Suffocating. That was the only word that could be used to describe Simba's current situation. The cub was sinking deeper and deeper into the black abyss. The water swirled across his eyeballs and filled his throat and nostrils, blinding and choking him, making breathing of any kind impossible. He could feel his lungs throbbing as he struggled to keep hold of the last of the air he had inhaled. He thrashed his claws and kicked his legs in a valiant attempt to reach the surface once more, though of course it didn't work. Never in his life had he swam before, and now here he was, spiralling violently and out of control through an entire torrent of water. Panic, fear and adrenaline were coursing through his veins but he couldn't regain control of his body. He could feel his aching limbs start to slow as his already obscured vision began to haze.
Completely blind, deaf and thrashing with all his might, the last bubble of precious air from within his lungs escaped, rushing upwards towards the surface. The cub's desperate body continued to inhale, against his will, trying with all its might to sustain itself. It was useless. With a slow-motion thud the cub hit the floor of the gorge, where he could have once stood on all four paws, defeat accepted. He could no longer move: every inch of his body was now in complete agony as it was starved of oxygen. He could feel his brain, which moments before had been rushing with panic and adrenaline, slowly shutting itself down. His lungs continued to fill with water, as he struggled for air he couldn't find. Never in ten thousand moons would he have thought he would go like this. Sweet Aiheu, he had never even thought about dying at all. The only lions he had known to have died in the pride had been very, very old. Cubs weren't supposed to die… had his eyes not been completely surrounded by water, he may have cried then and there.
Just as his vision was about to go completely black, he suddenly felt himself surrounded by a sudden warmth. The bottom of the gorge rushed away from him, as he felt himself propelled skywards. Was he on his way to meet the kings of the past? It was getting brighter too. Through the blur he could see sunlight, getting brighter and brighter with every second…
He broke the surface of the water with what felt like an explosion. With an almighty gasp for air, he looked around him. His father, drenched beyond belief, swimming with everything he had, had seized him by the back of the neck and was now pulling him to safety. They were still surrounded by complete chaos: the churning of the waves around them had only become more violent. Logs and pieces of wood were being thrown about the ravine like leaves in a gust of wind. They would smash into each other and splinter into pieces, only to be lost instantaneously into the swirling torrent.
Mufasa fought his way through the water to where he had seen Simba's last paw disappearing mere seconds before. The logs that were still being carried by the flood rammed him as they passed, disorientating him. Bracing himself, he took a colossal breath inwards before plunging his head beneath the surface. He didn't even consider the sudden-icy shock that literally hit him in the face as he squinted through the hazy water to try and find Simba. As his panic mounted, so too did the pressure in his chest from trying to resist breathing. He swam further downwards still filled with terror and anxiety at the situation. He couldn't breathe; he had to go back up.
A mere second before he made to kick upwards, he spotted it: out of the corner of his eye, a blurry golden brown object was only feet from him. There was no way it couldn't be Simba. Mufasa hurriedly thrashed towards him, his mane floating up around him and obscuring his sight even more. Wasting no time, he grabbed Simba by the neck and kicked off the floor of the gorge. They began to soar upwards as one, faster and faster…
They surged up out of the water for a brief second before quickly being jolted back by the current. The cub gasped for breath as they emerged, causing some of the fear in Mufasa's pounding heart to loosen: Simba was still alive.
The rest of it didn't budge. The two of them were now being dragged downstream by the torrent, despite Mufasa kicking as hard as he could against it. It was quickly draining away his strength. He was all too aware of the drop at the end of the gorge, but had no idea how far away from it they were. They had to get out of the water.
Just as he was thinking this, a particularly large log suddenly rammed him from behind. With a roar of pain as it pushed him under, he felt Simba slip out of his grasp. Quickly resurfacing, he frantically looked around. A throbbing pain was now stabbing into his back, blood seeping out of the wound caused by the splintered log. He almost cried out in relief when he saw Simba, clinging to a tiny piece of wood floating along in front of him. Kicking forward with the last of the strength he could muster, he knew there was only one thing for it. Grabbing his son from in front of him, he swung his head as hard as he could. Simba squealed as he was tossed through the air, before landing hard with a thud onto a low platform on the wall of the gorge.
Mufasa only saw him for another fleeting second before the spiralling torrent swept him away.
Knowing his father was there made Simba feel a hundred times better, though he was still absolutely terrified. Even being carried through the water, every so often a wave would come up above the cub's head, preventing him breathing for a few seconds. He felt completely frozen, shivering with a combination of cold and fright. Mufasa seemed to be swimming for the wall of the gorge; maybe they'd be out soon.
Seconds after this thought came to him, his father's jaws around him were suddenly gone. A log had crashed into him from behind, and Simba barely heard his father roar before being dragged back down again. In his terror, he began to flail his paws around through the water in a desperate bid for life. Much to his shock, his paw actually grabbed a hold of a plank of wood that was only just about floating above him. In his surprise he very nearly let go, but instead hauled his head out of the water and clung to the wood, screwing his eyes shut as he continued to hurtle downstream with the current.
He hung on, waiting for the drop to fall out beneath him, but it never came. It never got the chance. Simba was roughly seized by the neck once again, and before he knew what was happening, he found himself suddenly soaring through the air. He cried out in terror before the nothingness around him was all at once replaced by rock, as he landed clumsily on a low plateau that jutted out from the wall of the ravine. Slightly dazed, he scrambled to his feet and peered out into the ever swirling gulch.
"DAD!" he yelled, though of course he expected no answer. His father was nowhere in sight. The only thing besides the water was the thousands of shattered pieces of wood which continued to swirl around wildly.
Downstream, something suddenly caught his eye: a figure, clinging to the rock with everything it had. It was a soaking wet, frozen to the bone lion. His father. Simba watched as he slowly began to scale the rock wall, his paws sliding uncontrollably across the wet stone. Every so often he would slip and fall back a little bit, but he still kept going. His mane was beyond soaking, plastered to his face as he climbed, obscuring his vision. Even from this distant perspective, the determination in his father's expression was clear. He wasn't going to give up. The cub turned around and hurriedly began to climb up the rocks to the top of the ravine hoping to meet Mufasa when he reached the top.
He didn't know that the two of them had just had living contact for the very last time.
Taka peered over the edge of the cliff where he was standing, watching as his brother slowly climbed towards him. His fool-proof plan was now completely ruined: everything that could have gone the wrong way had done so. He was facing death, or perhaps exile, if his brother were less merciful. The moment Simba opened his mouth about the "surprise", Taka's game would be up. Outside the pride he would never survive on his own. He had no hunting skills whatsoever, and the hyenas only source of fresh food, they would never accept him.
A sudden dark thought , darker than any he had ever experienced before, occurred to him.
Kill him now! This is your last chance!
Yes, Taka had set out to kill his brother and nephew, but he had intended it so that he never had to do anything directly.
No! Taka replied to his conscience, I can't! I never wanted to do that!
You fool! You have no other alternative! This is treason, you will die for sure for this! The kingship is within your grasp if you just KILL HIM!
The static of his merging thoughts returned once more. His brother was getting closer and closer.
Taka, in a panic, could only stare at him as he climbed higher and higher. His mind was right. There was nothing else for it. He closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, his resolve hardening.
"Scar!" came the cry from below, "Brother! Help me!"
Taka stared down at his brother, who was barely holding on to the rock. He was completely drenched; a very long trail of dampness was leading down behind him, where his wet body had been dragged across the dry upper rock. He was panting from the effort of trying to hold himself in place with his soaked paws. Seemingly his claws were the only thing he could grip the side of the ravine with.
He looked from Mufasa to the rushing flood below them and then to the right of them. The drop was so close, he hadn't even realised as he had followed his brother and nephew as they were dragged downstream. He watched as the dozens of splintered logs tumbled over the edge as the newly formed waterfall fell out beneath them. His eyes snapped back to Mufasa.
He knew if he said anything to him he wouldn't be able to hold him for long, otherwise he might not do it.
He quickly slammed his claws down on top of his brother's paws, eliciting a cry of pain from the latter. With all his strength. Taka pulled him closer, watching as his eyes clouded with confusion.
Trying to shake the trembling out of his voice, he uttered his final words to him.
"Long live the King…"
Not allowing any time for a response, he flung his claws out, and watched as the confusion on Mufasa's face rapidly switched to horror. Unceremoniously, he fell back, as a scream of utmost terror left him. His legs flailed through the air for purchase that just wasn't there, whilst the sky and the ground had swapped places. Downwards he tumbled, lost from sight as he crashed into the swirling torrent below. Taka waited for a few seconds more, and watched as his brother's golden form finally toppled over the drop.
Simba had turned as a piercing scream descended upon his ears above the roar of the flood below. He had been greeted by the sight of his father, tumbling through the air towards certain doom. He scrambled to the edge of the plateau just as he smashed through the surface of the water. His panic rising, the cub began to sprint downstream, desperately trying to spot his father through the fray of logs that were still flowing.
He didn't have to run far: he skidded to a halt as the realisation of the imminent drop hit him like a smack in the face.
"No," he muttered, "no, no, NO!"
And then, in an instant, he saw a motionless figure bob up to the surface of the water. Before he could react, he stared as it fell over the edge of the ravine, and out of sight…
Everything beyond that point became a blur. He could barely remember running onwards, clumsily climbing down the rocky wall of the ravine, slipping near the bottom… clarity seemed to return as he hit the ground, face first. Shaking the dizziness out of his head, he looked around. The water here was much, much shallower, losing momentum as it fell downwards. Down here was much more open. Much of the water had pooled while lots of it flowed much more gently off to the cub's left. The roaring of the descending water behind him seemed to suddenly be muffled as he spotted a motionless form not too far away.
"Dad!" he cried, hurrying towards him.
Simba stopped and stared down in horror. The water he was now walking through was red with blood. He slowly, filled with dread, followed the blood to its source, his eyes widening as he found his father's mangled body. A small sob escaped from his mouth as he moved forward again, to look into the fallen lion's face.
"Dad?" he asked, feebly.
"Dad, come on. You've gotta get up."
He nudged Mufasa's face. As he touched him, it moved upwards, but dropped down again with a dull thud. It was stone cold.
"Dad? We've gotta go home..." Simba's voice cracked, and the first few tears began to fall. He looked around him, desperately, looking for help that wasn't coming. He ran a few paces away from his dead father.
"HELP! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?! ANYBODY, PLEASE!"
He listened as his cries echoed around him, and the reality of the situation hit him. No one was there. No one was coming. His father was dead.
With that, the tears began to flow freely, streaking down his cheeks and being lost as they dropped into the water below. Soaking wet, shivering, and scared beyond belief, Simba trudged back to the once great King's corpse. In utter defeat, he slumped down beside him, pressing his trembling body against his father's cold side. He shut his eyes and lay, motionlessly, not knowing what to do.
He didn't notice the time passing, he didn't notice his Uncle silently approach him, and he didn't know that his life was about to change forever, at the utterance of five words…
"Simba, what have you done?"
And there. FINISHED! Hope you liked it, it was 12 months in the making. Ugh, so sorry for this, I was hit with a block literally the day after I uploaded the first part. I know I said "Next chapter up tomorrow!" but in honesty I half forgot about this and half just didn't know how to continue.
By the way, when I was on holiday recently I took every opportunity while I was in any kind of body of water (swimming pools, the sea etc.) to try and recreate what crashing through the water was like to try and add to the realism of this fic. Needless to say, everyone at the health club of the Birmingham Hilton/various Donegal beaches now thinks that I'm bat sh*t crazy.
Any who, thanks for reading!