May 16th, 2020 by Patrick Starks
Gum-Gum, his wife, and his newly found sister had woken up to one of the brightest days ever seen in Africa. It was as if the whole world was made of gold. But was it for the better or for the worst? He wondered.
After all that had happened the day before, now it seemed like all of such was just a dream. Over the horizon a beautiful rainbow had jumped over the enormous gold field no different than how gazelle would jump. It was beautiful. Gum-Gum and his wife hadn’t seen anything like it since the day they said I do. However, Gum-Gums sister Fiona had saw nothing beautiful about it at all, for beauty was always temporary in her eyes. Gum-Gums son was still fast asleep. So innocent he was. And all that Gum-Gum could think about was how he could protect him long enough to start a life of his own, as most of the young did not always survive. But by the sound of an eagle cawing from above the rest had awoken.
“Wow… a rainbow!” shouted Gum-Gums son with amazement.
Gum-Gums wife smiled. It was the happiest she’d seen him.
“Careful not to get trapped into the light of beauty child. No matter the circumstance beauty is the very thing that will bite you in the butt. Trust me I’ve seen it all to tell it all.”
Gum-Gums wife had stepped in front of their son as she’d always done.
“Yes… but the thing she forgot to mention my son is that the beauty was never beauty at all if it were to bite you in the butt. Therefore, it was not true beauty but just an illusion.”
“What’s an illusion mommy?” asked the little hippo, curiously.
Gum-Gums wife then smiled again and shook her head, walking the little hippo out of the cave they hid and into the light. Gum-Gum had followed behind his family, and Fiona as well as the ones who followed her would do the same.
“It’s pretty quiet out here,” said Fiona.
“Yeah… a little too quiet,” said the Hippo named Horse.
It was the first time Gum-Gum had heard him speak. It was odd. For the monstrous size that the hippo was, he had quite the calming voice that eased one’s soul. A voice like Barry white or Billy Dee Williams. But even still, Gum-Gum didn’t take the hippos voice lightly.
“Everyone stay here… I’m going to check something out,” said Gum-Gum.
“Wait just a minute!” shouted Fiona. “I thought you were taking us to the tunnels?”
“I am. I promise. But…” paused Gum-Gum.
“But what?” asked Fiona frustratingly.
“But something doesn’t feel right… Like I feel like we are being watched,” said Gum-Gum, nervously.
Fiona didn’t buy one bit of it at all.
“Okay, fine. But I’m going with you,” she said.
Gum-Gum then rolled his eyes east of the plane.
“Fine… but it’s your funeral,” he sighed.
Both Gum-Gum and his sister Fiona then walked further out into the sun, while the rest stayed behind. Gum-Gum had felt uneasy about leaving his wife and child with a bunch fully grown male hippos. But as murderous as they all looked, he’d hoped there was still a soul in at least one of them. Maybe in the one named sky he thought. The hippos were an angelic blue. So, seeing evil from Sky would have been the biggest April fools joke to have happened to him in years. But in reality there was something far worst out there and it was close. Maybe… just maybe it was the hippo Fiona had told him about—Tar.
“So… tell me about this Tar again,” said Gum-Gum. “Why does he do what he does?”
“My heavens… what a stupid question. Is there ever any answer for a murderer or male of greed?”
Gum-Gum stood speechless. Fiona was right… there never really is an answer, yet we try to find it and the results always come out the same—that being for power or respect, but we can argue that those aren’t quite the answers one would want to hear. Especially if the matter was personal.
“Shh… I heard something,” whispered Fiona.
“Heard what?” Gum-Gum whispered back.
“I don’t know… Sounded like a growl…” said Fiona, nervously.
“Does Tar growl?” asked Gum-Gum with concern.
“No, you idiot, what hippo do you know growls,” said Fiona. “No…. its gotta be…”
Out from the tall golden grass 3 lions leaped. Before Gum-Gum or Fiona could do anything about it they were surrounded.
“Well, well, well,” said one of the lions. “Look what we have here. Two plump and juicy pieces of meat for this mornings breakfast.”
Unlike the lions around it, the lion had a black mane as dark as coal. His eyes were like a snake and sparkled with dashes of emerald as the sunlight hit them. Across his snout a giant scar slit across it from West to southeast. Drool oozed down the side of its mouth as well a bit of blood from what was assumed from the prey he’d killed prior.
“Riot…” said Gum-Gum. “Riot… its me… What are you doing?”
Riot had a cynical look in his eyes. And it was obvious by now to Gum-Gum that the lion did not recognize him.
“Riot… Don’t you recognize me? Our kids grew up together. Your son was…”
“Don’t!” interrupted Riot with rage. “Do not speak of my boy until you have lost your own!”
The other two other lions stood back as Riot had made his way closer to Gum-Gum and Fiona but the more he did the more Fiona would step back. She saw nothing in the lion’s eyes that looked negotiable. No matter how beautiful Riots mane was, like Fiona had told the little hippos from before, beauty would always find a way to bite you in the butt. And for their circumstance it was surely getting ready to happen. Before Riot would lunge, Gum-Gum had said something that would grab his attention just before he’d grab one of them.
“Wait!” shouted Gum-Gum.
“Why should I?” asked Riot.
“Because…” hesitated Gum-Gum. “If you kill me then you got no one to show you where the tunnels are.”
“What the… What are you doing?” whispered Fiona.
“Saving our fat hippos butts that’s what,” replied Gum-Gum.
“Hmm… You’ve never wanted to show anyone the tunnels. So, why show me now?” asked Riot.
“I’ve got nothing else… My wife… my son… my herd… their all gone…” lied Gum-Gum.
Riot then gave off a loud roar that echoed the blue skies, and the other two lions would back down. Gum-Gum had never seen anything like it. 3 fully grown male lions in a pack together. He’d pondered on where the females were but for obvious reasons was too afraid to ask.
“Alright then,” growled Riot. “Where to?”
Gum-Gum pointed but it immediately became apparent that Riot neither did any of the other lions like it.
“You must think I’m some kind of a fool,” snarled Riot. “You think I’m a fool don’t you! You no better than anyone that lions can’t swim!”
All lions became angered with Gum-Gums insult for awareness. Apparently, they were much brighter than he thought. One of the other lions then stepped forward. He wasn’t as big as Riot or the remaining one but boy did he have a temper on him. If it wasn’t for his size, he just might’ve been the leader of the pack.
“You better start giving us a better route now or I’m going to peel the skin off of your back like… like…” the little lion fumbled.
“Like bacon, young prince,” shouted the other lion.
The little lion then slapped the other lion with its massive paw.
“Shut it! I know that…” he said.
“Wait… those eyes, that man… You’re the lion king’s son, aren’t you?” asked Gum-Gum
“If you must ask, yes. And I’ve grown up to be quite the tough one if I should say so myself,” said the little lion.
Riot stood by somewhat envious by it all. As little as the young lion was, he was still intimidated by him. Intimidated that one day, he would come for his position as leader.
“What happened to your father?” asked Fiona.
The little lion had then for once shown some innocence. His long paintbrush-like tail had tucked between his legs, while his ears had gone down a little.
“Anyways…” interrupted Riot. “Where will you take us because we surely are not crossing that river.”
Gum-Gum still couldn’t let go of what happened to the lion king but still he answered Riots question for if he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have been coming back to his wife and son ever. The thought of that killed him inside.
“We will go there then,” pointed Gum-Gum. “It’s the best I can do.”
“Dammit!” roared Riot.
“Oh no… I hate the trenches,” said the other lion with no name or story at all.
“Yeah me to…” said the little lion. “Hopefully we won’t bump into…”
“Bump into who?” asked Gum-Gum and Fiona.
Together the two had assumed the same. Was it Tar?
Riot then walked up to them both and leaned in.
“You said you wanted to know what happened to the lion king, well… you’re about to find out.”
To be continued.