Lurda scrunched lower into the underbrush and flattened her belly against the warm earth. Head erect, her green eyes darted from side to side as she scanned the terrain. The tall underbrush which concealed the lioness whispered and lightly brushed her head, spitting dry twigs on top of her tawny coat. What was that?
A great rustle announced the arrival of a herd of Springboks breaking through the lush green foliage. The hot Namibian sun was on the move across the sky and the gazelles were drawn to the shade of the trees next to the Zambezi River. A female, with offspring in tow, sauntered ahead regally then paused to examined her surroundings with a sweep of her head. Satisfied, she nudged Yama toward the water.
"Go ahead, baby,” Quea permitted. Her nostrils flared, poised to detect the first scent of danger. She glanced toward the others, irritated. Already, they had dropped their heads recklessly and were yanking clumps of the succulent grass out of the ground. She moved closer to Yama, who lapped long and deep.
Many yards away Lurda squinted, her eyes having trailed the herd as it glided across the savanna. Good, good. This would be easy, again. Wait. Her jaws clenched. That one female was watching again. A low growl escaped Lurda’s throat. You had to admire it’s beauty, though.
The gazelle’s legs were long and slender, joined by muscular haunches attached to a white underbelly. Her reddish tan coat was outlined with a belt of coal black fur. The ridged horns that curled delicately above her head were not much use for protection, but decorative – definitely.
Lurda panted from the heat but resisted the urge to shift her cramped muscles. The gazelle might detect the lioness’ presence, but the others never heeded any of her warnings. No, the pride would not miss a meal anytime soon.
“…prowling around like a roaring lion.” The words pelted Quea’s mind. Her head cocked to one side, horns arching like little antennas. Something felt wrong. Was Magnificent- Maker- of- All speaking? She glanced toward the others, who were engrossed in chewing their cud and oblivious. She could leap to get their attention, but they would resent the interruption, and only dismiss her as “skittish.” Quea decided instead to examine the area and formulate a plan for escape if needed.
Lurda’s hair bristled. Her pulse quickened as she flexed her claws and dug into the earth.
Yama, please finish quickly. Mama is concerned,” Quea urged. Yama took a final swig and scampered obediently to his mother’s side.
…”seeking who he may devour.” Quea’s mind began to race. Two of the offspring were frolicking too far away.
“Can’t you feel that?” Quea whinnied desperately toward the other females, their eyes now heavy under the spell of a lazy afternoon daze.
NOW! Lurda crashed through the underbrush with an earth shattering roar. She lunged, huge haunches rippling and large paws pounding the dirt, decimating the distance between her and her prey.
The devil! Quea lept. “Run! Yama, RUN!” Yama bolted instantly on command and the two sailed through the air as one, leaping toward safety. Quea’s heart swelled with pride and fear as they raced. Yama had taken the lessons of quick obedience to heart.
Dust clouds mushroomed while dirt clods sailed like missiles in all directions. Chaos reigned and the earth seemed plunged into darkness. The gazelles brayed loudly, scattering, as the ground shook under battle. Somewhere a high pitched screech arose, followed by the horrid sound of tearing flesh. By the time the African sun began its decent into the horizon, the savannah had fallen completely silent.
Quea crouched deeper into the tall cool grass. Yama’s breathing and heart had finally slowed to a normal pace. “You did good, baby,” she whispered. Yama nuzzled deeper into his mother’s side.
Lurda’s jaw yawned wide in satisfaction. The pride had had its fill. There was even enough this time for the cubs. It had been easy to catch the gazelles off guard. By panicking, they had sealed their fate. Good thing, too. Had they stood together and charged, they could have tromped the lioness to death.
However, it might be best to get rid of that one that was always standing sentry. It wouldn’t do to become too confident. The first rule of survival was to never relax your guard. Besides, one of the other gazelles might start listening, eventually. Lurda stretched out on the cooling earth and belched.
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