Chapter 3: Max

"Max! Lunch is ready!"

"Coming ma!"

Max paused the game and set the controller aside. He looked at the clock: it was twelve thirty-nine. He should really be studying for the History test on Monday, which he hadn't done at all that weekend, but kept telling himself he already knew the subject enough to pass the test.  But even if he was bored and had nothing else to do, there was always an excuse to not study. Such was the way of a gamer. Such was Max Miller.

He heard a melodic sound of a violin; he's cellphone's ring tone. He picked it up from the bed and unlocked it. It was a text message from his friend, Jimmy: "Dude, you still down for the party tonight? I heard Sarah's gonna be there."

Of course he knew. Max hadn't forgotten at all. It was all he thought about since he woke up that morning. He replied: "Dude ofc. At 6 right?"


"Ok. I'll be there."

"Alright, daleh."

Max put the cellphone away, already thinking about the party. More specifically, he thought about Sarah. He had been friends with her since middle school and it was only last year that he had developed feelings for her. She had a boyfriend of course, like most pretty girls do, but everyone in the school knew he was cheating on her and it was only a matter of time before they broke up. And this party was the perfect chance for Max to make his first move. He had it all thought out in his head. He smiled to himself as he thought about it.

"Max!" His mother yelled from downstairs. "Lunch!"

"I said I was going already!" Max shouted back. He turned and -

~~~His room suddenly vanished - as if reality had suddenly been tore and replaced by a new one - he was now surrounded by huge trees. "The F-?" He froze, confused. But before he could even register what had happened, he heard a loud roar in the distance. It was fierce and deep, and he was not about to stand there and figure out what it was or from what direction it had come from. He felt his heart race as his fight-or-flight response kicked in, and he chose to flee in the opposite direction. He ran as fast as he could without any clue as to where he was going, he was just scared and didn't know what else to do. He zigzagged through trees and branches alike without a sense of direction, careful not to trip over the roots. He heard another roar, followed by a rustling sound of something running very fast. The roar had come from the left, he realized, and it sounded much closer than the first. Something was chasing him, he suspected, and whatever it was, it was moving fast. He made a sharp turn to the right, and kept running, nearly tripping over some fallen tree trunks. The third roar seemed to have come from every direction, and it sounded different from the previous two. Along with it, Max also felt something more, a presence. He couldn't really describe it though. It felt powerful and ancient, causing his body to shiver in fear. He was more than scared now, he was terrified, so he ran faster. He had to get away from-

From behind the bushes - to his left - a large form leaped out and landed right in-front of him with a thud. He froze, paralyzed in fear, staring at the creature. There before him stood what he guessed to be tiger. Three times larger in size than the real animal. It's musculature was unlike anything he had ever seen. Its skin - a light bluish color - was almost transcendent. It looked majestic - magical, even - in a way. It looked like an animal out of a fantasy book.

The tiger took a step forward. Max snapped back from his hypnotic state. His heart was already pounding in his chest louder than ever. He looked around for a means of escape, but found none. There was no way he could outrun this beast. The tiger took another step, staring deeply into Max's brown eyes. Max decided to close them and accept the inevitable.  Maybe if he died he would wake up back home. Maybe this was all just a dream, a very vivid and terrifying nightmare, and death would wake him from it. If not...

He could hear the footsteps clearly as the giant tiger moved closer and closer to him. He only hoped it would be quick and painless. The faster the better. But a second went by and the attack did not come. Still, Max kept his eyes closed, expecting the claws of the giant cat to rip his body asunder. A minute passed. Nothing. Then another minute went by, which felt like an eternity, and still nothing. Max knew the tiger was still there, but it still did not attack. Finally, after a long moment, Max opened his eyes and found the white-blue tiger staring back at him, curiously. It tilted its head, it's eyes still fixed on Max's, and growled. Max relaxed a bit. It was just staring at him, he realized. Analyzing him. Max kept still, not wanting to anger it, and stared back at it, not sure of what to do.

A rustling sound in the distant trees spooked the creature and it looked towards the noise. As it turned, Max spotted the blood oozing out of it's front leg. The wound looked deep, running up from the leg to the base of its neck. The tiger looked at Max for a moment, then back towards the sound, and with three powerful strides, it disappeared into the forest. Max stood there, frozen and perplexed, his heart still pounding in his chest, and adrenaline still pumping through his veins. 

"What the hell just happened?"

The End

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