The body had no face.

Guiles Dörre recoiled from the bars of the tiger cage, inhaling deeply to steady himself. A horrified moan, stifled in his throat, choked by his slowly eroding constitution. The zoo’s emergency sirens blaring in the din. Scent of blood, heavy in the air, mingling odiously with the pungent alloy of the bars and the urine and gore of the caged and disemboweled.

The Bengal tiger crouched over what had once been a woman, canines and carnassials sanguine from the killing bite and its play thereafter. The body’s faceless head was strangely angled, one ear skyward as if to better hear the ringing alarm; the neck, clearly broken.

Fear further enveloped the night watchman as he realized the entryway into the animal’s cage had been rent by heavy bolt-cutters which swung wide with the night wind—bolt-cutters which lay within the cage beside the body of the dead woman.

He locked eyes with the moonlit beast, but thirty five feet away, as it dropped the ruddy, mangled corpse, arched its back and bared its fangs. Amber eyes glinting full with the pale bone of the moon.

Dörre raised his shotgun and fired.

Once. Twice.

The great feline collapsed in a bloody, matted heap.

Dörre swiftly reloaded, then cautiously moved through the wind-blown door and inspected the carcass of the beast where it lay upon the rutted ground beside its prey.

The body had no face.

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