Hey guys! Thanks so much to everyone that reviewed! Here's the next, bit shorter than the last, but next week's is longer!
RUN (and live)
Some days, he could just wander through the jungle endlessly. Bugs were annoying and buzzed around his head, but certain flowers kept 'em away. He inevitably ended up eating something he wasn't supposed to, so that stopped worrying him after the first couple of times. It just happened! And cuts and bruises were a given, 'cause the jungle was dark and the moonlight couldn't penetrate the thick foliage.
Sometimes there were snakes, and they hissed and waved in the breeze, rearing back with mouths open. He got to know them well, always freezing solid and making a small target, then, when they were just almost furthest leaned back, seconds away from striking, he would lunge out of the way. Snakes, he could handle.
Birds were pointless and harmless and sometimes even led him to food, showed him how to get through a plant's defenses to get at the fruit. Birds were birds, not much else.
Beetles were the coolest, with their hard shells and skinny legs and funny antenna. He liked beetles a lot.
The bigger animals, not so much.
He met a tiger for the first time in an awkward, kind of barely visual encounter.
It had started with a growl; he even thought it was his tummy at first! Then, there was nothing, just the faint crackle of leaves. He barely noticed; too busy inspecting a neat little arthropod with a back so shiny it reflected the rainbow.
That beetle saved his life.
It flew away, and he turned to watch it, maybe even chase it, only to find himself face to face with huge yellow, feline eyes, a broad furry face, and broad black stripes across tangerine fur.
He froze, like with the snakes, but the beast didn't. It kept creeping forward, haunches raised and its front low to the earth. Even still, it towered over him, powerful muscle rippling under its coat with every movement.
It had claws, and fangs, and the keen eyes of a hunter. He shook, heart beating fast, too fast, so loud it was a drum in his ears, and a chill gripped him tight. He wanted to scream, to cry, but his mouth was stuck solidly shut.
The tiger crept closer. Ten feet, eight feet, seven...
And he bolted, ducking behind the closest tree as the beast launched itself into the air. He scrambled away as its paws tore at the ground, the monstrous creature twisting around to give chase.
He ran and ran, sandaled feet meeting the jungle floor like clap, clap, clap, the snarls of the monster shaking his bones and pushing him faster. Breathe in, breathe out. Right foot, left foot, hop over that root, up that rock, slide down the other side. His usual clumsiness was lost in the flight, overtaken by instinct and lightning reflexes he never knew he possessed. Arms pumping, Luffy learned to run for all he's worth, and when he finally escaped the jungle, the beast lost somewhere long behind, the villagers looked at his cuts and asked if he fell again.
And he laughed and continued on, with giddy exhilaration and pure adrenaline, the sheer jubilation of life, until they too were left behind with his footsteps.
After all, nothing could keep up with the wind.
Next up is Yell (and Live), and is a bit darker. (Or maybe a lot darker, depending on your feelings about child abandonment)