She stumbled down the sandy hill, trying to catch her breath, and collapsed down into the dark grasses beside the concrete wall. Several minutes tore by, timed by the pounding of her heart, eventually sinking down to slowly beating seconds. The lions must have been gone by now; they had been circling around that kill for hours. Nothing would remain but bones, not even in the shape of a human anymore. She had to make her move now, before they came looking for fresh meat. The lionesses were the hunters, slowly stalking in the lazy summer heat. They would come first, feet padding lightly through the grasses, heads down, tails twitching away the mosquitoes. She had seen the yellows of their eyes, gleaming with intelligence. The males were just there for breeding, putting on a silly show and roaring, but the females, with their coldly calculating anger, would sneak up behind you and tear out your lungs with their claws.

She sat up, feeling in the grass for her cell phone. It had slipped out of her pocket when she fell down the hill, and she needed it desperately. A roar echoed off the walls, and she lay back down, curling into a fetal position and trying not to cry out in fear. The hard inner wall of the exhibit dug into her spine like a knife, but if she moved she would be another inch towards danger, so she remained, frozen in terror, until the sun rose behind the tall acacia trees. Then she stood, cautiously, and crept up the hill. She couldn't see the lions, so she set out across the artificial savanna. All of her senses were on full alert, her eyes tuned for a flash of movement or any sign of Jason's shredded corpse; her ears scanned frantically for any hint of sound but the blowing of the leaves and grass in the stiff summer wind. Her sense of smell became useful to her for the first time in her life, as she remembered the rotting carnage smell that the great predators carried with them everywhere. She crested the hill and surveyed the tiny savanna. She could see the thick bars surrounding the exhibit, and the zookeepers' gate at the opposite end. Suddenly, she spied a hint of movement in the distance. She dropped down to her stomach instantly, knowing that she was perfectly visible to the hunters when standing. She lay on the ground, considering her options--would crawling through the rustling grass make too much noise? Could she hope to outrun the lions on the open savanna? Or should she go back to the wall and make her way along it, hoping not to be noticed? Were the lions really so sated that they wouldn't notice her creeping towards the exit?

She felt the breath on her neck after a few minutes. It smelled of dead meat and scalded her back with its heat. She closed her eyes and tried to feel her heart beating even as the wet teeth began to sink into her skull.

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