(I look each of my confidants in the eye, and give an “all for one and one for all” nod. We step into the darkness.)
The smell of dust and death fills the air. Our eyes follow the light from the flashlight as Miles raises his rifle and slowly sweeps from left to right. Silence. Silence. At about 25 feet to our left, the darted lioness is laying motionless on the dirt floor. There are several feet of scratch marks on the dirt floor evidencing she was fighting to pursue us, as she was losing consciousness. Miles signals with his left hand to stop. Makali takes off his left sandal and makes a nice toss that lands on the backside of the lion. No movement.
“Slowly,” I say softly. The cold chill runs up my spine again. We are approaching a killer. I turn to check the barn entrance. Don’t want to be trapped in the barn if the other two return to attack. Beyond the entrance and out in the yard, I can see Benjamin and Mrs. Thomas still standing just where we left them. Her hands cover her face as she continues to weep. I turn back to our first capture. “Slowly,” again in a whisper.
Reaching the lioness, Miles reaches out with his rifle and pokes her behind her head. No movement. She is breathing heavily, but in a deep sleep.
“Well, it’s not the one-eyed simba. Makali, go grab the rope and tape from Miles’ Rover,” I command.
“Yes, Bwana,” he answers, as he turns toward the door.
Suddenly a deafening gun shot from outside. We fall to our knees, raising our rifles.