It was a rainy day and I was on my own, with no work to do and no friends available. It happened that it was also a free day at the tiny zoo in Peoria. Why not? Kill an hour looking at the indoor exhibits, check out the captive fauna…
It was quiet. Not many people had the same idea as I had, so after those few moved off in their group I was left alone in the cat house.
There wasn’t a large budget at this zoo, but they did have several large felines in relatively small cages. The lion and lioness were sleeping. The smaller cats, civits, I think, were playing well away from the glass.
The female tiger, however, was quite alert. She moved toward where I was standing, with an odd expression on her face. I’d seen this expression in small cats before, usually immediately before a bitten ankle. She paused only a moment, then made a committed leap at the glass.
I was stunned.
She sat and regarded me calmly after that, as if to indicate the pleasure she would have felt in eating me. My own pleasure whiling away a few hours was instantly transformed into primal terror and the sure knowledge that I was no match for this beast. One moment a secure human man, the next ; cat toy.