Mike vs. the Tiger

Based on a true story.  The names have been changed but the species have not.

Mike was able to make out the figures of a snow leopard and a tiger on the horizon.  They were embracing.  Now they were passionately kissing.  Mike stayed low, out of sight.  The snow leopard waved, then turned and walked away.  The tiger sat down regally, watching his love walk into the distance.  Mike relaxed.  Mike relaxed too much – he lost his grip on the root that was holding him on the side of the steep hill.

As he tumbled down, he let out a curse for his injured ankle.  As soon as he stopped rolling, he knew he’d just signed his own death warrant.  Tiger was probably still mad at Mike for what he’d done to Icicle.  Icicle had been on her way to forgiving him but Tiger was a different story.  And here Mike was, lying injured, immobile, helpless.  The word “prey” came to mind and in his heart he knew that the shadow of Tiger cresting the hill, silhouetted against the setting sun, would be the last thing he saw.

He didn’t want to see it coming.  Mike closed his eyes, “for the last time,” he thought.

“Tiger is very unhappy with you,” the voice growled.

Finding courage from somewhere, Mike cautiously opened his eyes, still afraid of what he’d see.

The injured ferret feebly but evenly explained himself.  “Mike would expect Tiger to be very unhappy with him.  Mike hurt someone that Tiger cares very deeply about.  Mike does these things because he seldom thinks of the impact his actions will have on others.  Mike’s trying to work this out.  Mike fails.”

Tiger wasn’t amused at Mike’s attempt at cuteness by self-narration. Another growl came.  Mike prepared for the end.  “Thank your weasel gods that I haven’t tortured you, torn out your throat, and eaten your intestines.”  The tiger added, “Yet.”  He turned and walked back up the hill.

Mike began to get up, relieved.  In the tension of the moment, he briefly forgot about his injury.  “Eep!” he yelped as his weight shifted onto the throbbing ankle.  Tiger froze and turned slowly back toward Mike.

As the tiger approached, Mike once again feared the worst.  “I don’t like you,” growled the felid.  “Icicle likes you.  Icicle is the nice one.  I’m not very nice.  You continue to breathe only because she likes you.  In a whisker flick, I would snap your weasel bones between my teeth.”  “STAY OUT OF MY WAY!” the cat hissed, his boiling rage evident in his bared teeth.  With a final lunge, the cat made his point clear to the injured ferret.

After several minutes, Mike was finally able to form a thought:  “Holy shit!”  He limped away to shower off.  Now he was injured and his legs were soaked in his own urine.  But he was alive.

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  1. #1 by Chadwick on February 19, 2011 - 3:21 PM

    Hope you don’t mind if I slide on my critic hat. After adminning a play-by-post RP site, it’s kind of my first instinct with something like this.

    Interesting little bit of writing. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but the characterizations and the emotional content was relatively strong for the short space it had to work in. The formatting could use a bit of work, mostly around the dialogue. Things like where you place line breaks, or for things like the final “stay out of my way” which shouldn’t really be a pair of quotes back to back by the same speaker. When Tiger first speaks, you describe it as “the” voice, rather than “his” or “a” or “Tiger’s”. Additionally, when Mike goes third-person to try to make himself too pathetic to eat, it wasn’t until the next paragraph that I realized that it wasn’t Tiger being weird and narrating things.

    I’d suggest saving the “the” for a previously declared voice, since it reads as though it’s a voice that is continuing from a prior point. I’d also pass on the frowny-face in the dialogue, and instead use a bit of description to show his distress. For that matter, I think the piece as a whole could use a touch more descriptive language. I can’t point to a specific spot (aside from the emoticon), and it doesn’t need to be overly floral or verbose, but I think perhaps reading through it with an eye to where you might add a touch of narrative color would serve you well. At the same time, I will say that it’s probably better to err on the side of spartan description than on the overly detailed side.

    I’d also love some exposition of some sort, with a bit of info on how these character connect to each other, what that sticking point in their (presumably recent) history is, etc. And to have it interspersed effectively, rather than being contained in an infodump. Unless, of course, this is just a chapter in a bigger project where we’d have that info already.

    Overall, I’d give it something like a B-. It’s a solid piece that could stand to get a few tweaks, but isn’t actually painful to read. Well, perhaps exempting the empathetic pain of watching Mike fail at life, but that’s not really a bad thing.

    • #2 by Joshua on February 19, 2011 - 4:28 PM

      I appreciate the critique. The problems you highlight are the same ones I’ve struggled with forever. Gus is good at avoiding them and he started teaching me before he left.

      The frowney face was a result of that “dialog” being cut & paste from a chat session and me forgetting to remove it. 😛

      As for exposition, I thought about that. Since these are real people (well, as real as fursonas can get) and I really did hurt someone and her boyfriend really did say those things, I’m hesitant to give any more exposition. But if I ever do write a narrative around it, I’ll certainly put a bit more exposition in.

      For the moment, I’m going to go to church and then see about maybe hanging around at kafevino tonight. It’s a start at least.

      • #3 by Chadwick on February 19, 2011 - 4:37 PM

        Well, the exposition that is offered may not be the “real” story, as there are any number of reasons that this could occur.

    • #4 by Joshua on February 20, 2011 - 6:36 PM

      I fixed some of it. I’d like to take some time and redo the spacing and the layout. (Feel free to fix it if you ever get bored 🙂 )

      As for the descriptives, TBH I only know what Icicle should look like. I’ve never seen Tiger’s fursona art.

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