the Barsoomian Lion

Quick, grab the nearest book! Turn to page 52 and find the fifth sentence on the page. Got it? Well, we're just getting started...

Human flesh is the food most craved by the fierce Barsoomian lion, whose great carcass and giant thews require enormous quantities of meat to sustain them. Only one of the great beasts is hunkered down in the arched portal, but even that gives me pause.

Basking in the shadows and downwind from the hairless creature, for of the wild beasts on Mars only the fearsome White Apes are furred, I feel safe for the moment. The great portal, whose arcs dwarf the impressive guard beast between them, vents a slow but steady stream of warm air from the inner chambers, accented with oxymoronic notes of flowery perfume and rancid flesh. The later comes courtesy of the Barsoomian lion, while the former hints at the prize just past it.

Dejah Thoris, how I long to have you in my arms once more!

I had been a fool to lose her again, but my mind is occupied with strategies to bypass the beast and cannot spare a moment in regret of the past. My enemies will meet the cold steel of my short sword, surely, but only after this obstacle is surpassed.

A sly smile lights my lips as I realise my surpassing of the lion is literal: the towering height of the portal will allow me to leap through it, over the beast, avoiding noisy conflict.

With this plan in mind I race toward the creature across the turf-like ground, covered in the same mossy substance that blankets all of Mars. The alien ground-cover silences my approach just as the down-wind draft conceals my scent, making me all but invisible to the lazy lion. With a great leap I fly high over the guard beast and through the portal, a task that is easy for me as my Earthly muscles are even more powerful in the weaker gravity of Mars.

I break into a run as I alight on the stone inside the corridor, daring not spare a glance back to check for pursuit. My mind is wholly on the prize ahead of me, and the fight that will surely precede it.

I'm coming for you Dejah Thoris, my princess, my love!

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First sentence from Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The End

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