He has forgotten what freedom felt like.
When he was younger he used to roam the swampy mangrove forest, unchained, a God amongst the other animals. Birds would squawk his name in fear, monkeys would bow in terrified reverence, shuddering at his presence. “There goes Panthera Tigris,” they’d whisper amongst themselves, “where He goes, Death will surely follow.”
Ungulates would be unaware of him until it was too late. Those lucky few that spotted him at the last minute would flee in terror – like Japanese people confronting a 1950’s monster – as he’d lay massacre on their brethren. Cower, bovids! Cower, deer! I am Tiger, your Judgement, your demise. You will fill my belly eventually. Today’s escapees will be Tomorrow’s main course.
It was after one of these hunts that he lay, his fur matted with blood, gnawing lazily at the leg of his meal, when he was beset by silent human hunters. Barely able to move after his dinner, he feels a pinprick – a tranquilizer dart in his neck – then he is engulfed in dark sleep.
He finds himself in a bland, foreign environment when he wakes. It is a room (he’d never even seen walls before!), a prison. The lights are too bright and artificial and cruel. This is not the sun he is used to, that great roaring orange thing in the sky. He is gripped with claustrophobia and confusion, his mind is groggy from the drugs and yet he is aware that there is no escape. From this day forth he belongs to these pale, wretched things, these fragile imbeciles will be his jailers.
Years pass by in a blur. He is in the same room, although the furniture has changed over time. There are cameras in place to film him, there are microphones to capture his voice. The director – some 28-year old jerk wearing a backward baseball cap and forever chewing gum – goes, “Ready for your line?” in his English accent.
For a second he pictures himself tearing the jugular of this British fool. He imagines himself lunging onto Smelly Billy, the cameraman, and ripping his arm off, showering the walls with blood. He imagines biting the eyes of the grizzled gaffer, goring the lady with the sparrow-like nose who brings them tea. But the thought passes. He is theirs now, a God rendered into a docile pet.
Instead of murdering the TV crew he looks sadly at the bowl placed in front of him. The cameras are rolling. He knows he must hide his feelings and put on a show. He picks up the spoon and flicks on his smile and utters the same nonsensical line he has uttered for the last six decades. “Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes? They’re Grrrreat!”
“Cut! That’s a wrap. Good job, Tony.”