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Chapter 6

I was frozen with fear, confusion, and curiosity. The lumbering beast’s stare met mine; it’s huge, amber eyes scanning my body with covetous envy while I stared back at it. The tiger was huge. It looked like it was at least twelve feet long, with long whiskers, its striped fur rippling as its huge muscles moved. It stood on huge paws resting on the ground; each looked as big as dinner plates, while its teeth, bared in a snarl, positively gleamed.

Before I could process it, or even think about taking action, the tiger leapt at me. I was able to roll off the side of the car, wielding my cane like a weapon. My head throbbed, and my vision was little more than blurred shapes. I screamed loudly as the tiger rushed towards me, growling furiously. As it pounced at me, I bashed it in the head with my cane harder than I thought humanly possible.

The tiger flew back in a daze, giving me enough time to frantically climb back on top of the car. Once it came back to its senses, it growled at me, filling my ears with pure, hellish choler. Before it could pounce at me once again, I stomped it in the head with my good leg. The tiger stumbled, but quickly got up again, driven by vengeful hate and starvation.

I screamed, backing away. Not paying attention, I fell off the other side of the car and onto my back. I felt my breath being knocked out of my lungs as my body hit the solid asphalt. I scrambled to get back up, but my shaky hands were useless, as was my cane. My eyes were huge as I attempted to crawl away from where I last saw the tiger, but it was useless; I would never be able to get a reasonable distance away from the beast.

As I lay on my back, struggling to pull myself up, I saw the tiger leap on top of the car, as it let out a savage growl. I was now thrashing about on the ground, doing everything I could to get up. Seconds later, I was able to balance my weight on both my cane and my good leg, and I was almost able to stand up, until the tiger pounced on me.

The moment before the tiger reached me, pure adrenaline and fear commanded me to act immediately. With every bit of strength and force I was capable of, I rammed the cane as hard as I could into its underbelly. The huge beast was thrown off of me, its body slamming painfully into the car with a huge bang. Once again with my good leg I kicked it in the side of the head as hard as I could, sandwiching its massive melon between my boot and the unforgiving metal of the car’s quarter panel. The impact caused the tiger to stagger and then fall unconscious, a huge, purple bruise visible on its torso from the sharp impact of my cane and frothy drool dripping from its open mouth.

I pulled myself up, staring carefully at its still body. It took shallow, slow breaths, and I knew that it likely wouldn’t last much longer. I assumed the impact likely injured its brain in some way, considering the extent of its reaction. I honestly felt bad for the creature. Examining its torso, I saw bony ribs protruding from its abdomen. I had broken them with the herculean thrust of my mahogany cane.

Now that the beast could not harm me, I finally had the time to ponder why there was a tiger in the city in the first place. After a few moments, I remembered the city zoo. Without humans there, the animals could no longer be fed and cared for or perhaps a cage door was left open when whatever happened to everyone took place, but without humans there, the animals, at least most of them would eventually find some means of escape. It only made sense that, at some point, one would end up making its way into the heart of the city.

Until now, I had taken for granted what conflicts I would face without other humans around. It would just be me against whatever nature had to throw at me. Perhaps, though, I’d adapt to it. After all, I was still alive, regardless of everyone else’s situations. The world was all mine, and I’d have to get used to that.

The empty bottle of wine had shattered; shards of green glass covered the asphalt. I picked up a large shard, and approached the tiger. I figured it did not deserve to suffer any longer, despite the pain it had caused me and I wanted to take no chance that it would rouse and attack again. My hand was shaky, and I was extremely hesitant. I had never ended the life of another being before. Even the thought of killing something as small and pathetic as a spider seemed cruel to me.

I held the sharp glass shard to the beast’s throat, too reluctant to make a move at first. Then I clenched my eyes shut, holding the glass closer, so that it was now directly touching its throat. I pushed hard and then winced, quickly jerking my arm across its throat to the other side, a sickening sound of flesh splitting and oozing blood filling my ears. I opened my eyes, and I felt my face go pale as I gazed at the now lifeless feline corpse.

My senses overwhelmed with disgust, I turned my head and vomited, the taste of rancid alcohol burning my throat raw. Looking at the tiger, I saw something I had not noticed before. The tiger’s mouth was covered in dried blood. It dripped down its mouth, and there appeared to be a lot of it.

I was now curious as to what it came from, and I wondered if it could have possibly left a trail. I regained my balance with my cane as I limped down the street. As I did, I noticed a light trail of dried crimson streaked across the street. My eyes widened, noticing that it ran far down the street; perhaps whatever it was still clung to life. An unlikely circumstance, but I was desperate. I took one last look at the corpse and limped away following the trail of blood.

Next Chapter: Chapter 7