Chapter 28: Over the Edge
Red has gone over the edge this time! Even though I have no idea about what in the world could have happened during my absence that made him become so unstable, yesterday's situation made me use drastic measures in order not to let the situation become too dangerous. The oldest of the lions is stronger than the younger ones, and since he continues to attack them, it was necessary to isolate him and take him away from the walk. Furthermore, I have also decided to put Black and Laila under strict observation as well, in order to estimate what exactly is wrong with them. Good thing the new Director is more concerned about the lions' wellbeing than the ZOO's income. I'm sure the old one would just let the animals slaughter themselves with the visitors watching, but I will sooner crack than let something like that happen.
Behind locked doors, inside a well-illuminated, small room with a white lino floor that was one of the chambers inside the ZOO's laboratory, there stood three tight, uncomfortable cages placed under each opposite wall. And in each one of them, there was a lion.
In the first cage, a young and quite good-looking female with dark brown fur paced to and thro from wall to wall in great anxiety, her agitation significantly shadowing the esthetics of her outer appearance.
In the second cage, a male with pitch-black hair sat unconcerned with anything, only delicately nursing his many fresh wounds, deliberately ignoring the lioness' communicative glares which she would send him from time to time.
In the third cage, a large and dangerously looking goldish-red lion laid in an unnatural, uncomfortable position, emerged in his externally induced slumber.
Laila was slowly beginning to lose her patience. Since it was impossible to see the sky from where the lions had been taken, she couldn't say how long a time have they spent on nothing more but waiting inactively, though she was sure that it took at least a few good hours. Feeling thoroughly tired, she sat in the middle of her cubicle prison with a groan of uncertain anticipation, silent, yet loud enough for Scar to be able to clearly hear her from the other side of the room. Once again, he did not answer with a single word, sound or motion. He just kept licking the scratches on his shoulder, looking as if he felt no pain as he did so. But Laila knew that even though the wounds that Mufasa had inflicted have finally ceased to bleed, they did hurt. The more that the type of pain they caused was not exactly a plainly physical one.
It's hard to say how much more time was Laila forced to hold her tongue. It might have been ten minutes or even a whole hour. But that did not matter- what was important was that Mufasa, formerly treated with the strongest kind of sedatives, finally came to his senses.
His two fellow prisoners found that out as soon as they heard his angry, painful moan that clearly showed his state of mind after waking up. All of what he'd been through- the rage, the fight and the drug, has done its job in making him even more wild and blinded by pure lowest instincts.
Among the animal kingdom, there were always species that were more or less reasonable. The state of the development of their brains stretched out from the highly unintelligent, gregarious herbivores that depended more on their numbers than the actual skills of each individual creature- all the way to as far as those as wise as the primates that were clever enough to sustain a lone lifestyle. The lion kind was nicknamed the 'kings of beasts' mostly because they combined both intelligence and strength. But even despite that, each one of them, even a unit as noble as Mufasa, was still deep in his heart a wild and untamed animal. There were some who were able to hide that well, and the king of Pride Rock had been one of them, always behaving with highest reasonable self-control. But unfortunately, thanks to the hardships of life behind bars and the seemingly intentional interventions of his brother Scar, that has changed dramatically.
Mufasa stood up from the ground with a lot of effort, hard to recognize as his old self. His mane was torn, blades of hey were entangled with his hair and covered the rest of his dirty fur. His face was twisted and stained with spit, his aching eyes blood-shot and crazed. As he directed them towards the blurry sight of bars that kept him enclosed in his present tight prison, he frowned even more, and when he was able to notice the other two lions, more by their scent than by seeing them, he roared. The voice that could be heard was not the voice of king Mufasa- not even when he was angry. Mufasa was lost in oblivion. That was the growl of a beast.
Laila shivered, seeing how her former friend suddenly regained his strength after such a long coma only to charge at the wall of his cage ferociously. And, of course, to no effect. Again, she addressed Scar with a soundless, desperate request drawn on her face.
Please, do something! You have to!
The black-maned lion had stopped tending his wounds and sat as he would often sit, gruesomely unconcerned and passionless. But after taking a quick glance at his deranged sibling, he did give her an answering look.
No. Stay put.
The lioness narrowed her eyes.
Scar! Don't let him go too far! At least speak to him!
But the male just observed the muscular feline's attempts to tear down the bars with a vacant expression. After a while, he gazed at Laila once more.
You know this is necessary. You have agreed to do this!
Yes, she knew that was true. But still sorrow filled her heart when she saw Mufasa hurting himself in the futile fight with pure iron.
Or maybe not so futile a fight after all...?
This is what she thought when she heard a characteristic metallic creaking, which indicated that the cage's hinges had indeed loosened under the pressure of the lion's strong paws. The sound made Scar smile.
Heh-heh, well done, brother... Alright, Laila- now you can simply sit back and enjoy the show.
Mufasa moved away from the cage wall panting, totally worn off. With a dangling tongue he collapsed to the floor, foam dripping from the corners of his mouth. He looked calm, but he was not- he was just exhausted.
The other two lions waited. The right moment was bound to come sooner or later. And indeed- since they were under constant supervision, it came not long after Mufasa's apparent rest. In the fourth wall of the room, the only one that didn't have a cage over it, there was a door. And now all three pairs of ears went up to hear the sound of the door being opened. It was to be anticipated- seeing that all the lions had finally woken up, their human keeper decided it was the right time to feed them.
And now they saw him once again- their kidnapper and benefactor in the same person, their patron and the one who felt most responsible for them, even though he led to their apprehension and all of their misery in the first place. They knew him well- his smell, the look of his white lab coat, the sound of his steps... Scar, Laila and Mufasa gazed at him closely as he made his way through the room, carrying a bucket full of fresh meat. He didn't look very satisfied. He put the bucket on the ground in front of Mufasa's cage and grabbing a piece of beef, held it in front of the resting lion's face, his expression indicating that he was about to give it to him even though he felt the lion didn't deserve it at all.
But the breeder was ignorant of just how much he didn't deserve it.
When the large beast suddenly battered at the bars of his cage, the human wasn't very surprised. But when the hinges were torn with a sharp crackle and Mufasa charged at him roaring, exposing his sharp claws and giant fangs, he dropped the meat from his hand and howled in terror, attempting to shield himself, his effort providing him with no help at all.
Laila watched the following scene with horror and disgust as the human's bloodcurdling screams, filling the room up to the very ceiling, sent shivers down her spine. But Scar was still gazing at her, reminding her of her promise- that if this was ever to actually happen, she would stay put. And so she did, even if it was hard, directing her eyes alternately towards the smiling, black-maned lion and the ravel of bodies that struggled in order to free a man from the mouth of a lion.
AN: MAN DOWN! This is it! Mufasa gone bad! So I guess this is the end of the 'Breeder's journal'…
It's clear that Scar had a plan in making him mad- but is he planning to get rid of his older brother after all? And what is Laila's role in this scheme? Answers are coming! I hope to submit the next chap about Sunday. Thank you for the support! I'll do my best!