While I chased after it, I took the stick strapped to my back and, with it in hand, started to beat in a semicircular sweeping motion to remove the obstacles in front of me. These were a few bushes, not leafy but small and fragile, so they didn’t slow me down. On the contrary, clearing them did, but this was an absolutely necessary action.
Ultimately, even though I had not stopped shouting, with the distance between us gradually increasing, my voice would soon be unheard by the adults, making it unlikely that they would find me unless I left an obvious trail leading them to me.
Greed has not blinded me because it is clear to me that dealing with this beast by myself is beyond my current capabilities, which is why I set out to reveal my location at all times so that after the male was defeated or managed to escape, they would turn in my direction.
Even so, that purpose caused me to lose sight of my target, but with my brain forced to work at its maximum capacity, I could hear the sound it was making as it moved forward while ignoring the noise I was making.
It was an overwhelmingly challenging task, for I had to perform several actions at once. However, thanks to my superior body, I was able to do it with success, enduring the headache and exhaustion.
After a while, I could see its tail. It was like that only for an instant since after it turned sharply, it hid again from my gaze. Although, that was enough to reveal how close I was to reaching it.
Good. Very good. Excited was what I thought until the sound of its movements faded away.
That warning made me stop after reaching a spacious open area. The feline did not run away from me. I was sure of that because it couldn’t do it so suddenly, not when it was about to be overtaken. So, the only possibility remaining was that the roles between me and it had been reversed.
Now I was the prey while it was the hunter, one stronger and more experienced than me.
This series of events showed me how wrong I was to think that I was acting calmly, as I ignored the grave mistake of chasing it so far away, so my nerves assaulted me. I feared that, at any moment, it would pounce on me.
I was unwell. My breathing was labored, and my heart was racing. Nevertheless, I needed to pull myself together to deal with the situation rationally. As a result, the next thing I did was, with sharp and quick movements, I cleared the brush around me with the stick, as I did not want it to be used against me.
Tried to look as threatening as possible so the beast would hesitate to attack. In addition, with each strike, I made a complete turn to avoid showing a clear gap.
I really had a hard time believing this would work, but contrary to my expectations, it did. Then, after clearing an space of several square meters, I moved to return to the center of the clearing, not wanting to continue to the trees, as their massive trunks might prevent me from reacting in time to dodge.
Once I stood in the location I was aiming for, I set out to think about what I would do next.
Urgently I had to find a way to get out of this encounter safely, so among the few options available, the one that came to mind was to pull out two slings to swing them with each hand, scaring this way the feline, leading it to decide to leave instead of proceeding with the attack.
This I thought as I remembered how this one did not charge at me while I was cleaning the site.
The idea seemed excellent, and no doubt I would have implemented it if I found myself in a different situation, as doing that here and now would mean throwing away all the effort I put into this pursuit.
That outcome was not to my liking. I did not want to behave like a coward. Therefore, I discarded it.
Considering that running away or an equivalent to it was not the correct answer, the next thing I did was to put into practice a new plan I devised, which started once I buried the wooden stick as deep as I could in the ground, erected so that its tip pointed straight ahead. After that, I turned around and turned my back on the arrangement I had made.
Such action was performed in the hope that the item would serve as a means of intimidation or at least slow down the flight of the feline, should it swoop down from my blind spot.
But knowing that would not be enough to rid me of its possible attack, I closed my eyes, raising my hearing to its highest point in order not to miss even the slightest approach.
The wait was so tense that it tested the endurance of my will, one that I managed to overcome since it soon appeared.
It came from one of my sides, not my back, which proved that my strategy worked. So, being prepared for it, throwing myself forward, I dodged its assault, but belatedly I realized I had forgotten to hit back.
I wanted to hit it, but then it had already hidden again.
Standing firm, with eyes closed and all other senses heightened, was undoubtedly the safest posture. However, this did not suit my intentions. After all, I had wasted a good opportunity because of it.
Therefore, taking a greater risk, I returned to my previous location to do the same as before, but this time with my eyes wide open.
At first glance, this difference may seem insignificant, but when I experienced it firsthand, the contrast was excessive. My nervousness suddenly worsened, as it was impossible not to be afraid when I felt distracted by everything I saw.
My hands were shaking, my legs also did it, my teeth were chattering, and even my vision became blurred by the sweat pouring from my forehead. I felt my body boil, and I was about to fall even without being hit, so biting my lips until they bled, I sought to cool my head.
From the movement of the leaves whipped by the wind to the dust that stood out from the rays of light that pierced the tops of the trees, everything caught my attention, so I could not help but turn around when shouts of jubilation sounded in the distance.
The male was hunted, but that was the least of my concern since, taking advantage of my foolish mistake, the female made its move.
It appeared from the front. Its attack came from a direction I would not be able to dodge in time due to the uncomfortable position I was in. It approached with its jaws open, saliva dripping from them, and its big teeth white, with the sharp claws of its paws pointing at me, trying to end my life and with the danger I represented to it.
In that very short instant, I touched a level I wished I could keep forever. I reached an almost perfect harmony between my mind and body because as I instinctively moved to one side to avoid the impact as much as possible, I was devising a way to survive.
I didn’t have enough time to devote to this task, so I moved after the slightest flash that popped into my head.
I threw a punch with my left arm, not trying to hurt the beast, for I knew I would not achieve it, but I aimed it at the spot in the middle of its claws where its sponges were, remembering that this being was a cat. I did this in order to use its violent approach as an impulse, which would help me to rotate the part of my body that I could not get out of its way.
Of course, I was aware of the dangers involved. I understood that if I failed, only death awaited me, as this feline was not young, which meant it could easily tear my arm off, leaving me lying here, bleeding and vulnerable to its following attacks.
Fortunately, things went well, as my body was still in a more than ideal condition, leading me to perform precise movements as I had never done before. Nonetheless, I was still a man and not a god, so there were consequences.
From the violent thrust, my shoulder was dislocated, plus during the quick turn I made, the foot I was leaning on twisted, causing my ankle to injure.
Despite this, the success was undeniable, so I didn’t plan to let things end like this. Thus, enduring the pain, I continued with the action until, using my remaining unharmed arm, I managed to grab one of its hind legs.
Actually, I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. After all, that idea seemed futile from afar, and it proved to be so when its weight and speed pulled me so hard that I was about to fall face-first to the ground, but before that could happen, I let go.
The move turned out not to be the right one, but I still did not give up on my counterattack, so without allowing it to get out of my reach, I grabbed its tail as tightly as possible.
I tried to rip it off, but it came out of my hand. Even so, I managed to hurt it after tearing off chunks of skin with lots of hair covering them. However, the cost of doing so was that I ended up kneeling on the ground with my adversary not far away from me.
The beast was finally angry, for to it annoyed too much that I roughly touched one of its most sensitive parts. Hence, instead of hiding, it planted itself in front of me with an attack posture that revealed its tense muscles, ready to continue the fight.