This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form. It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world. All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.)
The first of his senses to kick in was his hearing. Birds squawked and chirped all around. The next, was his vision. His eyes flicked open and light flooded into them. He felt the sand beneath him and smelled the ocean water. Unfortunately, his last sense was taste. The water rushed from his lungs and he began to cough painfully, pushing the last of the seawater out onto the beach. His chest heaved again, forcing him to cough even harder. When all the water was out of him, he rolled onto his back, trying desperately to catch his breath. Every muscle in his body hurt. Muscles he didn’t even know existed within him screamed for reprieve.
“You’re alive!” a voice yelped behind him.
Mowgli shifted his weight just enough to see who it was. He knew instantly that the voice was not a human. Though he could understand it perfectly, the voice was speaking to him in a series of squeaks. As he turned, willing his body to not give up just yet, he noticed a very small creature. It was tan colored with little brown stripes and round ears. It stood on its long hind legs and held a large leaf like a plate in its hands. The leaf-plate was filled to the brim with squirming, slimy bugs and larvae.
“I’d thought for sure you were a goner when you washed up on that shore,” continued the little critter. To Mowgli, it looked something like a monkey, but more like a rat. He couldn’t quite place it.
“W-what are you?” he asked, speaking for the first time since the accident. His own voice sounded hoarse in his ears.
“Wait,” said the creature, looking suddenly puzzled. “You…understand me?”
“Sure I do,” said Mowgli. “I grew up in the jungle. I speak all sorts of animal languages. Though I don’t think I’ve ever met something like you before.”
“I’m a meerkat,” said the critter. “Timon’s the name.” He sat down his plate of grubs, throwing one into his mouth and crunching down hard on it. “We usually don’t get into the deep jungle such as these parts, but when hunters come to your neck of the woods and throw you in a cage, you don’t have much of an option.”
Mowgli looked around. They were on a beach, but past the beach was a huge, dense forest with enormous trees and dark green foliage which made it impossible to see very far inside.
“Where are we?” he asked, trying to place the plants and shrubs from his jungle but coming up short. They were definitely no where near his home.
“Far as I can tell, based on what the men were saying at the camp, we’re in a place that was once called Neverland.” Timon grinned. “Now, it’s just some island.”
“Neverland?” questioned Mowgli, letting the word roll off his tongue. “Sounds magical.”
“Probably why the name didn’t stick,” replied Timon, reaching down and throwing another grub into his mouth. “Ain’t a lot of magic left in the world, kid.”
“Wait,” said Mowgli, sitting up further, starting to feel life edge back into his veins. “If you were brought here by hunters then how are you-“
“Here? With you? And alive?” Timon grinned. “I’m fairly adept at escaping sticky situations.” His face became solemn. “My friends aren’t quite as small or as skilled as me though. They’re still there.” Timon looked as though he might be sick. “And one of them is a pig, so you can guess that his days are numbered.”
“If we’re on an island, but you’re not from one, then these hunters must have a way off,” said Mowgli, thinking aloud.
“They sure do. A big golden boat that flies through the sky.” Timon grabbed another two grubs, offering one to Mowgli. The boy declined and Timon threw both grubs into his mouth.
“If we sneak into their camp, maybe we can get your friends back AND find a way onto the boat,” said Mowgli, sounding more and more sure of himself. “I have to get to a place called The Kingdom. I have to let them know what has happened to the ship I was on. If that’s the way off this island then I don’t have any other options.”
“Alright kid, I like your spirit, but we’ll need a plan.” Timon didn’t appear highly thrilled with going back to the camp, but at least it was something to do other than wait for his friends to be eaten.
“Let’s go snoop around,” said Mowgli. “We’ll get the lay of the camp and then we can come up with a plan.” He slid his hands underneath himself and pushed up, feeling his arms and legs ache as he stood. He stretched his arms, trying to pull out the kinks. His shirt was torn and tattered so he pulled it from his torso and wrapped it around his stomach, so he wouldn’t lose the fabric. He now stood only in his wet dress-pants, the shirt around his waist and still no shoes. It was almost as if he’d never left the jungle in the first place.
“Come on Timon,” he said. The little meerkat ran up his leg and back and perched himself atop the boy’s shoulder.
“Mind if I hitch a ride?”
“Not at all.”
Together, they headed into the jungle. It was dark and treacherous, but Mowgli was used to this sort of thing. He half expected Kaa to slither out from behind some corner, but the old snake never showed up. They climbed steadily, as if ascending a tall mountain, and as they went, the jungle grew even darker. Then, without a warning, a flicker of light flashed in the distance.
“What was that?” asked Mowgli.
“Their camp,” replied Timon. “They’ve got torches all over the place for light. It’s a wonder they haven’t burnt down the whole forest.” Mowgli simply nodded. He knew all too well the power of man’s red flower.
They came to a large log to which Timon motioned. Together, they crawled under it into a little hole. Once inside, they came up into the log, which had rotted out from the bottom. There was a small hole there which allowed them to look out and see the entirety of the camp. Their were men moving about here and there. Grown men with big beards who wore all manner of animal hides. Yet some of the animal hides appeared synthetic as if they were some other fabric all together made to look like an animal’s skin. Mowgli didn’t quite understand.
The camp itself was made up of buildings which had been tied together by bamboo and rope. They were all misshapen and lopsided. In fact, they looked very much like the forts that he had once made for himself when he lived in the jungle. At the center of it all was an enormous hole in the ground. A pit of sorts. All around it, spears were stabbed ritualistically into the ground.
“Where do these men come from?” he asked.
“They’ve been here for a long time,” said Timon. “They call themselves the lost boys. Looks more like the lost old timers to me.” Timon was right. The men were indeed much too old to be called ‘boys.’
“They talk about one guy a lot. Their leader, but I gotta tell ya, I’ve been spying on them for a week now and I haven’t seen any sign of him.” Timon gave a heavy sigh. “One thing’s for certain. You want the boat? You’ll have to go through him. The boat flies with magic, and he’s the one with all the control over it.”
“Ever heard them say his name?” asked Mowgli inquisitively.
“Yeah. They call him Pan.” Timon looked around anxiously. “Look, this place is giving me the shivers. What say we get back to the beach and come up with a plan. I’ll even share some grubs with you.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” said Mowgli. “The plan part I mean.” He gave Timon a sly grin.
Together they pulled themselves back out of the trunk and out of the hole in the ground. No sooner were they out, however, then Mowgli found an arrow pointed directly at him.
“What ‘ave we got ‘ere?” asked a brusk man with a large bow and arrow firmly pointed at Mowgli’s face. Mowgli felt his body go stiff. Timon went to run but another man with a thick red beard scooped him up in a brown leather bag.
“Long time, no see, little rat,” said the man, holding the fidgeting bag up to his pock-marked face.”
“You’re such a young lad, all lost out here in our little land of Never,” said the man with the arrow pointed at Mowgli. “I remember when I was a lost boy. As you can see, the years have not been kind to us. Yet, they’ve been kinder than the beast will be to you.”
Another man appeared, this one with a large patch over one eye and a thick black mustache. He tied Mowgli’s hands behind his back with a rough rope and then gave him a shove down a little path, which led to the clearing of the camp.
“Look what we found boys!” said the man with the arrow, who was clearly some sort of leader. “Tonight we’ll be ‘aving dinner AND a show!”
They led Mowgli to the edge of the pit. Below, part of the hole was visible. It was muddy and looked to be covered in stray body parts which had lost their owners. There were marks in the wall where those thrown into the pit had tried to escape. None went so high as the surface. No one had escaped. The other half of the pit was dark, shadowed by the dim lights of the camp.
By now, most of the men of the camp had gathered around and were cheering and booing and hissing at Mowgli. He didn’t like it one bit. He was reminded of why he disliked the world of man so much. Though in a way, it reminded him briefly of King Louie’s court.
“Here we have a boy who thought it’d be a fun game to spy on us!” yelled the man. “But we don’t much like being spied on do we boys?”
“NO!” A chorus of men’s voices rang out around the camp.
“And now we shall show him what happens to those who do things we don’t like!” yelled the man.
It started low at first but gradually a low chant grew amongst the men. “Feed the beast. Feed the beast. Feed the beast!” Louder and louder they became until all Mowgli could hear were their yells of the same three words over and over.
“Be a good boy,” whispered the man into his ear. “Run around a bit. Our beast misses the thrill of the hunt.” He shoved Mowgli forward.
For a moment, it felt as though he were flying, until he hit the cold mud below. The pain shot through his body. The wounds from the boat wreck hadn’t even had time to heal and now he was literally being thrown around. He pulled himself up once more to his feet and looked into the shadowy end of the pit.
There was a large face with a great furry jaw a huge golden mane. The creature reminded him of Shere Kahn. Snarling, the creature took a step into the light and the crowd above erupted into cries of excitement and terror. The beast was a large cat. He’d seen it in one of the village’s books. It was called a lion. It looked fierce and majestic and brave all at once. It was like royalty. It had huge claws and golden fur. It snarled at Mowgli and then let out a huge roar, which made the men above even more jubilant.
The beast reared back and with rage in its blue eyes, took a great leap towards Mowgli, shoving him to the ground once more.
“WAIT!” he cried, not using the language of men, but as he would have yelled at Bagheera. The beast stopped and looked down at him, confused, their faces only inches apart.
“W-what did you just say?” asked the lion.
“D-don’t kill me,” said Mowgli. “I mean you no harm. I simply want to get off this island.”
“I want the same thing,” said the lion. “My friends and I were brought here against our will.”
“I know,” said Mowgli. “Timon told me.” The lion’s hard gaze softened at the mention of the meerkat’s name. “Help me out of here. We’ll get Timon and your other friend, and together, we’ll get off this island.”
“They’ll kill us before they let us leave,” said the lion.
“They’re terrified of you. They call you the beast. Let’s give them reason to be scared of both of us and they’ll do as we say.” Mowgli smiled at the lion.
“You don’t think I’ve thought of escaping?” asked Simba. “They have spears and swords, and there are far more of them than there are of me.”
“What’s your name?” asked Mowgli.
The lion let out a sigh. “Simba.”
“I’m Mowgli,” he replied. “Men appear much more powerful than they actually are. Make them believe you are stronger and it won’t matter how many of them there are compared to you. Here’s what you do.” As Mowgli began to tell Simba the plan, unrest began to settle above.
“What’s going on?” asked one of the men.
“Why is that boy still alive?” asked another.
The man with the bow didn’t like this one bit. He grabbed a spear from the side of the pit and hurled it down next to the lion angrily. “Eat him!” yelled the man.
Simba glared upwards and then, with a quick bite, tore the spear in half. In one fluid motion, Mowgli grabbed onto Simba’s fur and hopped on top of him. The lion took a step back and then lunged at the wall of the pit with all his might. The men pulled back in terror as the lion leaped past the pit, landing in the middle of them, knocking several down, and pinning one beneath his mighty paws.
“ROOOOOAAARRRR!” yelled Simba, so loudly that the very ground shook. The men fell back, crying in fear and preying for their mother’s to protect them. The point had been made. Mowgli stood atop the back of the lion and beat his chest like King Louie. He made his best angry face, the way that Baloo had taught him and called to the men.
“I am Mowgli, king of the jungle, and this is Simba, king of the Pride Lands! Give us what we request and you shall live! Deny us and, well…” With a might swipe, Simba shoved the man beneath his paw into the pit. The man screamed as he fell into the darkness.
“And w-what–” started the man with the bow, now on his back, looking up to the boy and the lion in sheer terror. “What do y-you request?”
“We wish to see your leader,” said Mowgli defiantly. “Take us to Pan!”