Damp ground gave way under padded paws loping along beneath a shimmering canopy of leaves and fading sunlight. The screech of two scarlet macaws above pierced the silence, giving voice to the feline’s growing rage.
There, just ahead, she spotted the intruder, his scent filling her nose and throat.
An unbearable stinging in her left hind leg pushed a deep growl from her throat. She whipped around to bite at this sudden pain. The ground swayed upwards out from under her, like the time she’d tried to cross the nearby river after heavy rains, only far more wrenching than even that. Her limbs grew fluid and useless. Darkness closed in fast, pulling her into a paralysis that surely was oblivion.
“Be gentle, Eric, Tayla. She’ll be groggy for a while tomorrow. I’ve never seen such a large female. Let’s make sure she’s healthy, tagged, released. Don’t want to piss off any of the locals, and well they should be if she gets hurt or worse,” Rufus stated before kneeling down to help his two assisting zoology interns.
She sensed herself gathering substance in the space around her, filling up a hollow numbness with feeling once again. Her eyes opened to dusk’s golden light spilling through open spaces in trees and vines above and to the side of the trail. She stood on all fours, yawned, then bent her front legs down while tilting her back upwards in a mighty stretch.
She was alive. And hungry.