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"The Tech Rep" by James Michener Continued

"Holt fired and missed. Had he come prepared for shooting from a tree, he would have had a device to hold the flashlight, leaving his hands free to manage the gun. Or he would have had a helper to direct the light. As it was, when the light came on he was as terrified as the tiger, for directly below him reared the enormous beast, striped and monstrous with tooth and claw. When the flashlight touched the end of the gun barrel it began to slip, and in trying to clutch it more firmly, Holt's left hand trembled, then lost control, and the shot went wild. Immediately he steadied the light and the gun and fired again, but the tiger now leaped forward and the bullet ripped into its left shoulder. The force was great enough to drive the animal backward in mid-flight, but it struck no vital spot, and Holt heard the enraged beast thrashing among the lesser trees and bushes as it took refuge in the jungle.

Holt never said what his thoughts were at that critical moment, but I can deduce them from what he did. Although dawn was not quite upon him, he unfastened his belt, methodically ran it through the loops of his pants, tucked his trouble making flashlight away, and carefully climbed down out of the tree. He then moved slowly about the trunk of the tree, keeping it always at his back, keeping his face towards the source from which the tiger's raging came. He had hoped that the animal would attack him, but he knew with the coming of dawn the great beast would judge that it had better retreat for the moment to lick its wounds, returning to the man later."

To be continued:

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