Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it launch itself from the top of the retaining wall – a yellow streak – and then I felt it wham into my left shoulder. The impact knocked me flat on the bridge deck, the intruder landing on top of me.
I cried out as I hit, conking my head on the railing support bar. But then I got a good look at my stalker and was too scared to make another sound.
The big, spotted cat’s front claws pierced my winter coat as it held me down; its back paws straddled my legs and its tail brushed my ankles as it twitched back and forth. Its muzzle was inches from my face, its eyes glowing like coals. I could smell its gamey breath as it opened its mouth. Its fangs gleamed unnaturally in the dark. I shut my eyes and turned my head away; I was sure I was moments from death, and crazily, I thought it would hurt less if the cat ripped out my throat than if it bit off my face.
Then I felt sandpaper on my exposed neck.
Then, I swear, the monster began to make a rumbling noise. Jesus God, do jaguars purr?
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