Timon and Pumbaa: Double Family Trouble
The rains poured steadily onto Pride Rock. What once held stretches of green savannah hills, the Pride Lands now showed barren creeks and crusted slabs. Its remaining residents, a small pride of lionesses, gathered at the summit. There was a new ruler at Pride Rock, now staring far onto his home from the alcove. He grew a faint smile upon seeing the creeks; nourished by the rainfalls of early morning. He shook the drops from his mane and returned to his den. Nearby, three smaller mammals walked up Pride Rock’s stone steps to meet with the king.
“Now don’t be nervous Ma, Simba’s been our boy since he could squeeze headfirst into a tunnel. He’d love to hear what we can do for him back home. ‘Sides, we couldn’t just say bye.” Two meerkats atop a warthog crept into the den of Pride Rock. Inside, a pride of lionesses huddled around Simba: the new lion king. It was not long before he spotted his visitors.
“Timon? Pumbaa! Pardon me…” Simba quickly but gently made his way through the lioness crowd, soon crouching to nuzzle his two friends. Several of his subjects began muttering amongst themselves. One could not resist a chuckle.
“Aw geez Simba, do you have to in front of my Ma?” Timon asked. Simba stopped and turned to Ma, smile spreading even wider.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Simba. I don’t know if he told you yet, but your son helped raise me since I ran away from home as a cub. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for him. Ha ha, don’t worry, I’m not forgetting you Pumbaa.” Simba turned to the warthog; staring back with a snort.
Ma’s face beamed.
“It certainly is very nice to meet you. Who knew my Timmy would raise a lion! Where we’re from, we wouldn’t even say hello to a hyrax. There is something important my son would like to tell you.” She nudged her son forward.
“Timmy? He, he.” Simba began to snicker and nudged the meerkat’s shoulder. Timon lifted a finger.
“Save it junior. Okay Simba, we know this place means a lot to you. We’re ready to help just a teensy bit more.” Timon said. Simba rose to his feet, intrigued.
“Timon can visit his old colony in the outskirts. There are so many meerkats there! Together, we can all help spread the news to the herds that you’ve come home!” Pumbaa exclaimed. Timon rested his hand on Simba’s paws.
“Pumbaa would loooove you to know that it was all my idea. Maybe let them know over there just so they don’t get any ideas.” Timon glanced up to Simba, eyes shifting back to the lionesses still glancing back.
“Timon…” Ma crossed her arms. Pumbaa huffed at his small friend, brows squinting.
“What?! The big guy took credit for the hula! Don’t I get one?” Timon retorted.
“Timon! We came up with those ideas together. You shouldn’t leave us out.” Pumbaa grunted, snout towards Timon.
“Oh sure, fine, you came up with everything. Happy? Anyways, uh Simba, let your other more vicious friends know we’re not on the menu. Nope.” Timon pointed behind Simba. A lioness was eyeing the small meerkat with the faintest tongue smack. Simba had begun brushing his upper arm, squeezing his eyes and nodding his head.
“Eh, sure Timon, hakuna matata. You’ll be safe here. But anyways, guys, that’s great news! The lionesses and I were actually planning to move ahead too. If your colony is in the outskirts, maybe you’ll have better luck tracking the herds. Are you sure it is still around though?” Simba turned to Timon, slightly frowning back. A large, brown lioness walked up to the two friends.
“Sorry for interrupting, your majesty, but I think we need to begin our search.” The lioness said.
“Good timing mom. Guys, let me introduce you to my mother, Sarabi.” Simba turned to nuzzle Sarabi, facing the smaller mammals below. Ma, slightly fidgeting with her thumbs, approached the lioness.
“How do you do? You can call me Ma, this here is my son Timon and his friend Pumbaa.” Sarabi smiled down at the mother meerkat. She embraced the trio in a hug, all with a firm arm.
“Thank you. Thank you for saving my son.” Sarabi carefully released her embrace, letting a slight twinkle fall over her cheek.
“You’d be surprised how much Simba has told us about you. I will forever appreciate your help, bringing him back into our lives.” Pumbaa’s eyes began to water, soon hugging his meerkat companions into a locking embrace.
“Oh, I am so happy to have brought you together again your highness. When we heard Simba was a king, we just had to help him return!” Pumbaa said amidst tears. Sarabi flinched but her smile stayed. Timon frantically scratched his neck, recalling his initial reaction to Simba’s heritage.
“Well I am glad you told everyone about us. Looks like we both have stories to share about your son here, eh?” Timon said. Simba cleared his throat and turned back to Sarabi.
“Listen mom, before you head out, my friends here are willing to help. Timon comes from a meerkat colony that can speak on my behalf to the herds. I think we’ll need all the help we can get if we’re to undo what Scar has done.” Simba explained.
“We would most appreciate it. Some of the herds could clear a path from river dams. If they knew my son had taken the throne, they’d surely come back. The elephants would be the best for the task. They left after the hyenas kept threatening their calfs. The lands need more water. The rains are helping but we must act quickly if we are to survive here.” Sarabi said. Ma and Sarabi turned to the dry lands beyond. The drizzle of rain continued.
“It’s been a while since I left to look for Timon. I know our family though. They wouldn’t leave the underground, much less if hyenas were around.”
“We believe they’re still out there Simba, scared, panicked and possibly burying their heads even deeper. But, after all the hyena butt we’ve kicked, I think we can shape them up into the bravest messengers you can get! I know that bird of yours could use some help.”
“Yeah, we’ll even start by persuading the elephants!” Pumbaa exclaimed.
“Exactly, start by persuading the ele…fu…well, eh huh, we’ll see when we get there.” Timon said, seeing the former queen chuckle against Simba’s mane.
The rains steadily continued pouring. The rocks were beginning to glisten and reflect the moonlight. Pumbaa walked onto the rocky path leading to the dry savannah. Ma and Timon rode above. Another meerkat, albeit hunched and frantically pacing, was waiting for them.
“Well, how’d it go up there? Did they almost have you for dinner?” He asked.
“Relax Uncle Max, it went fine. Like I told you, Simba wouldn’t hurt us. He even put out a good word…gladIguessedright.” Timon answered.
“What was that?” Max caught Timon off his guard and was pulled up onto Pumbaa.
“Nothing. Now hang on, we are going on a trip, back to the colony.” Timon grabbed Pumbaa’s ears and the warthog began trotting.
“Yay! You’ll love to hear that everyone in the colony will talk to elephants.” Pumbaa said.
“Oh finally. I was getting the shivers with this place. First, we find you, chase off hyenas at the brink of death, and now we…wait what did you say?” Max had slowly begun to stiffen, head tilted to Pumbaa’s snout.
“Yeeeah. That’s right. Oh boy, a whole herd of elephants was it Pumbaa? How are we going to pull it off? Did you think about that first before you opened that mouth” Timon said, roughly pulling at his ears.
“Ow! Hmmf. Timon, we aren’t just the three of us anymore. If that’s the most important thing we can do, we should do it. Simba needs us.” Pumbaa replied.
“Where have I heard that before? Why can’t what’s-her-face talk with the elephants? She’s got teeth and claws like the rest of them.” Timon asked.
“You heard Sarabi. Nala is going to start looking for the closest rivers. If we can convince the elephants to come meet her and the other lionesses, they will help clear the path for water again.” Pumbaa was now slowing his walk, brows narrowed.
“Oh sure, that sounds reasonable, let the little guys go look for the big ones. It’s like we know where they are.” Max responded; arms crossed but shoulders stirring.
“Uh huh. But, and this is a big but, those elephants wouldn’t just trust a lion to prove Scar is gone and that Simba is back. If they see meerkats, risking life and limb out of the underground, to say the rightful king has returned…oh, the elephants will realize that the Pride Lands are safe again!” Pumbaa explained, coming to a dashing halt.
“Wow, you’re not wrong honey. That speech could do the trick too if you ask me.” Ma replied, palm held to cheek.
“Gee Ma, are you believing in this too?” Timon said.
“Had anything else in mind?” Pumbaa asked.
“Well, I was thinking more like letting the flamingos hear about this and have them do the rest.” Timon replied. Pumbaa grunted, resuming a brisk pace.
“Timon. We are looking for the elephants. If Simba ever has kids of his own, wouldn’t you want them to meet you as…the hero of the Pride Lands?” Pumbaa asked, eyebrows lifted.
Timon remembered the first time a younger Simba confessed his late-night, oasis nightmares. Cuddled up next to the little guy’s paw was the most he’d ever felt…as the warthog put it…like a hero. It could happen again…
“Honey are you alright?” Ma asked snapping her fingers in front of her son’s eyes. Timon shook his head.
“Oh, why do you have to do this to me? Oy. Fine, fine. It’s only like, what, fifty or so meerkats we’d have to convince?” Timon asked.
“Seventy-two honey. You’ve been gone a while.” Ma replied.
“If you really need to spruce those cowards up into shape, myself included, you’ll need your friend here to help show them that the outside isn’t so bad. I still think it’s dangerous though.” Max explained. Ma inspected the warthog’s tusks.
“Yeah, Pumbaa sort of looks like a tough animal but he’s a sweet thing once you get to know him. I think the colony will think so too.” Ma replied, trying to tidy up the hog’s mane. Pumbaa blushed and snorted with giggles.
“See Timon, we’ll be able to get this done...together.” Pumbaa said, followed by a nodding Ma and huddled Max.
“Well, it’s like that wise uncle monkey once told me: hakuna matata is where your friends go. Maybe we can do this. Hmm. Timon: Hero of the Pride Lands. I like the sound of that!” Timon exclaimed.
“Monkey? Monkey. Oh right! Huh, I wonder how his foot’s doing?” Ma replied, seeing the gorge border up ahead.
Desert plains shimmered ahead as the friends marched on. Golden dunes lowered and exposed the dry land’s riddled scales. Still carrying the three meerkats, Pumbaa walked until they reached a vast cluster of ground holes, barely visible from the blowing sands.
“Is this the place, Timon’s mother?” Pumbaa asked in a lowly whisper. Ma chuckled and shook her head.
“Yes, it is, and Ma is fine honey. I didn’t expect a welcome party but here goes.” Ma cleared her throat.
“Hello! Anyone home?” Ma asked, gently sliding off from Pumbaa’s back. She approached. No sounds. Ma and Max shrugged.
“Well, looks like they’re behaving like I told ‘em. No one peek for nothing. Then again, I didn’t let them know of a sign in case we actually survived. I didn’t think we’d make it back.” Max explained. Timon frowned.
“What’d you say there, Uncle Max?” Timon asked, standing directly over Pumbaa’s head.
“Bah, never mind you. Our colony’s not coming up so easily.” Max responded, hopping down to join Ma.
“Thanks for pointing that out” Ma muttered. Quiet moments passed. Pumbaa was beginning to sniff the dirt flowing with the air, until suddenly…
“AAAH-CHooo!” Pumbaa sneezed. Timon leapt up yelping, hands to face.
“Who’s there? Ow!” A voice responded from below.
“You idiot! We’re not supposed to give ourselves away.” Another voice answered. Ma steadily leaned forward and smiled.
“It’s Ma and Max. We’re back from our rescue! We’ve brought back my son, Timon!” Ma exclaimed. Silence. Uncle Max smirked and began marching towards the first of the colony’s tunnels.
“At ease. It’s Maximillian reporting. I am proud of you. Not a single head out at this time of day. The buzzards must have given up by now. Seriously though, come on out. Gathering time everyone.” Max explained. At last, a voice responded.
“Uh huh. Sure. We know you hyenas can trick us, sounding like you’re one of ours.” As soon as she finished, another blurted out.
“Really?! I thought only drongos did that?”
“Well, hyenas do too. And what’s a drongo?”
“Oh. Okay.” Max smacked his palms to the forehead. He raised his fists above and shook his neck.
“Get up here, it’s been a long trip! Goodness sakes, my feet are killing me.” Max complained, clutching his right foot amid hops. Timon clutched his forehead, slouching atop Pumbaa’s snout.
“Last I checked there Maxie, Pumbaa did most of the travelling.” Timon answered. Max scoffed in return.
“I was sitting on both feet the whole way. Feels like ant dessert spilled all over them.”
“Mmm, ant dessert. I could use a mud bath too.” Pumbaa snorted, looking behind his shoulders for sun burns.
“What was what?!” A voice cried out below. Timon stiffened and glanced quickly to Pumbaa. Ma then locked eyes with her son. She stuttered.
“Eh, don’t worry, don’t worry. It’s okay. Relax. We can explain everything. Just send a sentry to peek up and greet us. You all know meerkat protocol.” Ma requested. She fidgeted with both thumbs again as Max peered into a tunnel entrance.
“Sounds like it is her. Send one of you six up there.” The voice responded. Shaken pitches echoed to the surface.
“…what are you looking at me for? Keep going.”
“Come up!” Max exclaimed into a hole.
“…Send Fred!” Five voices unanimously quaked in haste.
“What, whoa wait a minute! AGH!” A meerkat leapt from below and landed flat onto the surface. He hid his head beneath both arms and began to shiver.
“Don’t hurt me! It’s my first day in sentry team.” The meerkat frantically exclaimed as his head remained under his forearms, crouched on the floor.
“Fred?! How’d a mook like you get sentry duty?” Timon leapt from Pumbaa’s snout.
“You know me? Wait a second…Timon? Is that really you?” Fred asked, lifting his head and rubbing his eyes. His dull, yellow head fuzz shook back. His bulbous, burgundy nose below shook with sniffles.
“Yeeeeup.” Timon lend out a hand. The meerkat stared at it. He grinned and grabbed it, soon up on his feet and patting Timon on the back.
“Tunnel Klutz! You’re actually alive. Ha ha ha, you’re alive! You’re here. It’s been ages! I can’t belieee…AGH!” Fred leapt behind Timon once Pumbaa caught his sight. The warthog waved back, chin inflated from glee.
“Hold it Fred. Easy there. This is my good buddy Pumbaa. He’s been with me since I left. If it helps, he’s a bug eater. Hear that everybody? We’re all friends here!” Timon exclaimed.
“Oh, well that’s not so bad. Yeah, all clear everyone. It really is Timon. He brought a buffalo. His Ma and Uncle Max are really here too.” Fred proclaimed. Timon scooted next to Fred and whispered in his ear.
“I mean, a big warthog!”
It was a few moments before fuzzy heads popped up from every pore in the valley. Soon many meerkats scampered out to meet their visitors.
Murmurs grew and heightened yelps cried out. The exposed colony glanced at Pumbaa. He giddily waved his hooves to the crowd.
“Say, it would be real hard trying to find you here Timon. There’s so many and they look just like you.” Pumbaa said. A flurry of meerkats surrounded Timon, now backing up along with his Ma, Max and Pumbaa.
“You don’t say, Pumbaa.” Timon said.
“Is that Timon?”
“What is that?”
“Fred said it’s a Warp Rog.”
“What’s a Warp Rog?”
“You’re looking at one, numbskull!”
“Timon?! I thought he was dead.”
“His ma’s alive.”
“Uncle Max too!”
“Of course! You did good hiding but thanks for trusting us. How’s the colony? Good? Everyone accounted for?” Ma proclaimed.
“Is that a predator, sir?” A group of young meerkats popped from the tunnels, hiding behind their taller peers.
“No, no. He’s a harmless insectivore. We traveled with him all the way from the Pride Lands.” Max explained, pacing in line as the meerkat colony began huddling together.
“The Pride Lands? Where’s that at?” Fred asked. Timon climbed up onto Pumbaa’s snout, waving his arms above his head. Pumbaa sat down, attempting to hold in yet another sneeze.
“Yes, yes now I know it looks like a miracle. Me, the one who dared to venture out into the great beyond. Fraught with peril like Old Maximillian would say.” Timon proclaimed.
“We honestly thought you’d be eaten.” Fred said.
“You didn’t though!” A spectator cried out and all the meerkats nodded in agreement.
“But we even made Timon that skylight he’s always wanted in his memory.” Fred pointed to a dry, crusty ring of rock, held above by a crumbling tower of dirt. A lone flower of petals lay at the helm.
“It was my turn to lay the flowers, but you know, Max’s orders.” Fred chuckled. Pumbaa whistled and every meerkat turned to him, some cowering back into the tunnels.
“Hello everyone. Pleased to meet you all. Don’t worry. We come here not only to reunite Timon with his family, but to bring an important message too. Timon?”
“Yeah, thanks Pumbaa. Look it’s real nice seeing you all still breathing. I know it’s in our instincts to hide and survive. That’s what we’ve been told our whole lives. But hey, I made it back and still have skin on my bones. I even made some new pals along the way.” Timon turned to face Pumbaa, smiling back.
“I’ve done quite a bit. What lies beyond these pathetic and itchy mounds of dirt is bigger than I had ever dreamed about. I found a new home out there.” Timon began. The meerkats stood still, entranced by Timon’s relaxed arm gestures, descending and rising.
“It was a paradise where there were no hyenas, all the bugs we could eat, all the naps we could take.” The crowd gasped and sighed.
“I’m telling ya, it’s a place where you’d never have to hide or worry. Yup, and we can all go…once we save the lions’ home in the Pride Lands. Yeah, no fooling, I made friends with a lion. We found him as a little hairball. He grew big enough to eat us in one sitting. Something, something responsibility, fought off hyenas and now that lion needs our help. His place lost all the grass, the rivers, the sun! A lot of dramatic cloud scenery is all that’s left! Well, you get the picture. Look around you. The only way I would ever go back to paradise is if I knew my friend had his home again. That’s why, together, we will save the Pride Lands!” Timon finished. He faced the colony and saw everyone’s mouths agape, from young to old. Uncle Max hunched over.
“Eh, he he, so this is how she felt.” Timon muttered, knuckles curled to sides.
“He opened with the speech. He opened with the speech. I told him, don’t open with the speech. What does he do? He does it.” Max said.
The morning sun drew an intense glare over the deserts and plains. Mixes of violet and red began to absorb its glow. Squinting below, Timon and his newfound colony marched in file. The meerkats had travelled through nightfall, now turned towards the growing sunlight. Pumbaa hurried along, hopping to each side with utmost grace, ensuring all members were accounted for.
“Swifty, Benny, Agunta and Joe! Timon, everyone’s still together.” Pumbaa knelt down to greet each meerkat, earning smiles from most. A younger meerkat in a mother’s arm held a hand out. Pumbaa gently tapped it, both laughing together. He skidded over to Timon’s side ahead.
“Blagh, watch where you aim that sand. Say, how’d you remember the names so fast? You barely got here. Even I can’t remember sometimes.” Timon responded in a slight whisper.
“You could if you introduced yourself again, Timon.” Pumbaa replied. Ma paced herself along with the warthog. She chuckled, holding a hand over her mouth.
“Timmy’s just getting used to his new role, Pumbaa. He hasn’t always gotten along with the others. It wasn’t his fault. Not everyone was as yearning for adventure as he was. Now look at everybody! Out and about.” Ma exclaimed.
“Well, you helped everyone keep their heads, Ma. It’s a good thing we let Simba know about our plan. Hearing how his own mother thanked us and hugged us. Us! The little guys! That spruced this colony right up I..I didn’t even think that would happen. They’re walking outside. Together! You told the story pretty well.”
“You could say it’s from all those lullabies I used to sing to you, Timon. Experience is everything.” Ma replied, latching onto his cheek.
“Ma!” Timon retorted.
Several meerkats were digging holes for shade. Most stared at the sunlight cast before the desert lands.
“No vultures or any mangy hyenas in sight, good. We’re probably getting close too. Get those holes going in case any do show up. We can take shelter in ‘em by high sun rise. What’s our motto?!” Uncle Max oversaw the tunnel crew, each popping up after dig for the next entry.
“Haku…” Pumbaa began.
“Scurry, Sniff, FLINCH!” Many replied in unison. Pumbaa blushed and ran next to Timon. Fred and his sentry team gathered near the end, staring at the last colony members in file.
“Why do we get the rear?” Fred asked.
“Because nobody ever suspects the rear. Predators are crafty like that.” A team mate replied. She was a taller, female meerkat with darker fur and thin brows.
“Yeah, always on top of things, huh Felicia? Why not stay undergr…” Fred began.
“Shush, do you feel that?” Felicia pointed to the crowd before her, spotting Pumbaa running to the front. He nodded to the other seventy or so meerkats, each widening their eyes and beginning to halt. Slight vibrations shook the sands, holes filling in slightly. Felicia skidded on all four legs and stopped next to Timon, wheezing for air.
“This might be it Timon, sir. Just like the tickbirds at Neema Tree said.” Felicia bolted up to the meerkats digging holes and reached for the ground. The vibrations felt steady, but closer. The tunnels were slowly fading into the shifting sand.
“Under!” Max whispered. Each meerkat began to shove their hides into the tunnels, lining up to help the other. Fred and Felicia scurried ahead and over the dunes. After a grueling climb, the duo looked at the sight before them.
Trumpets flared. The desert floor shook. Sudden gusts of wind shrouded the frenzy with dust clouds. Hints of streams long dried out flattened underneath. Felicia grabbed Fred by the ear and hurried back below the dune hills.
“Report, sir! Fred and I looked ahead! Elephants possibly in sight! Dirt bath going on too. Just like Hefani said.”
“Excellent. The bird wasn’t lying then. Let everyone know. Once we’re beneath them, Timon will give the signal.” Max pushed Felicia above the dunes.
“Let go! It’s getting hotter.” Fred fell as Felicia and the sentry team ran to the families, still pushing into the ground.
“And the audience holds their breath. Ready Pumbaa?” Timon asked. The warthog patted his friend with a hoof.
“Ready!” Pumbaa whispered in a rasp.
“Remember to come back and check for us!” Max shouted.
The pair ran towards the rising dust clouds as the vibrations continued. A brief journey led them straight into a hollowed stretch of cracked terrain. Large elephants huddled together, flipping their trunks and launching sand and dirt onto their backs.
Unbeknownst to the duo, large feathered visitors began flying into view for the colony behind. Mother meerkats hugged their pups and the sentry team charged to the side hills.
“No joke this time folks!” Max cried out.
“Remember the motto!” A male and female sentry scooted to each member, gently directing them to the tunnels.
“It’s the emergency shout!”
“Uncle Max was right!”
“Buzzards followed us! We’re goners!” The meerkats shouted,
“Enough with the mashugana talk, dive into the holes before the winds hide them!” Max tapped a youngster’s rear towards the entrances. The now visible buzzards began to descend. Ma stayed behind to help the rest of the pups make it safely into the holes.
“Those tickbirds set us up. I knew I was right to panic. Digging holes saves our behinds!” Max shouted.
“Or they just found us because the sun is up. We found the elephants anyways. Bring the rest under, before…Ah!” Ma looked up before one of the buzzards reached below.
“Gotcha, ya slippery vermin!” The bird screeched to attack until a wave of sand smacked into his feathers. With a jab, the buzzard dropped into the sand, cawing at its surroundings and now soaked wings.
“Ha, eat dirt you…scary birdy bird!” Fred exclaimed, earning frowns from his team mates. Ma lifted herself up and stiffened.
“Oh no, the rest of the flock is going after the young ones!” Ma exclaimed.
Farther along, beyond the dune hills, Timon faced the approaching elephant before him. He gulped.
“They’re waaay bigger up close.” He thought.
“A meerkat and a warthog? Poor things. You must have fallen behind the herds. You’re lucky both of you are still breathing. Best leave before the hyenas wipe the Pride Lands clean.” She greeted. Timon quickly shook his shoulders and pointed.
“Lady…ahem, ma’am. You’re exactly who we need to be with. The Pride Lands! Yes, you know about it. It needs you! They need you! The lions. Agh…what was his name? Scar! He’s…” Timon’s eyes wandered up as the cries of buzzards pierced through the air. Pumbaa lowered his ears and barged forward.
“Sorry to cut you short Timon. Uh, miss?” Pumbaa began. The elephant lifted her trunk in greeting.
“Ma Tembo, dear.” She replied.
“We need your help, Ms. Ma Tembo. Our friends might be in danger!” Pumbaa explained. Ma Tembo and the other elephants began to gather.
“Is this some sort of trap? Wanting to turn us into another elephant graveyard?! We’ve had run ins with scrappers like you before. You want to trick us into hyena territory.” A bull pointed his tusks towards Pumbaa’s own. The hog stiffened with an oink.
“Hush Zito, we don’t know for sure.” Ma Tembo replied.
“We can guess!” Zito exclaimed. Stomping from behind the herd, a massive yet stirring elephant raised his trunk to the sun.
“Silence. Where are your friends, small ones?” He asked.
“Just behind these hills, we heard trouble just now. Sounds like buzzards actually!” Timon exclaimed.
“Hmm, very well. Come.” The two bickering elephants followed the lone elephant up to the dunes. Timon climbed onto Pumbaa and both followed.
“Sorry for ruining the announcement, Timon.” Pumbaa huffed as they followed the herd.
“Hakuna Matata, buddy. You still hearing those squawks? Better plan to get them to help the colony. We’ve gotta reach ‘em fast!” Timon pointed up the hills as all five animals scaled the harsh sea of sand.
Thick winds of dust blew from the sand dunes’ peaks. Three elephants stomped. They braced their legs and carefully slid down; sand blowing in waves to their sides. Through the haze, they raised their trunks as Timon and Pumbaa followed. The meerkat shielded his eyes from the sand as Pumbaa landed in a belly flop downhill.
“Oy, it’s in my eyes! The colony’s gotta be here somewhere! They might be under already.” Timon called out. The dust had begun to clear as the elephants halted. Each scanned the area for a sudden twitch or flap. Ma Tembo and Zito turned to their leader.
“Aminifu, how will we find them? Our herd is waiting.” Tembo asked. Aminifu sighed, now facing the ground. In the clearing before them, three buzzards flew in circular formation. Two more were pecking at the sand floor.
“There. Everyone behind me. Careful now.” Aminifu said.
“Keep moving Pumbaa!” Timon commanded.
“But Timon, I think they said…”
“I said…Move it!” Timon pulled at Pumbaa’s ears and the warthog sprinted past the elephants, charging towards the flock.
“Ow! Aaagh!” Pumbaa yelped and drew the attention of the buzzards. Just as Pumbaa was about to collide into the two, another swooped down. A second followed, each flapping their wings onto Pumbaa’s face.
“Woah!” Pumbaa screamed, crouching and rolling over. No sooner did the duo stop when all of the buzzards retreated. They screeched and were joined by five other buzzards in the sky. The elephants had caught up at last, shaking their ears forward in warning.
“Ahem, I said behind me.” Aminifu said. Pumbaa opened his eyes and checked his back. Timon was still clutching onto his mane, albeit pressed against the warthog’s entire backside.
“Sorry…” Pumbaa shook Timon off as he stood upright.
“Is your colony somewhere nearby? It looked as if they were digging here.” Tembo asked. Timon leapt from Pumbaa and began searching between stomps.
“Ma! Uncle Max! Fred! Anybody!” Timon called. Pumbaa and the elephants gently shook away sand for tunnel openings. Upon sliding his trunk across, Zito uncovered shallow holes.
“This looks like the place. We must hurry. The sun’s getting hotter. We elephants must keep moving.” Zito declared. Timon hurried to the spot.
“Wait not yet! We had this whole thing planned out! The Pridelands need your help to bring the rivers back. Uh, oh just wait a little, eh?! We need to find Uncle Max!” As Timon spoke, the opening blew sand outwards as Max peeked through. He patted away at his back and hips, fully revealing the tunnel entrance.
“Uncle Max! You’re okay! The elephants, they came to chase them off. Uh! I mean, they’re…” Timon said. A few meerkats peeked out of Max’s hole, shaking frantically.
“Do you not realize what just happened?” Max said, no fluctuations.
Timon froze, locking eyes with those of Max. Zito spoke.
“Well, it seems you were exaggerating small meerkat. Your colony defended themselves fine.”
Max inhaled and marched towards Timon.
“They took her. Got something to say now?” Max folded his arms as Fred and the sentry team gathered behind. Timon took notice of them and rapidly pointed at each. It couldn’t be.
“Where’s my Ma?”
At a farther distance, the buzzards gathered at the root strands of a long, dead tree. Each landed on the exposed cracked land, grooming their feathers carefully or shaking their wings in haste.
“Such a rudimentary flight maneuver, Upepo. You got it all over your wings there.” A buzzard began, tilting his neck to the one scratching his feathers against the twisted tree up roots.
“I almost had her, Mzingo! It was so easy. That fuzzy pipsqueak got lucky.” Upepo squawked. The sun now had risen directly above the land. Nearing the ground, another buzzard dropped a meerkat in between the flock. She got onto her feet and turned to each flapping onlooker, gasping for air amid the dust whirls.
“Glad you were helping out the young ones. It was easy to spot just who we were looking for. Just Ma is it?” A buzzard spoke.
“Um…y…you know my name?” Ma began. The buzzard lurched forward and Ma shielded her face immediately.
“Yeah! Usually we just pick ‘em as we see ‘em. Not this time, a plan worked out just fine. Name’s Moto. Hmm, are you the colony leader too? What’s to say this…uh…leader goes the way of the tumbleweed, eh?”
“I’m sorry?” Ma asked.
“What if you…pass on…fill our peckish intestines?” Moto continued.
“I think he means die.” Upepo replied, distracted by a beetle. Ma gasped and fell back. She quickly crawled under a branch, huddling into a sunken crevice. As her captors approached her, one latched its claws onto the thick branch. With a firm tug, it threw the broken branch aside, exposing the meerkat. Ma began to dig further into the crevice.
“No, no, no dearie. That won’t do.” Moto grabbed Ma gently with a clutch of his claws, flying onto the peak of the tree. All nine other sand-riddled buzzards craned their necks up to see Moto.
“Fellas, this plan of ours was a success. We each did our part without a hitch. Well, except for poor Upepo there.”
“I wasn’t that bad. Besides, I trusted my guts and went for the dive!” Upepo said. Moto cackled on the shaking tree.
“Your guts ain’t worth trusting nothing on. We got what we wanted anyways. But who’s to say it won’t go so well next time though? She was right to make us a plan first.”
“Oh right, you’re still around,” Moto began, gripping Ma close to his beak “Don’t worry. Those mighty elephants. Their herd…unprotected. That boy of yours just sealed the Pridelands’ fate for good.”
Meanwhile, Timon paced harshly between Pumbaa and Max, the whole colony climbing out of the sand. Aminifu, Ma Tembo and Zito were already climbing back to their herd.
“I came as fast as I could Max! Why weren’t you watching Ma!”
“You left all the way to the elephants and didn’t hear those heathens come down for lunch? She was rushing to get everyone below ground. We could have lost the pups if it weren’t for her. Where were you?!” Max retorted. Pumbaa stood between the two, sunken and ignoring the sweltering heat.
“We’re going to look for her! I saw them. They’re flying back to Neema Tree. Pumbaa, you tell those big bozos to go back to Pride Rock and you’re all coming with me to look for Ma!” Timon yelled at the colony, seeing everyone looking back with widened eyes. Exhausted and still.
“How do we know she’ll still be there?”
“We were supposed to go to the paradise!”
“The elephants can help us!”
“They wouldn’t listen to us!”
“Well the sentries can track her!”
Timon’s chest steadily slowed and he lowered his arms, soon kicking sand back repeatedly. Pumbaa attempted to lay a hoof on Timon’s shoulder, only for Timon to swipe it away.
“We want to help you Timon.” Pumbaa said, holding back sobs. Timon turned to Pumbaa, wiped his face and dashed towards the colony.
“Yeah? Help? Help?! My Ma’s been taken. Do you think I wanna go back to the oasis without her? It’d be nothing without her. Give up the act already, none of you actually cared if I made it back home! She’s the only one that ever believed in me. Why should I believe in the rest of you?!” Timon yelled to the crowd, chest exhaling heavily and soon stomping past Pumbaa and Max. The other meerkats turned slowly to Timon, letting him pass through the crowd.
“You know what? Do what you want. I’m going after her.” Timon walked south with haste.
Pumbaa was about to speak up, until a loud trumpeting shot through the air. The colony faced the dune hill ahead. Even Timon turned towards Aminifu’s trail.
“Sounds like trouble. Everyone stay hidden and I’ll look.” Pumbaa squinted to halt the trickling tears and ran up the sand dune. Felicia and a sentry meerkat followed.
“Trengu and I can go too. But Fred, you and the rest stay underground.” She and the rest of the sentry team followed after Pumbaa. Fred stood straight and gave a slight salute. Timon shuddered, kicked the ground one last time and ran back.
“I can’t. Not without him.”
Pumbaa almost reached the peak, seeing the sentries join on his back. They climbed and met Aminifu, Tembo and Zito staring into the ground below. The herd was nowhere in sight, only the remains of tracks and dust clouds in the distance. In their place, a pack of cackling hyenas sprinted towards the sight beyond. Two, however, remained. One limped with his right hind leg, missing fur on his rump with brightened burns.
“Well, look who it is! Our friends are back! Aw, and with seconds!” The first shouted out. Aminifu stared back, then glancing at the horizon. Zito stomped furiously into the sand, pointing his tusks at the hyenas. Felicia and Trengu leapt from Pumbaa’s back screaming, sprinting back to the colony’s hideout. They almost bumped into Timon, now peering into the clearing below.
“Oh no.” Timon said.
“It’s been a looooong trip, honey. Ain’t you gonna say hiiiiii?!” The hyena cackled into the sun.