his
voice: “Aargh!” He scares the shit out of me, but I don't faint this time. Instead I turn around, face him, heart racing like a sprint. He was in the mix of taking a shit. Literally. The hind legs of the Beast are uptight and stiff, like old people. He is staring directly at me. I know better than looking into his eyes; so I look down on the Beast. My cautious eyes notice his testicles. Quickly, I look away. Shaking my head disapprovingly. I wonder why this stud lion is not living in a pack? Why doesn't he have any females hunting for him? Why and why? Did he put the skull on the road as bait to lure me in? Has he done it before? 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 quiet and sturdy. Must've finished taking a shit, saw me tampering with his shitty skull, and said, 'I'm going to eat you alive before you fuck with anything more of mine.' Adrenaline shot though my blood like dope and syringe. No lie. Can't explain the myriad of emotions going through me. The warmth of the sun can be felt even through all the trees and shade. And so with the mighty lion running at me, momentum rising, 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 attempt to make the loudest and most threatening lion like roar capable: “AUOARGH!!” I yell at the top of my lungs. So loud my “AUOARGH,” echo lingers inside my brain afterward...But it worked! The Beast stopped dead in his tracks (or paws). My van remains visible on the road. If I could just stall The Beast longer, surely my manager could rescue me. Then kill the lion and deliver our truck to Taliban. Better late than never. But The Beast starts moving toward me again, slowly, circling my body. Finally after he is nearly 2 yards away from me, he makes a fair sounding growl. “Auhgora...Aau!...” Though threatening, this growl sounded like The Beast was trying to communicate. Silly as silly can be, 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. This growl sounds just like the lion on MGM motion pictures. No lie! But this growl is a plea, more like. I'm a critical thinker. And I think the lion said, “I needs food for my kids.”
“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 up in a sitting position. All this lion language had me thinking I'm learning Spanish. I overhear that voice from the intercom again. Except its his real voice this time. “Jox? You here' mi man? Where ya'? I bouht' 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 see the other man with gun... 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 remember 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 of riches has changed this rich land into a place where survival is life. The mane of a fully grown male lion can be worth tons. As a result, sadly, The African Lion is an endangered species. This time, I initiate the conversation. I growl to the beast saying, “We must leave
here now. I will help you and your kids get to a safe haven.” I want to kill those men so my kids can eat them, says The Beast, growling. No, you don't want to do that. They have weapons and shit. I stand up on each feet. Lets go now. Their coming for me and won't stop til they find me, dead or alive. I can lead us to my house from here.