Creepypasta Wiki
Forums: Index > Writers' Workshop > King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle[]

{{Author's Note|This is my entry for Cornconic's 2023 Random Title Writing Contest

The Aepyornis-drawn taxi rattled and jingled its way down New Berwen's main street. The hefty little moa warbled and harped loudly as the rickety Hackney carriage swerved in and out of the crowded market of merchants and customers, loaded donkeys, Cirabor carts, and shoppers.

On one corner of the cab, a carved Green Mother symbol hung, and on the opposite, a winged Arkan Sonney, or "Lucky Pig." If a traveler was lost and hungry in New Berwen, it was customary to look for the pigasus—or more likely, the Green Mother, which was even luckier. They would find a great meal, and then their questions would all be answered with one tasty bite. That was what they say in New Berwen, anyway. Either would keep you safe from thieves and provide an excuse to avoid paying a stiff fine for being so lost.

Huddled in the back, eleven-year-old Aden Caruso didn’t even notice the dangling luck talismans. He paid not the slightest heed to the terraced, tiered buildings that sprouted from the immense root burls or hung suspended like delicate paper lanterns on twiggy wooden stilts.

He didn’t spare a glance at the noise and clamor of market day as a myriad of sapient species patronized the surrounding wide variety of stalls and general stores. Nor did he see the curving, pointed ears peeking from behind clusters of fans of purple, yellow, and blue flowers in the planters outside; or the sinuous leather tails and sleek black bodies of serpentines, or slithering arboreal forms resembling iridescent silk, waving kelp, pleated leaves, or vines.

No, Aden wasn’t thinking about any of those things.

He had something else on his mind.

Keeping a tight limpet grip on the Airedale/Collie mix. Normally an easygoing dog, especially when it came to carriage rides and interactions with various life forms, Sammy now seemed to have second thoughts about this unexpected day trip. Loudly yelping and whining, he scratched at the heavily worn horsehair seats. The more Aden tried to placate him, the more frantic Sammy became.

Aden rubbed Sammy’s ears between his thumb and forefinger as if to soothe him. "Don’t worry, boy. I’ll get you some treats later. Or something else good."

But Sammy continued his agitated barking. Finally, the youngster turned to his older brother. "Josh, I think he needs to go. We need to pull over."

Josh grimly shook his head, clamping his muscular arms around Sammy’s wiggling hindquarters. "He already went like forty minutes ago. He’s just not used to carriages. It’s like taking a lil’ kid on a roller coaster for the first time. He gets scared."

While true, that analogy was far too melodramatic for Aden. And furthermore, Josh had been known to embellish.

Three years older than Aden, Josh took after his Wood Lutin mother, a slim athletic frame, dark-haired with deeply tanned delicate features and large hazel eyes, while Aden was more like his Garden State dad—chunky, freckled with scruffy blond hair and bespectacled blue-green eyes. Although he was considered one of the nerdiest kids at his school, Aden had enough common sense to know that even the smartest, most talented, and most confident people (such as Josh) could be empty-headed fools when it came to the opposite sex. So when Josh received an unexpected video message from his latest crush, Esta Farris, inviting him to explore a supposedly haunted location, he promptly accepted the challenge. This was despite the obvious fact that the place in question was so far outside the city limits that it would take them hours just to get there. Also, they were under strict orders to be home between 7:00 and 7:30. It was nearly 7:00 now.

Josh rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently. "Dude, he’s just nervous because of the cab ride, and besides, he’s never been there before, so what does he know about it?"

"He knows a whole hell of a lot more than we know," Aden muttered, "cause he was born here. The animals here aren’t dumb; they know what places are safe and what isn't. They get that ‘ookey’ feeling long before we do that something’s not right about a place like something might happen if you stay too long." He squinted narrowly at Josh. "Dad would know cause he’s from New Jersey."

"Hey, nothing’s going to happen," Josh assured, "not if we get Sammy with us. You remember that fight he had with that Elohim mastiff back in May?"

Aden nodded, remembering. The two got tangled in a snarling, snapping brown and white mass, rolling around on the quay before tumbling over the side into the foamy surf below. The Airedale eventually emerged victorious with missing patches of fur, while the mastiff limped away, streaming scarlet in several places.

"Yeah, but that was just a dog," Aden pointed out as he gently scratched Sammy behind his ears. "This is a friggin' Monster House!"

"Actually, it’s a miniature golf course," Josh told him, folding his arms nonchalantly over Sammy’s back. "And don't say "friggin.'"

Aden gave him a look of disgust. "Hey, I can say ‘friggin' ’ whenever I want and how I want it. So I’m saying it like this: I think this is a whole friggin’ bad idea to go exploring a cursed spot just before the friggin’ curfew just because you want to be a dumb macho jock to one of the brain-dead popular."

"Hey, what do you know about girls, anyway?" Josh replied sourly. "You’re only eleven!"

"Yeah, well, I heard she’s really bad news, Aden murmured. "She's been in trouble ever since she moved here from Salem, the place where they had all the witch trials."

"Arkham," Josh told him. "Esta’s from Arkham."

"Arkham?" Aden raised an eyebrow. "Isn’t that where they have the big insane asylum?"

Josh shrugged his thick shoulders. "I guess. I mean, why else would her parents move here... because they didn’t want to live near any weirdies?"

"Or they’re weirdies themselves," Aden said snidely. "It must be the reason..."

A loud, deafening blare scattered his troubled thoughts.

"Pham!" the goblin cabbie spat as he honked furiously at the congestion. "No freakin’ way am I going to get through this sardine jam! I’m going to have to cut through the Eyther-Salazar Tunnel."

"No-no," Josh groaned, suddenly feeling faint. "You don’t have to go way out there. Za-Ya Avenue’s fine. There’s a portal arch on Za-Ya that’s supposed to cut down on travel time."

"The avenue’s blocked up tight," the goblin replied, gesturing at the congested mass ahead. "We’ll take a shortcut through the Castle District."

Now Aden was groaning. The Castle District was the oldest part of New Bedford and, in his view, the creepiest. Once an old Elohim University complex, the looming, rambling pile of gray-gabled buildings now held the Central Criminal Courts and surrounding administrative offices.

"Do we really have to?" Aden moaned. "Place gives me the creepies."

"Yeah," Josh cut in, "plus both our folks work there, so someone might recognize us."

"Look, who’s the driver here?" The goblin growled. He peered down the length of his pointed nose at them. "Unless you gentlemen have plans on walking...

Josh slowly shook his head. "No, we’re staying put."

Aden shrugged as he folded his arms, frowning deeply at Josh.

"Oh, I don’t care," he finally muttered. "You’re the one going to be in trouble, not me, and don’t even think of dragging me down with you all because of a Fake Elf Girl!"

"Castle District, it is then," the goblin announced brightly as he shook the reins and urged the Aepyornis to the left.

The padded wheels crunched on the cobblestones and, by the sound of it, made short work of the uneven surfaces. With an audible sigh of nervous relief, Josh watched the Castle District walls recede, and soon enough, they were out of sight.

Then, without warning, the cab pulled to a stop, leaving them frozen in one spot. For several long moments, the cab seemed stuck uphill, prompting more renewed squawking and whimpering from the animals. Then, with a small, squeaky whirring noise, it slowly ascended once more. The corridor now seemed to stretch for miles ahead in both directions, with nary a sign of a door or opening. The light behind them seemed to diminish to a pinpoint as they sluggishly moved forward. A cool draft tousled Josh's neatly combed hair, and he shivered. Only then did he realize he could hear a faint hissing and cracking that sounded like wind rustling through dry underbrush.

Aden pricked up his ears when he heard the sound, too. Frowning worriedly, he tightened his grip on the trembling dog. "Hey, what’s all this?" Before he could finish, the goblin threw him a sideways glance, his swarthy face full of sweat and concern.

"Heh, boys, I forgot to mention that this is a toll booth.," Then, glancing back at the huge and silent shadows looming ahead, he murmured with a strained smile. "Not to worry, though; it won’t cost much. Just the King’s Toll Something that you are willing to part with. Something of significance... if not, some portion of fleshy parts."

For a long moment, both brothers stared at the driver in stunned disbelief. Then their widening eyes suddenly turned as the shadows suddenly gathered themselves into the massive shape of a lion with razor-edged metallic fur and empty, burning eyes. A hot metallic odor washed over them. Aden suddenly choked as the smell invaded his nostrils, and he started to gag. Dimly, he became aware of Sammy jerking free of his grasp and scrambling over the rear of the cab.

Coughing, the youngster turned to see Josh had already thrown himself out onto the road, his arms covering his head. A small but strong beam of lantern light highlighted the beast that was now towering over him. He recognized the enormous black cat's vicious glare for what it was—pure malice—as soon as he got a good look at its twisted, almost human-like features. This creature had no desire to prolong misery; it only desired complete and utter devastation. He didn't want to consider what was happening behind the cat's eyes. It reminded him of ancient Earth legends whispered around campfires or even a demented fever dream: horrible and unreal, but nonetheless real.

His frantic eyes instinctively darted about the immediate vicinity, but he still saw no other way of escape. Just endless arches of blackened fortress walls on either side with rows upon rows of blood-encrusted hooks, from which hung scores of shredded decaying heads—various souls who had the misfortune of daring this place before.

"Oh, crap, no," Aden whimpered, collapsing into his seat. "What did we do... He began sobbing and couldn’t stop.

Meanwhile, Josh huddled in a useless, quivering heap on the cobblestones. His eyes gazed back at Aden, bulging brown saucers filled with sadness and tears. With a grim expression, the goblin removed his peaked cap and held it against his chest as the beast slowly padded forward.

Written by Mmpratt99 deviantart
Content is available under CC BY-SA

Leave Feedback[]

Close the space between the four tildes in the box and hit the "Leave Feedback" button to begin your comment.

EmpyrealInvective (talk) 13:01, 29 July 2023 (UTC)[]

I haven't written a review for a while so forgive me if I'm a bit rusty or more grammar skills are a bit off. I'll start with any mechanical issues I see and then focus on the plot.

"The hefty mini moa warbled and harped vigorously as the dilapidated vehicle weaved in and out among the loaded donkeys and Cirabor carts, and jostling crowds of market vendors and shoppers." I'm not too sure if this is a brand of vehicle, but I think Minimoa should be capitalized as it's a proper noun in that instance.

“Arkham?” Aden raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that where they have the big Insane Asylum?” Insane asylum probably shouldn't be capitalized in this instance since it's not the title of a specific one (Parsons Insane Asylum vs. the insane asylum).

This might be more of a preferential thing, but I found whenever you are removing letters for a manner of speech that putting an apostrophe can help differentiate the words from their synonym ((be)cause vs cause(-and-effect) vs. to cause something to happen.) "He squinted narrowly at Josh. “Dad would know cause ("'cause") he’s from New Jersey.”", "Josh shrugged his thick shoulders. “I guess. I mean, why else would her parents move here. . . cause ('cause) they wanted to not live near weirdos?”"

Honestly, those were the only possible errors I found so great job on proof-reading.

Onto the story itself, I like the descriptive elements. ("Then their widening eyes suddenly turned as the shadows suddenly gathered themselves into the massive shape of a lion with razor-edged metallic fur and empty, burning eyes.") The descriptors paint a good visual picture while conveying the perniciousness of the creature.

Onto the title itself, I will mention that the contest seems to be based on making the most out of the title you've been given so I might do a bit more to draw stronger connections for the purpose of the challenge. The references to King's Tax and the lion often being given the title of king of the jungle are good starts for connecting the story to the title. If it were me in this contest, I might also start drawing comparisons to the city and how it is like a concrete jungle (as cities are sometimes called) just to further reinforce that. I wouldn't go as far as having anyone name drop the title, but I might draw more comparisons to the creature seeing this as their domain just to strengthen that title.

All in all, I enjoyed reading it. I'm sorry for the delay, but honestly with work being as it is, I usually only find the time to check my messages on the weekend (when I'm not working the weekend that is). I hope that helped and I wish you the best of luck in the contest. EmpyrealInvective (talk) 13:00, 29 July 2023 (UTC)

William See (talk) 18:56, 29 July 2023 (UTC)[]

There’s quite a lot of world building here that went into all the descriptions and elements. I appreciate that much work, though I also wonder how much of it serves to flesh out the world and how much of it is a little overwhelming to remember in regards to whether or not its important (for example, “Cirabor cars”. Thats a very small example but I personally felt the “dilapidated vehicle” description suffices). Personal nitpick, but you decide how much of it should be ‘original’ lore, and how much should be ‘mundane’ elements.

“It had no desire to kill them; it only wanted to devour them whole and leave nothing behind but bones scattered around like discarded wood.” I would possibly change this up since its redundant, but also contradictory; maybe word it as “this thing had no desire to prolong suffering, it was just seeking pure and utter destruction,” or something similar, since it very clearly IS malicious.

Other than that, nice work. I like all the weird anachronisms and details about the world. I wonder if the goblin cabbie was in on some messed up deal to bring people to that tunnel, cuz if not, he sure as hell isn’t getting a tip.

Hey, I haven't forgotten![]

Hey, I haven't forgotten! I've been preoccupied, but I'll definitely check this out! Raidra (talk) 18:18, 1 August 2023 (UTC)