Exchange, Part 4
Things continued much as they were for Bambi. He continued to catch prey and was getting more and more used to being a lion. There was, however, one noticeable change. Ever since he caught Scar with the lioness, the bigger lion had been much stricter with him. His language became harsher, he became much more in insistent about eating what he caught and every time Bambi would make a mistake (at least in his eyes) he would swipe him. ``You have no chance of being a king if you can't assert your dominance!'' he would say, ``I'm starting to regret taking you in.''
Bambi was losing patience. ``I catch them, isn't that enough?''
``You let them go as soon as they're in your grasp! Does that sound like a king to you?''
``Meet me half way!''
Scar was furious! ``How dare you!'' He took a swipe at Bambi but he quickly jolted out of the way.
``You will meet me half way!'' demanded Bambi. He stopped. He'd never spoken to Scar like that before. He'd never spoken to anyone like that before. He felt guilty. More than that, he was afraid of what Scar would do now.
Scar didn't look angry. If anything, looked completely shocked by this outburst. ``Well,'' he said at last, ``I hadn't expected that.'' He smirked; it did nothing to settle Bambi's nerves. ``There's hope for you yet.'' Bambi was confused. ``Very well, half way it is. Tell you what, if you catch something and bring it back to the den, that will be enough.''
``That's it?'' asked Bambi.
``That's it. No mice or birds, though. It must be, at least, as big as you. You don't have to kill it but it will make it much easier.'' Scar turned to leave.
Bambi was surprised by this turn of events but happy with the way it turned out. He had asserted himself and it was enough to boost his confidence. He was just about to leave himself.
``Oh, by the way,'' called Scar, ``don't bother coming back empty pawed or,'' he added slyly, ``you won't have to worry about being king anymore.'' With that, the big lion disappeared without giving the chance to reply.
Bambi didn't exactly know what he meant and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. With this in mind, he went to start his new task.
He didn't have much luck in the savannah. The only animals he could find were much bigger than him. Though he could land a hit, he couldn't exactly pin one down, let alone drag it away.
He ventured further and further away and eventually reached the oasis. ``Maybe I'll have more luck in there,'' he thought. He wasn't thinking about the distance he would have to drag his prey back, he was getting desperate to find something. Even then, he didn't have much luck there either. He was about to give up when he came across a familiar pond. On the other side of the pond was the forest. Bambi had a rush of nostalgia, it would be nice to visit at least once. Then he noticed something, it was the outline of a young deer.
Bambi smirked. ``That'll work,'' he said to himself and crouched into position.
Simba had broken away from his routine. He was thinking how to approach the doe.
``Hello, there. I'm Simba... Yeah that's a good place to start. So we're both deers... deer, deers? Huh? Anyway, I'm a deer, you're a deer maybe we can do... stuff? No that's stupid...
``Hey, have you ever met someone who used to be lion or...?''
He stopped. He hadn't been paying attention to where he was going and he found himself at a familiar pond and a familiar oasis. A flash of his initial shock and horror of his transformation washed over him. He looked over himself intently. Could he make it like this?
He didn't have much time to think. His ears flicked as he heard rustling. He could see a shape looming in the foliage. He recognized the pose it was in and he knew what it was probably seeing. Prey.
In a flash, a brown lion leapt from the foliage towards him. Simba scrambled away just in time and ran into the forest. ``Home turf advantage!'' he thought to himself. Both deer and lion were so concerned about the chase that neither noticed how familiar they were and that the lion knew the forest better that what Simba had first thought.
Simba was giving Bambi a run for his money (Literally!). The deer tried to use the forest to his advantage, navigating awkward rocks, zig-zagging through clusters of trees and everything in between. Bambi, of course knew all these landmarks and maneuvered around them easily. Whenever Simba thought he had shaken him, he would look back and see a lion still trailing him. But he never slackened his efforts, he wouldn't let this lion to catch him.
They went around in one big circle and ended up back at the oasis border. At that moment, Simba had an idea. ``Can't keep up with me, can you?'' he taunted.
``I haven't lost you yet!'' replied Bambi.
The pair were so caught up in the chase, they didn't recognize the other's voice. ``You can't even pounce me! Some predator you are!'' He flicked his tail teasingly. Bambi had had enough. Quickly, he pounced at Simba again. This was exactly what the deer wanted. He knelt down and Bambi, who was very surprised flew right over him and into the oasis.
Simba was feeling very proud of himself when a thought struck him. `How could he see the forest?' Bambi recovered quickly and Simba was so wrapped in thought that he didn't notice Bambi lunging at him again until it was too late. Bambi pounced Simba, knocked him over and pinned him on his back, grinning triumphantly and snarling. Simba had never felt so helpless. He closed his eyes, turned his head away and braced for the end.
But it didn't come. The snarling stopped. ``Simba?'' The deer opened one eye and looked at the lion pinning him down.
``Bambi?'' Bambi quickly released him and Simba stood up right.
``I'm sorry,'' apologized Bambi, ``I didn't know. Well I didn't realize...''
``Hey, I get it,'' said Simba, ``Remember when we met?'' The pair chuckled. ``So I see you've taken to being a lion pretty well,'' continued Simba.
``Yes, well it's really why I'm here, I'm supposed to be proving myself by bringing prey that I caught back to the den.''
Simba gasped. He was supposed to be the prey.
Bambi sighed. ``I can't even get that right.''
``If it means anything, I'm grateful,'' said Simba, reaffirming. ``I don't want to think what would happen if he stepped foot (hoof?) in that den like this.'' Bambi gave a slight hint of a smile. ``Think about this,'' continued the deer, ``yes, you pinned me and let me go. If you pinned me for survival, that would've been stupid. But this wasn't for survival, was it?'' Bambi was intrigued. ``I was told that you should respect prey. After all, when predators die, they become the grass and... we eat the grass,'' finished Simba.
Bambi felt better. ``That does make sense, thank you.''
Simba gave an agreeable grunt.
``Well, what about you?'' asked Bambi.
``What about me?''
``How's life as a deer?''
Simba thought for a moment. ``Well, it took time to adjust but now it's... satisfying. The animals around here are very interesting though I don't approach them. Well, there is this doe... I don't approach her either. Mostly because I don't know how.''
``Ah,'' said Bambi, ``don't worry about that. If it helps, just make sure you're approachable.''
``I still wouldn't know what to say.''
``How about `Hi, I'm Simba'?''
Simba smiled gratefully, then another thought struck him. ``Not that I approach anyone but I'm not sure which animals are... predators here.''
``Well, there's wolves for a start,'' replied Bambi. Simba gave him a confused look. ``You can't miss their howl,'' continued Bambi, ``Just trust your instincts when you see one.''
``Right, OK,'' concurred Simba.
``Well,'' said Bambi after a pause, ``I'd better go. I still need to prove myself, if I don't I can't go back to the den.''
``That's a bit harsh,'' said Simba, sympathetically. Bambi didn't reply. ``Hey, by the way you pounced me, you'll prove yourself, easily!''
``Thank you,'' said Bambi.
Both turned to go.
``Hey!'' called Bambi. Simba looked back. ``Good luck!''
``Thanks,'' Simba smiled, ``Good luck to you too.''
With that, Bambi and Simba disappeared into the oasis and forest respectively. It wasn't said as such but the two hoped that, unlikely as it may be, they would run into each other again. Neither of them noticed their reflections in the pond as they left. Bambi's now a lion and Simba's now a deer.