Chapter 4

I was sitting beside an operating table in one of those plastic, blue waiting chairs. The veterinarian had taken out the bullet in Tiger's side about five hours ago. I'm not quite sure though, everything just seemed a blur. The sun had started coming up as they took us into the ambulance. It had taken a couple of hours to get to this town, wherever we were. The sun was already setting again, It had been around forty-eight hours, I was guessing, Since I had last slept. I was tired, but Tiger was more important.

I hadn't left Tiger since I had found him. I knew that I couldn't. They said he would be alright. That they were just waiting for him to come around, a side effect of the pain killers they gave him. I didn't believe them though. I kept remembering the voice in the forest telling me not to leave. I wouldn't, I would keep my promise. I wasn't sure why keeping a promise a strange man made me say, but it just was, and I was going to keep it.

Doctors had come in to check on me but they had decided that I was fine. I was just in shock and in a couple of hours I would be back to normal. They all seemed surprised that I didn't have frostbite from sitting out in the snow with only a t-shirt and some jeans. I wasn't, I knew that the man that came would make sure Tiger and I were safe, and we were. They told me I had been out there for about eight hours. It had seemed longer than that, at least a day. Cops had come to ask me what had happened, but I couldn't give them anything that would give them any clue who did this.

I knew that Sam and Mom were worried about me, but they hadn't said anything. One of them would come and check on me every now and then, but I would always ignore them. The black cat was still in my lap. I would pet him occasionally, but otherwise we were both still and watching Tiger, waiting for him to wake up.

The door opened and Mrs. Kelly came out. She was the vet taking care of Tiger. I looked up briefly, then turned back to Tiger.

"Why don't you take a nap? I heard you have stayed up for quite a while. Tiger will be fine." I ignored her, still watching Tiger for signs of movement.

"And who is this lovely fellow?" She was staring down at the black cat.

"Charcoal," I thought up quickly. I knew that if the vet thought he was a stray they would kick him out. He wanted to make sure Tiger was all right as much as I did. I don't know how I knew this but I did.

"How pretty. Is he yours?" I nodded.

"Well he looks very sweet, but I'm not sure if he should be here." I had stopped paying attention after I told her the cat's name. She seemed to realize this because she stopped trying to make small talk after that.

"Alright how about this? We will move Tiger to one of my spare bedrooms I have and you can stay with him there?" I nodded again, looking up at her and giving a small smile. We got Tiger moved to the bedroom and after the lady left I laid down in bed beside him. The cat, Charcoal, laid down in the middle of us. I was petting Tiger and whispering words. The cat was still watching me, looking for an explanation.

"I hope you're not mad about the name, it was all I could come up with on a short notice. She would have kicked you out if she knew you aren’t mine." He just looked at me and blinked.

"Alright I'm going to take that as a no," I paused, "Did you know that man in the forest?" He bowed his head.

"Does Tiger?" Another nod.

"OK, do you and Tiger like him?" A blink this time.

"Alright we are going to keep saying that's a yes. There is something I am confused about, In my dream you and Tiger seemed to be fighting, but when I came to find him you seemed worried. At least, you helped me find him." Charcoal just stared at me.

"So the first question, was that a dream?" Shake.

"Alright so not a dream. So you don't like Tiger?" Nod.

"You do like him? But you were fighting." Shake.

"Alright that's helpful, okay new subject, will I see that man again?" Nod. Extremely confused and tired by this point, I decided I would continue this conversation in the morning. I didn't even stop to question how the cat understood me, or even why I had started talking to him. It just seemed so natural. Just like talking to Tiger. Or that man. I felt like I knew them all for a lifetime, maybe even more.

I had meant to stay awake until Tiger woke up, but my eyes started closing slowly. I muttered goodnight to everyone, Tiger, Charcoal, even that man, then I fell into a deep sleep. Nightmares were haunting every corner. I watched Tiger being shot, over and over again, each view more gruesome then the last. More painful, more blood, more cries of pain. I tossed, turned, and cried out along with me dream. I wanted the nightmares to end. Anything but watching these over again. Please no more! Finally, the man came into my dreams, his face was blurry but his voice was clearer then anything else had been for the past thirty-six hours.

"Sleep Alecia, It's alright. Tiger will be fine, all thanks to you. Now sleep." That was the last thing I remembered before I fell even deeper, into a dreamless sleep. All that I could hear was his voice again and again.

The End

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