The minute her son Philip entered the house, Lucy knew something was wrong, terribly wrong. The normally unflappable Philip, a veteran of four Afghan tours, and a member of the elite Seal Team Six, had a wild look in his eyes, one she’d never seen before.
“What happened, Phil?” Lucy asked in a panicky voice, as Philip quickly shut the door behind him.
“Nothing Ma, you don’t need to worry about anything,” Philip replied unconvincingly, “everything is perfectly all right.”
That made Lucy worry all the more, but then, she too was a veteran, though she would never be able to tell anyone about it. Not even her son had clearance THAT high.
She collected herself, and then opening a chilled bottle of beer, handed it over to Philip and said, “I know everything is not all right. Now why don’t you sit down, take a deep breath, and then tell Ma everything about it?”
But Philip seemed too much on the edge to be able to sit, and started pacing up and down the hallway nervously, as he said, “I said I’ve taken care of it Ma, now just let it go.”
“Taken care of what exactly Phil?” Lucy asked in a voice that could have frozen the lava from an erupting volcano.
Philip couldn’t possibly stand up against that voice, no one could. He finally sat down with a loud sigh and said, “It was a monster….but we’re all safe now.”
Lucy caught her breath midway, and asked, “Monster? What kind of monster?”
Philip replied, “Well, for the last few days, I had been noticing strange pug marks in our fields, and each day, they had been coming closer and closer to our cottage. So this morning, I tied a goat outside as bait for the animal, and waited.”
Lucy interrupted his tale at this point, and asked, “Animal? But you said it was a monster.”
Philip shook his head, “I too had thought that it was just an animal, despite seeing those gigantic footprints. Till the time I actually saw it this morning.”
“What was it?” Lucy asked in a strange voice.
Philip replied, “It was a lion Ma, but not an ordinary lion, a really huge one, bigger than a rhino, maybe even an elephant.”
Lucy’s voice had taken on a note of excitement now, and she asked, “Huge lion? Are you sure?”
Philip was surprised at his mother’s reaction, and replied, “Of course I’m sure. But he was no lion Ma, he was a monster.”
“What do you mean?” asked Lucy quizzically.
“Well, for starters,” Philip ventured tentatively, “he could talk like us, that too in a deep Morgan Freeman like voice.”
“REALLY?” Lucy could barely contain her excitement now.
“Yes Ma,” replied Philip, “but I knew he was evil because he was specifically asking for you by name.”
“Oh my God! IT IS HIM!” Lucy shouted.
“I told him that I would just get you and came inside,” Philip continued, “but Ma, as I said, you don’t need to worry at all, I put my military training to excellent use today. I had booby-trapped the goat with a couple of grenades. The minute that lion tries to eat the goat…”
“NOOOOOO…” Lucy screamed as she ran to open the door, “ASLA…..”
But before she could complete the name of the one who had started it all, there was a loud BOOM, and then…there was nothing.
Photo prompt courtesy Sue Vincent
Author’s Note: Like countless other children across generations, Narnia was the first magical world I’d ever come across, but not through The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but through The Magician’s Nephew, the sequel which was actually a prequel. I’d got the book as a prize in a contest at school(I actually used to be a model student for most of my school life, I’m ashamed to admit) and read it in one sitting. Then read it again within two days…and again…and again.
I know The Chronicles of Narnia have come in for a lot of fire over the last few decades for their overtly religious imagery and messaging, but for a 9-10 year old boy in a small house in Delhi, those books made life magical beyond belief, and if he imagined hard enough, he could easily find himself in any world that he desired, even if he had to face a witch fighting with a lamppost in it. For that, I will be eternally grateful to CS Lewis.