Ad libitum

Legend was, before the chain, in the time before time, there were two suns eternally on the horizon. But such is legend that it defies explanation.

The lion yawned and wiggled its whiskers. The sun had moved again. The lion reflected, wearily climbing to its regal feet, that the sun seemed to do this regularly, usually following the nighttime. Whenever he mentioned this observation to his females, they giggled at him. The lion, trotting to the other side of the tree for its swiveled shade, was beginning to suspect these giggles were not due to his inborn humor. The females had better watch it, or he’d eat more of the cubs. He burped and hunkered down in shadow.

It was only after he’d closed his eyes that he realized what he’d seen, sitting in the tall grass, staring at him. He opened his eyes again, slowly.

Squatting on its haunches, blank-faced and odious, was a black and fuzzy honey badger. It didn’t blink. It scratched its belly.

“Don’t even think about it,” said the lion.

“Ad libitum,” said the honey badger.

“Stop that,” said the lion. “Stop what you’re doing right now or you’re going to have an ugly mess on your hands.”

“Ad literam,” said the honey badger.

The lion sat up and growled. “Come over here and say that.”

“Ad locum?” said the honey badger.

The lion discharged a minor roar and sprinted for the honey badger. The thing’s scarred mouth twisted into a scabrous smile and it ran straight at him. The lion skidded in the dirt and the honey badger dashed aside, the lion swiped at it, and the honey badger swiped back at its belly. “Damn your eyes!” said the lion. “You know how the food chain works around here!”

“Ad nauseam,” said the honey badger.

The lion reared up and roared to the heavens and the honey badger hurled itself between his legs and did something truly horrible.

Later, lying near death in a pool of its blood, the lion watched the sun swing over the sky and pull the shade away. He realized it was running from the badger, as it had done ever since there were two balls of fire poised too near the earth.

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