Walking alone in the woods late at night can play on our fears. What if you lived in the jungle near large predators? What if you became the hunted? Here is today’s haunting jungle prompt. Write about a jungle cat for 5-10 minutes and share. My post is below.
In the shadows of the tall bamboo I heard the low growl to my left. My uncle always said that by the time you hear a sound, it’s too late. My small feet stumbled on the trail, and a sweat dripped down the back of my neck. Mother and father always scolded me when waited to do my chores. I went out too late to the well and now, it might be my last time.
I froze and turned to face the silent shadow that haunted all the villagers. The white tiger always took one villager every year. It was like payment for living in the circle of it’s territory. Last year, it was their neighbors grandfather but that was different. It was like the old man went out that night to offer himself to the beast. He said he was too old, and didn’t want to burden his family any longer. They found his staff on this very trail with sharp claw marks. The tiger took the offering and the only thing left were drag marks on the path and into the tall grass.
But what did I have to offer this keeper of our land?
“Go away Tiger! I have nothing to offer you tonight!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
Event the crickets and the frogs waited to hear a reply but there was only silence, and the feeling of golden eyes staring out at me. I jumped when one of the tree frogs leapt from a small leaf near my feet.
“Go away Tiger! I have to finish my chores! My family needs me!” This time the sounds didn’t stop but I heard the rustle of grass right in front of me.
The sun was over the tops of the bamboo and most of the forest floor was shadows. A flash of white behind palms made me freeze again. I did my best not to show fear but my knees tremble for a few seconds. I braced myself for the inevitable.
“Go away! There is no sacrifice here! I promise I help my family more often!” The muscles on my neck strained. Uncle told me never to bargain with the shadows but fear took over. He said never to be afraid but I never realized how much I liked living until this moment.
I heard a snarl and my eyes closed for a second. “No, it’s not my time!” My voice was a whisper.
My eyes squeezed tiger when I heard a full growl. The sound scared the flesh on my body, and they wouldn’t open. I didn’t run, I couldn’t run. How brave the old grandfather was to seek out this shadow on his own. I thought of father and mother – who would take care of them when I’m gone? I should have been a better son. Seconds made more sweat drip down from my neck.
I stood for what felt like hours before I opened my eyes. The sun was gone now. I knew I shouldn’t run. My eyes scanned the shadows but they all blended together with the sun down. I turned slowly away from the palm bushes and back down the path with hesitant steps toward home.
A few more steps, and I my legs started to run faster than I had ever run in the daylight. Tigers chase their pray. I pushed the sounds behind me and ran faster. I felt the shadow follow me. Water spilled over the sides until the jars were half full. My lungs didn’t breathe until I reached the inside of our small home.
My arms hugged my mother, father, and uncle before my encounter with the Tiger spilled out like the water. I vowed I would be a better son. I told them I should have listened. Uncle just grunted and headed outside to keep watch until morning.
When my body finally was able to sleep, I heard the sound of a gun. I leapt up and looked around for mother and father. They were looking around with me.
“Stay here!” I ran out to find Uncle. “Is it him?”
His uncle shook his head. “Yes, you are lucky. It seems he took one of our goats instead of you tonight.” He placed his hand on my shoulder and my head dropped.
“No, I’m a coward Uncle. The goat was braver than me.”
Uncle laughed and patted me hard on the back. “No one knows how the Tiger decides.”
“What do you mean?” My eyes searched his but he only smiled like father. Like he knew something.
“The goat was sick. He did us a favor. We are lucky the price to live here is so little.” Uncle took a deep look at me. “Or maybe, he wanted to make a point. We must all do our part here, or face our own shadows.” Then, he leaned closer and sniffed. “Or maybe, the goat smelled better. You need a bath nephew.”
That’s all for Monday. Who is your shadow this week? Follow tomorrow for another cat themed post.
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