Hello! Oh em geez I'm back, and now I'm 16, which means that I can play the lottery, get a moped license and that it's about time I got back to fanfiction writing! Before I get back to "Reprisal" however, I want to upload this one-shot. I was in France the last few weeks, and I wrote it longhand. I remember reading somewhere (probably on a DVD or laserdisc) that an earlier concept for Mufasa's death scene was to save Simba from a flood rather than a Wildebeest stampede, and I thought that would be an interesting thing to explore. So, here we go…
P.S. Please allow some artistic licence with this story. E.g. I know the gorge in the film was under a field, not a lake, but for this story, think oppositely. =)
P.P.S. This is a short story that will be in two parts.
Taka wondered how the gods had ever granted him the misfortune of being related to such an irritating cub. Not that he believed in them, but he was sure, if they existed, that they would have had it in for him. All he could do to relieve the annoyance was to tell himself that his nephew would soon be dead…
Did he never stop talking? He was forever burbling on about one thing or another. "My dad this" or my dad that" or "Nala and I did this" or "my dad told me that". He cursed his brother for raising him to be so obnoxious, though by now he had trained his brain to block out the din. Despite the fact that he avoided him as much as possible, Take now wished that his mother wouldn't be so overly protective or possessive. Getting him away from her had been a task in itself.
"Mufasa never mentioned any surprise to me."
"It was rather spontaneous, I agree," Taka lied, "but he seemed very eager for it to go ahead."
She regarded him with mistrusting eyes, and Taka began to think that she maybe wouldn't let him go. He needn't have worried. His furry highness dashed about, pleading excitedly with her until she relented. The adult lion knew he would have to comfort her tonight: she would sorely regret her decision.
The brat was now banging on about some story his father had told him. Taka wasn't listening, but he was sure it was one that had been regurgitated from his own childhood.
"…and then he said the great kings of the past are watching us from the stars. I think that's really cool, someday I'm going to be up there, and then he said that they'll always be there to guide me and so will he."
He had to stop to catch his breath
"He and I'll always be together," he said, almost dreamily.
Not for much longer… Taka thought. Hopefully, anyway.
"Hey Uncle Scar!" the cub called as Taka kept walking, "why doesn't anyone ever call you by your real name?"
Taka felt his blood begin to boil as the memories came flooding back. He still remembered the terrorising look on his fathers face, the flash of his paw, the sudden stinging sensation… the gash that covered his eye seemed to almost prickle at the memory.
"Never you mind, Simba," he said through gritted teeth.
"But I do mind," he pipped, "I want to know!"
"You'll find out when you're older," said Taka, the exasperation clear in his voice.
"That's what my mom said! I wanna know now-"
"Well you can't!" Taka cried, half yelling, half snapping.
His nephew's lip quivered, and for one second, Taka wondered if he might cry. He needn't have worried thoug, for he once again began a completely useless story involving an empty turtle shell and a group of ostriches.
As the cub continued, Taka revised the plan in his head. The gorge, which was where they were headed, lay beneath a great lake, which had been dammed many generations before. He had stationed three of the hyenas at the top, who, on his command, would break away some of the logs holding the water back, causin it to burst through. Simba would be swept up in the fray, and would surely perish when the flood waters reached the steep drop at the end of the gorge. With any luck, Mufasa would meet the same fate whilst trying to save him. The plan seemed foolproof, Taka thought, but if anything went wrong… the consequences would be dire. Discovery of his treachery would result in his exile, or even death. But, if he succeeded, the rewards would be even greater. He kept telling himself this as the child's gabbling became harder and harder to bear. When they soon reached the gorge, the cub froze.
"This is the gorge," he said, slowly, "my parents told me never to come here. They said it was dangerous."
"You were told the elephant graveyard was dangerous, and you still went there, didn't you?"
Simba stared at him.
"How do you know about that?"
"Everyone knows about that, Simba."
Simba looked mortified, shuffling his paws nervously.
"Okay," he muttered.
Taka didn't even bother to try and help his nephew down into the gorge. The thought of having to pick him up was horrifying. Goodness knows what kind of filthy muck he had been doubtless rolling in. As he leapt lightly from rock to rock, Simba struggled to follow him.
"Uncle Scar!" he called, "what is this surprise?"
"If I told you," Taka shouted back, "it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?"
The cub slid clumsily down a rock and collided with his back legs, causing him to emit a soft growl of annoyance.
"If you told me," he said, "I'd still pretend to be surprised."
"Well I'm not going to. This is just for you and your daddy to share."
"Come on Uncle Scar!" the cub moaned, "tell me!"
Taka silently groaned with sheer irritation. Very soon… very soon…
They reached the bottom, and Taka led the child to a low rock in the centre.
"Now you just wait here, and try not to get into any trouble."
"Where are you going?" Simba inquired.
"I'm going to get your father."
Just the mention of him made the cub's face light up.
"I'll go with you!" he cried delightedly, bounding down the rock.
"NO!" cried Taka, perhaps a little too desperately. Simba jumped in shock, and flattened himself against the ground. He wasn't used to being spoken to so sternly.
"No…" Taka repeated softly, with a nervous laugh, "just stay here and wait."
"What should I do while I'm waiting?"
Taka rolled his eyes as he turned away. Why did he have to ask so many QUESTIONS?
"I don't know," he said, exasperatedly, "work on your roar or something!"
He was suddenly concerned. He had timed everything carefully to make sure that Mufasa would be exactly where he expected him to be. The cub's incessant whining and questions, however, meant that he was behind schedule. Should Mufasa return to Pride Rock, questions would surely be asked about this "surprise" he had organised. Then the game would be up. Trying not to panic, he pressed on, smirking slightly as he heard his nephew's attempts at roaring. His ignorance was overwhelming.
When Taka reached the lake, the three hyenas were waiting.
"Hey, boss!" cried one, "we were wondering where you were."
He ignored him, instead peering down into the gorge where the tiny speck that was Simba could be seen.
"I'm bored," said another, "let's get smashing!"
"Not yet!" Taka snapped, not taking his eyes off the cub, "wait until the proper moment."
"What has this got to do with "proper moments"? Let's just get the job done so we can get out of here! If Mufasa finds out if we were in the Pride Lands he'll-"
"Mufasa's not going to find out," Taka said, smoothly, "he'll be dead within the hour, unless of course you don't do this right… in that case I suppose he'd probably come after you. I think that's as good a reason as any to wait. Don't you agree?"
His face looked completely menacing, his calm demeanour had rapidly left him.
"All right then," the hyena muttered.
It was then that a colossal yowl was heard from down below. Taka was surprised that the brat could even muster something like that…
"Okay," he said, bracing himself for the series of events that were to follow, "now."
In the gorge down below, Simba waited. He was confused as to why his father wanted him to wait here, or all places. He had only ever stressed to him for his entire life how dangerous it was. Oh well, he thought, he was here now. He was tired from the long walk over, but he wanted to practise his roar for when his father arrived. Maybe he could impress him then. Taking a deep breath in, he let out what felt like a colossal roar. To his dismay, it only came out as little more than a cubbish meow. Becoming frustrated, he tried again, but again the results were similar. Snorting in displeasure, he took a final deep breath in. He let it out, and quite a spectacular yowl emitted from his mouth. It bounced off the sides of the gorge, making them almost vibrate. Simba smiled to himself, pleased, and prepared to do it again. He stopped, however, at the sound of several distant crashes. Turning around, he saw several logs from the dam up above crumble away, splintering when they hit the ground. Had his roar had that much effect? The logs were still falling, more and more every second…
And then, it happened.
As the dam weakened, the pressure of the water, which had been building up for some time, only broke it up even more. In a split second, the entire dam burst, sending a gigantic wall of water surging towards Simba.
He stared at it for a few seconds, too scared and petrified to move or even scream. After that he ran, faster than he felt he had ever run in his life, his feet pounding along the ground. He ran flat out, gasping for air, listening to the sound of the crashing water racing up behind him. Get out of the gorge, get out of the gorge, get out of the gorge!
It was a useless struggle. Within seconds, the surging water caught up with him, sweeping him up and tossing him into the air. He came crashing down into the water, flailing his claws around, hoping to grab onto one of the shattered logs that was now begin carried alongside him, but it was no use. He had never swam in his life before, and he was completely blinded by the dark water, unable to see through it. As he struggled to keep his head up, he would be pulled under and suddenly thrown up again as the churning flood smashed against the sides of the gorge, creating waves. He would have a few seconds to gasp for air before plunging back down again. He tried to yell for help, but his mouth would fill with water and the sound would be lost as a mere gurgle. He briefly surfaced.
"Help me! Oh gods, somebody help me!"
Only a short distance away, Mufasa was patrolling, Zazu perched on his shoulder. He could hear the bird talking away, though the king's mind was elsewhere.
"… so I told the elephants to forget it, but you know that they can't, and…"
"Yes, Zazu, that's very interesting," said Mufasa, absentmindedly.
"Look, sire," he said, slightly confused, "the dam seems to have… burst."
Mufasa looked towards the gorge.
"Odd…" he began, but he stopped as his brother suddenly appeared before him. He looked almost… scared.
"Mufasa," he cried, "quick! There's a flood in the gorge. Simba's down there!"
The entire world seemed to almost stop in that moment.
The next thing he knew, he was sprinting flat out towards the gorge, heart pounding, blood beating in his ears, mind racing…
"ZAZU!" he screamed, "FLY AHEAD! FIND HIM!"
He didn't even try to disguise the sheer terror in his voice as the bird swooped away. He was petrified to imagine what they would find when they got there. Then, another agonising thought came to him. The gorge ended in a huge drop. What if they weren't quick enough? His son might already be dead… he swallowed hard, tried not to think that way, and pressed valiantly on.
In the gorge, meanwhile, Simba was still being swept along by the current. He was exhausted: his nose and mouth were full of water, his fur was saturated and heavy and his limbs ached from flailing against the pull of the forces dragging him along. There was no way his little cub body could fight against it. He was almost ready to give up, let himself go, when a sudden beacon of light presented itself to him. A rickety tree branch, standing a few feet above the surface of the thrashing water, was coming up fast on his left. It didn't look very strong, but maybe… just maybe…
With all his might, Simba kicked towards it, and was nearly swept clean past it, before digging his claws into the rotting wood and dragging his saturated body out of the water. He clung to the branch, which swayed and jostled as logs and floodwater rushed past it. The roar of the crashing flood below was deafening, and the spray all but blinded him. His legs kept slipping out from beneath him as he tried to maintain a steady grip on the wet wood, and the creaking, cracking sound coming from beside him did nothing to dampen his fear.
Then, like a beacon of hope amidst the chaos, Zazu appeared. He flapped closer to the ever swaying branch.
"ZAZU!" screamed Simba, "HELP ME! PLEASE!"
"YOUR FATHER IS ON THE WAY!" the bird yelled back "HOLD ON!"
Oh thank the gods, he was saved…
Mufasa reached the gorge in record time, Taka hot on his heels. He skidded down a slope deeper into the ravine, and failed to suppress a gasp at what he saw. The scene playing out before him seemed to have been ripped straight from a nightmare: churning water and logs were everywhere, and his son was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh gods, Taka, I don't see him!"
Taka winced slightly at the sound of his real name, but was elated by the panic in his brother's voice. There was no way the cub was still alive, and he had never seen his brother so terrified. It also turned out that he was a better actor than he thought: Mufasa was completely buying every panicked expression and frantic scan of the ravine below. Before he could say anything else, however, an exhausted looking Zazu came hurtling towards them.
"There!" he gasped, "THERE! On that tree!"
Mufasa craned his neck and looked to the far side of the gorge. Sure enough, clinging to a swaying branch, dangling over certain doom, was Simba. Taka cursed under his breath.
"Oh sweet Aiheu," Mufasa whispered, "hang on Simba! I'm coming!"
At that point, a huge log rammed into the base of the tree, causing it to swing violently and Simba to nearly fall off. Hearing his son's petrified screams was the final push: with that, Mufasa rapidly leapt down some rocks and plunged, head first, into the water below.
One thing should be made clear: a lion never swims for pleasure, only when he has to. Mufasa was no exception to this rule. The cold water soaked into his fur and mane, weighing him down, and it took practically all the strength he possessed to fight against the current towards the unsteady tree his son clung to. The splintering logs only impeded his progress further, battering him and knocking him off course as he frantically swam through the flood. Despite the panic, fear and exhausting circumstances, he remained focused on a single goal: to reach Simba.
The cub could only watch as his father swam towards him, silently thanking the gods for sparing his life. The creaking limb he was so desperately trying to hold onto continued to judder and shake as bits of wood knocked the base, making it even harder to stay on it. A warning sign flashed in his head that the tree would not hold him much longer, and the creaking only got louder and louder and louder… as if on cue, there was an almighty crack and the sound of thousands of splinters breaking away from each other. The rotting tree had finally given way, tumbling down into the water, lion cub and all.
"NO!" Mufasa cried. He began to swim faster even though he was completely exhausted, frantically trying not to lose sight of his son in the fray. Simba squealed with terror as the tree toppled into the flood, throwing him away into the torrent. He sank beneath the surface as he struggled for purchase on something, anything he could find to hold himself up, but to no avail. He tried to yell for help, but once more his cry was lost as a storm of bubbles, filling his throat with water. He could feel himself going down, down, down…
Well…? I had originally planned for this to be just a one shot, but I kind of want to get something uploaded today, [and maybe I just want to build up a bit of tension ;)] The second part will be up pretty soon, possibly tomorrow (no promises though!) and Reprisal will hopefully have a new chapter within a week (all being well)
See you soon!