The Second Voice

“Simba…What have you done?”

Scar knew the true answer to the question he asked, and it resonated in cold, angry tones within his head. You survived. You survived when both you and Mufasa should have perished. You have forced me to restructure my agenda, little prince.

The tawny cub freed himself from the protective cover of his Mufasa’s limp paw and at the sight of Scar, began gibbering in shock and terror, still trying to come to terms with the truth of his father’s death.

“T-There were wildebeests a-and he tried to save me…”

Poor little thing, Scar mused. If only things had gone according to plan, you would have been spared this terrible tragedy.

A tragedy that still played heavily upon Scar’s memory. The feeling of his claws plunging into his Mufasa’s forelimbs, the tremble of his body as his brother roared with pain, the look of terror on his noble face, the great rush of adrenalin as Scar had flung him from the ledge…they all combined into a feeling Scar had never fully felt before. To have another creature die through his own actions…to actually kill another without the help of the hyenas at his side…the feeling was almost intoxicating, his usually active brain was dwelling constantly and incessantly on this accomplishment. How easy it had been to kill him. How easy…

Scar stole the briefest possible glance at his brother’s body. The strong, limber muscles hung slack in their broken frame and the once thick, glossy mane had already dulled in the thick dust. As unmarked as his corpse was, Mufasa’s mortality was evident to anyone, even without close scrutiny.

“It was an accident, I didn’t mean for it to happen…” Simba whimpered.

The desperate, frightened look in the cub’s eyes touched something deeply hidden in Scar. Somewhere in his tangled past, he could vaguely recall being overwhelmed with such unhappiness that even the embrace of a stranger provided comfort. He extended a forelimb and gently placed a paw against his nephew’s trembling form.

“Of course, of course you didn’t,” he said as sympathetically as he was able. Speaking with this sort of emotion was something that he had had to practice around Simba, usually at Mufasa’s insistence. He wouldn’t have to practice it much longer, though.

“No one…ever means for these things to happen,” he continued, bowing his head in feigned grief and gently pulling Simba to his side, where the cub slumped against his foreleg, nearly drained of strength by the great flood of emotion that had dashed against its mind. Scar broke his mask of mourning for a moment and glanced down at the cub nestled against him. How small and afraid it was. How soft and impressionable its little mind was. How fragile and easily breakable its body was too…

Scar examined his claws. As effective as they were, they were the wrong tools for the job, as were his teeth. No, he thought to himself, the cub must appear as if it died in the same manner its father died. It wouldn’t take much to simply knock it unconscious, then throw it from a tall escarpment or against a rock wall to finish it. Or to just crush its head right here.

Both methods seemed crude and lacking finesse, but the opportunity to dispose of Simba had presented itself so perfectly…the cub was vulnerable and weak, and now here it was, right under his paw.

In a way, it would be a justified death. He was the only male fit to rule, so the pride had to be his now. And some of the prides in the less bountiful regions of the land still followed the old law that all cubs not fathered by the new king had to die at his claws. Since Simba wasn’t his, Scar had every right to kill him, according to the old ways. And what was stopping him from reintroducing that law?

But that wasn’t important at the moment. Eliminating the one flaw in an otherwise perfect scheme was. Scar’s mind was racing. Knock it out and then kill it, or kill it right here? Both of them will be equally effective…Either way, it won’t take long to…

But at that moment, Scar’s inner voice was interrupted by another one. At the same time, the air around him suddenly seemed to grow thick, with a foreign, yet familiar smell pervading it:

No, the voice said.

What, Scar thought. The voice – like the one that occupied his own head and through the years silently mulled over the quandaries of his life, the world, and lionesses – was toneless and genderless, and did not have volume as much as it had weight. It also resonated just as clearly as if it was originating inside Scar’s head.

You won’t kill that cub like that. It isn’t your way.

Who are you, Scar asked.

Does the truth need to be called by any other name?

The truth? What are you saying, Scar responded.

You won’t kill that cub in the ways you are contemplating. There would still be too many flaws. What if Zazu recovered just in time to see you kill it, asked the voice.

I would make certain to be out of that pompous fowl’s line of vision, retorted Scar.

What if one of the lionesses questioned why your scent was so strong on the cub?

I would tell them that I was so overcome with grief at finding my nephew dead that I embraced him… like this, Scar added mentally, indicating Simba, who was still pressed firmly against Scar’s leg. Barely a second or two had passed during the course of this “conversation” with this peculiar voice, though it seemed much longer. The barely present odor still puzzled Scar, and he was unable to tell whether he had or had not smelled it before, let alone what it was.

Even if either of your plans were to go along without incident, you still aren’t going to follow through with either of them.

And why not, Scar snapped, almost grimacing with indignation.

Because that is not the way you do things, said the voice said, with a great air of calm about it. You don’t kill using brute force, no matter how easy or convenient it may be.

But I killed my brother with my own claws, protested Scar. Killing this cub in the same manner won’t be any different.

You only did that because your plot was failing. You kill by weaving a trap with your words and luring your victims into it, and dispose them with the help of your allies – the hyenas. You couldn’t have killed Mufasa on your own.

Scar found that he couldn’t deny what the voice was saying. Everything it said about him was true. Whatever it was, it seemed to know every facet of his personality in crystal clarity, like a whisper from the higher levels of his conscious mind.

Don’t concern yourself with who I am, the voice said. Just remember that you are not one to kill directly – and you never were. The way you dealt with your brother was merely an anomaly that was a result of an unforeseen complication. You work with words and accomplices, not by your strength and claws alone. Deal with the cub in the same way, Scar.

The air suddenly grew lighter, and the odd, faint smell vanished just as quickly, leaving a sharp emptiness in the still dusty gorge. Scar briefly pondered over the voice’s last words before quickly formulating one of his “traps”, as the voice had called them.

“But the king is dead.”

Simba peered up at him with even more horror and anguish in his golden eyes.

“And if it weren’t for you,” Scar continued, looking down at his nephew with as much concern in his face as he could manage, “He’d still be alive.”

Simba turned away from Scar, staring blankly into the stark emptiness of the chasm. As impressionable as always, Scar thought.

“Oh,” he suddenly exclaimed in faux shock, “What will your mother think?”

Simba shied away from him, the burden of Scar’s fabricated guilt all too evident in his face and stance.

“What am I gonna do?” the cub queried.

Now for the coup de grace.

“Run away, Simba,” Scar said, almost in a whisper. “Run. Run away and never return.”

As the tawny figure scampered up the gorge and became obscured by the still-heavy dust, Scar detected a familiar, rank, and very pungent aroma behind him, accompanied by the shuffling of six pairs of paws. He knew who the owners of the smell and the sound were without looking, and he also knew what needed to be done now.

“Kill him,” he commanded.

Three dark, hulking shapes bounded past him with a discordant chorus of snarls and snaps, hurtling onwards the way Simba had gone. Though they had failed him once, Scar still had faith in the hyenas. They had served him well, and even adult lions had reasons to fear them. They would not let him down, not this time, with such a prosperous future waiting for them when both barriers blocking Scar’s route to the throne had been toppled. Hopefully the hyenas wouldn’t mangle the cub too badly to make it appear that something other than a stampede killed it – of course, if such a thing did happen, Scar could always say that the body was swept away in the stampede, and hide the body itself somewhere where it would never be found. Yes, this plan was the right course of action.

Scar allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction, which quickly vanished as that strange scent – the one that accompanied the voice – manifested itself slightly to the left of his nose, then dissipated just as mysteriously as it had appeared. He glanced around, but he could see nothing from which this odor could have originated from. After another minute or so of pondering, Scar relaxed and waited for the hyenas to return.

As he sat there, a figure without mass or form gently padded away from him and the body of the former king, following the path of the hyenas and Simba.

It’s odd, isn’t it, said the figure, in a voice that only it could hear. At times, other individuals tend to know us better than we do ourselves. I’m glad I was able to remind you who you are before it was too late. Brute strength never was your forte, and I fear that if the odds are in Simba’s favor, your method of indirect murder may prove to be your undoing. May you live long enough to regret what you have done…Brother.

-Akril 1-15-06

All characters © Disney.