Simba Kizungu.


Simba woke in the early morning, and lay still for a while remembering all the previous day’s events.  He explored the sensations his body fed to his brain, the touch of Petra’s paw pads against his fur, his paws buried in the fur of the white lioness, the sound of her beating heart close to his ear, and the warmth of her breath on his cheek as he lay snuggled close, his head under her chin.  Simba felt really good, warm and safe for the first time in he didn’t know how long.

      “Ah good morning Simba Kizungu,” Kalahari called as he passed.

       “Simba what?”  The lion cub enquired.

      “Simba Kizungu, lion of the white people,” Kalahari replied, pausing by the door, “it’s your new Swahili name.  You had the first bit “Simba,” meaning lion, and I looked up the second bit for you.  I was thinking of looking for the Swahili word for white, but couldn’t find it, coming closest with Kizungu, meaning of the white people, and that’s pretty much spot on I think.”  With that the meerkat disappeared.

       “What is Kalahari on about?”  Petra mumbled, still half asleep.

      “Nothing mum,” Simba mewed, wanting to spare his mum the details until she was more awake.

       “Tell me when you get hungry little one,” Petra mewed sleepily.

      “It’s okay,” Simba purred, “I can eat meat, I’ll go and find some.  I saw some of the other cats eating fish while we were talking to Elsa last night.”  Petra remembered Simba was weaned.

      “Come on then,” she mewed; we’ll go get some fish.  I can’t join you for it makes me sick.”

        What will you do for food?”  Simba asked.

      “Vegetables I’m afraid,” Petra replied.

       “If you can’t eat meat, I certainly won’t!”  Simba mewed, “it’s unfair that we can’t eat together, for that’s what mothers and cubs do.  I know what meat does to you, for I overheard Samson and Theo talking about it late last night.  I won’t eat meat mum and that’s flat!”

       “Dear Simba cub,” Petra mewed, “I don’t expect you to eat vegetables because I have to.”

      “But I want to,” Simba protested, “I want to do it mum, please.”  Petra was deeply touched by her cub’s concern for her, and he could see it.

      “Right mum,” Simba said, “let’s both go find food.”  Petra struggled to her paws, bouncing on her toes to get circulation into them.  Simba watched her, and imitated what he saw as best he could from all fours.  Petra laughed at her cub’s antics.

       “Your paws aren’t stiff, you’re a youngster,” she mewed.

       “I might have stiff paws,” Simba replied, “how would you know if I had or not?  They’re my paws.”  Petra couldn’t argue with that.

      “What was Kalahari on about earlier?”  Petra asked.  Simba thought for a minute, and then remembered.

      “Oh, that,” he mewed, “he said he’d been trying to find a second name for me, something to do with a word in another language which means white.”

      “Probably Swahili,” Petra replied, “your name, “Simba” means lion in that language.”

      “Kalahari said that to me,” the cub said, “but he used another word afterwards.  He came past and said “good morning Simba, then he used this word, a new one which I’d never heard of until then.  Kiz something…”  Simba’s face screwed up in concentration, the cub fighting to get his infant memory to function, “Simba, kiz, kiz,” he said, worrying at the edge of the rug with the toes of one forepaw, “Oh forget it!”  He snarled in frustration, “I can’t remember it!”

       “Kizungu my dear cub,” Kalahari said softly.  Simba snarled with surprise, whirling round on the meerkat!

      “Don’t do that!”  He mewed, realising his claws were extended.  Shame faced, Simba retracted them.

       “Simba Kizungu,” Petra mewed, “a lovely name.”

     “It means lion of the white people,” Kalahari said.  Petra padded over to the meerkat, lay down, and to his great surprise, hugged him in her huge paws.

      “I’ve never been hugged by a lioness before,” Kalahari said, hoping his voice didn’t betray his natural fear of the big cats.

      “Well now you have been,” Petra mewed softly.  Simba watched Kalahari’s eyes, as the meerkat looked like he was falling asleep.

       “Mum’s got nice warm paws hasn’t she,” Simba mewed.  Kalahari, his head swimming with the urge to sleep, mumbled a reply.  Petra gathered the tiny creature to her, cradling the meerkat in her huge paws.

      “Your touch even soothes a meerkat,” Samson said, padding into the den.  Petra smiled at the huge lion.

        “Looks that way,” she purred, kissing Kalahari on his nose.  Samson stared in astonishment!

       Petra,” he said, “you, you, um, ah, you just kissed that meerkat on his nose like he was a lion cub!”

      “Did I?”  Petra asked, for it had been an unconscious action.

      “You did mum,” Simba mewed.  Petra looked down at the drowsy meerkat.

       “You’ll be mothering ducks next Petra,” Kalahari said.  Petra grinned and released the meerkat.  Kalahari got to his feet and left the den, a confused expression on his face.

       “What made you take Kalahari in your paws mum?”  Simba asked.

      “I don’t know, I know even less about why I kissed his nose,” Petra replied.  Simba smiled.

       “He was asleep you know mum,” the cub mewed.  Petra shook herself, Samson watching her.

       “Let’s go and get something to eat,” Petra mewed, taking her cub’s paw and leading him towards the door.  Simba tapped her paw, making Petra stop walking, smiling, he leapt onto her back.

      “That’s better,” he mewed, settling down.  Petra glanced back at him.      “Better for you maybe,” Petra mewed, “but I have to carry you!”  Simba reached forward and tickled the soft fur on the inside of Petra’s left ear with the toes of his left forepaw.  Petra squealed with laughter, shaking her head.

      “Stop that!”  She wined.  Simba patted her neck.

       “Let’s get downstairs!”  He urged.  Petra padded out of the room, Samson following her.



Down in the kitchen, Simba was given a bowl of the fish and vegetable mix.

     “Now you eat that,” Winifred yinnied.  Simba, having not seen an otter before, stared at her.  Sensing the cub’s hesitation to comply with her command, Winifred padded over to Simba to reinforce her message. Tapping Simba on the nose to show she had no fear of the cub, Winifred said:

     “Your mum’s not here, nor is her huge long haired friend, and I say you will eat that fish vegetable mix.  Simba dipped his paw into the food and began to separate the fish from the vegetables.  Winifred watched him.

      “You will eat it all,” the otter said, “fish, and vegetables.  Simba, feeling anxious because his mum wasn’t with him, slowly ate the vegetables hoping the otter would go away.  When he had no more veg, and the fish stretched into eternity, Simba pushed his bowl away.

      “I’m not hungry,” he mewed, though he still was.

      “You can eat meat,” Winifred snapped, “so eat it you little runt!”  Simba tried to roar at the she otter, but all that came out was a cubbish whimpering mew.

      “Don’t you ever roar at me Simba my boy!”  Winifred said mockingly.  Frustrated and angry, Simba knocked the bowl over, kicking it across the tiles, the plastic bowl bouncing off the wall and coming back at him, fish flying out of it and covering Simba from ears to paws.  Winifred, now angry with the lion cub, picked him up in her paws, sat him on a stool, dusted him down roughly with a towel, and then carried him, struggling madly, to the punishment room which she reserved for errant cubs that didn’t eat their food.  Simba spat and snarled in protest!

     “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t eat?”  He snapped, “I’m Simba, a white lion cub!  My mum doesn’t eat meat, so why should I?   I don’t want my meat!”

      “I know your name and what you are!”  Winifred snapped, “You’re a horrid little worm, a nasty scrap!”  Dropping Simba inside the isolation room, Winifred closed the door and walked back to her duties.  Simba, disorientated and shaken, looked round him.  He was in a bare room, with plastic flooring and nothing else.  Padding round the room, he found nothing.  Investigating the door brought no results, as it was cub proof.  There was a handle way up high, but he couldn’t reach it.  Trying to clamber up the door didn’t help, as his claws could get no purchase on the wood.

      “I don’t want to be in here!”  Simba yelled, banging on the door with the flat of one tiny forepaw, “let me out!”  Simba’s banging and crashing about produced no results.  He curled up in a miserable heap on the floor, the floor cold to his paws.

       “Mum, where are you?”  He whispered, now frightened.


Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Petra padded in to find Winifred clearing the spilt fish from the floor.  Petra dragged Winifred out of the room before she was violently sick!

      “What happened in the kitchen?”  Petra asked.      “Simba wouldn’t eat his fish,” Winifred replied, “he tried to pull rank with me, “I’m Simba, a white lion cub,” he said, and I told him I knew who he was.  He separated the fish from the veg and ate the veg.  I know he can eat meat, and you know that if cub animals can eat meat, they are required to eat it until they are a year old.  It’s the way we do things here.  Of course, you were a special case.”  Petra hated Winifred.  The she otter was good at her work, but she had a tendency to victimise any cubs that didn’t eat their food, for whatever reason.

     “What happened then?”  Petra asked.

      “He pushed his bowl away when all he had left was fish to eat.  I told him he wasn’t to leave the fish, and he told me he wasn’t hungry.  Now I know that cub’s only had your milk to drink since he arrived, and that’s not much food for a growing cub.  I told him to eat his fish, and he kicked the bowl across the room.  It bounced off the wall and covered him in fish.  I cleaned him up, and sent him back to the cubbing den.  Petra sighed and padded back to the den.


Not finding Simba there, she searched the house for him, becoming anxious.  Running down the stairs, she found Winifred leaving the house.

      “Simba’s nowhere to be found!”  She mewed.

      “I don’t know where he is.”  The she otter replied, the door closing behind her.


Meanwhile, Simba, in the bare room, felt cold and lonely.  The room was unheated and pitch dark, for it was in reality an old walk in store cupboard.  Shivering with cold and fear, Simba buried his face in his paws and burst into tears.


Petra paced the lounge, furious with worry.  Noone could help her, for noone could find her cub.  Not even Tib, who knew every cranny of the house.  Petra felt Simba’s pain, wherever he was.  She knew he’d be upset, and begging for rescue.

     “Where are you little Simba Kizungu,” Petra asked softly.


In his lonely room, Simba’s tears had dried, and he lay on the floor cold and stiff.  His body wasn’t good at retaining heat, he relied on his mum for that, as white cubs have poor circulation, getting little better in adulthood, especially where their paws were concerned.  Simba felt tired, and so scared he was worried he’d be sick.  Simba crawled to the door, and set about trying to work a paw beneath it.  He couldn’t even get his toes beneath the door.  Frustrated, he balled his right forepaw into a fist and punched the door with such force he heard his toes crack.  The pain of this made Simba scream with anger.  He suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to vomit.  Staggering to a corner, he was violently sick.  Exhausted, Simba collapsed, his whole body shaking so hard his paws ached and teeth chattered.


Petra guessed the time since she’d last seen Simba to be about an hour and a half now.  She’d finished her own meal in fifteen minutes flat, wanting to get back to her cub, but when she’d returned to the kitchen, Simba was obviously long gone.  Where the hell was he!  Petra lay down to think.  The whole community would pull out all the stops to find her cub if she asked, but she didn’t want to do that just yet.  She’d asked those whom she thought might know the places where a cub would hide.  They’d searched, but found no trace.  Petra thought back to Winifred, the otter had become authoritarian in her old age, and Petra hated her.  What would she have done with Simba if she’d been really angry with him?  Petra remembered tales of a dreadful place, a room the otters would throw errant cubs into if they didn’t eat their dinner.  But surely, that was only a story.  Petra got to her feet and padded towards the kitchen.

     “If Winifred had taken Simba anywhere in the house, someone would have seen them,” she thought, “think Petra think!”  She came to a large door in the wall, one which she’d not noticed before.  It was white, like the wall, with a concealed handle, so it didn’t show as a door.


Petra looked at the recessed handle, and sniffed it.  It smelt of Winifred’s scent.  Trying the door, she found it was locked.  Petra pressed her ear to the keyhole, listening.  She heard something, a tiny sound, the mewing sob of a terrified cub.  Petra suddenly lost it totally!  Screaming, she attacked the hinged side of the door with her teeth and claws!  Nothing short of nuclear security would have kept Petra out of that cupboard!  While she was tearing and yanking at the hinges, Elsa ran up to investigate.

     “What the hell are you doing!”  The lioness asked.

      “Winifred’s imprisoned Simba in this cupboard!”  Petra yelled, “I know she has!  I’m freeing my cub!”  Elsa shook her head, trying to drag Petra from the door:

      “Winnie wouldn’t do anything like that!”  The lioness snapped.

     “She’s authoritarian, and hates lion cubs,” Theo mewed, “she would do something like that!  I’ve told you Elsa, ever since I killed Tarker, Winifred’s not to be trusted with the lion cubs!”  Petra growled deep in her throat, ripping out the hinge, and with a huge effort, throwing the door aside!  The door slamming into Elsa, knocking her down!  Screeching with pain, Elsa collapsed, the door falling on top of her!  Theo heaved the door off his mate, while Petra threw herself headlong into the dark and cold of the cupboard.  Simba lay in there, cold, stiff and terrified.  Petra could see he’d been asleep until very recently, and she knew the kind of sleep he’d had, for she’d had it herself.  A cold, pained sleep, shivering and terrible.  Simba shook so much in Petra’s paws that he was sick for a second time, when there was nothing to vomit.  The cub, his paws clenched, cried with fear as his tiny body avenged bad treatment.  Petra cradled her cub as he fought to vomit.

      “I’m sorry mum!”  Simba cried as he struggled to control things, “I can’t stop it!”  He screamed, doubling over in another desperate attempt to be sick.  Petra knew what this was.  Simba had been so terrified; he’d brought up the vegetables he’d eaten.  Now the cub was confused and scared, his body trying to react to seven thousand impulses at once making him sick once again.

     “It’s okay Simba; I promise it’s going to be all right!”  Petra mewed, her fur and paws soaked with her cub’s vomit, sweat and tears.

      “Winifred will pay for this!”  Theo yelled.

       “She’ll take it out on me!”  Simba shrieked, choking on his tears, his whole body shaking violently, “she hates me!  I thought I’d left that behind, I thought that was all gone!”  Simba buried his face in Petra’s shoulder, screaming and weeping.

       “Where can we go where he’ll calm down?”  Elsa asked.

        “The cubbing den,” Petra mewed.  “Get some fresh blankets up there so we can change any dirty ones, then I’ll take him up there.”

      You must wash him first, and you must wash yourself too Petra!”  Elsa mewed, “you’re covered in vomit!”

       “We will wash first,” Petra mewed, “but Simba must be kept quiet, which means you getting out of my face!”  Elsa ran away from Petra, the white lioness’s angry growling telling her she wasn’t wanted.

      “You don’t like my mate?”  Theo asked.

      “Elsa took me in as a cub,” Petra mewed, “but now she’s being silly over Winifred.  Elsa knows what that otter’s like, but she still keeps her employed here!  Winifred should be sacked this instant, for Simba’s sake!”  Theo looked at the tear stained, sweat soaked and vomit covered white lion cub trembling in Petra’s embrace.

      “Winifred will pay,” he mewed, “I promise you and Simba that!”



Petra carried poor Simba in her mouth by the scruff of his neck, the cub dangling limply, his fur soiled with vomit, tears and sweat.  Petra’s fur wasn’t much to look at, for she’d been covered in her cub’s vomit when she’d held him close.  The two sorry looking lions made it to the bathroom, where Fleur had a bath ready.  She first showered Petra and Simba, Petra standing with Simba between her forepaws, the cub trembling and sobbing.

      “It’s going to be okay,” Petra whispered to Simba, I promise!”  Simba clung to his mum’s paw with desperate strength.

      “Please,” he choked, “don’t let furry Winnie do that to me again!”

      “I won’t, I won’t!”  Petra mewed.  Fleur bathed the two white lions, and then Petra dried Simba off quickly, the white cub enjoying her attention.  Once Petra had been dried by Simba, a much slower affair, the whole  process taking about half an hour, but did wonders for his morale, Petra got hold of vegetable mix for both her and her cub, along with something else not often tasted by animals, two huge bowls of tea.  The boss often had a tea urn on the go, but Petra had never tried using it.  When she saw the hot liquid pouring into the bowls, the smell made her want to drink the whole thing right there and then.  Throwing a pawful of sugar into both bowls of tea, Petra and Fleur asked Bruin and Isaac to carry them to the cubbing den.  They agreed, and took the bowls of veg mix, warmed with hot water, and the tea to the cubbing den.  Once all was set in there, Petra and Simba settled down.  Simba was exhausted and still a little tearful.

      “Take it easy little Simba Kizungu,” Petra whispered.  Simba crawled over to one of the bowls containing tea and lapped from it.  He wasn’t hungry, his apatite having deserted him long ago.  Petra watched her cub drinking from the bowl and padded over to join him.  Taking his right forepaw in her left, she stroked his toes with hers.

       “Simba,” she mewed, “why did you shout at Winifred?”  Simba looked as if he would cry at any moment.

       “You mean the furry animal who gave me the bowl of fish and vegetables?”  Simba asked.  Petra nodded, “well,” the cub continued, “She tried to make me eat the fish, and she said I had to. You didn’t say I had to eat the fish, so I didn’t.  The furry animal you call wine something, well, she got angry, and told me that I had to eat the fish, as I was a cub and cubs had to do that kind of thing.  I hesitated for a minute, and the furry animal with webbed paws, I saw she had those, came over to me and tapped my nose with her paw, telling me to eat the fish.  She’s got hard paws mum, and that was just her tapping my nose!”  Petra growled angrily, Simba flinching at the sound.

      “Carry on,” Petra said; squeezing Simba’s paw to tell him everything was okay between them.

       “Well,” the cub continued, “furry Winnie hadn’t finished.  She said I would eat the fish because you weren’t there to say otherwise, nor, nor was your long haired friend.  So what she said was law,” Simba said quickly.  He panted his distress mounting. Petra looked at Simba, but he shook his head, determined to finish his tail.

     “I separated the fish from the vegetables, and ate the veg, just like I said I would.  When the veg was all gone, I pushed my bowl away, telling furry Winnie that I wasn’t hungry.  She told me I could eat meat, and that I had to, then, then, she shouted at me, calling me, um, what was it?  A, a runt, whatever that is.  I tried to roar at her, but she didn’t like it.  She told me not to roar at her again, though, my roar wasn’t a roar mum, more of a mew actually. I can’t roar, I tried, but I can’t roar!”  Petra’s growl increased to a snarl of fury!

       “Winifred’s a jumped up hearth rug!  Petra spat, “and the reason why you can’t roar is because you’re a cub Simba, that’ll come with time.”   Simba nodded, not understanding all of what his mum had just said.

      “Then what happened? Petra asked, now unable to keep the calm lid on her emotions.

       “I kicked the bowl across the room in frustration!”  Simba mewed, looking down at his toes, which were now curled hard into the rug, “the bowl hit the wall and rushed back at me, the fish flying out of it and covering me from nose to paw pads!  Furry Winnie grabbed me, plonked me on a wooden seat and beat me with a towel!  This got the fish out of my fur,” Simba gulped for breath, Petra massaging his paw to soothe him.  The cub ploughed on:

      “Then, then she picked me up in her mouth!  I dangled there, kicking the air with my paws and complaining!  I told her I was Simba a white lion cub and that you didn’t eat your meat mum, so why should I eat mine.  She told me she knew who and what I was, and then called me a horrid scrap and a worm, whatever those are.”  Petra roared with anger, the sound bringing Samson into the room at a run.

       “What the hell’s going on here!”  He demanded.

      “I’ll tell you in a minute Samson,” Petra replied, “Simba, finish your tale!”  Simba lay down and buried his face in his paws.

       “I got thrown into the dark cold room with the hard floor,” he mewed almost inaudibly, “it was horrid in there!  I heard the door close, and, and padded about, looking for an escape route.  I couldn’t find one, I even tried climbing the door, for I could see a handle on it, way above my head, but that didn’t work.”  Samson’s legs collapsed beneath him and Petra buried her face in his mane to hide her tears.

       “I’ll, I’ll stop!”  Simba choked, “I don’t want to make you cry mum!”  Petra gulped hard, sniffing and sobbing.

      “Carry on Simba dear cub,” Samson said softly, “tell all, and then we will deal with what we find.”  Simba continued, glancing anxiously at his weeping mum.

        “I banged on the door with my paws, but noone came,” the cub mewed, “so I lay down and tried to sleep, I slept for a while, then got up and tried to get my paw under the door to open it.  I couldn’t do it!  I tried so hard!  Angry, I hit the door with my paw, and that hurt so much I screamed, but noone heard.  Time passed, and I got cold and frightened.  I was terrified noone would find me in there, I’d made as much noise as I could, but noone could hear me!”  Petra wailed in misery, Samson hugging her with tender paws.

      “Carry on Simba,” he encouraged, for he knew the cub needed to tell his tale.

       “I got so worried, I was sick,” Simba mewed, “that made me feel worse, so I slept some more.  The next thing I knew, the door was coming down, and I was scared again!  This made me be sick once more, and then I was in mum’s paws, still being sick, and mum knows the rest.”  Simba looked relieved his tale was over, a tiny smile of satisfaction touching his mouth.

      “I want furry Winnie to pay!”  He mewed, sounding like Samson when he spoke of punishing Orsa.

      “Oh yes Simba,” Samson said softly, his emotions more controlled than Petra’s, “Winifred will pay for this, with her life if need be.  She might hate lions as we killed her cub, but she has no right to mistreat the cubs in her care.  She’ll learn not to mess with us.”  Simba shivered.  His mum’s growling and snarling was frightening, Samson’s calm was worse.  Simba didn’t know what to make of his mood, was he calm because he was hiding the fact he didn’t know what to do, or was it the complete opposite?  Simba thought the latter was more likely.  The cub somehow felt Samson was planning Winifred’s long and painful death.


Theo was furious!  He knew all the keys to the various cupboards had been confiscated by the boss so no cub could get locked in.  Had Winifred found a key, for the door behind which Simba was trapped had been quite definitely locked.  Theo had never before seen the strength a lioness had when her cub was in danger.  Petra had picked up a heavy oak door like it was paper and thrown it aside just like that.  Theo thought about Elsa.  She’d made a mistake in keeping Winfred employed after Tarker’s death.  The she otter had become vindictive, persecuting lion cubs.  Simba got it worst, because he was a white cub.  Theo needed counsil, from a lion who knew more about life than he.  Theo shook his head and looked up seeing his face in the mirror.  His mane stood out proud, and he looked the picture of a lion at the height of his powers, but he knew he wasn’t that lion, not any more.  The community had become unruly, accepted forms of punishment no longer worked.  Theo needed an ultimate solution to a problem, a final act, and he could not carry out that act without damage to himself.  Someone else would have to lead the community through this patch, where polar bear cubs were beating up defenceless lion cubs, and otters hated lions.  Theo realised no other creature in the community had the pride instinct, or the close family bond the lions had.  He looked into the mirror once more.

      “Am I fit to be leader any longer?”  He asked aloud.  Theo then saw something which confused him.  In the mirror it seemed to Theo that his and Samson’s faces had become one, one lion!  Theo looked behind him, but Samson was nowhere to be seen.

      “Please!”  Theo begged the mirror, suddenly feeling an urge to clasp his paws together, just as Petra had when she pleaded with Eohippus, “Do you mean me to talk to Samson?  I beg you to tell me!  I’m lost and confused!”  He mewed, sounding like a cub.  Looking up at the reflection in the mirror, Theo asked:

       “Is Simba safe now?”  Theo felt a paw take his.  Looking round, he found Samson lying beside him.

      “Sammy, I mean Samson,” Theo blurted, “I’m so confused!”  Samson nuzzled Theo’s ear, the familiar gesture bringing tears to the smaller lion’s eyes.

       “I will help you face this,” Samson mewed, “Theo; you won’t have to face it alone.”  Theo cried into Samson’s fur.

       “Poor Simba,” he wept, “it must have been awful in that prison!”  Samson knew the truth of the situation, and hoped he didn’t convey any of it to Theo, though he wasn’t sure if the younger lion couldn’t retell Simba’s tale word for word.

      “Simba suffered horribly didn’t he,” Theo sniffed.

       “I don’t know much about it,” Samson lied.  Theo’s paw landed smack on Samson’s nose!

       “You know, I know you know what happened!”  Theo choked, “I know Simba told you, told you everything, I know it Samson!  You don’t, don’t try fobbing me off, I know your mind!  You know what happened!  You know if he suffered!”

       “Do you want my help or not?”  Samson asked, rubbing his nose with his paw.

      “Yes Samson.  I’m so sorry Sammy, I know, know you want to keep it private, for, for Simba’s your cub as much as he is Petra’s.  I need to know everything if I’m going to punish Winifred!”

       “You do not need to know everything,” Samson mewed, “answer me this Theo; could you carry out the ultimate sentence on Winifred?  Could you, as community leader, kill the bitch otter if needed?”  Theo gasped in horror.

       “You, you want to, to kill her?”  He asked hoarsely.

      “Yes,” Samson mewed, “her crimes against lion cubs are too great, too numerous.  She needs to be taken off the scene.”

      “Can’t we exile her?”  Theo asked, “That would be acceptable, and no bloodshed is needed.”

        “I don’t think anything but her death is acceptable,” Simba mewed, crawling up to Theo, “furry Winnie made my life hell, for what reason, because she hated white lion cubs.  It’s up to me to eat meat, not for her to tell me what I can and can’t eat.  I went through hell in that room, and if Petra hadn’t broken down the door to rescue me, I’d still be there now.”  Theo padded over to Simba and embraced the white cub in his large paws.

       “You will find retribution hard to dish out,” Simba mewed, “but you must Theo, you must.”  Theo gulped hard.

      “I cannot kill Winifred!”  He sobbed.

       “If I were grown up, I’d do it myself!”  Simba snarled, his tiny claws extended.

       “You couldn’t little cub, it’s not right to talk like that!”  Theo protested.

       “Theo, you do not remember the wild,” Simba mewed, “I do, and cub abusers were hunted down and killed!  Now we will hunt the otter down and do justice to her!”  Petra hoped the tiny cub was just full of bravado.

       “You couldn’t!”  Theo mewed, “you’re not strong enough Simba!”

      Go on, Try it scrap, worm!”  Winifred yelled.  Theo whipped round, the she otter stood, her fur erect and mouth open in a snarl of rage.

     “No Winnie no!”  Petra screamed.  Samson threw himself at Simba, missing and landing in a heap on the floor with Theo beneath him!  The field of battle was open now!  Winifred advanced on Simba, the white lion cub a third of her size.

      “I’ve never eaten lion,” Winifred yikkered, “there’s a first time for everything!  I’m late for my dinner!”  She sprang at Simba, the tiny cub, not yet on his paws, crawling between her forelegs and striking up with his paws.  Winifred arched her back, her teeth clamping down on Simba’s paw!  The cub screamed with pain and, now on his back, kicked upwards with his hind paws!  Feeling his claws digging into flesh, he curled his toes hard into Winfred, the she otter opening her mouth to scream with pain!  Simba closed his eyes, set his teeth and pushed with his hind paws!  Winifred, the claws of both the lion cub’s hind paws buried in her belly, wriggled and thrashed, unable to get to his head.  Rolling onto her back, she tried to get at Simba with her forepaws and teeth, but the cub, sensing this, gathered his strength and, opening his mouth in a scream of Anger, spanked Winifred on her nose!  Simba’s paw landed with a splintering smack!  Winifred’s head jerked backwards, Simba clamping the she otter’s face in his tiny mouth, trying to suffocate her.  Simba held on grimly, caring about nothing else other than winning the fight!  He felt his teeth biting into Winfred’s nose, the blood warm and sweet.  He hung on with all four paws, digging his claws into the she otter’s neck and abdomen!  Winifred felt her fragile lower jaw break under the cub’s relentless pressure, her nose filling with blood and saliva!  Simba held on, panting through his nose as he fought for every last inch.  Pushing hard with his hind paws, he drove himself forward, his teeth ripping the otter’s face as he moved.  Simba, his eyes screwed tight shut, rocked back and fourth, back and fourth, clamping down with his teeth and claws, trying to kill Winifred!  Winifred’s struggle was frantic but short lived.  The claws of Simba’s forepaws had buried themselves in her windpipe, tearing her throat out before he’d done the job the conventional way.  Winifred died after five minutes of this.  Simba’s own strength ebbing just as the otter gave up her fight.  Letting go suddenly, Simba fell off Winfred’s lifeless form, collapsing onto the floor.  He felt awful!

       “She’s dead!”  Samson mewed, checking the she otter over.  Simba spat, gasped and panted for air, his forepaw bleeding where Winifred had bitten it.  He ached all over, his whole body racked with pain.  Petra looked down at her cub; his fur was red with the otter’s blood.

        “You, you killed her Simba,” Petra whispered, “well fought little cub.”  Simba smiled as he felt his mum licking his nose.

      “I tried,” he mewed faintly, “I stuffed Winifred good and proper!”  Petra didn’t know whether to feel relief at the she otter’s death.  She knew her cub’s problems were over, but killing at such a young age can’t be good for a cub.  Petra wondered how Simba had managed to kill Winifred.  The otter was three times his size!

       “How did he do it?”  Theo mewed, picking himself up off the floor.

       “Super lion strength,” Samson mewed, “just like Petra had when she moved that door.  Simba felt the strength of lion kind in his body and obeyed his instructions.”

     “He’s eaten his meat for the day I think,” Petra mewed.  Samson looked down at Simba, who was rolling over to crawl away.  Samson stopped the cub with his paw.

       “Well done Simba Kizungu,” he whispered.  Simba nuzzled the huge lion’s paw.

       “I did what I was told,” he mewed, “she said eat my meat, so I did.”  Theo turned a laugh into a cough, but Petra too was smiling at the cub’s wit.

      “You can always trust a cub to be witty at a time like this,” she mewed.  Theo stared at Simba.

      “Orsa next,” he thought, dreading the confrontation.


Snowy and Tigger watched from their control room, snowy hardly believing her eyes.

      “Simba killed Winifred!”  She mewed, “how, how could a cub do that?  How could he?  It’s impossible!”

       “His family were in danger,” Tigger mewed, “we tigers know little of the lion’s strong family bonds.  Simba obeyed his instinct, and ate his meat for the day too.”  Snowy looked grim.

      “Is it good for a cub to be killing so young?”  She asked, “Simba’s going to think he can take on the world!”

       “No, I don’t think he will,” someone said.  Snowy looked round to find Leo looking into her eyes.

     “Leo?”  She asked, what the hell are you doing here!”  The lion’s spirit bowed his head.

       “I gave Simba the strength and know-how to fight Winifred, to, to, try and make reparations for killing Halfear.  Simba had the courage to kill his adversary, but neither the knowledge nor the strength.  I gave him that strength and knowledge.  Now he is free, and the community will be safer from tyrants like Winifred.  Theo too is taking counsil from a wise head I think.  Samson is as wise as they come.  Wild yes, but wise and gentle until crossed.  Now snowy, I must go.”  With that Leo’s ghost vanished.


“Leo gave Simba the strength and know-how to carry out his task,” Theo mewed to Petra when they were lying together in the cubbing den once Simba had been washed after defeating Winifred.

      “I thought as much,” the white lioness mewed.

      “Simba’s a brave cub anyway,” Theo said, “but not old enough or big enough to take on Winifred.  Leo knew this and gave him the strength to outdo the otter.  I think Leo cares for little Simba a great deal.”  Petra looked down at her cub, nestled between her paws.

       “Don’t worry,” Simba mewed, “I’m not going to take on the world.  That wasn’t me who killed Winifred, as it wasn’t you mum who killed Leo.”  Petra wept into Simba’s fur.

       “I’m glad you’re safe little Simba Kizungu,” she mewed.  Simba kissed her nose, now wet with tears.

      “I did what I had to,” Simba mewed, “I stuffed furry Winnie when she wanted me stuffed!”  Simba looked round him, his eyes falling on Theo, the lion looking back at him.       “You are a brave little cub,” the community leader mewed, “but don’t attempt anything like that until you are older.  You do not know who gave you the strength to fight Winifred…”

      “Your brother Leo,” Simba mewed, “I know who he is Theo, I’ve met him, and we spoke briefly while I was being washed after the fight.  I know he gave me the strength and the knowledge.  He said he was trying to make reparations, whatever they are.”

       “Leo with his long words,” Theo mused, the memory of his brother saddening him, “dear Leo.”

        “You need not fear Simba doing anything like that again,” Samson mewed padding into the cubbing den, “for he will not.”  Theo looked into the large lion’s face and thought for a second he saw Leo looking back at him.  Samson lay down beside Petra and took her paw in his.

       “Time to go fruit picking my dear,” he mewed, kissing her nose.  Petra got to her feet, picked up Simba in her mouth and carried him downstairs, Samson following.

      “Can’t we have a normal evening?”  Petra mewed.

      “In this place?”  Samson replied, “you must be joking Petra!”  Simba, unceremoniously dumped in a basket by Petra as she got kitted out with her outdoor wear, watched the goings on.

     “Am I going fruit picking with you?”  He asked.

      “Um, I suppose so,” Petra replied, having given no thought to how she was going to carry her cub.

      “I could clip a dog harness on your overcoat,” Samson mewed, “that’s able to carry Simba, and if he wants to crawl about a bit, we can release the harness from your overcoat.”

       “A dog harness?”  Simba asked.  Before he knew what was happening, his head, then his paws and tail were shovelled into straps and he was lifted in Samson’s paws and placed on Petra’s back, where he was roped down with clips on thick elastic cords.  Samson tested the cords, making sure Simba could move about a bit, but could not fall off.  This involved Petra standing still and Samson shoving Simba hard, the cub snorting with surprise as the cords tethering him did their work.  He was secure on his mum’s back, but could still move a good deal.

       “Let’s go mum!”  Simba mewed, trying to jump up and down, as was his way when excited.  The elastic cord kept him pretty much in the same place.

     “I wish you wouldn’t jump up and down on my back!”  Petra snapped.

      “Oh, sorry,” Simba mewed.

     “If you don’t stop leaping about, I’ll leave you here!”  Petra snapped at her cub.  Simba pressed his paws into the rug on his mum’s back.

      “I’m not jumping about now,” he mewed.  Petra smiled to herself and looked back at her cub.

     ”you can get off in a minute, try feeling the ground beneath your paws,” Petra said.

      “You haven’t played with me lately mum,” Simba mewed, “I’m missing it.”  Petra smiled.

      “We’ll play as soon as we get home if you like,” she replied.  Simba wanted his mum to stroke and play with his paws, for they were a source of great pleasure for him, as he knew her paws were for her.  Petra realised Simba liked paw play as much as she did.


The fruit picking got under way; Petra gathering a good stock of berries in the basket in which she’d dumped Simba while she got kitted out with her rug.  Carrying the basket to another part of the wood, Petra found some sweet corn plants, which she scoured for plump corn.  Finding two to her liking, she tore them off the plant, placing them in the basket.  Apples and potatoes followed, as did a plum or two from a nearby tree, which Petra accessed by lobbing a stick into the tree and bringing down the fruit, catching it in her basket.  Carrying the basket by holding the handle in her mouth, Petra returned to the house, her vegetable gathering completed.  Theo released Simba, and the cub crawled back outside with his mum.  Petra padded along the track at Simba’s pace, encouraging the cub to feel the ground beneath his forepaws.  Simba struggled to stand up, Petra helping him by gently placing a paw under his chest for support.  The cub stood flat pawed, digging his toes into the track for balance.  He then imitated his mum’s walk, getting used to using his paws for that purpose.  Once he’d got the hang of walking, Simba was off on an adventure, Petra trotting after him.  Simba would run for a while, then stop and place his forepaws against a tree, feeling the bark under his pads.  He would then lie on his back so he could press the pads of both hind paws against the bark too, getting the feel of the tree from all angles.  Petra smiled at him and imitated what he did.  Simba, seeing his mum approved of his antics, tried climbing a tree.  He managed to get into the lower branches of an oak.  Looking down, he saw Petra what seemed to be a long way down.

      “Now you’re stuck,” Petra mewed.  Simba realised after feeling round him carefully with all four paws that he indeed was stuck.

      “How am I going to get down?”  He asked.  Petra looked up into the tree.

      “Jump,” she mewed.  Simba didn’t so much jump, as fall out of the tree, Petra rolling quickly onto her back and catching him in her paws.

     “That was lightning quick,” Samson mewed, padding near, “well caught Petra dear.  Petra decided her cub’s tree climbing aught to end here.  She lay on the track, stroking the soles of her cub’s paws one by one.  Simba curled up, purring contentedly as his mum’s huge paws worked over his tiny ones.

       “Lovely isn’t it,” Petra mewed.  Simba sighed contentedly.

       “Paw massage is so good,” he purred, “I love paw play mum.”

     “So do I,” Petra mewed.  She felt Simba pressing his toes into her pads as she worked on his left hind paw, the cub’s pads soft and warm against her harder ones.

     “Your pads are rough mum,” Simba mewed.

      “That’s because I’m older than you are little Simba,” Petra replied.  Simba traced the pads of Petra’s left forepaw with the toes of his right fore, exploring the fur between her pads as well as the pads themselves, Petra curling her toes slightly and purring softly.

       “I love this,” she mewed, forgetting for a minute they were in a wood in the middle of the night.  Samson watched them.

      “Paw play isn’t just tickling or stroking paws then,” he thought, “it’s exploration of paws too.  Stroking pads and the fur between them must be so nice.  I wish I could be as free as Simba and his mum are.  They are expressing their love for each other with touch, each using their paws to explore the other’s paw pads and toes.  Samson wanted to experience this, and wondered if Fleur knew how to give pleasure through paw play.  His answer came when he felt a familiar paw pick up his left fore and stroke his paw.  Fleur whispered into Samson’s ear:

      “Paw play as soon as we get home, okay?”  Samson curled his toes round those massaging his pads.

      “I’m looking forward to it very much,” he mewed.


Petra and Simba continued their exploration of each other’s paws oblivious to Samson or Fleur’s presence.  Once mum and cub had thoroughly explored each other’s paws, they got to their paws, Simba looking up into Petra’s face.

      “What does your name mean mum?”  Simba asked, “Petra’s not an English name is it?”  Petra smiled down at her cub.

      Petra is Greek and means rock,” she mewed.

       “Petra Kizungu,” Simba mewed to himself.

      “What?”  Petra asked.

       “Petra Kizungu,” Simba mewed, “rock of the white people.  Well, you are that, or were that for some time if what I’ve heard is right.”  Petra picked her cub up in her mouth and padded back to the house.

       “You’re my rock, even if everyone else has rejected you,” Simba mewed.  Petra’s eyes filled with tears, and she had to stop walking as she couldn’t see where she was going.  Sniffing hard, she tried to control her emotions.

       “Mum’s gone all silly,” Simba observed.  Petra looked down at her cub, her tears splashing onto his head.

      “You’re crying on me!”  Simba mewed, standing on tiptoe to try and nuzzle his mum’s whiskers, which he still couldn’t reach.  Petra, still crying, lowered her head so Simba could nuzzle her.  The cub kissed his mum’s nose, and then raised a paw to dry her eyes, a gesture which made Petra cry even more.

      “I love you little Simba,” Petra choked.  Simba let her nuzzle him, her breath warm on his cheek.

       “I love you mum,” Simba purred.

       “How touching,” Orsa snarled, “horrid scrap!  Now you will die!”  Petra looked round at the polar bear cub, while Simba ran for cover!

       “You didn’t learn did you,” she growled, “now it’s not a cub punishing you, it’s a lioness, one that can pull down oak doors!”  Petra leapt upon Orsa, crushing the polar bear under her weight!  Orsa collapsed in a heap, screaming and crying.

      “Get her mum!”  Simba yelled.  Petra ripped Orsa to shreds!  The lioness losing control completely!

      “My cub has been endangered twice this day, it’s not happening again!”  Petra yelled.  Orsa felt sharp claws ripping through her eye and down her nose

       “You do not tangle with me!”  Petra screamed.

       Petra, stop! Please stop!”  Allie pleaded, running from the house.

      “No mum, get her while you have the chance!”  Simba yelled.  Petra left off only when Allie was almost on top of her.  Leaping at the fully grown female polar bear, Petra drove her back enough to make her escape.  Running for Simba’s hiding place, Petra picked the cub up and sprinted for the door into the house!  Pounding up the slope to the cubbing den, Petra arrived gasping and exhausted.  Dropping Simba on the rug, she collapsed in a heap.

       “Fixed Orsa, for good this time,” Petra panted.  Simba pushed a bowl of the tea, now cold, over to his mum, Petra drinking thirstily.

      “Thanks Simba,” Petra mewed.  She began to shake with the ebb of adrenalin, Simba watching with anxious eyes.

       “You look awful,” he said.  Petra panted for breath, her paws aching horribly.

       “I probably blinded Orsa in one eye,” she gasped, “Eohippus only knows what damage I caused other than that.  Allie’s gonna hate me forever now, but that’s okay.”

     “Her cub shouldn’t have threatened the life of a lion cub,” Simba mewed, “that behaviour doesn’t really win friends.”  Petra smiled at her cub’s humour.

       “I probably would have killed Orsa if Allie hadn’t arrived,” Petra mewed.

       “If my cub was in danger from a brute like Orsa, I think I would too,” Bramble said, padding into the den.  Petra looked at the female polar bear cross.

      “Allie’s furious isn’t she,” Petra mewed.

      “With Orsa yes,” Bramble replied, “not with you Petra.  Orsa’s lost the sight in one eye, and her nose is scratched so deep she’ll have scars on it for life.  Her left forepaw was torn open by your claws too.  She’s not in a good way at all.”  Petra looked down at her own paws, they were trembling.

       “There’s a blow for lion polar bear relations,” she mewed.

       “Orsa’s a bully anyway,” Bramble mewed, “throwing her weight about like she does, who the hell does she think she is!”

        “Don’t talk to me about her!”  Simba snarled, “She’s the one who kicked me from pillar to post!”

      “What?”  Bramble asked.  Hugging Simba tenderly, Petra told the bear Simba’s tale.  When she’d finished, Bramble wanted to finish Orsa off for Simba.

     “The bloody horrid bitch!”  Bramble yelled, stamping her large paws in anger, “she should be strung up for what she did!”

      “If I had the strength,” Simba mewed, “I’d do the deed right now, but I don’t, so I can’t.”

       “You’re a blood thirsty little cub,” Bramble observed, looking closely at Simba.

       “I’m sorry,” the cub mewed, his ears drooping, “I don’t mean to be, but I’ve been so mistreated by those who have no reason to hurt me, that I can’t help it sometimes.”

      “I’m hungry,” Petra said, looking with disgust at the now soggy and inedible vegetables.  Bramble threw them out and got fresh tea and veg for the lions.

      “Thanks bramble dear,” Petra mewed.  Bramble hugged Petra tenderly, she liked the white lioness.

      “That’s okay,” she replied.


That night, Simba settled down with Petra to sleep.  As Petra predicted, Simba’s sleep wasn’t a good one.  The cub had nightmares about the previous day’s events.  Waking screaming about furry Winnie and a polar bear with one eye and  bloody face who’d ganged up on him and were about to tie him in a net bag and kick him to death.  Simba, crying and sweating with fear, clung to Petra’s forepaws with his, crushing them in his tiny ones.

      “Furry Winnie isn’t here,” Petra mewed, “and Orsa is still being patched up by Fleur.


Indeed, Fleur had knocked Orsa out with a powerful drug only she knew how to use, the polar bear cub stretched on the floor of the bathroom.  Fleur washed away the blood and muck from Orsa’s nose and eye, seeing the damage for the first time.  Orsa’s left eye had gone completely, gouged out by Petra’s claws.  Now there was just the socket and Fleur knew she’d have to secure Orsa’s eye lid closed so she didn’t get it infected.  Orsa was a big cub now, more than a match for Simba.  Though Fleur knew now Petra had her mark on the cub, Orsa would hate her too.  Fleur feared for Simba’s safety.  Samson watched his mate working on the polar bear.

      “I’ll go get Kodiak for the delicate bits,” he mewed.  Kodiak padded in and cleaned Orsa up enough so he could work on her injuries with Fleur’s guidance.  Kodiak, with his more mobile forepaws, swabbed and disinfected the socket of Orsa’s left eye, the eye itself having been destroyed.  Kodiak then closed Orsa’s eye lid.  Sewing it shut, he looked over at Samson, who was at his usual pass time when anxious of shuffling his paws.  The lion looked concerned.

      “What’s to stop Orsa from doing Simba even more harm?”  He asked, “The poor cub has done nothing to deserve her anger.”

     “I won’t, can’t do any more,” Orsa gasped, coming round slightly from her drugged sleep, “I’m half blinded, scarred for life, and disgraced.  I know what could happen to me if I carry on like I have.  I need to try, try and get along, try and realise white cubs are not footballs!”

      “Why did you do it to him?”  Samson asked, his voice cracking with emotion.

       “I was silly, a silly cub.  I thought the pride thing was bluster and rubbish, now though, since Petra’s attack on me, I’ve rethought my views.  I want, want to talk to Simba, please!  That’s if he’ll see me.”

      “You do know he’s had nightmares about what you did to him,” someone said.  Orsa turned her head to look at the speaker.

       “Leo?”  She asked, “oh, oh no!  You’re not going to do to me what I did to Simba are you?  Please no!”  Leo smiled wolfishly.

       “What an idea, what a wonderful idea!”  He purred.  Then, becoming angry:

      “I do this so you won’t touch a hair on Simba’s head ever again!”  Orsa then saw and felt what she’d done to Simba, the polar bear cub thrashing the water white with her struggle against the kicks and blows raining in on her.

     “Make it stop!”  Orsa screamed.

       “You now see what happened to Simba?”  Leo asked, “Now you’ve paid for your folly with half your sight.  You will think twice before doing anything like that again won’t you Orsa!”  Leo yelled.  Orsa, exhausted and frightened, whimpered a reply.

      “I want to see Petra and Simba,” Orsa pleaded.

      “The question is, do they want to see you?”  Leo asked, “I don’t know if Petra will let Simba within a mile of you.  She’s his rock, his protector, his mum.  Petra loves Simba with all her heart, from his ears, right to his paw pads.”  Samson remembered the sight of Petra and Simba exploring each other’s paws in the wood, and the memory brought tears to his eyes.

       Petra stroking Simba’s paw pads and toes and he stroking hers was a wonderful sight,” he mewed, “they were so content, and you Orsa, you ruined it!  That is the worst of it!  You have obviously forgotten what it is to be loved and to give love.  Allie loves you, but does not express love to you in the same way Petra does to Simba or he does to her.  Your paws are sensitive, I wish Allie would remember the lesson she learned during your birth, that stroking her paws soothed her pain and calmed your entrance into the world, so yours can do the same for you.”

      “Paw play isn’t for adults!”  Orsa yelled.”

       “I thought that,” Leo mewed, “and it got me nowhere.”

      “Follow your paws, follow the instincts, follow the path,” Samson mewed.  Orsa looked into Samson’s face.

       “You don’t even know what your paws are!”  She screamed.

      “I don’t really know yet,” Samson mewed, “but I am willing to, and desperately want to learn.  Unlike you Orsa, I have learned a lot in my short time here.  I want to learn the ways of the paw, to touch, to stroke, how to love via the paw.  Petra and Simba know how to love via their paws, for no words were spoken in twenty minutes in the wood.  The expression of love from mum to cub and back was totally silent, bar a bit of purring, the paws of the two animals moving almost silently.  They love each other more deeply than most.”

      “I heard their talk about Petra’s name and what it meant,” Fleur said, “Petra was genuinely moved when Simba said what he did.”  Orsa looked desperately at Samson.

       “I need to talk to Simba!”  She yelled.

       “Over my dead body will you get anywhere near that cub!”  Samson yelled back.

       “I want to tell him how sorry I am,” Orsa said faintly.

      “Yeah right,” Samson snapped, “all you want to do is get him near you, and you’d drown him in the bathtub!”


Meanwhile, back in the cubbing den, Simba woke suddenly.  He’d had a dream, a dream which involved a polar bear cub with a disfigured face.  The bear was crying under a bush.  Simba couldn’t go to her, and she couldn’t come to him because she had an injured paw and he wasn’t allowed by Petra to roam about on his own.  The polar bear cub seemed to have a heavy log pinning one forepaw, a log which restricted her movement.  The bear pleaded with her one good paw and her remaining eye for him to go to her.  Simba recognised the polar bear but didn’t know the significance of the log pinning her paw to the floor.  Simba felt no fear this time, only a natural need to help a creature in distress.  Stretching his paws, first his fore, then hind, Simba got up from where he lay snuggled tight against Petra and padded across the room.  Petra woke as soon as Simba got up, her instinct to protect him always active.

      “Where are you going Simba?”  She asked.  Simba knew he couldn’t lie, but when the truth sank in, he’d have no time at all to get a head start on his mum, who’d stop him going to the polar bear in his dream if it was the last thing she did.

      “I’m going to see a polar bear that’s got her paw trapped under a log,” Simba mewed.  With that he padded from the room, turned the corner and bolted!  Petra thought for a minute.

      “Polar bear with a trapped paw?  Hmm, what does he mean?”  Her mind flicked back to Orsa’s bitten left forepaw.

      “The trapped paw,”  Petra thought, “something pinning her paw, maybe teeth, maybe, something else, her own misgivings and hatred for Simba stopping her from going to him? So he has to go to her.  Oh no!”  Leaping to her paws, Petra ran from the room!  Pounding down the stairs, she caught up with Simba as he entered the passage leading to the bathroom.

      “Simba, no!”  Petra yelled, “You, you can’t go in there, not with Orsa!  She’ll kill you Simba Kizungu!  What are you doing!”  Petra threw herself at Simba’s hind paws, catching one as he fled.  She held on to it, Simba falling over and crawling with all his strength, dragging her along!  Petra dug in her own toes, fighting her cub, but she couldn’t fight him!  Petra clung to her cub’s paw, her own claws tearing up the carpet as she fought to stop him from reaching the bathroom.

      “Simba, stop!”  Petra mewed, “stop you stupid cub!”

       “Must try harder to stop Simba, curl your toes into that carpet Petra dam you!”  Petra shouted at herself, her claws and toes losing their grip.  Petra felt her left hind paw slip, then her right, then her right fore; her left clamped round Simba’s left hind.  Petra skidded across the tiles, her claws scrabbling at smoothes ceramic.

      “Simba, for eohippus sake!”  Petra pleaded, her fur now soaked with sweat, “give it up!”  When she found herself in the bathroom, her head crashing into Samson’s paws and losing her hold on the cub’s left hind paw, Petra knew all was lost.  Her cub was about to die.

      “Simba!”  Petra screamed.  She felt Samson’s paws cradling her head, and Petra fought him, slashing at his face with her paws.

      “Stop Petra, stop it!”  Samson pleaded.

     “But Orsa, Orsa’s going to kill Simba!”  Petra sobbed.

      “Can’t you see?  Can’t you hear?”  Samson asked, “Listen Petra, stop yelling and listen as well as open those blue eyes of yours.”


Simba, now free of his mum’s paw, padded to Orsa’s motionless form.  The polar bear was sleepy, her one good eye half closed, the destroyed one closed forever.  Simba padded towards Orsa, seeing the polar bear in his dream, her paw trapped beneath a log.  This polar bear didn’t have a log trapping her paw, though she had an injured left forepaw, the one in his dream which was pinned by the log.

     “I have come,” Simba mewed softly to the polar bear, which he saw was really only a cub.  Simba recognised Orsa as the bear who’d kicked him in the net, and had attacked him in the garden, but this time she looked different, not just injured, but different.

       “Simba,” Orsa said softly, “Simba Kizungu?”  Petra snarled her anger at the disgraced cub using her son cub’s name.

      “You have no right to speak his name Orsa,” she thought angrily.

       “Yes, I am Simba Kizungu,” Simba replied.

       “I need, need, your, I need your help Simba!”  Orsa sobbed, “I need to get back what I’ve lost!  I’ve gone down the wrong path, towards Tarker, towards furry Winnie!  I don’t want to be like them!”  Petra looked into Orsa’s face and was revolted by what her claws had done to the polar bear.

      “I did all that?”  She asked, horrified.

      “In defence of your cub,” Samson mewed.  Now Simba did something which appalled Petra, but was at the same time such an act of tenderness that she felt ashamed to feel disgust at his actions.  Simba leant down and kissed Orsa’s nose.  He then gently touched her closed eye lid with the toes of one forepaw.  Simba sat down, and gently picked up Orsa’s injured left forepaw, the one trapped beneath the log in his dream.  He looked down at the paw, and saw something strange.  He’d expected the tooth marks of a lioness, but what he saw were the tooth marks of an otter, he’d got the same marks on his right forepaw from the fight with furry Winnie.  Simba could see that Orsa’s run in with his mum had reopened the wounds.

      “This paw is Furry Winnie?”  Simba asked.  Orsa, now crying, nodded.

      “Why did she bite you?”  Simba asked.

       “I was asked by her to look out for white lion cubs.  After, well, after Petra came, Winnie hated white lion cubs, for, for she said they cause death.  She asked me to look out for white cubs and report them to her.  When I found you, I didn’t tell her immediately.  She found out when you came down to have your first meal.  She was angry, and had to improvise a punishment for you then and there.”

     “Punishment for what?”  Simba asked.

      “For just being there, and being, being, a white lion cub!  I hoped beating you up would placate Winnie, and I could tell her that and not let on you were in the house, hoping Petra would keep you out of the way, but Petra didn’t, why should she?  She had no reason to fear the otters.  So when furry Winnie found out that I’d known about you and not told her, she went mad and bit my paw to remind me of my disobedience.  Winnie was going to kill you Simba!  I didn’t tell her about you, and Petra found you before Winnie did.  I’m not saying I saved you, for I didn’t.  I could have spotted you, and got a message to Petra through some means or other so she could come to you.  The capybara were silly, I couldn’t use them as messengers.  So I beat you up to try and soften Winnie up a little.  When you killed furry Winnie, I was so angry with you that I attacked you.  Winnie had blinded my judgement by biting my paw.  The bite was painful, and got infected.  I now have scars on my paws and my face.  I blamed you for my wound, because I was jealous of you, for you did something I could not bring myself to do.  I know Leo gave you the strength and knowledge to kill furry Winnie, but you had the courage to do it, small though you are.  I had the strength, the know-how and the reasons for killing her, but I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t brave enough.  I’m meant to be a polar bear, top predator of the frozen wastes, and I can’t stand up to an otter.  Winnie had me wrapped round her paw, and she knew it.  I’m the worst polar bear in the world!”

        “So Winnie didn’t like white lion cubs?”  Petra asked Samson.

      “No,” Samson replied, “ever since you in her mind, caused Tarker’s death, she’s been looking out to do you harm in any way she could.  She could not poison your food because you prepared it yourself, so she had to wait, wait for another white lion cub to appear and for you to do your natural thing.”

      “But why would Winnie have killed Simba before I got to him like Orsa said she would if for me to bring the cub in was what she wanted?”  Petra asked.

      “Winnie would have killed the cub if she’d found it, but if she could at all kill two birds with one stone, she would do so.  Her plans changed when Simba turned up unannounced.  Hence the imprisonment of the white cub in the cupboard.  Winnie hoped Simba would starve to death, and you’d be so distraught you’d leave the community for good.  Winnie’s downfall was to pick on a strong cub, and an even stronger lioness.”

       “Take Winnie away from me Simba!”  Orsa begged.

      “Are you truly sorry for what you did to me?”  Simba asked.

       “Yes.  I know I can’t fix my scars, and that I will be blind on my left side forever, but I’m not talking about physical pain, this is emotional pain, emotional torture.  Simba lifted the female polar bear cub’s badly bitten paw and kissed it.  Orsa relaxed into sleep, Simba padding away.

      “The upshot of all that,” Simba announced, was that furry Winnie was mad as a bag of snakes.  She hated white lion cubs for no sane reason.  Her cub had conspired to kill one long ago, and got killed for his trouble.  So Winnie, or furry Winnie, or Winifred launched a hate war against white lion cubs.  I happened to be the next one.  There it is.  As for the reason why I came down here to talk to Orsa, one was to find out what was going on; the other was to give a misguided polar bear another chance.”  Petra looked at her cub.

      “Eohippus wanted you to talk to Orsa,” she stated.

      “I suppose she did,” Simba mewed, “now mum, let’s go back to bed.”  Petra flexed her paws, still stiff from trying to stop her cub.  Simba watched her doing this.

      “How about if I stroke your paws a bit when we get back upstairs,” he suggested, “I’d like to do that for you mum.”  Petra kissed her cub on his nose.

      “Let’s go,” she mewed.


Simba padded up to the cubbing den, then, when he reached the rug on which he and his mum slept, he dropped to a crawling posture, letting his mum touch the pads and toes of his hind paws.  Petra traced round Simba’s heel pads, then the rest of the pads on the sole of his hind paws, before gently touching each one of the pads on his toes.  Simba purred with pleasure as he felt his mum’s paw exploring his.  Once Petra had touched the pads of both her cub’s hind paws, she traced round them once more.

      “You have soft smooth pads,” Petra mewed, “I’ve got hard rough ones in comparison.”

      “Samson’s are even harder than yours,” Simba mewed, turning his head so that even though his back was to his mum, he could still make eye contact with her.  Simba suddenly turned round to face Petra, making her stretch to keep her forepaw in contact with the pads of his hind paws.  Simba crawled up close to his mum so their noses touched, then he dug the toes of his forepaws into the carpet and braced his hind paw against Petra’s right forepaw.

     “Pull back against me while I push your paw away mum,” Simba mewed.  Petra settled herself, feeling Simba’s paw pads against her own. Then feeling his pressure as he forced his right hind leg straight, Petra pulling back with all her might.  Petra was shocked to discover the cub’s strength, he was strong!  Indeed, he outdid her that time, Petra giving up, exhausted.

       “You’re a strong cub now Simba,” she panted.  Simba touched the pads of her left forepaw, they were hot and damp.

      “Let me stroke your paws mum,” he mewed, “all four of them,” he added.  Petra smiled and lay down, letting her cub have access to all four of her huge white paws.  Simba examined each paw in turn, from black claws to black pads.  He liked his mum’s paws, for they were large, fat and soft, rather like his own, though he didn’t consider his own paws that way.  Petra felt her cub exploring her paws with his, the feeling taking her back to the wood, where they’d lain together, each stroking the other’s paws because they’d felt the need to do so.  In time, Petra returned Simba’s gesture, examining the cub’s paws with hers.  His paws were a smaller version of her own, but no less gorgeous.  Petra kissed the pads of Simba’s left forepaw, then touched it with her right fore, before touching the pads on the soles of his other three [paws, spreading her love for her cub to each of his tiny paws.

     “May your paws always give you guidance and good information Simba,” Petra mewed.  Simba smiled and did the same for his mum, kissing the pads on her right forepaw and touching them with his left fore, before touching the soles of her other three paws.

      “May your paws always give comfort and warmth to lost cubs and help them to safety,” he mewed.  Petra hugged her cub with her newly empowered forepaws.

       “I love you Simba Kizungu,” Petra sobbed.  Simba buried his face and forepaws in her fur.

      “I love you Petra Kizungu.  You are my rescuer, my rock, but most of all, my mum.  I don’t care what our past is; I love you with all I have.”  Petra gathered her cub to her, crying with happiness.

      “We are one you and I,” Simba mewed.


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