The tiger enclosure was crowed by mystified children. The sun was still shining in the sky meaning that the zoo would still be open for a few more hours. I stood near the bathroom waiting for my break to end so I could get back to tending to the tiger cubs. I got off break at 3:00 and it was only 2:30. I got impatient quickly because I loved the cubs they were the fluffiest things in the world.
I was startled from my thoughts by a scream from the direction of the tigers enclosure. I ran over and through the crowd to see a girl in the enclosure. I started panicking the help desk was on the other side of the zoo and I was the only employee in this section between 2:39 and 3:00.
Shit! What do I do?! I thought to myself.
“Hey you, you’re an employee, help her!” Someone yelled. Soon everyone in the crowd was yelling the same thing at me.
I walk back a few steps back, receiving a few annoyed looks. Then, to my own surprise, I ran straight towards the fence. I reached for the top which was chest hieght and used it to launch myself over the edge, down into the enclosure. I reached the ground with a deafening crunching sound. I ran over to where the little girl was sitting sobbing and wrapped her in by arms.
The tigers recognized me and started walking towards us. I could see the fear in the crowds eyes realizing that if other employees came right now to this scene the tigers would be dead.
“Paw, Stone, stay where you are!” I said to them.
To the crowds surprise the tigers stopped where they were and sat down like dogs. I turned to the little girl who had stopped crying. She looked about 11 or 12, probably trying to be able to see the tigers better.
“You don’t need to be afraid, they won’t hurt you here.” I whispered to her.
“Are you sure?” She asked.
“ I’m absolutely 100% sure. I grew up with them and their parents. I’m there caretaker and the daughter of the zoo owner.”
“Do you have any tips if this happened in the wild?”
“Yes, right now to any other tiger you would be like a mouse, you have to make yourself large and seen. Make as much noise as you can, but not enough to attract poachers. Once we get out of this cage I explain a bit more.”
I stood up and picked up the little girl. I figured that she hurt herself when she fell, because her bones were weaker and less developed.
“Do you want to try riding on a tiger to the exit?” I asked.
“Really!? Are we allowed?”
“Well not really, but wouldn’t it be fun to break a few rules?”
We headed toward the tigers raising a few heads and murmurs in the crowd.
“Which one, Stone,” I said pointing to the the male tiger, “or Paw?” Now pointing at the female tiger.
“Ok, nice choice. Paw come here!” I yelled across the enclosure.
The female tiger walked over to us flaunting her majestic mane. She reached us and rubbed up against me and the little girl. She reached down to pet her and could feel her purring. I lifted my leg over the back of the tiger sitting firmly on the tigers back.
“Grab on.” I said.
Paw ran for the door at top speed and reached it within seconds. Once she stopped and I was sure the girl could stand, I reached for the door. I turned to the little girl once in the stairwell.
“First what’s your name?”
“My name is Ashlye, what about you?”
“My name is Oakley, Ashlye, please whatever you do don’t tell them that the tigers hurt you, they will kill them.”
She nodded her head understanding the consequences. We walked up the stairs having a brief conversation. When we got to the top I looked her in the eye and gave her the ‘you got this’ look. I opened the door again and we were greeted by a crowd of anxious people. I stayed in the doorway as Ashlye ran to her mom. I could hear whispers from the crowd, assumptions of me hurting her.
A boy that looked a lot like Ashlye came over to me. I started to think that he was going to hurt me.
“Hello I’m Damian, Ashlye’s older brother.” The boy said.
“Hi, I’m Oakley.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for saving my sister.”
“Well you’re welcome, but she wasn’t in any danger.”
My phone rang right before Damian could say anything else.
“Sorry I have to go my dad is calling me.”
I walked away glad to be out of that conversation but not excited for the next conversation. The walk to the office wasn’t to long or too short but it felt like it was only a few yards long. Right before I opened the door a black fox ran into the bushes in the corner on my vision.
I walked in and went up to the front desk.
“My dad asked to see me.”
“Of course you can go into his office.”
I walk around the corner of the desk and into the dark hallway. I reached my dads office door and knocked lightly on it.
I opened the door with a little the little confidence that was left in me.
“You wanted me dad,” I mumbled.
“Yes,” he said. “I understand that you care for the tigers and visitors but next time leave it to professionals.”
“But I managed to please both sides and amuse Ashlye in between. I saved the tigers from death and Ashlye’s family from a heartattack.”
My dad closed his eyes and shook his head, “You have not regrets, do you?”
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