Wheat of Lions

May 2013By Andrew M. Seddon

Andrew M. Seddon, a native of England, writes both fiction and nonfiction, with over one hundred publication credits, including three novels: Red Planet Rising, Imperial Legions, and Iron Scepter. He contributed a chapter to Staying Fit After Forty by Don Otis, co-authored the devotional Walking With the Celtic Saints, and is a current member of the Authors’ Guild. Dr. Seddon is a family-practice physician in the Same-Day Care department at Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana. This story originally appeared as a chapter in his new book, Saints Alive! New Stories of Old Saints, Vol. 1: Saints of Empire (Bezalel Books; www.bezalelbooks.com; 248-917-3865), and is reprinted with permission.

St. Ignatius of Antioch. Rome, c. 107

The lions were restless. Restless and hungry. They paced ceaselessly around their enclosure, their great heads swinging from side to side, their massive paws raising puffs of dust with each step, and their tails lashing like whips wielded by frantically racing charioteers charging toward the finish line at the Circus Maximus.

The lions’ ravenous appetites I could understand — they hadn’t been fed in days. But their restlessness? Could they anticipate, with some kind of animal sense, the feast that awaited them?

They were a study in barely restrained ferocity, and had it not been for the stout iron bars that separated me from them, I would have been far more nervous than I was. And yet it wasn’t the pacing lions that disturbed me the most.

Rather, it was a mature lioness who watched me from just inside the bars, standing so still she could have been an impossibly life-like statue. Her eerie motionlessness made my skin crawl.

My eyes were unwillingly drawn to meet the unblinking stare of her yellow orbs. She moved at last, sidling closer as if all she wanted was to rub her tawny coat against me and purr. She’d seemed friendly every time I had come, even over the past few days when I hadn’t brought food. But I wasn’t deceived. The reason I was in charge of the beasts was because she’d ripped the arm off my unwary predecessor. He’d bled to death right where my feet were now planted.

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