Jim Healey was like a young god come down to earth. His hair was black, as were his piercing eyes, which drank the light like dark pools in hidden caves. His features were delicate, but firmly sculpted. He had a sinuous and graceful way of moving. When he walked, he seemed to flow down the sidewalk like a hunting cat, his every movement a ballet of exultant, feline motion. Women admired him and men wanted to be him. He was in the prime of life.

In the fall, on a crisp October day, he went to the mountains to meet his girlfriend. Too bad, because it was the worst place he could have gone. One night he went for a relaxing walk on a winding trail leading up into fragrant pine woods, and a pair of panthers saw him and were instantly filled with rage. They thought he was trying to take over their territory. They had mistaken him for one of their own.

They pounced on him, roaring and snarling, and tore him apart. Then they ate his muscles. Some people think that the brains or the liver are the best tasting parts, but they're wrong. It's the muscles. Trust me, I know.

Copyright © 2004 by Craig Snyder