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The Destruction of Tygra
By RD Rivero



“The Destruction of Tygra”
By RD Rivero
May 22, 2000

Many years ago, in the southern provinces of New Thundera, I met Tygra.
He was no ordinary member of his clan after all he was Tygra,
Thundercat, of Tygra City.  He was Tygra City -- he designed it, he
built it, he made it live.  In the sandy regions of the lower
hemisphere, where the land had failed to settle entirely, where fires
and earthquakes might level and destroy ordinary communities and yet in
spite of those dangers Tygra City steadily grew streets and avenues into
the wilderness.  There in the outskirts the two worlds blended
seamlessly into one another, there but alas not any more.
Although his mind was divided into dozens of enterprises, not the least
of which was rebuilding New Thundera and, of course, his work with in
the Thundercat Council, his heart remained in Tygra City, that
mushrooming town, the first he had planed on the newly-restored planet.
It was his ‘child,’ it was that most intimate expression of himself and
he spoke fondly of it.
Tygra was that rare sort of individual imbued with wise judgment, the
sort of judgment that great statesmen hold.  He cut through the
difficulties of life with the full force of his personality, by putting
himself into everything he created.  It was sheer ability and
inexhaustible genius that permeated all that he touched -- the man had
power, undeniable power.
I saw him once only and at that for a few minutes but I have never and
will never forget him.  We came across him on a surveying expedition
where the forest melts away into the plains of the low desert.  The
stature of the tiger was impressive.  More than once I caught myself
thinking of a mountain or of an elemental force of nature.  Juxtaposed
in utter, in hysterical paradox was his gentleness.  Why, it was the
gentleness of a woman.
Our meeting was coincidence, for we were in a region where distances
were measured by hours, by days and where the chances of finding anyone
else there in that most inhospitable place was next to none.   For many
days our nightly camps were pitched in spots of ethereal, eternal beauty
tinged with a loneliness akin to the vast nothingness of space. On one
side vast mountains slopes were smothered with dense forest that hid
meadows of soft grass and while on the other side, stretched for more
miles than mere mortals could count, ran the desolate alkali plains of
grainy desert sand.  We were tethered for the night beneath the stars.
Two male pumas were cooking dinner. The smell of bacon over a wood fire
mingled with the keen and fragrant air -- and suddenly the proximity
alarms sounded.
I saw in the shadows a tall, reddish figure black-stripped come out of a
sleek vehicle.  Two small Thunderians that I immediately recognized were
WileyKat and WileyKit unboarded quickly after that -- the two ‘ghosts’
remained respectfully silent in the shadows throughout.  The figure
searched with its eyes only for a while but at the same time Grune
looked up from the frying pan and exclaimed:
“Tygra?” The next words were addressed to his companion -- under his
breath but I heard loudly, clearly.  “He’s all broken up!  Just look at
the eyes, the face.”
I, too, had noticed it.  It was the face of a man tortured, distressed
in the throws of extraordinary emotion.  Death was behind the eyes, not
in them.
We learned that he had been exploring for some time and was headed yet
further south, to the very edge of the continent where the ice cap
slowly formed.  He had just left Tygra City, the apple of his eye.  But
there was something wrong, there was something wrong with his town.  No
one had asked him outright, it was strangely evident in his tone of
voice and then, just then, he began.
“I’m glad I found you, there’s something wrong with,” he stopped for a
moment though in disbelief of what he and only he knew from the truth of
his own senses, “with Tygra City.”  The terror of what he must have
experienced emerged.  The drama was frightening, genuinely grotesque: at
once to see him there seated on a log, the glow of dull firelight on his
contorted face, then at once to speak something so simple and to
transform before us into what I will only say was once a man.
“They heard it, too,” Tygra said while he pointed to the twins were
seated behind him.  “They saw it.”  He looked up into the black, starry
sky -- there was not a cloud, there was not even a fine mist or vapor
anywhere.  “It’s hard on our trail, it’s still on our trail right now!
By Jagga!  By Jagga!  Will it ever cease!”  For a moment, for the way he
covered his head with his arms while he spoke I thought that he expected
something to drop on us from the air, from the thin air.
The darkness and the void that surrounded our camp seemed then to hide
terror in its obscured folds.  The winds seemed to whisper incantations
to unmask and to unveil, in macabre glory, those horrors that adults
spend lifetimes to suppress and to hold down there, down there in the
murky depths of the soul.
“Something’s gone wrong with Tygra City.”  What an ominous statement of
disaster!  and spoken the way a husband would say: “My wife is dying.”
He was so sure of it and it was incredible because we all knew that
Tygra did not imagine things.
Gloom settled over our lonely camp.  Sounds emerged from the trees in
the distance.  Just the way Tygra was sitting there, watching the sky,
peering into that darkness that scoured the desert, why it sent cold
shivers throughout my body.  My hands felt cold and tingly, my legs were
restless -- not to mention the state of my mind.  I, for one, was not
about to go to bed.
He expected something -- but what?  What was following him?  Across the
wilderness, above in the star-dotted sky, something was “hard on our
trail.”
In the middle of awkward silences the tiger began to ask questions,
nonsense questions, the sorts of questions that simply did not go with a
campfire in the exact center of nowhere.  He asked me especially since I
was human and not Thunderian and knew of other planets, of other worlds
that he was curious about.  Grune sat up next to me and, in his lowest
voice wondered with me about our distinguished guest’s sanity.  He told
me stories only whispered in New Thundera about Tygra’s ‘adventures’ in
Third-Earth, stories I have no desire to recount here any further.
Tygra asked me what I knew, if I knew anything about dying men appearing
at a distance to those who loved them.  He had read such tales before:
“I have heard of them, but are they true or are they only
superstition?”  I tried to satisfy him as best as I could with some
well-documented experiences.  Whether he believed them or not I could
not say but his swift mind jumped at a flash to the point.  “If that
stuff is true then it would appear that the dying man has a duplicate of
himself -- a spirit that gets loose and active at the time of his death
that heads straight for those he loved best.”
“Yes, that would seem to be what happens.”
He then startled us with a question that made even the pumas drop their
jaws.  Tygra whispered it while he looked over his shoulder at the face
of the night:  “Couldn’t it then be possible, since man and Nature are
made from the same elements, that places, too, have duplicates that
appear, that get loose when they are destroyed?”
I found it exceedingly difficult in that situation to explain that such
a theory had been philosophized at least once before and long, long time
past to account for the strange and inexplicable visions of scenery
people sometimes have.  Or more to the point: a city might have a
definite ‘personality,’ the integral sum of all of its inhabitants --
moods, feelings, thoughts even but of the multitude.  While
metaphysical, that ‘personality’ could effect definable and observable
changes in a man’s character when he goes from one city to another.
There was no time to tell him that for as quickly as he had asked the
twins leapt to their feet ready to attack.  Tygra himself stood, his
face was the color of ash and pale, the perfect expression of death
incarnate.
“Tygra City,” he cried, “that’s my child!  It’s loose, it’s looking for
me, the man who made it and loved it better than anything or anyone.  By
Jagga, by Jagga!”  His eyes welled with tears that trickled freely.
“It’s dying, it’s dying and I cannot save it!”
He tried to stagger away but I caught his arm.  All the sounds of our
camp died away, faded away into the night while the darkness crept
closer.  For a while, for too long a while nothing happened then Tygra
turned around and raised his head to the stars though he saw something.
“Hear that?” he whispered to me.  “It’s coming, it’s what I've been
hearing for two days and two nights.  Listen!”  He became frantic and
animated then stood still, as still as death.
We heard nothing -- my party and me -- we heard nothing at all.
I pointed to Grune and his companion to the horizon above the scattered
rows of the trees of the forest.  I thin mist was coming down from the
sky and with it, growing swiftly nearer, were coming noises that were
beyond question the noises of a city rushing through the heavens.  The
pumas were ready with their weapons but I was overwhelmed that something
alive had come upon us from the sky.  I felt that a gigantic being had
swept against us through the night, destructive and evil -- yet it was
not one being but many, many at once.  My mind failed me, I could not
even observe what was happening clearly.  I stared dizzy and bewildered
in every direction.  At the end even the power of movement failed me --
I stood in place, frozen in terror.  The twins, too, stood like stone
statues.
The sounds around us grew into a roar.  The distant murmur was a Babel
of shouting, a tempest of voices calling, crying, shrieking.  Cars and
vehicles of all variety clamored busy streets along side the screaming
of women and children.  When it was above us I saw building shake, I saw
roads quiver and then the sounds of booming, tumbling, breaking.
The destruction was accompanied by thunder.
Yes, the city -- Tygra City -- fled past us through the sky.  How long
it lasted it was impossible to say.  I watched helplessly a scene of
desolating disaster, a scene in which life went overboard wholesale like
insects into a blazed fire.  Burning, smoking, savage flaming.  The next
thing I knew it had passed away into tranquility so quickly, so suddenly
that it was as if what we had seen had never happened.
I stepped back, I had not moved until then.  Grune held me, kept me from
going any further.  Strangest of all I understood right there why the
phantasmic vision had ended so abruptly.  The ‘personality’ of the city,
set free and loosened in the moment of its death, had returned to him
who gave it birth, him who loved it and of whose life it was actually an
expression.  The ‘being’ of Tygra City was literally nothing more than a
‘projection,’ an ‘emanation’ of its creator and, in death, it had
returned to him with an accumulated power that was impossible for even a
Thundercat to resist.  For years he had provided it with life -- but
gradually.  It then rushed back to its source concentrated in full, in a
single, horrific moment.
“That’s him,” I heard someone say.  I looked down.  I saw the kittens
turn over the body.  The face was calm but that was all.  The body from
the neck down had exploded and had emptied the corpse entirely of its
internal structures.  The organs had spewed into the air in a dense
cloud and burnt to cinders in a matter of seconds to spread all over the
campgrounds in a soft ash.
We carried the mangled remains to the nearest settlement almost a
thousand miles away to the east.  There we got the news that Tygra City
had been wiped out by fire and earthquake exactly two days and two
nights before.  The loss of life was in the tens of thousands.  Even
now, years and years past, I can still hear that doomed town, crying,
screaming, rushing headlong through the sky.





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