Can two young kids playing at the park survive a tiger attack.
| Tiger On The Loose
Dust sparkled in the shaft of morning light coming through the living room window. On TV the coyote was about to catch the road runner. The light smell of toasting waffles drifted into Brandon's nose as the coyote fell down the middle of a deep desert canyon. Brandon grabbed a couple of plates after hearing a pop come from the toaster and put a steaming waffle on each one. Soaking each with a generous helping of syrup, the steamy breakfast cakes gave off a wonderfully sweet aroma that teased its way up to his sister Corra’s nose. Brandon brought a plate to his sister. Both enjoyed their breakfast while watching cartoons for most of the morning.
“While you finish your waffle I'm going to go play baseball,” Brandon said. He put his empty plate in the sink.
Brandon closed the door to his room and put a baseball game into his Super Nintendo. Just as he finished with the second inning, Corrra knocked and opened his door.
“I want another one,” she said and held out the empty plate to him.
“One's enough, when you get big like me then you can have two.”
“But I'm still hungry, one isn't enough for me.”
Brandon made her another one. When it was done he put it on the table and told her it was ready, then he went back to his game.
Brandon fell behind 2 - 0 and he heard his sister singing, “I am go-ing to the park to-day. My bro-ther is go-ing to take me. We are go-ing to have so-much-fun. I am go-ing to play on eve-ry-thing. We are go-ing to stay all-day-long,” sung his sister, Corra, happily.
Frustrated about being behind in his game, and his sister singing wasn't helping his concentration. He went to the kitchen.
“Stop singing, I'm trying to play baseball and your distracting me. And we are not going to stay all day long.”
He left to go back to his room and his sister started to eat and sing again, only softer, “My bro-ther just yelled-at-me...”
Just as Brandon finished his game his sister came knocking again.
“I'm done, lets go to the park now,” said Corra and she jumped high into the air, stretching her arms far above her head, looking like a young free-style gymnast. She did a half turn in the air, and landed just outside of Brandons room.
Brandon shut off his game and got his shoes on. He could hear the radio playing in the kitchen. Corra must have turned it on. He was not looking forward to going to the park with his little sister. What if some of his friends saw him out? They would tease him for sure. Brandon thought for a moment and decided on taking backwoods path to get to the park; Surely no one would see him then. “Ok squirt, ready to go?” he said to his sister.
“Yes!” Corra said.
Brandon made sure he had his keys then closed and locked the door. Just as they started out he remembered the radio was still on. He put the key in the keyhole, but decided that the radio would be ok and told Corra he was ready to go.
As they left, a message, crackling with static, came over the radio. And now a news bulletin. A tiger has escaped from the local zoo late last night. It is believed to have remained in the general vicinity and is considered dangerous. Zoo officials recommend that all elderly and small children remain indoors today until the tiger can be recaptured. The message repeated itself then the station went back to music.
As they started off for the park, Corra grabbed Brandon's hand and gave it a big hug. “I love you Brandon, thanks for taking me to the park,” she said.
Brandon ripped his hand away from her, “aw, now you gave me girl germs,” and he wiped his hand on his jeans.
“I don't have girl germs,” she said, “you have boy germs.”
They walked a little further, Brandon noticed Corra staring up at the clouds as they walked. “If you don't watch where you're going you are going to trip,” he told her.
“Brandon?” She said.
“What do you want?”
“How are the clouds made?”
Looking serious and trying hard to hold back a smile, “They are giant cotton balls in the sky,” he told her.
“Really?” She said.
To Brandon it sounded like she said, will we; once in a while her R's and L's sounded funny that way. “No, not really,” he said to her, “clouds are made from water vapor. You will know lots of things when you get to the third grade too.”
“I can't wait to get to the third grade,” she paused for a moment then continued, “when I get to kindergarten next year will I know as much as you?”
“No, you have to wait till you're in the third grade.” Brandon noticed her close her eyes and hang her head.
As they continued on Brandon was feeling a bit warm. He saw his sister didn't seem to even notice the warm day. He thought that maybe her dress was keeping her that much cooler.
“Brandon, I'm getting tired, can we sit and rest?” Asked his little sister, falling behind the pace.
“No, lets just keep going, we will get there quicker. Maybe if you don't talk so much you'd have more energy.”
“But I'm tired and my feet hurt.”
“We just got started, lets go half way then you can rest.”
“Ok,” she drawled out and caught up to him. “Thanks for taking me to the park, I'm so happy.”
They continued along the path. Soon they came to the only house that was between theirs and the park. Brandon's friend, Billy, lived there. Billy's yard had a chain-link fence completely around it. He saw Billy playing basketball in his backyard.
“Let's walk quickly past this house,” he told Corra.
“Hi Brandon,” Billy shouted.
Brandon crumpled his face like he'd just been hit in the stomach. They walked over to the fence. “Hi Billy.”
“What'cha doing today, wanna come play some basketball?” Billy asked Brandon.
“I can't,” Brandon said, “I have to watch my baby sis today. We're going to the park.”
“I'm not a baby,” injected Corra.
“That's cool,” said Billy.
Brandon's chin dropped and his eyebrows raised. Of all his friends, it was Billy he expected to tease him about having to watch his little sister. What was Billy up to? There must have been something; Billy was never nice to him that way.
“We have to go,” Brandon said to Billy, while Billy thought watching his little sister was still cool. They started to turn away when Billy stopped them.
“Did ya hear the news? There's a tiger loose from the zoo,” Billy said.
This had to be why Billy was so nice to him, Brandon thought. Billy had done this before. “I'll keep an eye out for Tony, and if I see him I will give him a bowl of Frosted Flakes,” Brandon said.
“I'm not kidding, my parents told me. They said I had to stay inside the fence because the tiger was hungry and dangerous. They said it would eat kids.” Billy said.
“Oh, I'm scared,” Brandon said mockingly, “come on, Corra, lets get going.”
As they walked away they heard Billy chant, the tigers going to eat you.
“Why was Billy saying that,” Corra asked.
“He just wants to scare us. He wants us to run home, then he will laugh at us,” said Brandon, “but were not going to.”
“Good, cause I want to play at the park.”
They walked until they were out of sight of Billy's house. “Maybe we should go back, Corra.”
“No! I wanna go to the park,” said Corra.
Should he go to the park? Will it be safe? He took Corra by the hand and started to pull her back the other way.
“No!” Corra said in a half cry, “You promised to go to the park.”
“I never promised,” Brandon shot back, “I said I would, but I never promised I would.”
Brandon couldn't keep his grip and she slipped away. She started to run down the path. Brandon followed. “Ok. We'll go to the park.”
They walked for while. Neither one spoke the whole time.
“I love you,” Corra said to her brother, finally breaking the silence. She grabbed his hand and gave it a hug.
“Girl germs,” Brandon said as he pulled his hand away.
Meanwhile, nearby at the park, a tiger settled into the tall weeds. Trying to make sense of its new surroundings it kept still, looking thru the weeds towards the park. Its black stripes blended in perfectly with the brush. Its stomach growled.
“The park is around the next bend, we'll be there in a few minutes,” Brandon said.
“Yipee, were gonna be at the park!” exclaimed Corra, jumping as high as she could in the air. Just then she noticed a large flower patch. “Flowers,” she said, “pretty flowers.”
“No,” he yelled to her as she rushed to the flower patch.
“I just want to smell them,” she said.
Brandon watched as she ran to the middle of the patch then fell to her knees. She put her hands on the ground in front of her and leaned over to smell a flower.
“Mmmm, that smells pretty,” she said. She motioned towards Brandon, “Come smell the flowers with me.”
Brandon watched her as she smelled another one, then another one and another one. “Come on!” Brandon said from the path.
“I'm not done smelling the flowers.”
Brandon watched as she picked a flower from the patch, but still she continued to smell more of them. “Corra, come out now!”
“No, I'm not done.”
“If you want to go to the park you'll come out.”
“In a minute.”
“I'm going to tell Mom how you're acting, then your going to be in big trouble,” Brandon said, then added, “Don't make me come in there and get you.”
“You can't you're not my Mom.”
“Fine. I hope the tiger comes and eats you. I don't like you anyway,” Brandon said and stomped off towards the park.
“I'm not done yet. Brandon, come back here!”
Brandon ignored her. Just as he got to the park he heard soft rapid fire thumps on the ground as Corra caught up to him. When she got next to him he gave her a little push and she dropped her flower. Brandon acted like he was going to step on it.
“No don't!” She screamed and rushed to pick the flower up before her brother could squash it. Little tears started to run down her face and she started to cry soflty.
“Go play, cry baby. I hope the tiger eats you.” Brandon said to her. He ran off towards the swings and his sister went to the slide on the other side of the playground.
While he was swinging, Billy's words kept echoing in Brandon's head. Was there really a tiger on the loose? Was it really dangerous and did it really want to eat kids?
As he played, he noticed that there were no other kids playing in the park today. He thought that was strange. Maybe there really was a tiger on the loose after all. He looked around scanning the edges of the park. Nothing. He wanted to go and he ran over to Corra and let her know.
“No, not yet,” Corra said.
“I'm getting scared, maybe Billy was right, maybe there is a tiger out here,” he said to her.
“Billwe was just trying to scare us, you told me that before.”
“Come on, we're going,” Brandon said and attempted to grab her by the arm.
“No,” she said in a pout. She pulled her arm away and ran out of his reach.
Why did his parents let him in charge of Corra, Brandon wondered. She was so hard to control. It was no use to try and force Corra home so he gave in to her. “Ok, we'll stay for a little while yet.” Brandon turned and went back to his swing. As he swung he noticed that Corra still had that flower with her; a bit wilted, but still colorful all the same.
From the edge of the park the tiger hid quietly in the tall weeds. Its stomach growled while it watched Brandon as he swung high, then jumped off and flew through the air. It watched him run to the other rides. He would make an easy catch. It waited, quietly, hidden in the weeds just outside the park, and watched. Its stomach rumbled. It watched as Brandon ran over towards Corra. Two big eyes watched carefully from behind the weeds as Brandon and Corra raced each other. The little one was slow, much slower. The tiger focused its attention on Corra, she would be its new target. The tiger watched, waiting for them to separate so it could isolate Corra. With great patience it waited. Its stomach rumbled again.
For the moment at least, Brandon was having fun. He spun his sister on the marry-go-round and he thought how fun she could be. She wasn't arguing with him. Still he didn't want to stay all day, his Nintendo was waiting for him.
“This is so much fun,” Corra said to Brandon, bringing him out of his thoughts.
“Yeah, its fun. You know we have to go in 5 minutes though,” he said, taking advantage of her sudden willingness to agree with him.
Corra held her hand out in front of Brandon's face, all of her fingers stretched out, “Ok. But we have to stay all five minutes.”
This was going good now. He finally had her ready to go home. “Ok. In 5 minutes I'm coming to get you.”
He watched as she raced off to get in her last few rides. She went to the slide and took off her shoes and set her flower in them. Then she climbed up the slide. He went back to the swing set and sat and swung.
After about 5 minutes Brandon went over to his sister by the teeter-totter and told her it was time to go.
“Ok,” she agreed.
But before they got more then a few steps away from the park, Corra grabbed Brandons hand.
“Wait! I didn't play on the Jungle Gym. We have to go back,” she said to him with a troubled look.
“No, lets just go, you can play on that next time.”
“Please. Pretty please. Pretty please with a cherry on top,” Corra said to him.
To Brandon she had a look that it was the most important thing in the world to play on the Jungle Gym. “Go and play on it for a few minutes.” Another few minutes wouldn't matter now, so he went back to his favorite spot, the swing, and waited.
Suddenly he heard a low deep growl from behind him. He looked around. He couldn't see anything. Maybe he just imagined it. Then a twig snapped. He looked around again. He saw nothing. Did he imagine that too? A chill came over him and he got goose bumps all over. There was a tiger here. What else could it be? Would it really eat kids? What about Corra?
“Corra!” Brandon yelled. “It's time to go. We have to go now!” He yelled as he ran to Corra. Corra saw him coming and she started to run. “Come on Corra, we have to go. There is a tiger in the weeds.”
“You can't catch me,” Corra chanted as she ran around the Jungle Gym. She was laughing at this new game she was playing.
Brandon could feel his chest begin to tighten. Each breath became harder and harder. He wished he would have brought his inhaler with him. “Do you want the tiger to eat you?” He asked as he ran around and around, trying to catch her. Finally he just gave up and stopped. He rested his hands on his knees, struggling with each breath, taking in big gulps of air. “Fine, if you don't want to come.... let the tiger have you.” He sucked in a big lungful of air then started to walk away.
“I'm coming,” Corra said and caught up to him.
They walked to the edge of the park.
“Stop,” Corra said, “I forgot my flower and my shoes.” She ran off to get them.
Brandon, still trying to catch his breath, just watched as she ran off. He was feeling too worn out to go with her.
The tiger watched unnoticed from the tall weeds. Slowly and quietly it crept, staying low to the ground. This was the moment it had been waiting for. The little one was all alone. It was the perfect time to strike. Closer and closer to Corra it crept, being careful to not to even step on a twig. Its stomach rumbled like thunder. It was so close, the birds were chirping their warnings to one another. Now the big cat got even lower to the ground.
As Brandon waited, Corra was over by the slide putting on her shoes, she grabbed the flower she had been carrying around all day. Brandon started heading back to the trail to go home.
Then he heard a horrible scream. He turned to look. It was Corra and from across the park a tiger was running toward her. He didn't have time to think; the tiger looked so fast.
“Run Corra!” He yelled to her and began to run as fast as he could towards her. “Corra! Corra run!” He couldn't think of anything else to say. He just kept running. The tiger was closing on her fast. There was no way he could make it. His lungs were starting to burn and it was hard for him to breathe. He watched Corra as he ran to her. She was still standing there screaming. Why wasn't she running? What could he do to stop a tiger? Corra seemed so far away to him and the tiger moved so smoothly and fast. He glanced over at it. Its slender body gliding through the air with big graceful strides. Its ears were back and its head low and its tail glided just above the grass.
“Corra, you have to run!” He yelled to her, but she stayed there screaming.
He looked at the charging tiger, “Stop!” he yelled, but the tiger just kept on running.
He thought about how much trouble he'd be in if his parents found out that he let his sister be eaten by a tiger. He had to save Corra, somehow. He was almost to her, but so was the tiger. His lungs were so tight he thought they were going to explode. He was almost there. He hoped so much that the tiger would stop. He heard what he thought was a gunshot. Finally he made it. He stepped in front of his sister and he felt her grab onto his leg and put her head in his back.
He watched as the tiger lowered itself even closer to the ground. It was about to leap for them. They both would be eaten; he wished he'd never have come to the playground today. The tiger was still coming. It was close enough to leap now so he closed his eyes and screamed. It was all he could do.
He felt something warm at his feet that caused him to jump back and loose his balance, knocking his sister over in the process. It had to be the tiger. Sniffing at him. Ready at any moment to have a people snack.
Brandon stopped screaming and slowly opened his eyes.
“Corra look!” We did it.
Corra opened her eyes.
“Did you kill it?” Corra asked, still crying.
“Are you kids all right?” Said a man running up to them.
“We're ok,” said Brandon, as he tried to catch his breath and wipe the tears from his eyes while getting up from the ground.
“I'm Ranger Steve, you kids are very lucky. This tiger had been sick and wasn't eating for a few days. She must have been very hungry when she escaped,” the ranger said.
“Is she dead?” Asked Corra.
“No, she will be fine. I shot her with a tranquilizer. She's just sleeping. You kids should go home, we'll take care of it.”
Ranger Steve shook their hands and told them how brave they were before sending them on their way.
Brandon walked with Corra by his side. It was a quiet walk. Brandon was deep in thought, but as usual Corra broke the silence.
“I love you Brandon, thanks for saving me,” she said as they walked. She held out her hand to Brandon offering him the flower she picked. “I picked this just for you, it was the most prettiest smelling one.”
Brandon took the flower, it was drying up and turning brown. “I like it, thanks,” he said, “and I love you too.” He added quietly. He felt proud to have Corra as his little sister.
“When we get home you want to play Nintendo with me?” Brandon asked his sister.
“Yea, I get to play Nintendo,” she said excitedly.
“Let's race,” Brandon said and they ran down the path towards home.