Tiger Eyes is a scary story for children about a wild animal that impersonates a man. It is based on a traditional Hmong story called “The Woman and the Tiger”, “Yer and the Tiger” or “The Tiger and the Hunter”. A version of this story appeared in the book Favorite Scary Stories of American Children.
Many years ago, there was a man who lived in Laos. One day, the man took his gun and went out hunting for food. He didn’t realize that a tiger was stalking him. The man spotted a monkey in a tree. As he raised his gun and took aim, the tiger was watching and waiting.
The man shot the monkey and it fell out of the tree. As the man bent down to pick up the monkey’s body, the tiger saw an opportunity. It attacked, pouncing on the man and killing him.
The tiger dragged the man’s body back to its cave. It took a sharp knife and began skinning the man’s corpse. Then, it cooked his body parts over a fire and ate them, but it still wasn’t satisfied.
The tiger had an idea. It crawled into the man’s skin. Then, it put on the man’s clothes, slung the man’s gun over its shoulder and said, “Now, I am a man.”
Back at the man’s house, his wife was waiting for him to return. She was busy preparing to cook dinner, chopping up the vegetables and washing the rice. Her younger sister, Yer, who lived with them, was taking care of the children.
Just then, they heard the front door open and the man walked in. He gave a dead monkey to his wife and told her to cook it. Then, he sat down at the table and waited. His wife didn’t pay any attention to him, but Yer was suspicious.
“There’s something wrong,” she whispered to her older sister. “That’s not your husband. He looks like your husband, but his eyes are different. He has tiger eyes.”
The wife laughed. “You’re always imagining things, Yer,” she said.
The wife chopped the monkey into six pieces and cooked it. When she put the meat down on the table, the man grabbed it and gobbled it down in a second, licking his lips hungrily.
“That’s not your husband,” Yer whispered to her older sister. “He looks like your husband, but he eats like a tiger.”
The wife laughed. “Stop being silly, Yer,” she said.
That night, the wife and the children slept downstairs with the man. The younger sister, Yer, was frightened, so she slept up in the attic.
During the night, Yer was awoken by a strange sound. She listened and heard a soft “Crunch, crunch, crunch” like the breaking of bones. She was scared and called down, “What are you doing?”
The tiger answered, “Oh, nothing, just chewing some plant stems with rice water.”
The next morning the tiger said, “Come down,” but Yer was afraid and she wouldn’t come down. The tiger said, “You come down or I’ll come up!”
Yer huddled in the attic and began to cry. Then, she saw a pigeon land on the windowsill. She quickly wrote a message to her family on a piece of paper.
“Please help me! A tiger came during the night and ate everybody. I’m the only one left alive. I’m hiding in the attic, and I’m safe now, but I don’t know for how long. Come quickly!”
She tied the message to the pigeon’s leg and it flew off.
Then the tiger came back from the river. Yer threw ashes and salt and pepper into his eyes. And he went back
Yer’s older brothers finally arrived at the house. They were armed with spears and sabres and had come to save her.
“We got your message!” they called up to her. “Where’s the tiger?”
“Down at the river,” answered Yer. “I’ll call him.”
Yer’s brothers dug a hole in the path and covered it with sticks and leaves.
Yer leaned out the attic window, cupped her hands over her mouth and called out, “Tiger, Tiger, my family is here. They will give me to you. I will be your wife.”
“Aha! Good! I’m coming right now,” the tiger said as he hurried back to the house.
The tiger ran up the path and when it came to the hole covered with sticks and leaves, it fell in.
Yer’s brothers gathered around the hole and thrust their spears down into the tiger’s belly until it was dead. Then, they rescued Yer from the attic and took her back to her village.