I kept telling the woman to control her lion. I had seen his powerful jaws clenched around the face of my stepfather, with blood dripping from the puncture wounds. I knew what that lion was capable of!
But she seemed to think he was gentle and wouldn't harm a fly. Frightened to the bone by the look in his golden eyes which spoke of far too much interest in ME, I begged her to chain him up someplace. She ignored my pleas and the big cat moved closer to me, acting friendly but I knew where his interests lay.
After rubbing up against my legs, pushing in a way that threatened to topple me (I only held myself up through sheer will and the fear of what this monster would do if I fell helplessly to the floor), in one flash of movement his head turned toward me, his mouth opened and he had me. One mighty canine tooth went through my right hip, at the upper inside thigh, and the pain was excrutiating. I felt the puncture in the front, and also at the back, not pulsing pain as if he were chewing, but steady pain because he was, indeed, holding on as if afraid I might find release and run.
Eventually, he did let me go, but the pain was still there. I called to my mother in the house, but, even though she heard me and called something back in reply, she didn't come. The lion still prowled about and I attempted to become invisible, trying not to attract his evil attention.
I tried climbing trees to hide from him, the pain compounded by every movement, but came to the realisation that anything I could possibly climb, so could he. I could see him out there in the shadows of the forest, watching me and I tried to hide. Yet I could not escape him nor the pain his predatory teeth had caused.
Eventually, back with my family, the old cat seemed to soften and though my pain still brought tears to my eyes, I often found myself petting the scarred head of the beast, noticing his ribs under the dull and lifeless fur. I'd watched enough National Geographic Channel to know what had been going on: unable to catch normal prey, the aging campaigner tried to capture dinner from the slowest of the slow, ME!
My pain still centered at the hip and groin area and never lessened, only intensified, yet I came to understand it wasn't the lion's fault, he'd only acted upon his instincts for survival. Finally, healthy lions started lurking about and, happy for the companionship of his own kind, the old boy went out with them one day.
My stepfather, who had survived the attack earlier, and I found the skinny carcass of the big cat stretched out in the sun at the mouth of a deep cave.
At this time, I awoke from my dream and, though the images of blood and hungry beasts were gone, the pain was real and deep. I got up and experienced a pain so intense it brought tears to my eyes. Thus, I sit at 3 am and type it all out as it occurred.
Bless those lions who lurk in the shadows of our dreams and inflict such deep and horrifying hurts. They gnaw upon our psyches, but give us real images in which to express our pain.