You see, my heroine, Liliha, is a normal woman who inherited a star moonstone ring which grants her visions at unexpected times. She never knows where she'll arrive or what she'll deal with. One thing she knows: she can whisper advice inside someone's mind and help in a difficult situation. On several occasions, she finds herself confronted with an animal.
To go with today's heart-warming post about a lion cub who led keepers to the body of her mother in India http://t.co/RfzejipEtw I'd like to share this excerpt taken from an upcoming novel, Ever Changing Sea, the fourth and final novel in the Moonstone series. Warning, this news story didn't have a happy ending.
Movement around Liliha slowed and bantering voices rang hollow. Dizziness overtook her. What would she encounter this time? A worrying roar echoed in her mind and she spun, faster and faster. Colors twirled at the edges of her vision. When she breathed in a hint of sweet nectar, she prepared to hurtle inside the void to another place.
* * * *
The hazy mist lifts, bit by bit, to reveal bright sunshine. Heat hits me like an open kiln as I descend.
Sheds and huts dot an expanse of land separated by paths between wire enclosures which resembles a zoo. A group of about twenty gesticulating people stand outside one hut. More people run toward the area.
I move closer, where raised voices, shouts and screams register. I plunge toward the roof without impacting and arrive inside the hut, open at one side.
Brooms and rakes lie heaped in one corner. My senses are overpowered by an unaccustomed stench of animal dung. On the other side of the shelter, a white tiger hunches forward—a rare, beautiful beast. The animal shakes his head and tears at cloth underneath his strong body.
Oh, no. I make out legs and strong boots potruding. Blood oozes over the trousers. I urge the tiger to step away from his victim, hoping it's not too late to save them both.
Several shouting men approach. One of them swipes his jacket at the tiger. After an ear-jarring roar, the tiger bends forward and clamps his jaw onto the victim's abdomen. A scream pierces the air.
The man's alive. I lurch toward the beast's mind, unsure if I can control his need to kill. But I will try.
Another man thrusts a rake at the creature, who takes no notice.
I try to merge, and for a brief moment, sense the tiger's mind full of joy about the kill. The bat from a mental paw swipes me out.
With a twist of his powerful neck, the tiger rips through the clothing. The man becomes still. The animal tears flesh, bites and swallows. The victim's blood drips from his jaws. In the distance, horrified cries. A child's high shriek wafts in the wind.
I'm stunned. Although I'm too late to save the victim I must calm the situation and prevent more bloodshed.
With a dominant lunge I meld with the beast. This time I'm successful. Now seeing through his eyes, I feel his physical strength, his pleasure in the taste of salty blood. Distant memories emerge of the tiger roaming free with his mother—free to hunt and kill whenever the need overtook them. A life without fear. Then I notice another presence within the tiger, urging him to attack the men who will take his food. This present aggression springs from the dark, familiar source.
I soothe him—tell him he doesn't need to kill again. He rebels. Our powerful arm swipes at the other keeper. Our roar is savage. Overriding adrenalin, I issue passive brain waves, urging calm.
"We've got to get Abdul," one keeper calls to the other hovering outside the shelter.
"I'll have another try."
More memories emerge while I try to control the powerful animal. Once, hunger drove him close to human habitations. He became entangled in a net. Men took him away from his mother, and contained him in this prison. He'll fight for his freedom.
Ah yes, I sympathize, but must prevent further death. I encourage the animal to retreat into his inner sanctum.
Another opinion interrupts with wild suggestions of attack. Our sight blurs with the head-roll accompanying our roar. We prepare to drag the victim into the corner.
The man outside points a rifle.
Our body tenses and we lunge toward the puny man.
A bullet whacks into our head. Dulled with pain, we slump.
The other presence leaves with a hiss.
I separate from the slack body too. All the proud strength dissipates to leave a bag of fur over bone, flesh and gut. Red blood trickles over the white fur. Full of sorrow, I drift upward.
* * * *
Liliha gulped. The horror clung. She tried to erase the feeling, but her awful failure lingered like the iron smell of blood. Another mind had blocked her first attempt to meld. Could there have been a different outcome? Probably not. Once roused, the tiger would kill. And men always destroyed animals who acted with aggression toward them, no matter what the provocation.
Someone had urged the tiger to attack—someone who must possess the bracelet. All her best efforts achieved nothing. How could she battle some unknown antagonist?
A slow steady breath strengthened her psyche. During the next vision, she would attempt to make contact with the person who possessed the bracelet—someone trapped by the lure of the blue scarab.
She blinked and focused. She held a piece of bread roll in one hand and a knife, with butter on the end, in the other. She drew them together and completed the action. Alissa was staring. She didn't look forward to revealing her mental absences. But, because of Alissa's inquiring mind, the time would come when she'd need to divulge the incredible truth.