It was the most magnificent creature I'd ever seen! The red-gold mane was long and flowing. I'd always thought how incredible it would be to have one as a pet. This one was apparently tame for it was walking through the streets very docile. I watched the long hair as it billowed around the animal's muscular neck.
I couldn't seem to stop myself. I followed it as it wandered aimlessly down the street. It did indeed look very regal. It was truly the king of beasts. How did a lion get here, in the center of town? I was very puzzled as I followed it along its way. It stopped every now and then. It would hold its head up high and look around as if searching for direction.
Occasionally it crossed the street, and I with it. It was nearing dusk and I should go home. I knew I would be in trouble if I was late to dinner, but still I followed.
The lion, stately and proud, stopped. I stopped. He looked up toward the heavens and let out a mighty roar. Then he moved to a big pine tree. As I watched, I saw his tongue protruding from his mouth. It looked as if he were going to lick the tree but just as the tongue connected, I realized that it wasn't a tongue at all, but rather a large tube! He stuck the tube directly into the trunk of the tree. All at once the tree began to shrivel up and die. Right before my very eyes the tree was reduced to almost nothing. I had never seen anything like it! The tube was extracted and the lion continued on its way, with me in tow.
I watched as the lion drained the sap out of three more trees, all mighty oaks.
Dusk was beginning to settle heavily now. The streetlights had come on. There was a policeman standing on the corner and he looked startled as the lion approached him. I think even then I knew what would happen. I should have run home, but as I said, I was much too fascinated by this magnificent beast! The officer tried to slowly back away but when he realized the lion was gaining on him, he turned abruptly and ran. I don't know why he didn't bother with his gun. At any rate, he was no match for my friend. In just a couple of bounds the lion was atop. I watched as if I were in a trance while the tube was drawn out and again plunged into the victim. I was a little bothered by this one. The tree, of course, had made no noise. But it was obvious in this attack that it was very painful. Still, I watched. The sight of a human body disintegrating into a pile of limp flesh and bones was somehow enchanting.
Once the robbing of the fluids was complete, the lion turned and looked in my direction. I felt fear for the first time. It was as if the lion's eyes were eating right into my flesh, into my soul. I backed up, all the while knowing my destiny. There was nowhere to go and I was so far from home. The lion advanced. Finally, I just accepted my fate. I sat down and waited.
The tube looked even longer close up. It was just a tube with no needle or smaller point to make entry easier. I knew that life was sometimes painful and now, so would death be. I closed my eyes and waited. I could feel his hot breath on my face. Then I heard the mighty roar again. I felt the skin on my chest split as the tube was inserted. A dreadful heat enveloped my frame as I felt my blood and body fluids being sucked out. The pain wasn't so intense now.... Maybe because I was nearing unconciousness. I was weak and tired. Very tired. I drifted off, uncertain if it was to sleep or to my death.
When I awoke I was ravenously thirsty. I looked around and saw a tree. I walked over to it and stuck out my tongue, only to find that it wasn't a tongue at all, but rather a tube. I looked down at my body and saw that I was now encased in the lion's frame. And I knew that in order to survive, I must have life. The life force of any living thing would be taken from it to nourish me and all of the rest of us. For the lion was a mass of living matter struggling for survival. Life would give us life.
We stuck the tube into the tree and sucked.
Story © 1978
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