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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2256051
Winner. An escaped lion finds an unexpected home
The Lion Sleeps
Co-winner, Writer's Cramp 2021-08-07

I was driving home from work when the radio news came on.

"This is Larry Jordan with the local beat. Breaking news: a lion has escaped from the city zoo. The animal is dangerous and the public is advised to remain indoors and to keep pets and children secure until the animal has been recaptured.

"Here is Brock Throckmorton, the zoo director, with a statement: 'We are investigating the circumstances that led to the inadvertent release of Zimba, our African lion, and we are marshalling all available zoo resources to effect her capture. Although she is accustomed to having people around, and to being fed, she is nonetheless a wild animal. We ask the public to avoid city parks, as we feel that those will be her preferred habitat. Please do not under any circumstances go out to try to spot her. An African lion can run 80 mph and jump up to 36 feet. Our trained zoo handlers are equipped to subdue and capture her. However, it you do sight her, please call the zoo at 123-456-7890.'

"That was Brock Throckmorton, director of the city zoo, on the recent escape of an African lion. Now, here's Chief of Police Dunbar Danielsen.

"'Yeah, we wanna assure the public that our department has been advised of the situation an' all our officers are on full alert to assist the zoo in killing -- uh, capturing -- this dangerous beast. Our department has issued instructions to shoot on sight an' shoot to kill. Better a dead lion than a dead citizen, I say. Oh, 'n' keep your dogs 'n' cats 'n' kids inside. Don't want them to be lion lunch, right?'

"Thank you, Chief Danielsen. Keep your eyes peeled for that lion, folks, but stay indoors. Now, in other news...."

Well. That was disconcerting. I live six blocks from the city zoo and right across from a large park. Prime lion habitat. Lovely. There was a chance that I might be lion lunch.

So I did as Larry Jordan on KREX had suggested and kept my eyes peeled on the drive home. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I was kind of glad that I was between girlfriends and had no kids to worry about becoming snack food.

It was with great relief that I parked on the street in front of my house.

I looked at my front door. I carefully scanned the park behind me. I checked the street in both directions.

I got out my key and held it in my hand the right way up. I scooted over to the passenger seat.

With one last look around, I popped out the passenger door, slammed it shut, and dashed to my door.

Getting the key in and turned took forever, because of the sweat in my eyes and the need to look in all directions at once.

Phew! In and safe. I tossed my coat on the rack, and headed for the kitchen to start supper. I had just grabbed a pizza from the freezer when I noticed that my back door was ajar. At about the same time, I heard a low, rumbling purr from the back porch. The pizza dropped from my numb fingers.

I don't have a cat.

Disclaimer: I am perfectly aware that lions do not purr. Artistic license.

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