Day 201 – Zebras Zebras Zebras or “Look at my Hooves”

Word count: 1114

The African wind blew over the tall grass as the sun disappeared behind a red haze, a single acacia tree silhouetted like a black widow. Thunder rolled deeply in the distance. Evening was descending and the beautiful world slipped into the dark fear of night.

Tony the Zebra looked up from his patch by the water pool. It was quiet; where had all his friends gone? The pack always stuck together, why were they not waiting for him. Tony was scared. He scraped his hooves in the dirt for comfort. He only wanted a quick drink. It had been a long day, grazing and running, being chased. He was tired and wanted a rest. Why did they have to leave him?
The black between him and everything else was thick, like a wall. His heart pounded with fear. Far off, the lazy roar of a lion. He hated lions. He really hated lions.

“Hey guys, hey!” he shouted out in Zebra speak.

No one replied.

Oh god, I’m alone. I’m going to die, Tony thought. He had no idea what to do. Should he run, should he stay here and hide? He was only young – three years old. He had all that love to give, all that time and energy… how could it end like this? Slaughtered by a lion, the leftovers prepared like a ready meal for the hyenas? He was not having that.

The lion roared again, closer this time – or had he imagined it. Tony could now make out vague shapes in the dark as the moon slowly rose into prominence. He had to chance it, there was nothing else for it. With much trepidation and standby luggage of regret, he took his hooves away from the waterside and ventured into the grass.

The grass tickled him as he ran through it. He was not chancing being stalked in the long grass; he would be dead within seconds. The lions knew their hiding places all too well. Unless he could get back to the pack, he was a sitting duck… well Zebra.

Suddenly he heard the sounds of his friends, they were calling for help.

Lions, Tony thought.

Too afraid to return their calls, he quickly thought of a plan. From the sounds of their calls, they were surrounded. Anger filled up inside him like petrol in a car and he was ready to set it all on fire. Too long had the pussy cats being playing lords and ladies on the plains of Africa. It was time for the vegetarians to take up arms – or hooves – and fight!

Tony ventured around the shouts and screams, judging where each lion was likely to be. From out of the black, he saw the grey outline of a preying cat. He gathered up a pace and launched himself at the lion. Hoof after hoof smashed into the cat’s face and he was taken down without much fight. Tony left him lying with some sort of weird nervous spasm.

But they always hunted in threes.

The next one would be one hundred and twenty degrees round. Tony cantered round and soon the paws of the feline were visible in the sand.

Tony almost laughed when he saw how little the big cat had realised that he was not the only playing the predator. From directly behind the lion, Tony galloped at full pace and leaped on top of the beast, slamming his hooves into the lions skull in one swoop. One more to go.

His pack was still screaming and by the rumbling in the ground, they were coming this way. Tony did not want to merge with the group. Too easily would he be seen abandoning the group to hide in the bushes in an attempt to fight back. He would be committing suicide.

Instead, he disappeared into the bushes before his gang arrived and watched as they were chased by four paws and countless teeth. As the dust settled, Tony crept out of the bushes and stealthily followed their trail.

“Where are you going?” said a deep, sophisticated voice behind him.

Tony turned around and saw the King of the Lions sitting down, inspecting his claws with distracted interest.

Tony gulped, “Fighting back.”

“Really? Because I just thought you were playing dinner.”

“Your girlfriends are dead!” Tony spat back.

“Weaklings,” the King dismissed. “Your friends will be dead soon.”

The King rested both his paws on the floor and stared directly at Tony, the ghostly light from the moon illuminating his mane.

“Too long have you ruled this land. Too long.”

“And I suppose you’re the one who’s going to stop me?”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

The pair of them prepared themselves. Tony ground his hooves in the dirt. The King growled.

“May the best Zebra win,” Tony muttered.

They charged at each other. Tony had never felt more frightened in his entire life. He was going to die, he was going to die; there was no argument. This was it, his final moments. He was going to go the same way as Uncle Simon and Seasick Steve. This must have been how his girlfriend, Jenny, had felt. He had never gotten over Jenny. Oh Jenny… why had she not fought back like Tony was now.

The King struck Tony’s side and threw him to the floor. But Tony was too quick. He sprung to his feet and swiped a hoof into the King’s eye. He roared in pain and Tony smiled. The King launched himself at Tony, but again Tony knew what was coming.

“You’re all so predictable, aren’t you?” Tony mocked the King.

“And so are you, with your stripes and hiccuping neighing.”

“Are we? Are we really?” Tony was laughing now for what was emerging from the darkness behind the King was an army: an army of stripes watching the pivotal moment of their species’ history. They were all standing watching, shocked and stunned.

The King’s smugness faltered as he realised what was happening. To the far left Tony saw the King’s remaining hunter, looking back at the scene before disappearing into the night.

“All on your own now, aren’t you?”

The King’s head sunk and he stared at his claws, which Tony noticed were still bare.

“I surrender,” the King said.

“I don’t believe you. Cats are never spineless.”

Tony the Zebra zoomed towards the King and threw his front hooves into the big cat, throwing his limp body backwards to the ground. The body lay still on the ground as the dust rose around it. He was either dead or unconscious, but Tony made sure just in case.

And then all the Zebras rejoiced in Zebra Speak.

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~ by S.G. Mark on April 25, 2012.

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