Today is Global Tiger Day!
At the Fiction House, we are celebrating the striped warriors, the tigers. Our thanks to the World Wildlife Foundation for tracking tiger populations across the globe. In the effort, a WWF photographer has miraculously captured the first video of a wild tiger high in the mountains of Bhutan. The country , though small, is an international leader in tiger preservation.
We at the Fiction House have had our own amazing encounters. In honor of tigers and Raji’s protector Balu the Tigerman, here is an excerpt from Tales of the Fiction House. This is one of Raji’s most harrowing adventures!
Tigerman sees tiger in mid-air, flying straight for Turt and James. Calico flits near Tigerman’s ear and Tigerman believes he hears the peaceful voice of Carpier: ‘Rightfully, you did not help earlier; but Balu, NOW you must!’
Time has arrived for Balu’s ultimate performance: Tiger-man verse Tiger-beast. He has gotten James so close to the destination and the people he had planned to deliver Doctor and Mrs. Fiction. So, today, he would battle his nemesis for the life of the ‘ONE’; the final Fiction.Turt sees something-someone, torpedo parallel to the ground, toward the mid-pounce tiger. Another tiger? A man? No its – Tigerman. He’s spinning like a bullet in a gun’s chamber to keep his direction straight.
Tigerman-Balu thanks Nardesha for providing him Bowie-claw, but human pride – ‘a two-leg needn’t a crutch to defeat four-leg nemesis.’ He throws Bowie. It sticks into a tree. Whether he lives or dies, he would do so with the honor of a Tigerman, and Turt would now have time to get James safely to the village.
Tigerman slams, ‘thump’, into the creature nearly four times his weight. They meld into a roiling yellow mass.
Calico flits above them to try to distract the tiger. Turt, elated at seeing old pal, wanting to help, but pragmatic, scoots to the shaking boy he bucked from his shell moments before. All that is happening mesmerizes James. He can barely move. Turt must scoop him up and onto his shell.
ONE CAGEY CAT ENTERS THE RING
Woodland creatures gather to watch the battlers midst Poppy Sol’s setting glint.
Tiger pride – Tiger rises to haunches to show his height equals any two-legs’. He swipes claws. Tigerman, his face drawn in concentration, dodges. To other humans the claws would be razor blazes. To Balu, with six decades experience in the mystic art of ‘tigermanning’ that melds motion and thought, they are slow-moving stumps.
Like a seemingly overmatched boxer, Tigerman dodges, weaves. Stirred dust shadows around his opponent. Tiger sneezes. Refereeing squirrels and rabbits scatter as tiger phlegm gushes past them. A treed carrion crow, anxious for morsels of human remains he’s wagering Tiger will provide, shrieks new rounds every few minutes.
Something unprecedented suddenly happens.
Tiger halts offensive, balances upright, and glares at two-leg. ‘Only guile can defeat this ultra-endowed two-leg.’ Next, the thing animals who edge backwards, to watch safely from behind ferns and hollow logs think unfathomable, occurs: A wild one begins talking to tame.
WILD: “Foolish Tigerman; you cannot defeat me without your claw.”
TAME: “Need only tire you, woodland sire. I have no desire to harm any creature – be they two-leg or four.”
Creatures of all legs chirp, squawk, and in general bellow approval. None likes the idea of being chow for the ones above them on nature’s ladder. At this sound of woodland anarchy-in-the-making, of which Tiger is the chief despot, Tiger roars, silencing all.
Turt is inching toward the village. ‘If any human can buy the time for us, it is my old vaudeville compatriot.’
Still upright Tiger points Turt’s way. “Fight me, Tigerman, like a true Tiger would, or in two leaps I’ll get to your shelled friend, and in two bites I’ll dessert on his tender cargo.”
Tigerman curls pseudo-claw hands. They sweat. He wipes them on his silk tail. Luny Mum glistens off his tiger-like whisker face that reveals no emotion.
Tiger states in cat scr-eam-casm. “After the count of three Tiiggeerrmaan, I’ll be enjoying cub and picking teeth with shards of the domed one if you don’t flight me with your real claw. Go ahead, get it,” he growls temptingly. “One…” he counts slowly.
Turt inches on.
James screams as if he knows, from the quiet around him, what his fate will be.
Tigerman lurches toward the tree twenty yards away where Bowie lodges. Never before had Tigerman harmed human, animal, reptile, or insect. Now, he is forced.
“Human sucker, fool,” Tiger roars. He lights on all fours and bounds toward Turt and child.
To be continued…(Never fear, Readers. I survived to tell the tale!–Raji)
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)
©2017 Raji Singh