Humid heat makes the lush grass of summer waver in the sunlight, and the close air makes me pant. However hard I try, I do not sleep as much as the lions. Instead, I lie awake, listening. No breeze stirs the sparse leaves on the umbrella thorn tree above us.
No matter how hot it is, lions always have to be touching each other while they sleep. This touching can range anywhere from one tail touching another to an entire body draped over another. Fine for lions-their bodies can take a lot–but dangerous for a spotted hyena like me. I am much smaller than them.
I am not worried about getting too hot. I am concerned about being crushed.
Sterk rolls over. As I move so I will not be under him, I break contact. Still asleep, he gropes until he puts an enormous forepaw on my back. Then he settles back into deep slumber.
With the Sun high and the ground hot, sound fades before it can travel far. If I hear anything, it will be close and worth investigating–though this is highly unlikely. Few creatures will knowingly come near a lion pride, awake or sleeping.
The Sun slips down the sky. I doze. As shadows take shape and heat begins to dissipate, I notice pebbles and sand shivering on the ground. Pressing a paw to the soil, faint vibrations tickle the pads of my paw. Elephants are calling.
The vibrations continue, growing stronger as the heat weakens. They will stop before the lions wake. We prefer to rest until late afternoon, and the elephants know it.
Finally, the others begin to awaken. First one, then another sits up, yawns, and shakes sleep away. I rise and shake too, stretching my long neck out, wishing they would hurry up.
Several days have passed since we last ate, so today, we will hunt. Leier, the highest-ranking lioness, leads, and the rest of us follow. Sterk walks close behind her, and I fall into step beside him.
We have been as brothers for a long time now, Sterk and I. He calls me Glimlag. I remember when we were young and small, and fences bound our feeble wanderings. The bond between us has stayed strong, even after we escaped the fences.
As we travel, one or another of our group will split off, investigate sounds, sights, or smells, and circle back to rejoin the main group. I follow Sterk wherever he goes.
Something moves up ahead. Zebra. Every one of us freezes.
As we wait and watch, a small herd materializes. The Sun is sinking below the horizon, throwing slanted light across the land.
Sinking into the tall grass, we observe the zebras’ movements. No young ones are to be seen. Nothing to slow down their escape. No one to wait for.
Creeping, bodies low to the ground, we spread out, surrounding the zebras.
Sterk moves out, curving toward the sunset. Harde moves in the opposite direction. Leier stays in the center, Stil between her and Sterk, me between Leier and Harde.
The dusk deepens. We move carefully, stealthily, into our positions. I am not as quiet as the others. I cringe every time I kick a stone or miss my step, the sound thunderous in my ears.
The lions are patient, but they can only wait so long–the zebras will realize we are here soon.
Sterk charges from the left. The zebras bolt, hollering, straight toward Leier.
Leier's tawny body bursts from the grass directly in the zebras' path.
She leaps, digging her claws into one animal’s shoulder. Flankers move in swiftly, intent on the wind-pipe crushing hold which stands between satiation and hunger.
Muscles rippling with explosive power, Sterk lunges–too late.
Zebras gallop away. Hoofbeats and frenzied hollering fade into the distance.
Bucked off, Leier is on the ground. Rising, she begins walking. We follow her.
This night hunting is unsuccessful.
Dark clouds gather, threatening rain.
Washed in the murky early morning light, the lions flop down under the low-hanging branches of a buffalo thorn tree and begin grooming each other.
Hungry and unwilling to sleep quite yet, I carry on by myself in hope of small prey.
A scent teases my nose. I check, head high, searching. I catch it again: carcass. Sunrise side. I set out at a swift lope.
Vultures are circling beyond the next hill, but not many. I reach the top, and the smell of death fills my nostrils.
A dead elephant sprawls below me.
The trunk has been ripped from its face, and is lying off to the side. No tusks adorn the formidable head.
Two jackals and several vultures are pulling at the empty place where the trunk used to be. No other scavengers have come yet.
I charge down the hill, scattering the smaller creatures, and rip at the exposed meat.
I never eat first.
No one will stop me!
My own thoughts stop me. I snort to clear my nose.
Without Sterk and Leier and Harde and Stil, I, a lone hyena, will be unable to defend this food. If another pride comes, mine will have little chance of claiming it.
If I go back and bring the others, I will have to wait until they have eaten their fill.
This is quite a bit of food, so I might be able to eat at the same time as they.
If I eat until I am full, or until something chases me off, I could still bring them and show them.
The faster I eat now, the more I get.
The faster I go for the others, the better we will be able to defend it.
I skid to a stop under the bull thorn tree, whooping at the others to wake and come. I lead them to the carcass, hoping we are not too late.
As we crest the hill, I relax. Jackals and vultures are still the only visitors. The other four charge down the hill, just as I did earlier, and begin eating. I sneak in for a mouthful now and then. No one stops me if I do not come too close.
The story is set in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The characters' names are in the Afrikaans language, widely spoken in South Africa.
Glimlag - Smile
Sterk - Strength
Leier - Leader
Stil - Quiet
Harde - Loud
Elephant poaching occurs even within sanctuary boundaries of Kruger National Park.
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I'll be praying for cade.
I have an update about Cade!
I'd love to hear it!
It's in my bio.
How are you?
Sorry it took me a while to answer. I'm doing well. How are you? A random question: what would you say your favorite genre to read is?
Np Interesting question. I like fantasy and fiction, as per my book reviews on Dream DJ. But i LOVE the enemies to lovers trope
It’s rare to read stories from the perspective of animals. It’s a nice change from the usual. Well written. Is conservation something you’re passionate about?
Thank you for commenting, I am glad you enjoyed this. I would say, yes, I am passionate about conservation. I think we need to be good stewards of God's creation. I think about how we don't destroy our own pets, possessions, and people in our towns. I wonder how so many people can believe it's okay to kill and take whatever we want, whenever we want. Whether it's legally hunting wolves, culling elephants, or capturing orcas and dolphins for use in marine parks, I don't understand why, and I think about it a lot. I especially find it dif...
I love your writing style! This is a great story.
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your comment made my day! I like reading my stories, but I am pleasantly surprised whenever someone else likes them. I often wonder if people will perceive my writing as elementary and uninteresting. I always seem to have stories swirling in my head, and this idea–a lion and a spotted hyena who are friends–has been in there for a while now. I think animal fiction can be a great teaching tool to inform people of things they might not otherwise know. For instance, I learned to love owls and wolves...
You're welcome! And I really thought your story was great, so definitely keep it up. Chesterton is such a good writer so I'm glad you're reading him :) God bless!
Really cool story! I love the hyena’s perspective and how it stays with the lions because of friendship. Really neat story! It all flowed so smoothly and connected. The details were flawless. Though at some points, I wanted to believe that the perspective was of a lion. Awesome job overall!
Do tell, where exactly does it sound like a lion?
Well, I guess it makes it sound like a lion mainly when they’re attacking the zebras. It is only mentioned that it’s a hyena once so yeah.
Thanks! Anything in particular you suggest I change?
The only thing I’d say is mention that it’s a hyena at least once more, so as to emphasize why it’s called ‘We Would Be Rivals’
Thank you! How did you like it so quickly? I literally just hit the post button when you liked it. I'm excited for the next WB!
I changed it. Find the new "hyena" :)
I re-read it now, and it seems a lot smoother and better than before. I like the author’s note you threw in at the bottom. It’s painted clearly inside my mind. Awesome job!
Thank you for re-reading! My mom helped me go over it, and she said the same thing–she can see the pictures in her mind.
No problem :) :)
So how are you today? Still on Reedsy from sheer boredom?
New thread for the fruit RQ: I like to eat bananas and oranges, and I like how kiwis look. The only time I've ever moved was when I was really little, and I don't remember what it was like. I am wondering, what is it like for you?
Sweet! Kiwis are really good Well, it’s kinda stressful for everyone because we’re moving across a timezone. We’ve moved within our city before, but never to somewhere this far away. It’ll be like a complete restart, new school, new church, new state/timezone, new pet, new everything. But I’m thankful that God is going before us. He’s got a plan. That’s something I had to learn during this was to trust Him with every small detail.
I'm sorry that it's stressful–I suppose I was thinking of it as something glamorous. I thought that probably wasn't right, though. Do you like the idea of a complete restart? What new pet are you going to get? Also I had a thought: We have RQs, so we should also have RHTs. Random Happy Thoughts!
I mean, I love the place where we’re going, so that part is glamorous at least. Well not really. I suppose that starting over is just another way to trust God more. I really want a dog, but I don’t know if that’ll happen. My tortoise did find a new home though, so that’s bittersweet. I like that idea! RHT: God is in control of this move. RHT: the sunset tonight was really unique.
RHT: The desk is in the house. RHT: Saw a doe with her fawn, a red squirrel, a fisher or some such animal, a snapping turtle, and a rabbit.
New thread, replying to Hmm maybe 8. What about you? I'd say 7. I finished that funny thing about Sekk I told you about. Want to read it?
Cool :) Sure, it might have to be a little bit tho
Peter sat down beside Chad and started talking. "What are Sekk's spikes for?" Chad looked up from his book. "Huh?" "The spikes on Sekk's head. I was in the kitchen making some toast, and Sekk came in. When the toaster popped, he flinched, and the spikes stood up. They started to go down, but when he saw me looking at him, they went up again." "Oh. Uh . . . they indicate negative emotion. Anger. Fright. Embarrassment." "So . . . I embarrassed him." Me: Poor Sekk! I can't do that to him!
That’s great! lol I feel bad for Sekk too, but hey, maybe something great will happen later on
I wrote that because I saw a prompt on Pinterest that said something like "Think of the most stoic character you possibly can. And then think of them jumping when the toaster pops."
Critiques are appreciated.