[Subscribed to Movellas Youtube channel, screen name Helen Winchester, previously Chris Jones]
I wake up with the rest of the pride. It’s time to move again.
I don’t know how long it’s been like this. All I know is that, one day, my parents told me to run. So I ran. The last thing I remember is hearing sounds that must have been explosions. I always was a fast runner, so the explosions had no effect on me. But I could still hear them, could still imagine everyone back home screaming, running, dying.
It was terrible. I was seven.
I lost count of the days. It could have been weeks or years since the bombing. I wouldn’t know. I don’t even know if anyone else survived the war that tore apart the world, the war my parents didn’t want me or my brothers to know about, but argued over every night.
We heard every word.
I remember refusing to stop running until I collapsed in the midday sun. I thought I would die there, in the middle of nowhere. If not from the heat, then from exhaustion, or dehydration, or predators, or the cold that came with the night.
It wasn’t long before the lions found me. I thought they’d come to kill me, and I’d hoped they would. A swift death was better than a torturous one.
But they didn’t kill me. I don’t know why. They somehow managed to get me to stand, and led me to water. They brought me food, and slowly, gradually, they integrated me into their pride. I was a sort of honorary cub for them.
Now that I’m strong enough, I hunt with the other females. I don’t know how long they’ll tolerate me. Until I’m tall enough to be a threat, I guess.
But that’s okay. I’ll know how to survive by then. Until then, I’ll stay with them.
The pride stops. I look at them; I’ve become quite adept at reading the lions’ body language. Their ears are twitching in all directions. Danger.
Suddenly, I hear it too. An engine. Running footsteps. Human voices, yelling.
The rest of the pride starts running, and I’m running too. This is what happens when the world ends: those who survive run wild. They don’t all start to live like every other animal like I did. They refuse to accept that that’s the only way to survive in the long run. They don’t want to be forgotten.
But if every other human is gone, who will remember them? Certainly not the animals.
But that’s not important right now. Right now, all that counts is survival.
We hide in the long, yellow grass of the savannah. Even for me, it provides good cover, despite my dark skin and hair. I breathe in the smell of the hot earth and grass as we wait, pressed flat against the ground in the hot afternoon sun. I dig my fingers into the hard, dry ground to stop them from shaking with anticipation.
Very briefly, I feel the need to join the other humans, to run with my own people again, but I stay completely still with the rest of the pride, wait until their sheer noise has faded away, and even then we don’t come out until we’re certain they won’t come back. I know what they do with any female human they encounter. I’ve heard them talk.
After we cautiously come out of our hiding place in the grass, all while looking and listening for any more threats, we start to move again.
After all, we can’t survive without water.