Flash Friday 11/01/2013: Lion, Car, Man
In a somewhat similar vein to the Princess, Boatman, Lizard anthology idea, I was given the task of writing a flash fiction that combined a lion, a car, and a man. Here is the result!
Peter opened the Burger Bob’s door, the receipt of his order in his hand. The cold blast of winter winds reminded him why he was getting a burger meal in the first place instead of grabbing something at the local market. How the stall owners stop hypothermia, he had no idea. Must be all the yelling they did.
He unlocked the car with the press of the button on his key. The car chirped with a tone far too happy for a chunk of metal left in conditions that threatened to snow, but Peter was glad one of them was happy. Opening the driver seat, he climbed in and slammed the door behind him, trapping the cold outside. With a victorious rubbing of his hands, he basked in the heat of his car. It could snow for a century, for all he cared.
Of course, now came the waiting game. With his order placed, they’ll bring it over to his car when it’s done, and he’ll have enough time to get home before it went cold. No dishes, no cooking, no fuss; just him, a bag of junk food, a Friday night and a football game to watch. Perfection.
It’s when he adjusted his rear-view mirror to watch the entrance of the restaurant did he notice the lion sleeping in the back of his car.
Questions began to fill his mind. Where did the lion come from? How did it get into his car? How long had it been there for? One question, however, was far louder than the others, and barged its way through all the lesser questions to yell, “What the hell are we going to do before we get eaten?”
The lion’s stomach growled.
Peter looked at the door, being careful as to not even make noise with his eyes. He had no idea how his haphazard entrance didn’t stir the lion, but he didn’t want to try it a second time. Bringing his hand up to the door handle, he turned to watch the lion closely, getting ready to run at something as threatening as a twitch.
“Sir!” came a female voice from outside, follow by a loud rapping on the window. “Sir, I have your meal here, if you could–”
Peter’s mind went into panic stations. His brain loaded all of the possible solutions — open the door, put a finger on his lips to silence the lady, open the window to stop her knocking — and then decided to perform them all at once by putting a finger to the window control and trying to open it like a doorhandle. When his brain finally calmed, he gestured for silence while winding down the window.
“Just give me the food,” he whispered, pointing behind him. “If he wakes up hungry, I’ll be dead for sure.”
“What do you mean, I–oh god.” The lady’s eyes bulged at the sight of a big cat in the back of a customer’s car. “Okay, I’ll pass you the food now.”
Peter took a gentle hold on the bag, the crinkling noise it made running shivers down his spine. With precision that would make a bomb defusal expert turn green, he extracted the burger from the bag, unwrapping it with utmost silence. Burger in hand, he leant back and waved the delicious-smelling meal in front of the lion’s nose.
The lion’s nose twitched. It licked its lips. A deep, satisfied groan. Then, without warning, it snapped its teeth around the burger, missing Peter’s fingers by a mere inch. With a big cat-smile on its face, it chewed happily in its sleep, taking the time to lick the sauce off his mouth. After a giant swallow, the lion let loose a deep, relaxed exhale. He must have enjoyed it, as he was now sleeping with his mouth wide open.
Peter looked in the bag, trying to find something else to satiate the sleeping wild cat. The chips were off the menu, as was the cola — he was sure it would awaken if he tried either of those. His only salvation left was a scratch card, which boasted a free burger if the silver panel announced him as a winner. He began to silently scratch at the silver, hoping that it would deliver him a few more minutes of not being eaten by a lion.
“Excuse me,” he whispered, showing the scratched-off card to the lady. “I believe there’s been an error.”
“Oh, it’s not faulty. It just says ‘better luck next time’ because you didn’t win this time. Not everyone who gets a card wins a–”
“Well, get me a bloody scratchcard that stops me from being eaten by a lion, then.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that with customer policies. However, if you would like to purchase another meal, it will come with another scratchcard.”
“Fine. Just get me the, uh…Double Bacon Cheeseburger without the onions.” He looked at the sleeping lion again, who was positioning its belly in the sunlight streaming through the window. “Make it extra large. And call the bloody police while you’re at it.” He stuffed his hand into his pocket and brought a note twice the worth of the burger. “Keep the rest as a tip if you promise to run like you’ve never run before.”
“Pleasure to take your order,” she said, running back to the restaurant with all her might.
Peter sighed to himself, watching the lion as he slept. He was always a dog person.