Fiction from James Armstrong

The Beast

Images via morgueFile and The contemporary land mammals of Egypt (including Sinai), Public Domain

THE GAZELLE WALKED down to the stream and took a drink of water. Just then, a lion leaped out and grabbed the gazelle between its claws. The gazelle struggled to get away, but the claws had sunken in too deeply for it to ever escape. The lion bent over and whispered into its ear.

“Do not struggle,” the lion said, “for I am death. This is the natural order of things. All that lives must one day die. For each creature, each fly, each blade of grass that grows upon the savanna, a time is appointed. Now is yours. There is no escape, so why struggle? Be at peace. I shall take away every care and worry you have and grant the restful stillness of eternal silence. Do not fight me. I come to you as a friend, your last friend in the entire world, to help you cross the final stretch into oblivion.”

“You deceitful beast,” the gazelle cried. “You say this, not because it’s true, but because you want an easy meal. I shall fight you with the last of my breath!”

James Armstrong is a playwright and fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Concho River Review, The Chaffey Review, 34th Parallel, The Main Street Rag, Iconoclast, and The Rockford Review. His plays have been published in Arts & Letters, Canyon Voices, Yemassee, and The Best American Short Plays: 2012-2013. In addition, his long short story “Little Falls” will be appearing forthcoming in The Long Story. He lives in New York.

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