A City Swallowed by Tigers

Letters from a Lost Civilization

Original illustration by Thyra Heder.

Courtesy of the Wellshire Royal Archives, the following translation is the last written record of life in the lost city of Tigeristan.

Citizens of Tigeristan,

It is I, your trusted councilman, Manjeer.

As you may have gathered from the familiar clanging of bells and hours of uninterrupted screaming, our city has once again been attacked by tigers.

The mauling at Red River. The massacre in the tent city. The precious lives lost during ‘The Night of 1000 Claws.’ I could list these atrocities all day. But then it would be dusk. And we all know what happens at dusk.

Like each of the 132 unrelated tiger attacks that have befallen our village this year, the cause of this new bloodshed remains a mystery. The source of these attacks could be anything — our foolish wives who sneak back into the city before completing their blood week; the tragically delicious scent of our doomed sausage factory; the exploding population of wild tigers that we casually raise as pets in our homes — it is impossible to know.

Yet cowards among us (including our ‘Dear Leader’) are already using this tragedy to assail our way of life in Tigeristan. They suggest that if only we ended our tradition of breeding and domesticating “nature’s most efficient killer,” we might magically see a decline in the number of tigers who break free from their thin leather leash and drag their owner’s screaming limbless body into the forest where countless escaped tigers now lay, waiting.

If only it were that easy. If only we could blame the tigers.

Our ‘Dear Leader’ begs us to take action. Perhaps he forgets that action — any type of human walking, running, or hiding — is exactly what draws a tiger’s furious attention. Let us remind him that tragedy is a time for concerted inaction. A time to weep and sit very, very, very still. It is a time for hugging the families of victims, for this hugging heals our collective wounds and makes us appear as one large animal too big to be taken by a lone predator.

As for preventing the next ‘feasting’, let us first rid our village of anyone too weak or too insane to responsibly control an 800-pound beast of the jungle. Our founders — from the breeding of their first tiger, to the invention of devices to infinitely enhance a tiger’s killing power, to the last moments as they were chased down and disemboweled by tigers —have always believed in one basic truth: the only thing that stops a tiger is a larger, deadlier tiger.

The real danger lies with the tyrants who even now attempt to frighten you with meaningless facts — Tigeristan’s 70% drop in population, the near-constant flow of human blood that has forced us to rename the river ‘Red River.’ These tyrants seek to rob us of the one weapon to which we’ve bound our entire understanding of safety and liberty.

Come sunrise, I invite all of our 33 remaining citizens to meet me at the overflowing pit where we keep the loose tigers. There, we will stand together (those of us who still have legs), raise our voices (those with un-torn throats), and proclaim to the the tyrants: we will lose our lives before we lose our traditions.

For when the tyrants come for us, the tigers will save us.

And when the tigers come for us, we will do what we’ve always done:
hope and pray they behave.

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