Familiar (Flash Fiction)

Posted: May 19, 2016 by J.A. Prentice in Flash Fiction, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.04.40 PM

One.

I feel her heartbeat as my own, her breaths as my own, each motion of her as my own. I feel each thought in her head. Everything.

One.

***

It has been seven years since I first found her, out in the grass at the village edge. She was a cub, wounded and starving.

She backed off at first, snarling. I leapt back as well, frightened. Neither of us had any reason to trust the other. We were of different kinds, different as night and day, as fire and ice.

But then she looked at me again. Her eyes locked with mine. We stared at each other and understood, understood deeper than any two creatures had ever understood each other before.

From that moment, I knew she was mine and I was hers. We were bonded.

Hungry, she thought. Very hungry.

I nodded.

“I’ll get you some food,” I said.

And I did. Nobody saw me as I grabbed a chunk of raw meat that had been hung up ready for cooking and carried it out in my bag, bringing it to her. She looked at it eagerly and then devoured it furiously. Her maw was soon flecked with blood.

I reached out a hand to stroke her tawny fear and she darted off like a frightened rabbit, retreating into the jungle beyond the village. In moments, she was lost in the endless maze of shadows. Sorrow pulled at my heart. Though this creature and I had only just met, the bond we’d formed was greater than any I’d ever experienced.

Since I had been young, I’d had the gift. I could experience the feelings of other creatures. I could feel their anger, their hunger, their sorrow, and their affection. I could influence them as well, make them see that I was a friend.

But this…

This had been different. I’d known it even then. We were linked on a deeper level.

She was my familiar. And I… I was hers.

But she’d run off and I thought that was the end.

It would never have worked, I decided. No human had ever had a lion for a familiar. Lions were predators, not friends.

***

It was past midnight when I woke to the sound of paws. I crept to the door, careful not wake anyone else, and opened it. There she was. Her eyes looked sad.

Cold, she told me. Then… Lonely.

“Come in,” I whispered, “but be quiet.”

She listened. Her paws pattered along, soft as a mouse avoiding a cat. She snuggled up under my covers and closed her eyes.

Without an ounce of fear in my heart, I lay down to sleep beside a lion cub.

***

We ran together across the grass, racing for the distant line of trees. She let out a soft roar and I smiled. I could feel her happiness as clearly as I felt my own.

Under the shade of an old, wizened tree, we lay down to rest. I drank water from my skin and gave some to her as well. She licked at my hands.

I was never afraid of her. Not for a moment.

It would have been like being afraid of myself.

***

They shoved me into the wall with so much force I thought my bones had shattered. They laughed: long, twisted laughs. My pain amused them.

It was because I was smaller, an easy target. That was the only reason. They wanted to feel strong, to feel powerful, to feel like they were in control.

Hurting me made them feel that.

“What’s the matter?” the tallest boy asked. “Not going to fight back.”

The anger welled up in me. It wanted to come out, like a thundercloud wants to burst. I wanted to tear them apart, to become a tide of crimson fury.

But that would have done nothing.

I held the tide back. I bound the storm in chains, refusing to let it out.

I would not let myself give in.

Until it was too late, I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one feeling that anger.

She felt it too.

Like lightning, she shot through the arm, a whirl of tooth and claw.

They screamed. First from fear. Then… Then from pain.

Stop! I called. Stop!

But it was too late. Too late for them.

***

I knew what the elders would say before they said it. The beast must die. The lion must be slain. Having a lion here at all was a bad idea.

They would take her from me. They would hurt her.

And I…

I would feel every second of it.

As the spears struck her, it would be like they were striking me. They’d pierce me, hurt me. Maybe kill me.

I placed a hand on her forehead to quiet her. My knife glided through the knots, cutting her free.

“We have to run,” I told her. “Now.”

And we ran.

We didn’t look back, not for a moment.

***

Deep into the jungle, surrounded by the green, we sat beneath an ancient tree. Moonlight streamed through the branches, pale as milk. We’d run for miles, further than anyone would bother to track us.

We were alone. Completely cut off.

I was cold. And I was afraid.

Afraid of the dark around us and the creatures it hid.

Afraid of what I’d done.

Afraid of what was ahead of us: an endless unknown full of lurking dangers.

Afraid of everything.

She sensed it and nuzzled her tawny head against my chest.

Don’t worry, human. I will protect you.

I was afraid. But I’d never be alone.

***

One.

I feel her heartbeat as my own, her breaths as my own, each motion of her as my own. I feel each thought in her head. Everything.

One.


Word Count: 969

This is for Kimberly Crawford’s awesome Flash Fiction Challenge.

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Comments
  1. mandibelle16 says:

    Wow. Really incredible story. I enjoyed it. It reminds of this guy I’ve seen on FB and Youtube who essentially becomes part of the lions pack. But the bond you describe is fascinating and I love that the boy and the lion help each other and complete the other. Very cool take.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story. It had me hooked right until the end 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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