Primeval: The Gryphon (Opening) By Jack Brien The Serengeti of Tanzania can only be deemed as a majestic spectacle which

exhibits pulchritude beyond my description. The grasslands were embedded with isolated shrubs and acacia trees. The varied animals roamed the plains grazing on what they could forage. I gazed upon the elegance of the giraffes, the agility of the cheetahs, the innocuous intentions of the zebras, and of course, the figure and ascendancy of the distinguished, exalted, valiant and regal lion that is synonymous with bravery. As it stands exhibiting nobility and valour, its image is accentuated by the fawny mane and the robust torso, vigorously searching for its prey. The cubs were flourishing into aggrandized, affable creatures. The nurturing nature exhibited by the benevolent, matriarchal female lions towards their cubs bears compelling similarities to mother figures. The land is a predominantly beige colour coalesced with the myrtle green of the shrubs that is a pleasing sight to the eyes. My senses were gratified. The azureblue skies and the incandescent sun enhanced the enticing fields with its scintillating, luminous rays that possessed the beauty of a thousand Aphrodites. The view of the effulgent, apricot-emblazoned sun illuminating upon the idyllic horizon was enough to fulfil any ardent traveller·s fantasies. However, the scorching temperatures were beyond tolerance. The heat pierced my skin like needles. My body dispelled sweat obnoxiously. The safari had introduced me to so many captivating and enchanting wonders I·ve never seen prior to my enthralling journey. I was commissioned by the BBC to film a documentary presenting insight into the multifarious wildlife that makes East Africa virtually renowned. I displayed no hesitation as I·m always amenable to embark upon any location. However, in my prolonged career as a wildlife expert for thirty-five years, I·ve travelled to an extensive array of locations. I·ve been to the resplendent islands of Greece, the spellbinding Coral Reef, the adrenalin -inducing escalade to the peak of the Alps, the perilous peregrination through the Amazon Rainforest; but I have never travelled to Tanzania within that course of time, so I was quite euphoric to commence my adventure in this sublime country that is the epitome of high calibre. Awaiting the arrival of the director outside of the log cabin, my crew associates were reluctant to venture out into the open as they had previously experienced a pernicious encounter with a herd of gazelle as we initiated our adventure yesterday. The crew comprised of lovable, if sometimes obnoxious characters. Today, we were preparing to visit the Masaai tribe who were situated close to the game parks. I wasn·t apprehensive as I·ve had antecedent experience with various wildlife and native inhabitants before, so it was of no concern that I was visiting the home of the tribe. In order to pass the

time, I obtained a cigarette from the packet and inhaled the smoke as it lingered upon my nostrils. It was rare that I smoked. I only smoke on occasions where I·m in a nervous disposition. In this instance, I was nervous due to the director, Stacey, taking her time and consuming ours in the dressing room when we were obligated to film on a strict schedule. The time began to dwindle away, so I followed my cigarette with imbibing a modest glass of wine. ¶What on Earth is that woman doing?· inquired Michael. Michael was the boom microphone operator. He epitomised all that was abrasive, irreverent, impertinent and invidious. He was of short stature, quite corpulent, very unkempt, quite uncouth, scurrilous, and always possessed a morsel of food within the palm of his hand. The ebony of his hair clashed with the white of his dandruff. His visage wasn·t accentuated by his ebony beard containing viscous, maroon coloured tomato sauce from the snack he had devoured previously. He wasn·t an effervescent character; he was always morose and always illustrated his views on how he detested his position, most commonly raucously exclaiming ¶I·d sooner live in landfill than continue this tedious job any longer!· I·m always contemplating removing him from the team, but the BBC forbids me to do so. He was generally a character devoid of any endearing qualities. ¶I·m attending to something. Cease your insolence!· exclaimed Stacey from the confines of her dressing room. The director, Stacey Jonsonn, was internationally renowned worldwide regarding her proficiency of directing and her versatility. She was always meticulous and diligent, but never stern. She desired devising pieces of work worthy of further commendation, and of course, she always did. She was hired to accompany me by the BBC as they claimed it would ¶enhance the ratings.· Of course, I·ve noticed the ratings have been declining rapidly due to the editors making it much more desiccate. Since then, they·ve moved to a rival channel and I now possess the independence to display what I wish. This was my final opportunity to repel away from the contingency of obscurity and maintain my prominent position as a household name. Stacey retreated out from her dressing room. My eyes had glanced upon her statuesque, voluptuous frame. From the brief moment my eyes had fell upon her, I was encapsulated by her alluring semblance. She exhibited a resplendent smile that not one individual could not be enraptured by. Her flaxen blonde streaks delicately framed her dainty face, her dazzling blue eyes had conjured images of the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean in my mind, and her lips were an exquisite shade of pastel pink. She sported a white blouse, provocatively buttoned down up to the chest, with beige leggings and a customary pair of Sunglasses placed on her crown. She was quite fastidious regarding her appearance. I originally perceived her as narcissistic, but that was prior to when I initially spoke to her. I·ve since discovered she is a reputable,

congenial and amiable character. Even though she was venturing out into the plains of East Africa, she always intended to display her inherent sense of style. Her ostensible beauty embodied those of women featured in oil paintings. She never ceased to provoke the desires of any male. She aroused anyone within her path. I was profoundly besotted with her, but I was beleaguered with the burgeoning problems of trying to establish it. She ambled nonchalantly in my direction whilst exhibiting her beguiling features. ¶Are you ready to proceed, Mark?· Stacey inquired. ¶Why yes, certainly,· I replied. I briefly absorbed the beauty of the Serengeti once again before I proceeded to obtain my things and perch myself in the Land Rover. A surge of excitement possessed me as I drove through the plains. Stacey insisted to sit next me as we drove; it was quite difficult to concentrate on where I was going with her presence abreast of me. The essence of her perfume had hindered me slightly. However, I remained persistent. I repelled away from her scent anxiously and placed my head into thin air as I resumed driving. I adored the natural, raw smell of the grasslands. There was something so inviting about nature; it beckoned me to explore it further. As we approached the game parks, Stacey promptly suspended the silence. ¶Have you seen my other works at all, Mark?· She inquired. My mind was devoid of anything else to respond by. ¶Yes,· I retorted. ¶Which of my pieces do you happen to like?· She prompted. Michael subsequently took it in his hands to engage himself in the discussion with his own form of insolence. ¶Are you oblivious to the fact Mark·s trying to drive?· He roared fervently. ¶Address me like a normal human being.· Stacey exclaimed with utter indignation. ¶Oh, do shut up.· Michael scowled. Stacey didn·t respond; she did however look back at Michael with veritable contempt. She clasped my hand presumably as a friendly gesture. I was perspiring; it was plausible that it wasn·t due to the adverse temperatures. She displayed her resplendent smile once again; I endured great difficulty devising a response. Fortunately, I suddenly realised we were approaching the home of the Masaai tribe, so I was extricated from the difficulty of communicating with the graceful woman. ¶Here we are.· I declared, expressing a mere sigh of relief. I emerged from the vehicle onto the narrow dirt path. Upon my arrival, I was encompassed by adroitly crafted huts consisted of mud and tree branches. I did not encounter any inhabitants when I first arrived; the shelter was quite vacuous and inaudible. The presence of the tribe was imperceptible. I proceeded to vociferate in order to draw attention.

¶Hello!· I exclaimed. My voice reverberated like a siren, yet not a soul issued out from the huts. My attempt at patience was futile. In sheer intrusiveness I crept closer towards one of the huts at a tortoise·s pace. Nearing the entrance of the hut, a figure abruptly unveiled himself from the darkness, much to my surprise. The tribesman was adorned with jewellery that exhibited embellished , superfluous colours which were quite entrancing. He brandished a leaf point spear which he pointed at me frantically, denoting he felt intimidated and trepid at my presence. He presented me with eyes of aversion. I was consumed with fear as the point of the spear was adjacent to the pupil of my eye. The threatening tribesman shrieked in his native language in the opposite direction. Soon after, a menagerie of natives emerged from their huts clothed in their native wear. We were greeted with glares. Being encircled by the tribe, I attempted to attest that we meant no harm to them, but English was probably beyond their comprehension. The tribe had continued to enclose us. A feeling of dread surged through me as they crept closer. Unpleasant images had conjured in my mind what they could do. Eventually, a piercing laugh emanated from the background that continued to escalate. Eventually, a man of diminutive size made his way through the surrounding tribe. Dressed in a generic safari suit, he introduced himself by the name of ¶John· and established he was our translator commissioned by the BBC. He greeted me with an amiable handshake. His presence mitigated my dread. ¶I·m so sorry for not arriving on schedule,· he apologized. ¶It seems as though the natives were quite nervous around you.· ¶Yes, I·ve gathered that.· I responded, attempting to control my nerves. He addressed the tribe in their language once again. Soon after, they proceeded to express a reverent Masaai gesture. ¶They·re saying hello,· John expressed. ¶It·s has been quite prolonged since people from the west have visited.· I did not want to be perceived as callous or flagrant, so I bowed earnestly. The Masaai emulated my actions; I could hear Stacey chortling softly in the background, much to me feeling slightly uncomfortable in her presence; albeit feeling rather empowered by the natives exhibiting their own form of hospitality towards us. I requested to John to apprise the Masaai tribe that I adored their ways of life. John had enunciated in their tongue. Their frowns had shifted into smiles of content. Beyond the towering acacia trees, I noticed a gaping hole consisted of stone. This immediately encapsulated my interests. It seemed quite solitary and deserted, but something beckoned me to explore it. I turned my attentions onto the tribe, to discover if they could present any information about the caves. ¶You see those caves? Are there any points of interest we should attend to?· John exhibited a look of disbelief. In their native tongue, he translated my words. Subsequently, the tribe·s complacent smiles had faltered into expressions of egregious shock. My inquiry had engendered a symphony of gasps. The people looked at each other

in dismay, much to my consternation. I could not apprehend how my intention to access the caves had elicited the tribe to become so aghast. Subsequent to their horror, an old woman attired in a gaudy, maroon coloured robe emblazoned with engrossing gold patterns had protruded out from her aphotic hut. A grey streak was strikingly prominent in her short, taupe hair. Her neck was shrouded by her necklaces consisted of beads manifesting traditional African craft. She was ostensibly decrepit; she sauntered languidly as the natives diverted to clear her path, as if she was an eminent figure in her society. It was evident as she looked on she possessed concern for us. The diminutive woman proceeded to look up at me attentively as her diminutive body was adjacent to mine. Her eyes were prodigious and the pupils were dilated with a tinge of red. She appeared to be quite emaciated that not even her robe could conceal her protruding bones. The woman expressed a peculiar and quite ominous foreboding sign of dread as she shrieked two words vehemently in Swahili. ¶Simba ndege, simba ndege, simba ndege, simba ndege.· ¶What on earth is she saying?· I inquired. ¶It·s a Swahili saying for ¶lion bird,·· John responded, placidly. I was transfixed on the woman as she continued to echo the words whilst I was perturbed infinitely. Her volume escalated, the pitch of her voice burgeoned. Her presence ignited my distress. The woman grasped her skeletal fingers onto the sleeve of my shirt, I felt as cold as stone. The intensity in her screeching was proliferating. She was starting to howl much to my dismay. I beseeched the people around me to intervene to help her. Her manner of speaking enervated her and caused her to become frail. My ears were tormented by the penetrating shriek; the pain was beyond my comprehension. The grasp of her fingers gradually became much more delicate. She succumbed to exhaustion and collapsed vehemently onto the ground before me. I attended to her to provide assistance. I implored the others to help me. John departed hurriedly away from the crowd and cradled the afflicted woman lying in repose. I glimpsed Stacey engulfing her face with her hands as she conveyed shock at the sight of the woman descending onto the ground forcibly. ¶Would you just refrain from touching her and resume our filming?· Michael exclaimed. I was highly agitated by his reprehensible traits. I despised how he could be so apathetic at this moment in time. ¶Shut up!· I vociferated. John was scrutinizing the woman as she lay motionless in his arms. He discerned shock was responsible for her collapse. ¶She is fine. She has just endured a panic attack.· I was disquiet due to the event. I originally perceived an expedition to the caves as stimulating, but I was now highly dubious of it.

¶What is wrong? Why are the caves so shocking all of a sudden?· John turned around with an expression of astonishment. ¶Don·t you know?· This had only aroused confusion inside me. ¶Know what?· John retreated to my spot to accost me. ¶I shall apprise you the reason why visitors in this particular region are so rare. In 1952, a British archaeologist named, Albert Goole, had entered the caves. He was never seen again. It was discovered, however, that a few drops of blood were stained on the rocks. DNA tests have confirmed it was his. A similar event occurred in 1986 when a British couple had retreated to the caves as a form of adventure. Their bodies were discovered in Lake Victoria three days subsequent to their arrival. Of course, for the woman you have just witnessed, her son was killed in the field adjacent to the caves. She hasn·t recovered from the incident. Do you know what had transpired on that day in clear delineation?· ¶No, what?· I retorted. John·s voice became much more sonorous. ¶She was there when she observed her son slayed by the ¶thing· that resided in the caves. She recounted that the ghastly beast that had rendered him helpless. He was on his way to the river to acquire some water, and then, all of a sudden, a foul, malicious creature loomed from the caves and clutched her son with force beyond imagination. She recounts the beast possessing the wings of an eagle, but the mane and face of a lion.· ¶That·s preposterous.· I stated. John snapped solemnly as if I·d provoked him in an extraordinary manner. ¶Preposterous?! The woman lost her child to an elusive, nefarious beast and you consider it preposterous?· Feeling highly remorseful and vacuous inside, I apologized. ¶I·m terribly sorry, but, haven·t there been any recent sightings?· John returned to his nonchalant self. ¶She is presumably the only woman to have spotted it without succumbing to fate.· I was unsettled by these words, but I still remained dubious. Itching the jaw of my chin, I established I was tentative regarding what I wanted to pursue further. I perceived Stacey·s meek cries in the background. I was tempted to embrace her with my arms and alleviate her distress, but I returned to reality and looked into John·s eyes of dread.

¶Do you wish to proceed? If so, I would like make one final endeavour to implore you not to ingress the caves,· he exhorted. At this point, I inferred it was imperative to refrain from entering the caves. I wanted to abolish plans of filming and return home with the footage I already possessed. ¶I think I shall depart now.· I proclaimed. My announcement evoked a contented smile on John·s face. ¶I do believe that·s wise.· I departed from John·s presence. Retrieving my possessions, I urged Stacey and Michael to vacate the huts and retreat to the Land Rover. Upon strolling back, I took one last look at the tribe. I was presented with glares. Their eyes were fixated upon me. I could not decipher what their stares conveyed originally, but I now know they were attempting to deter me away from my intentions. I desired to devise a way to efface the ordeal from my mind and return home. As I steered forward through the plains once again, clouds were converging. The skies were becoming cinereous. Delicate drops of rain were emerging from the sky which was distinguished from the entrancing blue skies earlier. The animals returned to shelter, the lands became vacuous. Stacey appeared to have recovered from the incident earlier as she was meticulously applying her make-up. I drove past the caves. I was fixated on them. As I gazed upon them, it had beckoned me to explore further, notwithstanding of the foreboding of the woman. Stacey suspended applying her make-up and positioned herself towards me amorously. ¶Are we going into the caves?· She inquired. ¶We·re not I·m afraid.· I retorted. Stacey·s optimistic grin faltered into an expression of anguish. ¶I·m sorry? I did intend to go into the caves.· She scowled. ¶I know, but there·s been a change of plan.· Stacey proceeded to close her eyes and sigh in exasperation to convey I was being irksome. ¶I would like to remind you who is in charge.· I was beset with difficulties at this point. My persistence to refrain from entering the caves failed. ¶I don·t feel too comfortable with this.· Stacey lowered her eyebrows rancorously. ¶I·m indifferent to what you think. You know, I believed you were more intrepid. I was enticed by that. Now, you·ve professedly affirmed I was wrong. You·re devoid of any courage,· she hissed.

I was being derided by her. I wanted to evince her I was much more chivalrous. My problems proliferated. I ultimately came to the conclusion to follow Stacey regardless of John admonishing me against it previously. ¶Are you still obstinate to that?· Stacey snarled. I contemplated my choices briefly. However, I ultimately complied to follow her. ¶No, I·ve changed plans,· I stated, hesitantly. Stacey·s bitter demeanour changed into an expression of contentment. ¶Good.· She murmured, in a sonorous tone. We withdrew ourselves from the car and accessed the forest path. The rain became much more prevalent. Tempestuous storms were infusing in the skies. I envisaged myself in the log cabin enveloped by the warmth; however, I returned to reality, and I detested it. I was reluctant to continue with this; however, I could not surmount her influence upon me. She was far more superior. We were enclosed by eerie ferns tinged with porraceous green and gaunt, burnt sierra branches that appended to the unpleasant atmosphere. I was filled with burgeoning distress. I was unsettled by the discord that emanated from the caves. Stacey remained persistent. We descended down the tawny footpath into the entrance of the caves. It looked quite sinister, something that would normally evoke fear. A vociferous roar caused the birds to vacate the caves. I suddenly realised I could not continue with it. I attempted to extricate myself from my previous compliance until Stacey grasped my collar forcibly. ¶Where are you going?!· She screeched. ¶I cannot do this. I·m sorry but I can·t continue with...· Stacey abruptly interrupted me with her domineering manner. ¶Are you really going to believe the dubious stories from those asinine fools? You·re under my control now and I command you to continue with this. Do you comprehend me....?· Stacey·s imperious words were interrupted by a raucous roar from the confines of the cave. The Earth quaked with a transcendently prevalent force that the rocks disintegrated from the ca. The gaping hole became broader. Suddenly, an abhorrent smell exuded from the tenebrous interior of the cave. Growls that were barely audible reverberated. I gazed at the rocks surrounding the entrance; they were stained with a mere patch of blood cemented on the surface. To my horror and utmost clarity, I was cognizant that I arrived at the particular cave where the archaeologist encountered his demise. I repelled away in fretfulness. I possessed a trembling sensation as I discerned Stacey staring into the caliginous portal where the ferocious beast resided. An impulse streamed through my body rapidly as I hastened my speed to rescue to girl from peril. A prodigious stone caused me to plunge face first onto the adamant ground. My leg collided with sheer intensity. My torso was slanted on the stone. I felt the rigid edges

piercing my abdomen, minuscule fragments of rock entered my eye, the feeling of blood oozing down numerous areas of my body felt like perspiration. I persevered against the pain as I captured Stacey traipsing beyond the boundaries of the rocks. A claw emerged from the shroud of darkness; immeasurable talons and withered amber skin. The rest of the beast was obscured. Stacey remained in her position as she confronted the monstrosity. Casting aside the blood trickling down my forehead, I exerted myself forward and attempted to obstruct the creature from her. Unanticipatedly, an unforeseen force extruded from the caves fleetly. The force was only a mere blur when I first saw it reveal itself and apply its ineffable body upon Stacey vehemently. The force was so prevalent I plummeted back down onto the stones. I upheaved myself and discovered Stacey was engulfed in the monster·s talons as it ascended higher into the skies. The hysterical shrieking of Stacey in jeopardy incorporated with the cacophonous, shrill bellowing roar emitted from the mouth of the beast infused me with sheer terror. The woman was rendered devoid of any strength as she was possessed by the beast·s clutches. I propelled rocks at the fiend with all of my competence. My attempts proved to be inefficient as it only incited the creature. It escalated forward with intense celerity. I was transfixed on Stacey as she was enveloped by the prodigious claws. My eyes were attentively gazing upon Stacey. I was perturbed by the sight of her face surfaced with crimson scratches. I was daunted by the beast as it surged in my direction. Ruthlessly, I grasped hold of the attenuated Stacey. I strived utilizing all of my might to rescue her as I onerously endeavoured to haul Stacey into my direction. The beast, however, was inexorable. I tackled it by grasping the luteous mane. The beast displayed its salient, razor-pointed fangs. Its brunneous brown wings enabled the beast to obtain Stacey with great ascendancy. Stacey·s cries for help provoked my emotions. ¶Help me. Please.· I was vanquished in the struggle. The beast returned to the skies along with Stacey screaming emphatically. I observed the figure of the beast ascending further and further into the gloomy skies. Its figure became diminished as it soared above until it was nothing more than a strange, indistinct, tenebrous mark. The screams became more inaudible. The dismal clouds dispersed away from each other. The turbulent storms had ceased. Subsequently, the effulgent sun was revived in the celeste sky. This failed to efface the feeling of despair inside me. I recoiled onto the cobblestones. I felt despondent, the feeling was ineffable. I felt bereft of contentment. I gazed at my hands; her blood was the only thing that remained of her on my palms. I couldn·t cry. I wanted to. It would dispel the misery I was enduring. John eventually entered in consternation. He looked at me with sheer perplexity. I exhibited my hands concealed with crimson. It was clearly illustrated what had transpired. I could not contend with the feelings that subjugated me. Tears emerged on the rims of my eyes. John attempted to console me. I released a shrill scream that echoed around the caves. Michael was perched on a stone with astonishment. He shrouded his face into his lap conveying shock. I was grappling onto John hysterically with my blood-soaked hands. I

desired to escape reality. John struck me frenziedly on my cheek with the intention to alleviate my horror. I resumed my cries whilst the sun beamed its luminous rays upon my pallid skin. The image of Stacey resides in my mind. Not of her flaxen blonde hair, or her enticing beauty, it was the image of her pleas for help, her gruelling pain that even I cannot bear. The presence of the beast inhabits my thoughts, my mind. I·m plagued with the memories of its beige mane, its razor-pointed teeth, the prodigious, sturdy body it possessed, and of course, the wings. The wings empowered the beast to attack Stacey. Not even all of the strength in this world would suffice against the creature with its prevalent wings. In my travels, I·ve observed various things that have ignited my interests, but what I witnessed in this country is an experience that will occupy my mind, eternally, tormenting me.

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