The instant the danger level went sky high, my survival instincts caused my fears to vanish, for my body recognized that this was a situation I had to face coldly.
Being on my knees, I was in a less-than-favorable position, but despite this, I needed to find a way to survive. Although, doing so would not be easy, as dodging with this stance was impossible, certainly not when the distance between us had shortened so much.
From the proximity, I could see in detail its orange fur, as well as its large, bright eyes, its bulging muscles, and its swollen belly. The female was pregnant, making sense of her unnatural state of weakness.
But that didn’t change anything. Then, without taking my eyes off it, I touched the ground with my fingers, looking for a sharp piece of wood that, from the corner of my eyes, I saw lying. It was part of the branch I had brought, which had broken after the beast crashed into it.
I did not expect it to be of any use to me. I was just driven by the urge to pick up something to help defend myself. However, when I finally found it and grabbed it, I almost immediately threw it back to where it had been.
That’s how it was because the pain I felt in the palm of my hand, reddened from having torn off large chunks of its coarse, thick hair, woke me up. I understood that a mere stick could not pierce its body, not as long as it had that layer of protection.
In order to achieve it, at the very least, I would need stone or metal tools, but those things were not within my reach. So, knowing that I could not accomplish anything with my bare hands, I had to do again what had brought me here. I thought of another weapon I could use.
A sling? Absurd. I wouldn’t even have a chance to shoot, as it would probably attack before that.
Dirt in its eyes? Sure, if I did it at the right time, that might do the trick, but then what? Should I run with my wounded foot, hoping it won’t follow me? Or should I try to hit it while it’s distracted, hoping I can beat it before it recovers? The truth is none of those scenarios seem feasible.
The minutes passed, although, in reality, that was only what they appeared to be, for they were brief seconds in which I struggled to find a way out of this. From so much thinking, my eyesight began to waver. I felt dizzy and with a slight discomfort in my nose, as if blood was about to flow out of it.
My brain was overheating, but before the problem worsened, I was able to come up with a solution.
Thus, with a sudden movement which I soon regretted doing since I might have alerted the beast, who was still looking at me in undisguised fury, I tore off my shirt with a jerk.
Fortunately, it simply let out a warning or threatening roar without taking a step forward. Still, not wanting to tempt death twice, my consequent actions were slow and calculated.
First, I removed the bag from my waist, and after that, I wrapped it with the shirt I had taken off, to then I gave them multiple folds, forming a ball of rags, which little by little I squeezed firmly until it was small enough to be able to hold it with one hand.
Nonetheless, while I was distracted during this activity, the damage to my ankle took its toll on me, causing me to slip because of the sudden pain.
Due to this unexpected event, it was inevitable for me to show my surprise and fear. Moreover, these were expressions that the feline noticed, and taking advantage of the opportunity I gave it, it started running towards me, prepared to bite me to kill me.
Things went well, as it moved the way I wanted it to.
I cannot deny that the terror I revealed was genuine, for although I had a plan in mind, the risk of it was such that my face betrayed me. Nevertheless, my future from here on was to be decided by my actions, so I could not allow emotions of weakness to slow me down.
Seeing that it was approaching in a hurry, I quickly regained my balance. Then, measuring its size and movements, I launched a punch directly into its maw, which, because of its speed, I almost missed, but in the end, I managed to do it in time.
Relying on the exquisite mobility I manifested earlier, I thrust my right arm into the center of its mouth, avoiding its fangs by millimeters, as well as its claws by shrinking as much as possible and throwing me backward onto the ground.
Despite this, my fist did not cause it any harm. On the contrary, I had gotten myself into a predicament where I could lose my dominant arm if the tables were turned otherwise. However, it was all worth it, for I gained a valuable advantage by blocking its throat with the ball of rags I had formed.
The reward was excellent, but it did not come without a price, for although I avoided its deadliest weapons, it was impossible for me to emerge unscathed from its onslaught.
When its sharp front teeth tore the skin of my right arm, at the same time, its momentum dragged me back violently, causing me to crash into the portion of the stick that was still buried in the ground and that, with the impact, it shattered entirely, driving one of its fragments into my left shoulder.
Holding back the desire to scream, I let out a low growl as I supported the heavy weight on top of me.
I was hurt and in pain, but I knew that staying still was not an option. So, as soon as I could, I pulled my arm out of its mouth, using the fact that it was struggling to vomit up the lump that was obstructing its breathing.
Then, taking the cause of one of my wounds as inspiration, carefully, trying not to hit it with my knee to avoid it going crazy, I kicked towards my head the stick I had raised before, which was not far from my feet.
With it in my hand, as hard as I could, I took the impulse to propel myself upwards and thus get out of the confinement of its four paws. This was not easy to accomplish, as this cat was not light, but once I could, I brought my arm back towards its open jaws to bury the sharp wooden stake in its inner cheeks, which were not protected by its thick fur.
Even so, as this item was made of such a flimsy material, it could not pierce cleanly, for to do so, it had to break several times, causing numerous splinters to get stuck in my fingers until it was so small that it could not even reach the outside.
While the beginning was hard, the following was not since, when I pulled it in my direction, its flesh was torn without difficulty, forming a wound that spilled a lot of blood, making the ball that was choking it harder to remove.
As if that were not enough, accompanying that stabbing came a kick to its inflated belly because while before I was worried that it would make a fuss, now I was sure that after two attacks, it would back down. That was the cautious attitude that, until then, it had shown, and I was not mistaken, for with a leap, it moved away from me.
In the end, with much effort, the natural order of things returned. Man is the hunter, the animal is the prey. The former kills, the latter dies.
So, not wanting to waste what I had achieved, I got to my feet and ran towards the beast that continued retching, with which the only thing it managed to do was to spit more blood.
Upon approaching it, I swung the weapon with which I had wounded him, but this time, instead of receiving my attack, it dodged it. That was a poor move, as with my left arm, which had been repositioned after the collision, I attacked its eye on the same side, using the fragment previously stuck in my shoulder.
The lunge hit, my hand stained red, and even more so the ground. Unfortunately, the short size of the stick did not allow it to reach its brain, but I did not give up. So, as I was thrilled by his roar of pain, I continued my assault.
Or so I tried since it wouldn’t let me.
Knowing that acting defensively would not save it, it did the opposite. Inflating its leg muscles, it propelled itself forward, driving its head to my chest and causing a powerful shock that sent me flying a couple of meters backward.
For just one of its movements, for that one attack that struck me squarely, it made me fall on my buttocks to the ground, vomiting blood, dizzy, dazed, and with my ear ringing while my legs trembled.
That hit reminded me of the difference between me and it. Its strength and my weakness, as well as how lucky I was so far.
Therefore, although my body begged me not to, I rose, not wanting to show it weakness, but when my sight recovered enough to look in front of me, all I could see was a ball of rags, bathed in viscous blood and saliva, lying on the ground covered by a layer of torn brush.
Shortly after that, I heard the approach of the adults, who came in pursuit of the escaped prey.
With annoyance, discomfort, reluctance, and relief, I let myself fall backward to the ground, only for a few moments because, with my adrenaline waning, the burning from the wounds the feline caused me when it dragged me forced me to turn over to lie on my stomach, thinking about how my first real hunt was over.