And now is the time to vote for the third MLK Writing contest! You have one week to vote on which story you think is the best one. Yes, there are less then usual, but don't consider it as a bad thing. Try to read all the storied carefully and give your honest opinion when you vote. Please read all the stories first before voting. Seeing as there are only three submissions, only vote for one story.
Without further ado, here they are!
Simba watched the strange lion move closer toward the edge of the jungle. He frowned at the unusual sight, as lions didn't really come to these parts. Nor any other predator for that matter, which is why Timon and Pumbaa liked it so much. But now there was one, and Simba was curious. The young adult turned to his two friends, leaning his head down so that it was at the same level as the meerkat and warthog. “Um, maybe you two should wait this one out,” Simba said, “I want to talk to this guy.”
Timon peaked over a log at the approaching lion. “I dunno, Simba,” he said, “this guy looks menacing. I don't think it will be a good idea for you to talk to him. You know, predators. Yeesh!”
Simba examined the lion closely. “I don't know, Timon, he doesn't look that bad. I'll be fine.” He nudged his two friends away. While he might be fine, he didn't want to risk Timon and Pumbaa. “Go on, you two. Hakuna Matata, right?”
Timon grumbled something under his breath and turn away. “Yeah, sure. Just don't come running to us for help!” He jumped onto Pumbaa's head, ready to go off somewhere. “On the other hand, I think we can stay, right Pumbaa?” He flexed his two arms. “I can handle anything in these parts!” From under him, Pumbaa grunted in approval.
Simba shook his head, partly in disagreement and partly in amusement. “Come on, you guys. Isn't there some log you two want to go search under for grubs?”
Timon patted Simba's foreleg. “Kid, after what we had for breakfast today, I don't think we will need to eat for a week!” He looked over the log at the lion also, and saw that the stranger had noticed them and was heading straight towards the trio. Suddenly, whatever courage the meerkat had, it all vanished. “On the other had, I think I'm beginning to hear my stomach rumbling...” he said, and yanked on Pumbaa's ears. “Come on, Pumbaa! Let's go raid a tree!” Very quickly, the two ran off into the foliage, leaving Simba alone.
Simba watched the two leave before turning his attention back to the lion. Ever since running away from the Pridelands, he had yet to see another member of his species. And after leaving in the Hakuna Matata lifestyle, any caution towards a strange lion was replaced by a strong curiosity. Simba stepped over the log and out into the open just as the lion stopped in front of him. “Uh, hi?” Simba asked, not knowing how to start any decent conversation.
The lion nodded in greeting. “And hello to you too,” he said formally.
The voice of the lion startled Simba, and he involuntarily took a step back. “Do- Do I know you?” He blurted out. The voice was strange but familiar. A voice he remember well but forced into repression by years of guilt.
The lion looked at Simba curiously. “No, I don't think so,” he replied, “I don't live in these parts. Just stopping bye you know.” He noticed how Simba seemed to react whenever he spoke. “Is something wrong?” He asked. “You look like you've seen a ghost.”
Simba quickly shook his head trying to clear his mind. “No- yeah, I'm fine,” he said. “Just that you sound like someone I knew. From a long time ago.” He looked away, thinking. That voice... He now remembered where he had heard it before. It sounded just like his own father, Mufasa. At that instant, Simba felt like he wanted to run. He wanted to avoid this lion who reminded him so much of the deceased lion that he had killed so long ago. In fact, this lion was also covered in scars from wounds long healed. And those scars were very similar to-
“Really? What happened to him?” The lion asked, interrupting Simba's thoughts. “Because you look to young to be living on your own. And Lions don't really live in such areas.”
“He died,” Simba replied quietly, not looking at the lion. “He just... died.” He nodded, as though he was the one who had asked the question and received the answer, and not the other way around.
The lion was able to see that whatever had happened, Simba clearly was hurt by the experience. “Want to sit down?” He suggested. Simba sighed, but complied. The lion sat down next to him. “I can see that this is troubling for you. Tell me what happened.”
Simba closed his eyes, not wishing to go to his previous life. He had left it behind. There was nothing to talk about. “He used to take are of me. And then he died. I was on my own this then.” He said simply.
The lion narrowed his eyes, trying to look inside Simba. “Alright, let's do this properly,” he said, leaning back and smiling. “First, tell me your name.”
“Tojo.” Simba replied quickly and without thinking. He didn't know why he didn't use his real name, but he felt glad that he didn't.
“Alright, Tojo. I'm Nafasi,” he said, “you know, I find it strange how you are out here in the jungle, all alone. How long did you live here?”
Simba sighed. “All my life. Didn't live anywhere else. Why?”
Nafasi placed a paw on Simba's shoulder. Normally, Simba would have found this unsettling, but now he found it comforting. “Because I had a son once,” he said, “he too died. Would be roughly as old as you are now if he were still alive. It's a shame really, he was a great lion. Full of life, potential...” He smiled. “I sense the same potential in you... Tojo.” He said Simba's name as though he didn't really believe that it was real.
Simba got up, feeling nervous. “Well, it's been great talking to you, Nafasi... But I just remembered that I need to go.” He tried turning away and running for it, but Nafasi blocked his path casually.
“But we've just met,” Nafasi said, “are you sure you don't want to stay and chat for longer? I miss the company of fellow lions. You see, I was on the move for a long time. Where do you need to be, anyways?”
“What?” Simba asked, startled. “Oh, uh, hunting. I'm rather hungry, so I really need to get going...”
Nafasi stepped aside, letting Simba the opportunity to escape. “Well then, I guess I shouldn't stop you from getting lunch then, should I?” He asked. “But before you go, I want to tell you that I think that you're hiding from something. Tojo, it's not a good idea to hide from the truth. It will get you in the end, if you like it or not. Better embrace it while you can.”
Simba was about to walk off, but what Nafasi said, stopped him. “That maybe the case, old lion,” he said, “but I don't want to talk about it.” He quickly walked past Nafasi, hoping to forget about the meeting entirely as soon as he can. From behind him, he heard Nafasi call out for him.
“When you go, I want you to think about something!” He called out so that Simba could hear him. “You might not be ready for the truth, but in order to prepare for it, you need to first remember.”
Simba turned his head. “Alright, Nafasi. I will! Goodbye” He hoped that this was all he would have to deal with, but it didn't seem like the case.
“Remember who you are!” Nafasi called out at Simba's disappearing form. “Remember who you are! For me, Simba...”
Simba froze in his tracks. He quickly turned around, preparing for a fight. “Who are you?” Simba demanded angrily. “How do you know my name?” He expected the question to be followed by blows, but instead saw that Nafasi had a look of sorrow on his face, not hostility.
“You really are Simba, aren't you?” He asked softly, almost to the point that Simba couldn't hear him. “After all this time, I finally found you.” He walked slowly towards Simba. “You remember me? Don't you?”
Simba looked at Nafasi, feeling sick. “You sound so much like him...” he muttered, “but he died. I saw the body... You can't be him...”
Nafasi waked the remaining distance between the two of them and took his place next to Simba. “Say it, Simba. Ignore your mind and listen to your heart. Say my name, Simba.”
Simba turned his head towards Nafasi, tears starting to cover his eyes. “It's not Nafasi, is it?” he asked softly. “It's...” His voice faltered, and the lion urged him on. “...Mufasa.”
Mufasa smiled and nodded. “So you do remember me, my son,” he said, and brought Simba into a deep hug. “I thought I had lost you all these years and now I have found you.” He felt Simba place his head on his shoulder and start sobbing. “It's alright, Simba. You're safe with me.”
Simba lost all control of his emotions when he said his father's name out loud. “But you died...” He mumbled. “I saw your body. I tired to wake you up, but you were dead... And... I killed you. That's why I ran away... Because I had killed you.”
Mufasa chuckled slightly as he comforted his son. “I think you may be wrong on that one,” he said, “no one messes with me, remember?” He broke up the embrace so that he could look at Simba in the eye. “look right in front of you, Simba. What do you see?”
Simba was about to answer when Timon and Pumbaa emerged from the jungle, the meerkat looking annoyed. “Alright, old man!” he said loudly, waving a finger at Mufasa. “What did you do to our kid?”
Simba quickly wiped his eyes with a paw. “Relax Timon. I know this lion...” He smiled to reassure his friends, and was surprised to feel his spirits rise at the same time. He quickly turned to Mufasa. “Mufasa, this is Timon and Pumbaa. They took care of me all this time.” He turned to his two friends. “Timon, Pumbaa... this is...” he looked at Mufasa again, smiling. He felt like his future was bright again. The nightmares of his past had released him of their hauntings. “...This is Mufasa. He's my dad.”
The sun began to fall behind the horizon, leaving behind a crescent moon shining brightly in the night sky. A gentle breeze blew against Mufasa's mane, as he stood atop Priderock. He sighed and wandered down to the grass below, looking for a young, troublesome lioness. This was the time; under the cover of darkness.
His eyes scanned across the horizon, searching for any sign of movement. Nothing, as far as he could see. The lion took one last look around, then began moving stealthily to search the nearest waterhole.
At last, he saw a lioness in the distance. As Mufasa closed in, he began to prepare himself in a monologue. 'Alright, you have to do this. Just explain the situation. She'll understand.' He inhaled heavily one last time.
"What do you want?" she replied, clearly frustrated already.
"We need to talk. About Scar."
He had to ask. "I... need you to tell me what he's been up to. I don't trust him, and since you're the only one who truly knows him-"
"WHAT!?" Zira clenched her teeth with tremendous force. Her entire body began to burn with anger. She could not believe the king's traitorous request.
She shook her head in disgust. "This is madness! Scar isn't a bad lion. He's looked out for me ever since I can remember. He has been a good friend, and an excellent mentor. Do you seriously expect me to-" Her tirade was interupted by Mufasa's powerful voice.
"I want to believe you, Zira, but I have no other choice. Something's not right about Scar. I'm really worried about him," he persuaded.
She bit her tongue and backed away slowly, without saying a word. She would rather save her energy; feeling that there's no sense in ranting to anyone who doesn't listen. After all, only a stuck-up old lion could be so ignorant.
"Zira, we need you," he repeated.
She retorted quickly, "I don't freaking care!"
The lioness ran away with haste, leaving Mufasa behind in a wake of tension. Every last ounce of trust in the pride had been swept away from Zira, with only a simple request.
Zira found herself alone once again. She let out a roar in frustration. "Holy fudge!" she yelled. "I can't believe he had the nerve!"
Her intense shrieking caught Scar's attention.
"What the heck is going on?" he demanded.
"You're not going to believe this. Mufasa wanted me to spy on you. That stupid lion is out of his freaking mind."
"Heh, I think they're jealous. You're the best huntress in all of the Pridelands, and you're far younger too. I don't think they trust you."
"I don't know about that..." she hesitated.
Scar continued, "you could be so much more. You should be queen of the Pridelands. Why, if I were king, you would be. I could be king. I know I should be. But I would need your help to pull that off."
Zira began to listen with significant interest. "What are you proposing?" she inquired.
"Simple. We lure Simba into the gorge, and create a stampede. Simba will die, and Mufasa too, trying to save him. With both dead, I will be the rightful leader of the Pridelands, and you shall be queen!"
"I... I'll think about it."
"Good. You get some rest now. We'll start preparations at dawn."
Zira was ready. The intense midday sun began to bake her thick coat of fur. Normally she would be looking for some shade, but she didn't mind. This would be her finest hour, she supposed.
She could see Scar talking to Simba below. The lioness observed carefully as Scar turned around, climbing hastily out of the gorge.
"Gather the hyenas and start tell them to start the stampede. I'll go get Mufasa," he commanded.
She knew this would be the time. Her determination alone would change the pride's bloodline forever. In only a few minutes, the most disastrous event in her lifetime would unfold.
Simba sat under a tree, roaring at something off in the distance. Zira imagined the wildebeest running into the gorge, destroying everything in their path. Simba's small body would be crushed and torn to bloody shreds from the wildebeest's hooves. One of only two of the pride's cubs would die in excruciating pain.
And it would be entirely her fault.
Zira couldn't bring herself to move. All her memories of Simba flashed before her. His carefree attitude, curiosity, and blissful happiness. All for what? So she could be queen?
Zira came to her senses. "Simba! Get up here! Hurry!"
The cub stood in place with confusion. "But Scar told me-"
"Scar is a blooming idiot! Get up here, NOW!"
Simba sighed. "Alright, alright."
Rocks fell as the young cub crawled up the side of the cliff. At last, he reached the end with his paw. He used his talons to dig in and pull himself up.
"What's going on?" he asked, still confused by the whole situation.
Zira began to panic, realizing what Scar would think. She thought of a quick excuse to tell Simba, so that she could have time to consider her options. "You should go home now, Mufasa is probably getting worried about you."
Simba looked down in dissapointment. "Oh, okay."
Zira ran about a hundred meters and laid down in the grass, hiding herself from view. She knew there was no turning back now.
Scar wouldn't be pleased to find that she betrayed him. But that couldn't be more irrelevant. She knew she was the stronger of the two; she could kill him, if given the chance.
But that would be unnecessary. It would be Mufasa's problem now, she concluded.
The two brothers came to a stop, after finding cub Simba safe, with no stampede in sight. Scar's jaw dropped in shock.
"What's this all about?" Mufasa demanded.
"I, well.. I don't know..."
"I suspected you were crazy, but this... it's worse than I thought. Zazu?"
The majordomo landed on Mufasa and retracted his wings. "Yes, sire?"
"I believe Scar is developing schizophrenia. I'm going to need you to watch him, just for the next few weeks, at least."
The Clouds Above Us
The sun slowly faded away from the African plains as the long day finally came to a close. Simba made his way to the top of Pride Rock, his muscles aching from the exhausting hunt. Normally, the lionesses were the ones in charge of hunting for the pride, but after having been held captive by Scar and the hyenas, the New Lion King decided to give his new found home a helping paw. Although he had never hunted before in his life, he was picking up on the skills surprisingly quickly. Nala and the other lionesses had been very grateful to have him back. They held no regrets towards his earlier actions, but that was another story. Right now, the only thing on Simba’s mate was curling up against his mind and having a well deserved night of sleep.
Walking over to the area of the den reserved for snoozing, Simba managed enough strength to ascend only the small incline that separated the area specific to the royals, a throne so to speak. Nala was directly behind him ready to nuzzle him before he dozed off, but as she got right on top of him, she realized he was fast asleep. ”Pity” she told herself. It would have to wait until morning.
As Simba entered his dream, a new world began to appear in his head. Gone was the familiar Pride Lands and instead was a world of bright clouds. Everywhere he looked he saw majestic beauty, which said a lot considering he had spent his life in some of the most majestic places on Earth. But this place was different, there was no beginning or end, and there certainly wasn’t any other lions—or so he thought.
Suddenly, he saw a bright light behind him. His first thought was that it was the sun, but to his surprise, he saw the giant face of a lion. Simba couldn’t make out the features, but he immediately recognized the feline form. The face was beautiful in form and regal in its shape.
Without warning, the figure began to fade into the darkness. Instinctively, Simba began to chase after him, despite not knowing exactly what it was. Even though his paws were moving, he felt as if he remained stationary. As the figure slowly disintegrated, several other figures began to appear to him in the foggy haze. He didn’t recognize the faces of any of them, but he could sense who they were. They were the great kings of the past.
His mind was racked with questions that he wanted answered. The wisdom these beasts must possess made Simba shiver. He eyes darted instinctively between them looking for his father. He moved his neck so quickly he would have been in severe pain, if pain existed up here. Just as he was about to give up, he saw Mufasa in the back of the crowd. Almost like magic, all the felines gave way in order to give him some space.
Slowly but surely he started to move his paws. He made his way past the crowd of elder lions and worked his way to his father. As he reached him, they both embraced. Suddenly he awoke to the sight of Nala giving him a nuzzle. Tears began to roll down Simba’s face as his loving mate asked what was the matter.
Good luck to you three! If there are any errors here, just let me know in a PM and I will fix them.