The Lion Tamer

“Foul beast!” She cried as she snapped her whip at his face, the terrible leather tendril blazing with rage.  The Lion shuddered and huddled against the bars of his cage.  “Monster!  Man-mauler!  Devourer of children in the night!”  Though the sting from her lash could barely pierce the Lion’s thick hide, the ferocity of Her words wounded his heart and his pride– as a lion loves his pride.   He had eaten no children.  He had maimed no men.  But She struck out repeatedly, over and over again.  “Cruel killer!” She shrieked.  “Destroyer of lives!”  And soon he came to believe Her, having been struck so many times. 

She left exhausted, having whipped him to her fill.  The lion beaten, lying, alone in his cell.  Dejected but determined, he vowed to change.  So in the following days he traded in his claws for softer paws to better hold a fork and knife.  He filed down his fangs and gave up eating flesh, opting for fruits, vegetables, and bread.  He gave up hunting and prowling and stalking his prey, and instead took up reading and calligraphy by the dull light of his cage.  He forsook the things that made him a Lion, until he was more domestic cat than beast.  When next She saw him, he hoped She would be pleased.  

Some time later She returned to Her Lion, with whip in hand.  “Cold-blooded slayer!” She screamed, striking with her coiled lash, again and again.  “Butcher!” He raised his declawed paws in protest.  “Murderer!”  He pleaded with dull fangs, now ground down to nubs.   “Slayer of souls!  Killer of men!”  She could not hear beyond the fury and sound of Her own mouth.  She backed him into the corner, with Her whip raised high over Her head and…

…He pounced!  

His muscular maw shredded her jugular from her throat, and in that intimate moment neither of them spoke.  Terror-wide-eyed but triumphant, she lay gasping on the floor.  The Lion was now the monster she had always accused him for.  Slowly, with dull teeth and filed claws he began eating her face.  She twitched and shuddered under his massive weight.  He crunched the cartilage of her nose, slurped the flesh from her cheeks, he plucked her eyes from their sockets, he was now truly– Her Beast.