It was a quiet evening, out in the countryside.
No sounds of birds or crickets, no sounds from a wind whistling through, as there was no wind this evening.
It was eerily silent, the lack of sound was a shock to me, and it just felt like something was very wrong.
I butted my smoke and walked to the far, south side of the wooden deck attached to my house, at the rear of the house where I had it installed last spring. When I got to the steps I heard it, it was definitely very large. It rustled the leaves in the ditch across the road, and the quick, sharp sound forced my head to the left as I then made eye contact with the beast.
A gigantic, magnificent elk grazed in the ditch on some long grass sprouting out from the roadside. It took large mouthfuls of the grass, I was close enough to hear it chewing. Besides the chewing and the tearing of grass, there was still no other sound, all around me.
Just then the Elks head, raised excitedly and quick as a whip, its ears tilted behind it, and its nose twitched at the scent of something.
It then bolted forward as it began to jump into a magnificent stride.
Then the roar that still echoes in my dreams came to be real.
The reason for no sound, now very apparent, a very large tiger leapt from the brush and onto the elk's back. Its claws struck true and now all 10 of them sank deep into the elk's skin, the tiger's mouth clasped down hard around the neck of its victim. Blood spraying every direction, the screams were deafening.
The elk's scream became a gargling sound as the blood-filled its throat and lungs. The tiger's mouth still clamped down on its neck, together they fell to the ground like a massive, writhing mass of twitching muscle and fur.
The crisp cool air, surrounding us made it easy to see the last breath from the large elk.
The tiger growled deeply, and it rumbled in my own chest, it then removed its grip from the elk's limp neck.
It licked its chops with its massive pink and black spotted tongue, its eyes now locked on to mine.
I stood frozen in fear, I thought I had even soiled myself, but that smell wasn’t coming from me, it was coming from behind me. I felt the cold from the barrel brush my ear, as it seemed to sprout out from behind my head.
“Don’t move a muscle,” Uncle Trip had whispered just loud enough for me to hear him, the smell was now fully recognizable as whiskey and sweat, and cigarette smoke.
Uncle's perfume was pungent and rank, it made your eyes water especially when he was now standing directly behind me with his rifle resting on my right shoulder. It was his, “Wrath of God” he called it. I didn’t know the particulars, on the rifle but I knew one thing, when it came off the mantle above the fireplace, he always used it and it was ear-splitting.
“Slowly duck down and cover your ears,” Uncle's voice cracked nervously, and he clicked the safety trigger, the sound made the tiger freeze in its place, like he recognized the sound.
Just a little clicking noise but the tiger heard it, you could see its orange ears push down flat and back on its massive striped head.
I always did what Uncle told me, I ducked and took cover.
The gun went off.
The light from the muzzle reflected in uncles eyes, my eyes locked on his, I watched them transition from nervousness and doubt to surefire excitement. His bullet hit true and fast.
The tiger, that had been hunting our elk farm, on our land was now finally dead.
It was the magnificent beast of all beasts, and our days of being weary and overcautious were now over.
Our lives could go back to normal.