Bright sunlight illuminated the CENTRAL ZOO as the gentle wind carried the withered leaves across the paved paths. The autumn break brought a whole lot of people to the zoo because of the amazing weather coupled with pressing holidays. The zoo authority celebrated this period as a mega carnival event. The whole zoo was dressed in bright and beautiful colors. The sounds of various animals filled the ambience with an unusual energy.
Various stage shows featuring some of the very talented animals of the zoo were organized along the length and breadth of zoo. Some of them featured apes, some featured parrots & there was a ‘Dolly the Dolphin’ special. But there was one show which attracted people in hundreds and thousands. The show was fairly popular among teenagers, and the kids loved it. Spotlight show of the carnival, ‘The Majestic Lion’.
The majestic lion was staged twice a day because of its excessive popularity. The morning show remained fairly crowded but the evening show acted as people-magnet. The show featured one of the biggest cats one has ever seen. That 5 feet high cat was called Tim. Tim was particularly the favorite of the ringmaster as he was quite obedient and pretty harmless, until unless infuriated of course. He did bruise his caretakers every now and then because of his large body but never injured anyone critically.
The act seemed like any other act involving lions but the presence of ‘BIG TIM’ made it majestic. The act was performed on a ground set rather than an elevated stage. The whole setup was designed in a way such that it looked like a jungle scenery. The audience was seated in a semi-circular ascending stairs arrangement. There was no barrier or boundary separating the performing ground and the audience, which added to the thrill.
The act starts with soft music. A small family is shown camping peacefully in the woods. Few moments later, their camp is attacked by a group of dacoits. The dacoits start killing the family members and taking their belongings. Soon one of them spots a small kid hiding in one of the shady tents. The dacoits encircle him, stealing glances, as who should finish him. That is when the ringmaster, seated on an elevated platform, fires a gun-shot in the air. From a large opening in the rock setting just around the tress, jump-enters Tim with an alarming roar. All the bandits are terrified on seeing the giant cat and starts running here and there to escape the big beast’s wrath. Tim gives another loud roar to the panic-stricken dacoits, pounces at one or two, carefully pushing them aside and when all of them run away from the scene in a jiffy, Tim looks at the small kid and starts walking slowly towards him. Tim stops right in front of the kid, looks at him for a little while and then raises his front-right leg in air. The small kid shuts his eyes in terror. Tim lightly places his paw on the kid’s left shoulder. The kid opens his eyes and looks at the great cat standing in front of him. They both maintain eye contact for a few moments. The kid’s terror-stricken face upholds a beautiful smile as Tim bends down in front of him. The small kid jumps on his back. Tim faces the audience and delivers another loud roar and with the kid on his back sprawls towards the same rock opening. Just before entering the artificial cave Tim stops, looks back at the audience, roars one last time and then enters the artificial cave leading to the backstage arena. The act is followed by different stunts and acts by Tim, some of which are coupled with the kid.
But this act was different. The crowd assembled as usual on the semi-circular ascending stairs and the show started as usual. But the environment was filled with bizarre motility. The dacoits entered the scene and started doing what they were good at; acting. The excited audience watched keenly, desperately waiting for the majestic lion. Some of them were familiar with the show but most of them were watching it for the first time. Suddenly everyone’s attention diverted as three men came running towards the set. All of them had hand-guns and wore black face masks. A streak of terror ran through the audience. Some thought it was a new addition to the show while others started leaving their seats and running towards the exit.
“Be seated you morons! Or each one of you will die”, shouted the biggest of the three. The announcement made the audience go wild. He signaled the other two men to move towards the exit.
“Captain, this man has a gun!” spoke one of the mobster pointing at the ringmaster.
“So what are you waiting for? Take it from him!” shouted the big guy to the layman.
The ringmaster had no choice but to comply with the situation. He was in-process of raising his gun-hand to throw it away when the layman saw him. He instantly pointed his gun in the ringmaster’s direction and fired a warning shot. The bullet passed through the ringmaster’s vicinity without doing any damage.
“Don’t even dare! The next bullet will pass right through….”
At that very moment Tim jumped in from the artificial cave opening with a loud roar, stealing everyone’s attention. The three mobsters were terrified on seeing such a large beast. The big guy stumbled and fell on the ground while the other two guys ran towards the exit to save their lives. The actors, including the kid, disappeared within seconds and were nowhere to be seen. The ringmaster had no choice but to remain in his position on the elevated platform.
Big Tim seemed confused with the change in routine. He glared at the stampede of audience and at the empty set. The usual people covered in black were nowhere to be seen. Soon he spotted the big guy with the black mask. Eventually he was the only one around with some black clothing. A completely different setup irritated him. An enraged Tim gave a loud roar and started walking slowly towards the big guy, who was on in feet again. The big guy was frozen to the bones on seeing such a big beast walking towards him. At that moment reality struck, thawing his frozen brain. He picked up his gun and pointed it in Tim’s direction. Tim halted at his action, and roared, in reaction. This big guy wasn’t that friendly after all. His trembling fingers were searching for the trigger when suddenly… BAM!…THUD… a hard punch knocked him out.
It was a young man, seemingly 23 or 24 years old. Eventually he was a big fan of Tim, the majestic lion, and was there to watch him live for the first time. He had heard about him in news and read about him in newspapers. He wasn’t ready to watch him die on their first encounter. Big Tim relaxed a bit after the downfall of big guy but any sharp change in his behavior was hard to notice. Now, with the big man down, the young guy was the last man standing. The young man held his breath as the big cat started walking again.
Someone from the back shouted “Run…”, but it was a bit late to act. Tim now stood at a few feet’s distance from the young guy. Tim stared at him for a few moments and then gave a low-pitched roar. Tim seemed pretty harmless during all those stunts shown on Television, but standing against that five feet high cat face-to-face was something different altogether. The young man’s heart skipped a beat or two. The stampede of audience paused to look at the young man about to be mauled by the great beast. The ringmaster picked up his gun. Looking at Tim’s giant claws and razor sharp canines, the young lad nearly passed out of terror. But then, the unexpected happened. Tim bent his head down in front of the young.
Everyone was surprised at the unexpected scene which unfolded before them. The young guy looked at big Tim in amazement. He wasn’t sure if he should run or just stand there. He looked towards the ringmaster standing atop the elevated pavement. A short smile curled up on ringmaster’s face as he saw the whole act. He signaled the young lad to put his right hand on Tim’s head. The young guy, skeptical at first, put his right hand on Tim’s head. The ringmaster further signaled him to move his hand around and rub him gently. The young guy followed the trail and big Tim seemed to enjoy it.
The remaining people watched the whole scene in amazement. The ringmaster started clapping, gradually joined by everyone present. Tim moved around the set one last time acknowledging the audience and then moved towards the artificial cave exit. But the clapping continued, getting louder by the moment. Tim had played his part well, but today the claps were not for him. Everyone clapped and clapped, acknowledging the great show which unfolded before them. The great show called ‘The Majestic Lion’.
THIS STORY IS A PART OF COMPETITION ‘TAB WAR’ ORGANISED BY THE AUTHOR’s BLOG. THE CORE MEMBERS OF THE AUTHOR’s BLOG ARE COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER THROUGH THEIR STORIES. A STORY WILL BE PUBLISHED EACH DAY BY ONE CORE MEMBER. THERE ARE THREE COMPETITORS HENCE THERE WILL BE SIX STORIES IN ONE WEEK.
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