An afternoon in the park turns into terror
|King Of Beasts
Each of us is the sum of his experiences, not in the Freudian sense that we are victims of them, but in the sense that we rely on our experiences as the primary source of our wisdom, unless we are delusional and live by an ideology that refutes reality. For what is about to happen, there is no experience we can relate to.
At 12:10, a big white tour bus pulled into the park area and unloaded a large number of Asian tourists. They broke off into small groups talking a language I did not understand while walking down the cement pathways and through the small rolling hills. Some clicked away with cameras while others unloaded their backpacks at picnic tables scattered throughout the grassy area. I sat on a small wooden park bench enjoying the last of my homemade meat loaf sandwich and chasing it with raspberry flavored water before heading back to the office.
Everything was as it should be; everything was normal for a hot summer's day in a New York park.
The yelling started when a pride of lions came up over the hill. There were at least five or six, all lionesses, crouching low to the green grass but moving slowly toward their prey.
In encounters with the king of beasts, an unarmed person is one of the most helpless creatures. Man cannot run as fast as a zebra or a gazelle, he has not the horns of the sable antelope or the tusks of the warthog, and he cannot deal terrific blows like the giraffe. Humans are, in other words, easy pickings.
Most of the people didn't even notice them at first, but some started pointing and screaming, others ran. It was the running that spurred the lions into action.
They were the ones who died first. Usually lions will rely on stalking their prey, and seldom charge until they are within 30 meters, unless of course the prey is facing away and cannot see the charge.
I saw a man taken down from behind. The lion launched itself at his back, knocked him flat, and then grabbed his neck in its maw. She shook him like a blanket, and then dropped him and ran for another, her face covered in blood.
I took cover in a thick hedge, hunched myself low, and waited for death to find me.
The screaming became louder, and then right next to me, a small young woman was brought down, her face torn apart, the right side of her chest gone. The lioness dragged away half her shoulder in its mouth. Nothing could have been done to save her.
Everyone was running now, so I ran too.
Fifty yards in front of me was the bus and safety. I ran as hard as I could thinking the whole time I was going to be brought down from behind. The open bus door loomed in front of me.
There was a blood trail on the steps that led to the inside. I quickly climbed them and pulled the handle that shut the doors with a whoosh. I fell into the driver's seat wheezing and trying to catch my breath.
I have to say that good luck has always been my constant companion. The guardian angel watching over me had done a splendid job all my life and this time he did it again. "Thank you," I said. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Looking down I saw the keys still in the ignition. I thought if I could get past the trees and into the open, I might be able to save some of the terrified people. I've never driven a bus, but what the hell, I had to try.
When I turned the key, the motor shot to life.
Then from behind me, I heard the clicking of talons upon the steel walkway. Turning my head ever so slowly, I locked eyes with the King of Beasts. He had been in the back of the bus the whole time, probably dining on the driver.
He took another step closer and roared. I felt his hot breath against the side of my cheek.
The male lion never hunts but he defends his territory, and I was trespassing. From the corner of my eye, I saw him rise to attack. His claws tore at my neck, and then I felt an agonizing bite into my head as his long fangs entered where they didn't belong and I expelled most of my intestines.
I was still screaming as he jerked me out of the seat like a rag doll and dragged me down the aisle toward the back of the bus to be eaten alive.