Panthera tigris balica
Marjorie Carlson Davis
Flash Fiction Winner

Panthera tigris balica. Carl muttered the Latin words like a prayer. He rubbed a hand over his forehead and slammed his fist on the newspaper. The last Balinese tiger believed dead. 1937. Another animal extinct. He pulled out his journal, his 20th century death roll, all recorded in angry print along with a pasted in picture or his sketches: passenger pigeon, 1911; Carolina Parakeet, 1918; Tarpan, 1918; Giant Aye-Aye, 1930; Tasmanian wolf, 1936; all once living, breathing species, beautiful or comical, ferocious or gentle, birds and mammals, all gone forever. Obliterated.

His death list. Each time he added another animal's name, he was enraged, motivated to action. Too late for the Balinese tiger, the Tasmanian wolf, but who knew what other creatures balanced on the edge?

Carl picked up his sign, headed outside, his anger as scorching as the heat lifting off the streets. "Man Is Destroying the World! Stop Killing the Animals!"

"Carl's at it again," Reginald the milkman yelled to Officer Stewart.

"Crazy Carl, Crazy Carl!" kids taunted.

"Come along, Bub." Officer Stewart grabbed Carl's elbow. "Don't want to arrest you for public disturbance."

Carl yanked away and ran, waving his sign wildly. He'd be locked up, yes, but it was the only thing he could do. Why didn't other people know that each time a species died out, they were one step closer to the world's end? Couldn't they hear it, a hissing sound, the globe deflating slowly, the earth's defeated sigh?

First published: August, 2007
comments to the writer: knob'