By C. A. Broadribb

What is this strange place? One minute you were in Granville Library, the next you were in a bizarre reality. All you did was open a door into a training room. It looked ordinary at first — rows of white desks with Dell computers on them — however, the participants aren’t what you had expected at all. Lions. A lion sitting at every desk scribbling away in an exercise book.

The lion pacing back and forth at the side of the room wears a blue bow tie, dark-rimmed glasses and a blue cap.

“You’re late!” he growls, showing far too many teeth.

“Sorry,” you say meekly, and slide into the only empty seat, near the door.

He slaps a blue-covered exercise book down on the desk in front of you. Also a blue pen. He definitely has a thing about the colour blue.

The lion sitting nearest you peers at you, sniffing the air suspiciously. You turn the exercise book over and feign an interest in the information on the back to avoid his attention. Addition table, multiplication table, units of measure…

The lion in the cap stops in front of your desk. “Do some study!”

“What are we studying?” Your voice comes out as oddly deep despite your nervousness.

The lions at the other desks all turn to look at you with aggressive expressions.

“I hate running training sessions! I hate trainees!” the lion in the cap growls.

A refreshingly honest but decidedly inappropriate statement for an instructor to make in class. Of course, everything about this training session is peculiar.

“What do you think you’re here to study?” he demands.

Your supervisor didn’t tell you. He just muttered something about core competencies, leveraging resources and developing synergies. You sneak a look at the closest lion’s exercise book but his claw-writing is so bad that you can’t read a squiggle of it.

“Sailing?” you say, inspired by the anchor symbol on the trainer’s cap.

“Now that’s an idea,” he growls thoughtfully.

The abstract grey-and-white patterned carpet starts to ripple up and down like a wave pool turning on. The air loses its conditioned sterility and develops a fresh, salty tang. The light transforms from harsh fluorescence to an even brighter but more natural sunlight.

“What’s going on?” you cry.

The row of desks has morphed into a row of painted sailing boats. Yes, you’re sitting in a boat. Your monitor has transformed into a wooden cabinet. The keyboard has become a cryptic weather chart glued to a board. Cables have turned into a pile of ropes by your feet. The mouse is now a real mouse that squeaks and scurries into a hole in the hull.

“What a beautiful day.” The trainer’s snarl has changed into a toothy grin. He tilts his cap and then pulls on a rope to adjust his sail. “Follow me, everyone!”

As his boat bobs up and down over the waves, the other lions turn their vessels to sail along behind him. You feel helpless. Your ropes are tangled, your sail is drooping and you have no idea what to do.

“You suggested this!” the lion in the boat next to you sneers as he passes by.

There’s no land anywhere in sight. Nothing but the vast, grey-white ocean all around. The lions’ sailing boats are racing ahead as the felines have evidently picked up the fundamentals of sailing far quicker than you have. You pull on a rope randomly and your sail flops even more. The tide somewhat illogically pulls your vessel around in a circle. Faster and faster you spin. The breeze is very strong. The sun’s hot on your face and paws. Paws. Your hands have turned into furry paws.

“Help!” you roar.

Your nose is growing: you can see it stretching out in front of you. It’s also covered in fur. You touch your teeth with your tongue and discover that they’ve become longer and sharper.

The trainer has tacked back to your side. “Follow me!” he growls.

You start pulling on one rope after another. Your sail lifts and fills. Your vessel gradually straightens out and starts to move. The trainer races ahead again, somehow catching far more of the wind than you do.

Your body is now completely covered in fur — but unlike the others’, it’s white. You’re like Kimba, you realise. You haven’t seen the cartoon since you were a kid but can remember the theme ditty and the white lion cub running along the ground. It’s always stuck in your mind.

Now you feel pride at being a lion. Pride — that’s a play on words. You stand up straighter. You’re not concerned that your sailing skills are minimal and that you’re lagging behind the rest of the class. You are a white lion — a rare and special breed.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

Bio:  C. A. Broadribb has an MA in Professional Writing and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. 

She writes both fiction and non-fiction.

Her website is <www.wildthoughts.com.au>

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