Luke the Lazy Lion
In the jungle, Luke the lazy lion slept until midday ate, and napped again.
‘What did you do today?’ asked his best friend, Doll, the dependable deer.
‘I woke up, and now I’m here.’ Luke stretched and yawned. He was so lazy he shuffled as he walked towards Doll.
‘Did you hurt your leg?’ asked Doll.
‘Nope, I’m just lazy.’
‘You should get some exercise, Luke.’ She turned to leave his hut.
Luke held onto her so she could pull him along.
‘What are you doing?’ asked Doll.
‘Take me to the fridge.’
The fridge was one meter away—no wonder his friends called him Luke the Lazy Lion.
Luke expected Doll to provide him with food.
One afternoon, he rolled on the grass happily, starting to get on a…. ‘Hi —’
Luke stood and gaped at Doll. ‘Did you bring food?’
‘Yes, but you need to learn to do things yourself.’ Doll passed the lollies to Luke.
He stuffed twenty in his mouth.
Gallops boomed towards them. A blur blew past.
A huge mysterious creature whisked a frightened Doll away. She was gone…and so were his lollies.
‘He stole my Doll.’ Luke’s mouth opened.
‘Mwahahaha,’ called the beast.
‘Why did you take her away from me?’ Luke ran after them but grew dizzy after two seconds. ‘It’s mean, you’re mean, and I’m hungry.’
Pawing on his heart, he vowed to save Doll. But…his quest had to wait until morning. He had some good computer games to play.
Luke woke up early at 11 A.M.
‘A good effort.’ He patted himself on the back—time for a new start.
His stomach rumbled. Luke couldn’t save Doll on an empty stomach. But he needed to figure out where to get food. He strolled through the jungle and sniffed. Not looking where he was going, he bumped into a tree. ‘Ow.’
Luke shoved his head inside the hollow tree. No food.
He tried to pull his head out but couldn’t. He wiggled his bottom. No luck.
‘Do you need a hand?’ hooted Olly, the old owl.
Five minutes passed, and nothing happened.
‘What are you doing?’ Luke asked.
‘I’m thinking. You’re lucky I’m awake.’
Luke’s head took up most of the space in the hollow. ‘It’s dark, and I’m scared.’
‘I’ll help you out…’ said Olly.
Luke sighed in relief.
‘…if you solve a riddle.’
Luke scowled. ‘Fine.’
Olly cleared his throat. ‘What loses its head in the morning but gets it back at night?’
Luke racked his brain.
Olly hooted in a singsong voice. ‘Wrong answer, and I’ll leave you here.’
Luke never had to think before. All he did was sleep. The wheels in his brain turned. Yes…he did like sleeping and getting cozy. Dreaming. He smiled. ‘The answer is the pillow.’
‘That is…’ Olly flapped his wings fast. ‘…correct.’
A beak grabbed Luke’s tail, yanked, tugged, and pulled some more until Luke slid out of the tree. He did a victory dance. Sleeping did come in handy.
‘What were you doing in there?’ Olly twisted his head in a full circle.
‘Looking for food.’
‘I have a spare rat.’
Luke wasn’t hungry enough for that.
Luke was farther away from finding food.
A small bird flew above and pooped on his head.
Birds sat on tree branches, singing—stupid winged creatures. But wait. The tree had hamburgers. He couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘Food does grow on trees.’
Luke climbed the tree, one paw in front of the other. Seconds later, he tumbled down. He tried again and again. Each time, he fell.
‘I’m too fat. Can’t get up,’ puffed Luke. ‘Maybe Doll gave me too much. Think, Luke, think. What are lions good at?’ He slumped against the tree.
The trunk trembled.
‘That’s it. Lions are strong.’ He took a long run up and knocked the tree.
A few tasty hamburgers and sachets of toppings fell to the ground.
Luke stuffed his face.
Now full, he traced his steps to where Doll was taken. Along the way, he met Betty, the bonkers bat.
‘Hi, hi, hi.’ Betty flew in circles.
‘I’m looking for Doll,’ said Luke. ‘She’s been kidnapped. Have you seen her?’
‘Saw her dragged to the other side of the hill when I flew high-high.’
‘But you can’t leave. You’re my friend now.’ Betty latched her clawed wings onto his mane.
Luke shook her off and bolted at a speed he never knew he had.
Betty caught up to Luke. Flying had its perks.
‘Why are all you nocturnal animals awake?’ He groaned, running towards the hill. ‘What’s it going to take for you to go?’
‘Nothing. I love to play.’
A light bulb lit up in Luke’s head. ‘Do you want to play a game?’ He halted, rocking his head. Two sachets of pale green toppings fell from his mane.
Betty clapped her wings.
‘First one to eat a wasabi wins.’
‘That’s crazy. Even for me.’
‘Are you chicken?’ Luke teased.
Betty snatched one. ‘No, I’m a bat.’
‘Bonus points for eating the wrapper too. Start on a count to three. One…Two…Three.’
Luke and Betty tore the wrappers, popping green blobs into their mouths.
Betty’s eyes watered. Steam blasted from her nostrils.
Luke chewed and waited.
‘I need water.’ Betty spat out the wasabi and flew away.
Luke chuckled. ‘Mine was avocado.’
Luke ran until he reached the bottom of the hill. He slowed, stopped, and gasped. A huge slope rose in front.
‘I couldn’t climb a tree, let alone a hill.’ He lay down on the grass. So tired, he closed his eyes. Luke did not earn the nickname “lousy lion” for anything.
A screech echoed afar. ‘Help.’
One ear lifted. Then the other. The cries grew louder.
It was Doll.
Luke jumped up. With a surge of energy, he raced to the top of the hill. ‘Phew, I made it.’
Doll clung to a tree. He sprinted.
Her mystery kidnapper—Link the centaur—stood over her.
‘Give back my Doll,’ bellowed Luke.
‘Come and get her,’ retorted Link.
Luke ran faster than ever before.
He pounced at Link, who dodged out of the way.
Luke leaped again, running straight into the rocks. The pain resulted in the biggest ‘ROARRRR!’ of his life.
The sound crushed the rocks. Trees blew over. Flowers shuddered.
The tree holding Doll toppled.
Tears pricked Luke’s eyes.
She pinned herself between the tree and the ground.
‘I’m stuck.’ Doll struggled.
‘It hurts,’ bleated Doll.
Luke glanced from Link to Doll and back again. The Link didn’t twitch.
‘You can do this,’ said Doll.
Luke pondered his entire journey. ‘You’re right.’ He bit through the ropes. In slow heaves, he drove the tree aside. With one last shove, he freed Doll.
‘Doll, are you okay?’ Luke patted his friend from head to toe.
‘Congratulations, Luke. You passed the test.’ Doll pushed off the ground and stretched.
‘Centaur Link’s test. He’s my friend, and he’s been watching you from afar,’ said Doll. ‘You can’t rely on me forever. Not moving isn’t good for you. You’re strong, fast, and smart.’
‘You went to all this trouble to teach me a lesson?’ Luke glared.
‘I’m the dependable one, remember?’ Doll smiled.
Luke paused momentarily, frowned, grinned, and burst out laughing. ‘I did enjoy myself.’
‘You found and saved me.’ Doll scratched her bottom. ‘The tree itched.’
‘Of course. You’re my best friend.’
They hugged right there near the toppled tree.
‘We don’t need Centaur Link anymore,’ said Doll. ‘Thanks for everything.’
‘You’re most welcome. Farewell.’ Link bowed and trotted away.
‘Let’s grab something to eat,’ suggested Doll.
‘My treat.’ Luke pictured the hamburger tree.
Walking shoulder to shoulder, they journeyed over the hill back home.
One week later, Betty flew over to where Doll sunbaked.
‘Hi, hi, hi. Want to play Eye Spy?’
‘Sure,’ said Doll.
‘I spy with my little eye…’ Betty scanned the lands. ‘Wait. Where’s Luke?’
‘He got a job,’ said Doll.
‘He got a WHAT?’ Betty flew off to spread the unlikely news.
And from then on, to everybody in the jungle, Luke was just Luke.
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