A Meal Denied

He was hungry.  All he could think about was his next meal. It consumed him, becoming a living entity inside his brain and belly. It had been that way ever since his capture.

His earliest memories were sketchy. He could barely remember his mother. He thought of the day when he was playing with his brothers and sisters. They were playing a rough game of hide and seek in the heavy vegetation near their den. He heard his mother roar with pain, and then a net was thrown over him and he was shoved into a tightly woven basket. His siblings joined him in short order. He never saw his mother again.

He was taken to a place that resembled a den and was thrust into it along with his siblings. And then they were left alone for four days without food or water. It about drove him mad. The runt of the litter was his sister. The morning of the fourth day she died. At that moment family ties meant nothing. They were so hungry they ate her.

He found that he liked the taste of blood. He liked the pungent iron taste of it as it dripped from his chin. As he grew older he developed a liking for a certain kind of blood. He found himself craving human blood. He didn’t get it very often. All he knew was that he and his siblings would get their chance when a human was thrown into their den. What always aroused his was the smell of fear. It was overpowering. It would be mingled with sweat and body waste. But it was always there.

His captors kept him hungry. Other than scraps to keep him alive, he might get a meal once every couple of weeks. By then his hunger had grown into a snarling, mad beast.

One day, as he was lying in the corner of the den, he heard a commotion. He knew what it was. He arose, stretched, and licked his chops. In his mind, he knew he was going to eat today. The thought of it made him frantic. His siblings could sense it too. They began to nervously pace the den.

Suddenly an opening, in the ceiling of the den, appeared and a human was thrown into their midst. He began to stalk his victim, sniffing the air in anticipation. He thought it strange that he couldn’t smell any fear this time.

He watched as the human knelt down and bowed his head. This was going to be easy. He crouched down, measured the distance, and lunged.

What happened next was a mystery. Something appeared between him and the human. It looked like another human but it was one like he had never seen before. It was huge, dressed in white, and it was watching him. He paused for a moment and sniffed the air. Funny, he couldn’t smell him. As he attacked this human somehow stopped him. He was a full-grown male lion that was starved. He tried to roar and couldn’t. For some reason, he couldn’t open his jaws. It was as if something was holding it shut.    

Baffled, he slunk back to the far reaches of the den and watched as the same thing happened to his siblings. There were a number of these beings there protecting the human. They made a ring around him with their backs to him so that they could face the lions. He paced back and forth for part of the night and then gave up. Neither he nor his siblings would eat tonight.

The next morning that opening appeared again and the human climbed out safe and secure. The moment he was out the beings disappeared in front of them. He and his siblings roared with hunger and frustration. This had never happened before.

That afternoon they were fed. The human that had captured them, when they were little, was thrown into the den. Again, blood dripped from his chin and he was happy.

February 25, 2022