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The herd - A modern parable

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posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 11:09 AM
He paced back in forth in the confines of his cage while people walked by in big, delicious herds. He was a very old lion and he had been watching them for a long, long time.
Over the years he saw many thousands of them standing at the barrier, they talked amongst themselves, they stared at him dumbly, but they made little true notice of him. Sure, the children would truly see him from time to time but that was becoming less frequent. Nobody saw him smile at the things the littlest ones said sometimes, or at the birds picking up popcorn and scraps of meat from the ground.
The sign at his cage said he was just another member of his species. There was nothing about him on it. It had never changed and it never would. The workers would never try to know him or his little quirks. They didn’t know he liked his dinner under the tree instead of next to the water. They didn’t know why they very seldom had to change his bedding under the rocks – the lion liked to sleep on top of them. They didn’t see him either. They were only scared because they were too lazy to try. He never showed his teeth to his trainers when they would bring his stale meat dinner in; even though the temptation was strong at that faint scent of long dead meat. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of being scared for a real reason.
He hated acting, but he did it every day for the people at his cage; paying customers is what he had heard the workers call them.
Watching over the years had taught him a great deal of human language. He knew much about mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, grandparents, and children. He liked kids, with their little morsels for minds, the best.
The sun was shining the day he heard someone say, “Storm tonight.”
The Saturday crowds gathered with their recently bought goods. Their candy and stupid hats. They came to gaze upon his flesh with eyes which did not see. He was just a moving statue to them. To them he did not feel or think; he just performed.
The kids put their hands around the iron bars and ran them up and down to feel the foreign texture. Over the years he had cut his teeth on those bars, at night when nobody could be scared, they were good bars.
This Saturday was a heckler’s holiday. Men, women, and children shouted insults and he understood every one of them.
“Fur ball”
“Big yellow sonofabitch”
Now and then someone would should “Lions and tigers and bears, oooh my…” They said it with utmost sarcasm. That one hurt him the worst because it seemed like one big inside joke. Everyone knew it; so many people knew it but why? He just could not understand. It drove a spike right through him.
Their ignorance and disrespect was more insult than their words though. One woman stared through him while holding a small box to her ear, talking to herself, he thought. One man, showing off for a girl, held out a piece of grilled corn.
“I hate corn.” The lion said the words out loud but nobody was listening. He wanted to grab the corn with such force that it flung the man into the cage. He wanted them all to be in here just once. To feel the eyes, the hollow, glazed over eyes. He wanted them to see that hungry-hunter look people got when they first noticed his cage while they were walking somewhere along the path.
He was done now; done with insults and indifference. Had enough of ignorance and unjustified fear from these people. The iron bars on his cage were weak from years of gnawing and neglect. They broke easily, they were good bars.
He jumped through the cage with a crash and, like a stone had been dropped into a pond, people ran like ripples.
He showed them all his teeth. Every one of them screamed in terror and ran or fell into a pathetic ball. His iron-sharpened, white ivory treasures sank into real meat for the first time in many years. He remembered the savanna and gazelles.
With a massive herd running in front, away from him this would be easy hunting. He thought that if one gazelle or two would stop to defend the herd, face fear which they had eagerly sought earlier, he could be beaten. None would do such a thing though.
When the second gush of warm blood hit his nose and tongue he was completely transported. He did not feel or think; he just performed. Gazelle after frail gazelle went down to his mercy. With no fur to contend with, no thick hide, these gazelles would be a smooth meal.
It was then that he heard a great noise. Elephants, and tigers, and bears and what must have been thousands of others were loosing their bars, their chains, their bondage. They were chasing the herd with the lion. A great scream and a roar came from every direction. Gazelle people running that way, true animals running toward them, it was a rush of life to the lion. His age was gone, he was young again. The animals of the savanna had decided to exterminate the gazelles.
This time, face to face, one of those pathetic gazelles saw him smile. The lion didn’t see his recognition though, and a third red flood hit his senses.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 11:19 AM
nice story, i enjoyed it, you should call it "male lions almost never hunt"!!

[edit on 12/4/10 by pieman]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 11:27 AM
reply to post by pieman

I thought about mentioning that his body wasn't well suited for hunting. But I just left that part out =P

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 08:51 PM
Thanks for the great read

Sentences faintly run into each other but?
Paragraphs can encourage people lazy like me to read more,and double spacing between paragraphs can entice those getting old in the eyes to read also.
This is the second of your works I have read and I have enjoyed both a lot.

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 09:00 AM
Good writing. I think it's about losing one's dignity and independence a scary thought for anyone.

Thanks for posting

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 10:21 AM
reply to post by Bently

You'd be mostly right there sir.

It's a metaphor for a situation I'm in in real life. And yeah, you're getting pretty close to it.

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