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Scars of the Tiger
He sat bolt upright, instinctively reaching for his throat. Gasping he looked around the room trying to push away the nightmare’s haunting images that kept replaying before his eyes. The night’s air cooled the sweat that oozed from his skin’s pores, as he pushed down the fear balled up in his throat and stomach. His blazing blues eyes grew wide as he rubbed his neck and found it missing. The animal tendon that he used as a string to hold the fang of the dead mountain lion that had raised him was gone.
Immediately he stood, fear flashing in his eyes as he scoured the dark room. Moonlight caught on something and flickered. Looking closer he thought was Misty’s calm motherly green cat eyes. Then they morphed into angry, evil, starving, unforgiving amber eyes; the wall in front of him flashed orange and black stripes, and then flicked to the sharp deadly claws and teeth of the tiger that tried to kill him a few years ago. Shaking, he fell back on his butt, his hand landing on Misty’s tooth. Sighing a shaky relief he tied it around his neck and walked over to the bathroom, dust particles mockingly dancing in the moon’s silver glow.
Turning on the light and slightly closing the door, he pulled off his shirt and turned his back to the mirror. Looking over his shoulder he used the mirror to trace the scars. Ignoring the other little faint scars, he studied the four long jagged white scars that ran down his tan muscular back. Wincing at remembered pain, he sighed and put his shirt back on. That tiger had been haunting his dreams at least once a week for years.
Tuning on the faucet he stuck his head under the icy cold water. He gave a shaky breath still trying to shake off the flash backs. Slowly he added warmth to the water till it was soothingly hot. Smiling to himself he remembered how Misty would lick the back of his hair the wrong way after he had had a nightmare to sooth him. Though a cat, she had been a better mother than his real mom or any of his foster care moms.
“Jack?” a voice asked from the doorway. Jack stood, hitting his head on the sink on the way up. He stood there, his black hair soaked and dripping, looking at the voice’s owner: a sleepy Taylor who looked like thunder had awaken him even though there was no storm. “You ok?” The scrawny blonde haired brown eyed boy asked.
“Ya. I’m fine.” Jack replied thinking about how Taylor had escaped his kidnappers and now with Jack’s help was heading home.
“But, what about those scars?” He persisted
“Um … they’re nothing and I really don’t want to talk about it right now.”
“I’m going to find out sooner or later and you know it.” The 15 year-old said growing in confidence against 18 year-old Jack.
“Well I’d rather you find out later than sooner,” Jack growled throwing in a bit of a snarl so he would stop arguing. “Now get your butt back to bed.”
Taylor left and got into his bed. Jack shook his wet head and turned off the water. He knew the kid was right. At some point they were going to run into one of the few people who knew. Then the beans would be spilled. Crawling into his sleeping bag on the floor he was tempted to just leave, to just run from the past that this adventure was putting on the path ahead of them. I have a job to do and I can’t leave Taylor to fend for himself, Jack thought as he drifted off to sleep. He wouldn’t stand a chance against the vicious killers from my past that are after him, he’d be torn apart like a rabbit in a pack of dogs.