By Abdulla Mustafa A. Gaafarelkhalifa
The Sudan (Near the Abyssinian border)
“Babaaaaahhhhhhhh!” screamed out from a distance by a little girl, followed by screams of despair. A distinct sound that can only be heard by a parent. Screams that Osama, watching over his sheep, heard. He left his sheep to gaze in the field, not caring what happens to them by small water stream. Running through the tall grass, he blamed himself for all of this. His daughter, Mariam, was just playing with her doll along his side, and blamed himself for being distracted. The screams went on, but then it was followed by a deep, deflating roar.
He heard grass being tumbled, and the noise slowly went away as if something was running into the distance. All he saw around him was grass, but the only distinct part of his surroundings was a collection of trees not too far from where he stood. His heart beat as if it wanted to escape his body. Beneath the wind he heard not one, not two, but a few flies. Then the sound of flies increased in quantity and loudness as approaches closer to the trees.
He approached the bundle of trees hoping to find Mariam. He circled the trees like a vulture and he found something familiar. It was Mariam in her new dress that her mother made for her 5th birthday just a few days ago. She was breathing body facing down, with a swarm of flies covering and flying over her. “Mariam!” He tries grabbing her attention but has no response. He rushes to her body, still breathing, and turns it around. He almost wanted to let go from the breath taking sight, of his daughter’s face, eyeless, more bone than bits flesh, with flies still drawn to the blood. Her eye balls were nothing but white and pink mush sitting in the holes where they just were not even ten minutes ago. Not even her lips remained. Holes in her neck, clearly made with large lion claws covered her front neck. Lighter claw marks covered the rest of her body. More work was done to her face particularly.
Regret, fear, and anger. All emotions not felt before shook Osama’s body and soul at the sight of her daughter’s face. “Mariam!” He cries to her one more time before his tears dropped on her body. With no notice, her jaw started moving, her tongue twitched, as she made coughing sounds, choking in her blood. Holding her in his arms, Osama can feel the breathing stopped, and so did her heart pulse.
“Oh God!” He yells out. “Why? WHY!?” God didn’t answer, but a roar returned to him. From somewhere he wants to be.
Twenty years ago, in his own village, Osama was learning to butcher sheep meat with his father. A cry from his mother was heard across the street from where they lived. “Jaffer! Osama! Come here! Basheer is hurt!” The seriousness was incredibly felt from the hawk like scratchy scream. Osama crossed the street carelessly, almost being hit by a donkey cart, curious to see what could have happened to his younger brother. Him and his father saw a trail of blood go through the gates of their home.
In the outdoor guest area, Basheer was crying, screaming, and biting into a cloth. So many people surrounded him that Osama didn’t know what was going on. All he could see was his brother’s head. Bloodied cloth was carried out, and people holding buckets of water moved in and out as well. His father, Jaffer, was tall enough to see a sight that he never thought he’d ever have to see. The shock on his own father’s face made him more curious.
He quickly moved closer but he was stopped by his father, whom he slipped through to get a closer look. What he saw through a pocket between members of the crowd. What he saw was something to never forget. His brother’s knee, was ripped, not cut, but ripped out of his leg, with a broken knee bone sticking out through exposed muscle and tendons. The piece of cloth was pushed out of his mouth covered in tears and slobber. “The lion! The lion!” He screamed so loud, the cats that normally hang around the walls surrounding the home pranced out of view.
The doctor shushed in response as he stuck the cloth back into his mouth. “Don’t worry Basheer, that lion isn’t going to hurt you again.” Osama ran out, all the way to the edge of the village, and puked into the base of a date tree. He felt a hand going over his shoulder. He elbowed back, and was ready to fight for his life until he saw it was his father.
“I…I uh… what? Uhh…” Is all he could utter. His father shushed him.
“Stop your screaming! You are no longer a child! Now its time to be a bigger man than ever before. Do you understand me?” Osama was just shaking, unable to respond. “Do you get me!?” Osama was shocked back into reality and shook his head to confirm he understood his father. “Good! Because we are going to kill that lion before it gets to any of us or our livestock.”
The sun was setting after Osama, along with his family and friends, buried the little girl that brought joy to all of the towns’ people. It wasn’t just a death in a family, but a death in a community. “The smallest of bodies are the heaviest to bury” is the one thing that Basheer, now an imam, said that many of the towns’ people took with them after Mariam’s burial.
During the night in Osama’s home, his wife Hannah, cried silently, packed with on and off wheezes on the twin bed in the sleeping quarters of the family home. Sitting alone with himself on his twin bed, he tries to approach Hannah. Hannah found some small tray lying around, and threw it at his direction. She screamed with the passion of a thunderstorm. Still ducking, Osama sat back down on the other bed. She points at him “It was you!” She began crying more hysterically. “This was your fault!”
“Sweet heart. Please.” Osama tries to calm her down.
“Don’t ever refer to me that way again! You INCOMPITENT… USELESS… excuse of a BASTARD!” The whole village could hear her pain, like the evening prayer call. “It’s so hard to watch a bunch of mindless sheep for which you’ve neglected to think about your own daughter! What’s the matter with you?” Tears begin to mix with the mucus coming out of her nose so she tried wiping it with her hijab. “You should suffer the same fate as the beast that did this to my little girl! And that would just be mercy, because you could at the very least have a slight chance, of seeing her smile once more. You took that from all of us.”
He didn’t know what to say. All Osama could say was that his wife was right, because in truth he doesn’t want to admit it. He was distracted, thinking of pointless, trivial nonsense, like what Hannah might make for dinner. What the market might be like when he wants to head to the city to sell a portion of his herd. Whether the cloud from afar were rain clouds. Just pointless thoughts. Osama silently admitted to himself one thing that he can agree with his wife on. That he deserved to die.
He took the same shovel he used to bury his daughter, then headed to Hannah’s tea garden. He was digging for something his mother hid from his father during the Mahdi days, back when he referred to his home as his father’s. A rifle, covered in white sheets, along with bullets. He never hoped he’d have to use it for long time, but it’s been 20 years. He loaded it and cocked it without thinking too hard about it. It brought him back to when Basheer lost his leg, and his father brought him along on their quest for justice. It brought him back to when he first acquired the weapon.
Under the Egyptian flag, glowing in front of the dim orange sun hiding behind gray clouds, Osama entered the fort. He walked alongside a line of chained men, probably soldiers and disciples of the Mahdi, were guided by soldiers. The prisoners chanted “God willing! We shall enter paradise! God willing! We shall enter paradise!”
He headed to the eating area outside the barracks. He saw three soldiers, enjoying tea and briskets. One of them was playing an oud, and other soldiers from a distance clapped along to his song. Osama walked up to them, unsure how to introduce himself. The oud player stopped playing when noticing young Osama. Twirling his handle bar mustache, he asked “You’re Osama, right?” Osama nods. “Where’s the sheep your father promised?”
“Outside,” Osama answers.
“Bring them in my boy.” Osama unties the sheep from the tree near the fort walls and brings them in. Now he sees those same imprisoned men lined up in front of a wall while soldiers gather together, making sure their rifles are locked and loaded. Smiles spread like waves across the fort when the sheep entered. Just in time for Al Daha. Osama was the only one who wasn’t smiling, along with the prisoners of war. When he brought the sheep over to the same soldiers, one of them passed the sheep to the chef where he would begin to butcher it.
The solider guided the young Osama how to use the rifle. At the end of the quick course, Osama asked “Have you ever killed a beast?”
He smirked “We’re soldiers. It’s what we do.”
“Savages! Like the ones we gathered in front of that wall over there.”
“What is a savage to you?”
“Savages think they can be free when they don’t know what freedom is. Savages kill for nothing as they drown in the rivers flowing with the blood they spilled.”
Still holding on to the rifle, Osama proceeded to ask “What about animals?”
He laughs at the young Osama, as his friends set up a hookah. “You know, you’re like a silver miner giving up after discovering gold.”
“What do you mean?” Not appreciating the soldier’s humor.
The solider bubbles in the hookah vapor into his lungs. He exhales “We are worse than animals.” The firing squad fired. Osama thought he heard a hundred lightning strikes at once behind him before he turned. He saw a white wall splattered in blood and brain matter. A small stream of blood forms then flowed into the cracks of the wall. Osama turns back to the solider trying not to look frightful. The solider gets up and puts his arm around Osama’s still shoulders, and made sure he turned around to see the half dead prisoners about to be shot once more. “Man can be tracked. Man can be predictable. But still intelligent.” He takes in and exhales more hookah vaper then passes the hose along. “We’re the perfect hunt. And you know what’s fascinating? When we kill each other, we don’t do it for food, or for clothing, we do it for our own satisfaction.” He then chuckles “There’s actually something quite comical to it. How they lose their sight of living for killing. Even if their lives are at stake.”
Osama kept to himself and didn’t think aloud. All he was thinking about was the lessons that his father taught him, that man is inherently good, fair, and honest, but in retrospect, that lecture was just a way for him to share the toy cart with Basheer. He stood still like a pillar as the barely living men against the wall begging the Egyptian soldiers to hurry. “If this is what Man can do, then there’s no beast imaginable that man can’t kill.” His friends pass the hose back to him, then he inhales and exhales “Osama my boy,” then continues “you can kill this beast, because there’s nothing more threatening than man.” The soldiers reload, and fired once more.
Osama wakes up on the bed outside of the house to the sound of a donkey braying, remembering he kept the rifle under his bed. When he woke up, for a few bitter sweet seconds, he thought Mariam was alive. He had a dream about the day before where Hannah made eggs with pastrami, as a way to convince Osama to watch Marium because she wanted to go to her friend’s home just a few kilometers out to make holiday cookies.
He patrols around the village through the forest with his rifle resting on his shoulder like British solider. Out of nowhere, bushes began to shudder which forces him to stop. The shuddering increased more by time. Osama’s heart starts racing. His palms started moistening from sweat as he cocks his rifle and points the end of the barrel at the bushes, and at its loudest, a large white object falls into the pathway, then Osama shoots but missed this object. Thankfully he did miss, because that large white object was his brother in his clean white tunic, who fell because the rough ground made him loose balance with his crutch.
“You almost fucking shot me you dick!” The first words that came out of his little brother’s mouth, whom many often forget is the village imam. Osama doesn’t speak. He helps Basheer up, and places the crutch under his pit. “Thank you,” he says less stressfully. “Ya Osama. What are you doing? You should be with your wife, mourning, and remind her that my niece, your daughter, is spending eternity among the angels.”
Osama’s teeth are clenched. “What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Excuse me?” Osama continues his patrol. Basheer follows. “What’s wrong with me, brother?”
Like a jumping spider, Osama quickly turned to his brother as if he were prey “Your flesh and blood niece was killed by a lion, faced worse pain than you did, and you’re just going to give me closure that God took my girl, MY GIRL! To paradise? I expected more empathy from you.”
“Ya Osama. I feel your pain. God forbid this happens to my boy. But a lion doesn’t care where it gets a meal, that’s just how nature is set. There was a drought and…”
“You’re sharing empathy with that murderous monster!”
“Murderous? It’s an animal in the wild looking at our angel as if she was one of the bush creatures. Unsupervi…”
“That’s the thing, Basheer. It took nothing. All limbs were still intact. It just clawed her! For nothing! It wasn’t hunting. It… just… killed her.”
“Whatever the case may be, you need to be aware of the amount of darkness that clouds your soul. Only God knows how much, but I can sense it, because you’re my brother, Osama.”
“This isn’t darkness,” Osama doubts.
“Yes it is! Darkness can morph you with no difficulty as if you were nothing but a lump of clay. It’s important to always fear God no matter how you’re formed. No matter where you journey, or what actions you intend to take.”
Osama stops and really did take in what his brother said. His anger then regains as well as his pride, and looked down on him and tells him, shaking in unreleased frustration, “Fuck… you. Fuck you and fuck your God.” Basheer stood still, and looked down in disappointment. “If she’s in paradise, then she won’t know true bliss until she saw the beast that put her there burning below us.”
In a low frying voice, Basheer tells Osama “I forgive you for your anger. But don’t you dare twist our parents’ faith for your own foolishness” Osama scuffs then proceeds “I still think you should return. Your wife is leaving.”
“Of course. Why do you think I rushed here through the grass with one fucking leg?”
Osama stops and turns back to his brother “And now you’re telling me! God damn it Basheer!” He runs back to the village.
Basheer decides to take the time he’s in the forest to have a peaceful stroll. The path back to the village should make him pass the Taha’s field, wondering if they don’t mind him taking some ripe unpicked guavas. He appreciates all of God’s creations from the trees, to the birds, and sun. He hears something in the distance, from the back, but he knows there’s too much effort for him just to turn back due to his condition. In voice speaking broken Arabic, he hears “Ye-ye—ye-you say, vear goduh.”
“Oh, forgive me if you caught my wonderful conversation with my brother. He’s just lost for the moment I’m afraid.”
“Excuse me,” he continues to walk.
“Veear…Godeh… th…then… I God.”
Basheer takes into account his light humor, and says as he slowly starts to turn “You know, blasphemy is a sin, but I think its slightly worse when you do it in front of an Ima-” He finds something hard to pick together right away. A lion, malnourished enough to see every rib beneath gray fur. A mouth with the hair and whiskers dyed in red blood, and a large but healed X shaped scar for one eye, and just a horizontal line for the other. The lion growls slowly as he approaches Basheer. He tries moving backward, but falls on his back.
Despite the lion’s old age, it runs to Basheer as if it was a large cub. Before Basheer inhaled the air to scream, the lion placed its paw on his mouth fast. His claws slowly extend and pierce through the skin in his cheeks and nose, and now he’s screaming into the paw. He tries throwing a few punches at the lion any way he can but he loses faith that it even notices them. The lion faces down to Basheer as if it had eyes. Mimicking with almost perfect motion, human like language. “V-v-v fear. Fear God.” It says in a low frying voice. The lion hovers his other paw over Basheer and extends the claws for a show, which somehow made Basheer’s screams louder just from the sight. “God… dake you…Baradise.” From the eye brows down, the lion cuts through Basheer’s eyes, then ends in his eye bags.
Once Basheer passes out from his trauma, the lion takes his paws off his face. The lion whispers “No… yell.” It bites into Basheer’s neck, and enjoys the meat of it until he gets to the bone, where he snaps the neck off from the body, then lightly bites the head to carry it. The lion moves onward to the village.
On donkey cart, his friend Amjed rolls onto the front gate of his home. Amjed gets off the cart and greets Osama, “Asalam’ou’al-lakum” while retying his new checkered pattern scarf around his neck.
“Wa al lakume alsalam.” Osama greets back. “What are you doing here my friend?”
“Your wife sent the Taha boy for me.”
“Oh. I thought you would know”
Hannah comes out with her clothing bags and thanks Amjed for the short notice. Osama looks at Hannah in anger and confusion “Where in God’s earth do think you’re going during these times?”
“My parent’s village.”
“Tokar!? You’re going to Tokar!?”
“My parents deserve to know, Osama.” Tears ran down her face. A sorrowing sight for Osama. “They should know why they won’t be seeing their only granddaughter during Al Daha.”
Osama took a deep breath and tried to sympathize with his wife. “Very well Hannah. May I come along?”
Wiping her tears “No. You need tend to the sheep.”
“Alright then, if you think it’s for the best. Just promise me you’ll stay safe.”
“I will, ya Osama.”
Amjed interrupts with his hand over his chest “You have my word Osama, your wife will be safe.”
Hours pass since Hannah’s departure. Osama rests on his outside bed with the rifle under it as for usual. All of a sudden, a loud feminine scream comes from the mosque. Then a roar. Osama reaches for his rifle, and charges for the mosque.
A crowd surrounds the entrance crying, screaming, and praying to themselves. Osama goes through the crowd with his rifle to find a horrific sight. In the front of the mosque, at the very top of the minber facing the entrance, his brother’s head lied on its side, with his eyes clawed out. He walked slowly towards it to make sure if it’s who he thinks it is, the closer he got the more he was sure that the lion which slain his daughter, now slain his brother. Osama’s face was ridged in match to his anger, and like fertile valleys, his tears traveled across his cheek. He regretted that his last words to his brother was “Fuck you.”
One woman in the crowd, claimed “It was those damn Ethiopians!” A man claims “It was those good for nothing Christians! Only they could slay an imam.” An old man declares “Those White English bastards want to scare us! That must be true!”
“How?” Another woman replies to their arrogance.
Osama cries out, grasping his rifle to the fearful crowd “Now is not a time for panic!” A scream comes from the back door. The scream is coming from so much pain that no one could understand who was screaming. Osama leading the crowd bust through the back door. The familiar sound of flies enters the background noise for Osama.
He turns to his left and is distraught by the site of his sister-in-law, Ferzanah, ripped in half through her abdomen. Both pieces of her body, a meter apart. Her intestines were pulled like strings, with one end pointing towards her home. The guts were in between blood-soaked paw prints, from a large feline creature. As flies covered the open flesh, and everyone was weeping after witnessing both Basheer and Ferzana, slaughtered like sheep, no one but Osama could notice the gasp of air she took. He commands “Everyone! Shut up!”
Osama kneels and asks a question he knew would be the last one he’d ask Ferzanah. “Ferzanah. What happened?”
Coughing out blood she told everyone circling her torso “It…(cough)… spoke!”
“What? What spoke?” Osama replied.
Her last dying words, with blood building up in her throat were “The lion! It spoke! And it wants you, Osama…” She passes, right in front of him, like his own little girl.
Everyone was confused. Osama looks at the bloodied paw prints again, and realizes that the lion was trying to lead people to the direction of where the intestines were pointing. He left the crowd and followed the prints. As he approaches his brother’s home, he could hear the sound of his baby nephew crying from his brother’s home. He yells “Nooo” and busts through the door with his rifle healed steadily.
He scans the area with his rifle. Just like the mosque, the back door was also open. The crying came from the sleeping quarters. He entered the sleeping quarters, to find on the family bed, something moving under a heavily bloodied scarf. “God. Please no.” he thought. Holding the rifle now with one hand, Osama slowly moves his hand towards the scarf, and removes it quickly to find his nephew crying alone. Omar, his nephew, seemed like he was in perfect shape. No claw marks.
It still depressed him, knowing that little Omar will never know the great man his father was. The blood from the scarf didn’t come from him, thankfully. The thought occurred to him after his relief. He wandered what this supposedly intelligent beast was doing.
He realized as the crowd from the mosque was coming to see what was going on, that the scarf has a checkered pattered beneath the blood. It was new. It was Amjed’s. “Oh my god! Hannah!” He hands his nephew to his neighbors to be cared for. He then borrows a horse from the Suleimans to ride on Tokar trail.
Young Osama wandered around the bushes with his father. They were following lion prints on the ground. Easy to find with the sun being blocked by the thick clouds. Growls, small and faint, are heard in the distance. Jaffer signals to follow the sounds. Osama only had a butcher’s knife in his hand, held with the tightest grip he had. The blade shook slightly with every fast heartbeat of fear pulsing from his pubescent chest.
Beyond the tall grass, on the ground, he found the source of the growls. There were three lion cubs, fragile, waiting for their mother. Osama gazed upon their innocence as they played with each other, climbing over each other, unaware of the dangers of this world. Seeing them walk reminded Osama of Basheer’s inability to do the same.
Osama’s father claimed “These are the cubs belonging to the beast for sure.”
“How do you know?” Asked Osama.
His father answered “The last lion we saw was a rotting corpes a few kilometers back. More bone than skin.” He then said “Perhaps we can use the cubs as a way to attract the mother.”
Osama felt cold when the clouds covering the sun became thicker. His heartbeat slowed down. He got an idea, after looking at his reflection in the blade of the knife. “I know what to do.”
He approaches the cubs, picks one up, and it made no attempt to resist his action. Osama slams the cub down, making it scream in its high pitch sound, as did the others. He stabbed the cub through its chest multiple times, making the rest scream louder. He grabbed another by the tail, and sawed through its neck with the bloodied knife. He turned to his father, expecting some sort of reaction, but his father looked into his son’s eyes, with pride. There was one left which his father points out. “Don’t kill the last one. We need at least one to keep screaming to get their mother’s attention.”
“What do you want me to do with it?”
“Cut its eyes out.” They both notice that the last cub ran through the grass. Its legs were too stubby to make it significantly far. They knew where it was going because the grass moved every time it pressed its foot on the ground. Jaffer ordered his son to go after it.
Osama was able to grab it. All he felt was anger. Osama just wanted it to feel pain. He took out his bloodied blade once more, and slowly dragged the blade against one of the cub’s eyes, then decided to repeat the same process across the same scar, making an X. Screaming loudly, the cub kept trying to scratch back, but Osama ended his torturing by just carving one scar across its other eye.
He came back to his father with the screaming cub, blinded by Osama’s rage. Osama drops it to the ground like sack of sand and waits for its crying to work. After just a few minutes they hear more growls, but deeper, and louder. Out of the bush, they see the beast that took Basheer’s leg. A malnourished lioness, skinny to the ribs, exhausted. It could barely see ahead of itself.
She limps forward to make the realization that all her children that she committed to raising were slaughtered, because she wasn’t there. She made a strange roar. As if she was crying. The crying turned to grunts of anger. She focused her eyes on Osama, who walked back slowly. She leaps forward, Osama closes his eyes and covered head with his arms. A gun shot was heard. He opens his eyes and looks down to see the lioness just inches away from his toes. The bullet went straight through its left upper foot, and hit its heart.
The cub walks around and bumps into his mother’s body. Osama’s father hands him the rifle for the first time. “Finish it,” Jaffer commanded.
He looks at it, crying and afraid. Wondering why his mother isn’t getting up. Osama reloads the rifle, then points the end of the barrel at the cub’s head. But before he could fire, a vulture sweeps in and takes the cub away, now screaming into the sky.
Its sundown, Osama sees the cart Hannah left in, flipped upside down, and he’s in fear of what he might find. He yells “Hannah! Hannah!”
She cries back “Osama! Is that you?”
“Yes! Where are you?”
“I`m beneath the cart!” Osama notices a small pocket between the ground and rim of the flipped cart. He hops off the horse, puts his rile down next to the rim of the cart, then puts his hand under it, the attempts to lift the cart, but was too heavy at the first go.
“Sweetheart! I`m going to need you to lift the cart with me. Can you do that?”
“I`ll try!” Unsure of herself.
“Use your legs!” Osama pulls the cart up with all his strength, then Hannah uses her legs to lift the cart more. Osama put his other hand to hold the tilting upside down cart. Keeping the cart lifted, Osama commands “Move!” Hannah manages to crawl out, and Osama lets go with a huge relief. They share a brief hug where Osama whispers “I will never let you go again. You’re my family, you hear me?”
All of a sudden, growls apear in close sound. He turns around to have something massive thrown at him, but he pushes away Hannah just in time. The thrown object made him hit his back against cart. Osama realizes what was thrown on him was the skeletal body, moist as if the flesh was recently torn off. He pushes it forward out of fear and disgust. Where it lands in front of the lion. He sees the grey beast, with its head pointing at him, staring at him with his scars. Osama picks up his rifle as the lion smiles at Osama’s and Hannah’s presence. Osama tells Hannah who is on the ground next her to “Run!”
The lion responds “Yesssss! Run! No need for you! Only want… (growls)… hypocrite.”
Hannah runs past the bushes. Osama loosens his grip to the rifle from the sight of seeing something he never thought would be possible. “You… you…speak?”
Staring at the skeletal remains, Osama asks “Who is this?”
“Amjed… A bountiful meal.”
Disgusted by his words, all Osama could only conjure “You’re a monster!” He points his rifle at the lion before realizing its quick approach, as it slapped the rifle away with its paw, making it land in the bushes. Its front legs pushed Osama down to the ground, and held them there. “What are you!?” He asks as he struggles to get out of its hold.
“You must… fear me!” His claws extend through Osama’s shoulder skin as it says “Call… me… God!”
Screaming with his jaws shut, Osama asks “What do you want?”
“I hear more. Why I can make human noise. I also hear your breath, your heartbeat, and smell your fear. I know you. You were boy who took everything from me. Mother. Sister. Brother. Blood-smell I still remember.”
Osama realizes “My God! I remember you. You were that cub.”
The lion roared so loud at Osama’s face, that it became dampened and heated. He says “Now you know what I will do. You will feel pain I felt when I little. Because I hate you!”
Somber in anguish, Osama focuses in his words to tell the lion “I caused you a great deal of pain all those years ago. I thought of that day for a long time, regretting it. You were innocent, and I`m sorry.” The lion roars at his face again. “If you hate me! Why do you want to do what I`ve down to you. Does that make you better? My family is as innocent as you were.”
“I taken your family…almost! But now, I take your eyes (growls). I don’t want you to see what I do to your mate. I want you to hear it.” The beast pulls out his claws from Osama’s left shoulder, then nicks at the corner of his left eye. “God will show you pain.” He makes a slow cut through his eyeball which made Osama scream as loud as he did when he found Mariam.
The beast laughs after completing the first part of the X it intends to complete. He begins to start the other part but as Osama shut his one eye, he hears a gun shot, then a large splash of blood hit his face. He wipes his face with his sleeve before opening his one remaining eye and sees the lion fall to its side, with half its left face blown off. Osama turns right to see Hannah, holding his rifle, and the smoke almost covering her frightened face.
Osama tries to get up from the growing pool of black blood coming from the beast’s head. Hannah starts to tear heavily and shake. She walks slowly towards her husband and starts whimpering “I`m sorry,” but he couldn’t catch it the first few times from all the wheezing she’s doing. Hannah never felt such a heavy load of empathy for another human being in her life. Osama rips out part of his garb, and makes a quick patch for his eye.
Hannah and Osama hugged each other, as they need each other’s heat in a mid-winter night. The lion coughs, tilting what was left of its half blasted head up. Its blackened blood oozes through its visible teeth. Brain matter leaking out of the holes in its skull. The beast struggles to declare “I…(cough)…wish for death.”
Osama let’s go of Hannah, takes his rifle back, and then reloads it while replying “Let me give it to then you son of a bitch.”
He walks towards the lion, self-proclaimed God, and points his rifle to it just when he says in a low frying voice “Let me see my family, Osama. Let me see them again.” Osama was angered by the audacity of that statement. He can’t utter those words until his own time. He hesitates for a moment about what he’ll do with the monster that almost destroyed his life, but came up with one decision that would give him solace. And harmony returned.
Mustafa Gaafarelkhalifa is a native to Oman and the the son of Sudanese parents. Having been raised in the United States since the age of four, he developed a love for writing at an early age, leading him to Major in English at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He recently decided to experiment in horror, which influenced him to write and publish a story through the Catalyst which takes place in his family’s homeland.