Tiger

av A.M. Ween.


As I prowl through the thick undergrowth, I inadvertently detect a small fleeting movement in my upper left vision, and I freeze, mid-step. Without making any sudden motions, I strain my neck and eyes to see what it is, but I can't see anything in the deep, ever-changing dappled shades, made of light and dark jungle-greenery. I'm just about to continue my carefree stroll along the jungle floor when I hear something over the high-pitched buzz of insects. My ears prick, detecting the faint sound of carefully muffled movement, like someone is trying hard not to be heard. My head turns, as of its own accord, and my ears twitch in search of the sound.


There is a small rise in the terrain between me and the source of that sound. The rise may be three times as tall as I am, but a short pause and a pounce brings me up and over the obstacle, and I hit ground without making any noise. I'm not bragging, stealth is my middle-name, and agile is my first. My nose and whiskers twitch when the wonderful scent of her hits me, and my mouth waters, almost making me drool. As I spot her in the clearing, I can feel my tail wag eagerly, and I have to make an effort to remain calm.


In most cases, hunting is more efficient when I have the element of surprise on my side. If not, the chances are that my prey attempts a quick escape, and I end up expending more energy for the same result. But of course, I always get my prey in the end. I'm a born predator, a natural force of killer instincts and brutal strength. Everyone fears me, as they should. They all know tigers are the Lords of the jungle. And I, I am the King that rules them all.


My senses are on high alert as I crawl closer to my prey. The light yellow and dark golden stripes of my fur makes me practically invisible against the moving shadows made by vegetation and sunshine, as I close in on her. My pretty little morsel looks tiny and fragile, hardly more than a mouthful for a hungry hunter. Being this close to her, I think I can almost hear her little heart beat as fast as a bird’s, and her eyes are darting from shadow to shadow. She senses I'm here, but she can't see me, and she won't, not until it's too late for her to scamper. When she turns her back on me for a second, scouting out a portion on her other side, I move in and crouch down behind a boulder, just large enough to hide behind. I stay there, remaining perfectly still, as I wait for her to calm down and forget her fears. It takes time, she's quite highly strung, and even when she starts grooming herself, obviously in an attempt to relax, her eyes keep darting about. With the boulder on one side, a small lake on the other side, and a rock face behind her, she has backed herself into a neat little trap. She has no possibilities for an easy escape, and unconsciously she knows it. Even if she hasn't spotted the danger, she is somehow aware that it’s lurking in the dark corners of her world.


If you want to be a successful hunter, patience is one of the main traits you need. The patience to wait out a prey, or an enemy, is one of the most useful and undeniably one of the most difficult abilities to master. Everyone makes mistakes when their patience runs out, so all you need to do to get the upper hand, is to be more patient than your adversary. If not, you're the one that will make the mistake, and the opportunity, or your life, can be easily forgone. No need to say, I'm always the more patient one.


Finally, after what feels like an eternity, she relaxes by grooming herself. I can see her eyes starting to close, and even if I can still hear her heartbeat, it's calm now. She is on the brink of dosing off. I’m about to bear down on her, before my final move, when a sudden sound behind me almost makes me turn my head. Luckily, I’m able to resist moving apart from my ears twitching. However, the sound is enough to startle her wide awake. Despite this irritation I settle down to patiently wait for her to dose off again.


While I wait, my ears and brain analyses the obtrusive sound, and after listening for a while, I conclude it belong to one of the bigger non-predators of my jungle. Right now, the creature remains distant, as it seems to stay put in another part of the territory. I decide then and there that, after my little afternoon snack, I will take it down. It’s what the creature deserves after almost ruining my hunt. Just as my patience is paying off, and my prey has finally dosed off again, I can hear the big non-predator start to move. This time it’s drawing closer to my hunting location, moving with haste. A quick assessment of the situation makes me realize that I have to make my move as soon as possible, or lose the opportunity. At the moment, the small mouthful remains sleeping, but the non-predator is closing in on us, and my prey will be wide awake and alert any moment now, and thereby make my hunt exponentially more difficult. Carefully, and with a great deal of stealth, I creep around the boulder, silently sneaking up on her sleeping form. I’m just a few feet away when the big non-predator steps in to the clearing. And just like that, the morsel jerks awake, and within the blink of an eye, she is ready to escape, all fluttering wings and high-pitched screams. But it doesn’t matter, I’m ready to pounce.


- Tiger! Get your fat ass off the counter and leave that parakeet alone! Damn cat!

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