by Adrianna Noyola
I need to get away from this thing trying to devour me. The breath of this thing gnawing on my back is utterly vomit-inducing. There are definite hints of old rotting flesh within its teeth. Where is all my strength? I can’t breathe with my body caving in on me. Its claws are too sharp to be a normal animal. Oh my god! I can see a few of my ribs protruding from my side. I can’t find my voice. Screaming will not help me; there is no one around for miles. Maybe the camp will come for me. “Get off of me! Damn it! SOMEONE, HELP ME!”
I’m Samantha and I’m known as the bitch around here. Working to rehabilitate the unruly newly infected wereanimals or “cubs” is an occupational hazard, but I love my work. I work extremely hard to assure that no major incidents occur on my watch. There were some really close calls, there’s no reason to lie, but nothing that was too out of control and out of protocol. I am very hard on the people I work with at the biggest wereanimal sanctuary in Colorado, where the cubs from around this area come to learn to get their beast under control. I have personally worked to perfect most of our special procedures: we have safe rooms where we can quickly place the participants in case they get too excited, if that fails we have straps that come down from the ceiling and out of the walls that can with stand the pull of a stampeding bull, and, of course, we always have at least two alphas of each beast on hand to control the cubs’ overpowering beast if all else fails. But the best part of all is I get to work with Aiden.
Aiden and I work very closely, often. He is the alpha king of the weretigers and a very prominent alpha amongst all werekings in our country. He is from Seattle and moved here for me, I mean my work. He saved my life. A lot of people say that but he really did save me, I would be gone if it were not for him. I was out hiking on one of the most challenging trails around the mountains a couple of years ago with a group of other hiking enthusiasts; I had gone out for a sun rise hike alone because all those other lazy asses didn’t want to leave the warmth of their tents or the embrace of their lovers’ arms. I’ll admit the trek up to the beautiful site of the gold pushing through the midnight darkness, filling the sky with a lavender hue followed by the blushing pink of the morning and then finally the rich yellow gold of the morning sun bursting into the day. The stunning site was absolutely breath taking. Feeling as if my life was renewed, I was gladly looking forward to trudging through the dense trail, swatting the overzealous mosquitoes from my nape, and pushing through the world of pollen invading my particularly delicate nose. The campsite was about four and a half miles back and, judging my pace and mood, I should get there around the time breakfast is ready. I was an hour or so into my wonderfully dreaded hike when I started to hear twigs snapping and the leaves rustling just behind me, but dismissed the noise as it was most likely some harmless animal that was more afraid of me. I continued my trek for a quarter mile when all of a sudden…AHH!!! A flash bolted from behind the brush right towards me. As soon as I thought to react, I was flat on my stomach reaching for air. I could feel my ribs collapsing under the weight of the colossal animal biting at my neck. I managed to turn my head enough to catch a glimpse of the cougar on top of me. The terror triggered my adrenaline. Through natural distraction, I could feel this unbearable pressure in my left side. A crimson pool was forming around me. I am dying. My vision is tunneling, blurring. I know my life is fading away. When all of a sudden, another force crashed above me and sent me tumbling over. A tiger was attacking the cougar. The two animals were tumbling back and forth. The cougar looked as if it had enough but the tiger had no intention of letting it go. In a final bout, the tiger had an optimum advantage over the cougar as they both raised up on their hind legs and a claw plunged into the cougar’s neck pushing its head back, the tiger then slashed at the guts of the cougar spilling his intestines on the rocky trail beneath them, finally the tiger lunged at the cougar’s neck and pulled away with its throat dangling in his mouth. A gruesome scene was all that was left. I managed to crawl away. Before I knew it, I was standing up and attempting to run away from, what looked like a scene out of a Tarantino film, but I couldn’t get my legs to function. Looking at the morbid scene, I lost my voice again. The weretiger promptly looked at me with its hunger filled eyes of amber with green flakes, nothing I have ever seen in an animal, as if I had done something to draw its attention away from the remnants of the cougar lying on the ground; he started to glide towards me with his head duct down and his shoulder blades protruding and gliding past each other ever so gracefully as he moved towards me. Stumbling backwards I fell on my ass. Seeing the tiger stalk towards me scared the life out of me. I suddenly felt dizzy.
Flashing lights zooming over by, hurried steps followed this blinding light. “Hurry, we need fluids!” “Grab me any serum, except cougar! NOW!” Complete darkness.
Beep…beep…beep…beep. What the hell is that beeping noise? Ow! My body is aching. Realizing that I was in the hospital didn’t take long, the puce walls and bedrails were a dead giveaway. My throat hurt; it was dry and felt like it was going to collapse in on itself, God! I need some water. Scanning the room I notice this very handsome, stranger. Honestly it really did alarm me, but I was already in the hospital, so what’s the worst that could happen? I slowly turned to the handsome stranger and asked, “Who are you? And why are you here with me?” Not flinching in the slightest with a smirk on his face, as if he had prepared for this, replied, “My name is Aiden. I found you and brought you here.” Found me? I have never seen this man in my life. He obviously was not in the group of hikers, so how was he admitted in the area near me? Only experienced hikers were allowed in the surrounding areas. I asked him this exact inquiry. The slight smirk on his face slid off towards the floor and his head followed. He just sat still without even a breath to show his life. I started to worry what he was about to say. Still concentrating on the floor, he drew in an everlasting breath, slowly released his breath, then apprehensively lifted his eyes to meet mine and the glistening of tears started to swell into his eyes. Staring into his sorrow filled eyes, I saw a world of pain and regret and felt my own eyes burn with tears and I had no idea why. We stared into each other’s eyes for, what felt like, an eternity. He, again, drew in a deep breath and let it out then said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that.” A tear slowly stained his cheek. “I guess the way to say it is…I saved your life.” At first I thought he meant he tied me up and rushed me to civilization but then it hit me: HE. ..saved. . .my life. He couldn’t be the weretiger, it takes them at least a couple of hours to be able transform back into a human. How long had I been unconscious?
This Aiden guy must have saw my confusion and simply said, “You have been out for a little over a day.” I was speechless. I was in shock. Still having nothing to say he continued, “As soon as we got here, I told them what happened and they injected you with a counter serum to assure you didn’t catch any disease.” “Thank you. I’m sorry, but I don’t exactly know what to say in this sort of situation.” He chuckled at that. “It’s fine. I have never been in this sort of situation myself. I just thought it would be better for me to tell you myself. I am really happy you pulled through; I will leave you to yourself.” He swiftly left his chair and headed for the door. Reaching for the doorknob, he slightly turned to me and said, “I left my information at the nurses’ station for you in case you have any questions or anything. Please, don’t hesitate to call me.” I nodded my head then he smiled and walked out of the room.
I was in the hospital for a week due to my extensive injuries. At first I could not remember much, the doctor said that was the cause of the cougar knocking me down so forcefully, but scenes from my attack started to come back little by little. At first I was just thankful this stranger was around to save me but there was one thing that bothered me, more than actually being attacked. I can remember the cougar trying to get away, and furry Aiden refused to let him go. After a while I managed to muster up the courage to call and ask him. I didn’t think he would just volunteer the information but I needed to try. He simply said, “I knew he would try to attack you again and if not you, then someone else. I could not let that happen. EVER.” I could not believe his answer but that made me see him as a human, not an animal. I would never have thought we would be working together. After leaving the hospital I would call him to get more insight of the furry world. Lucky for me, he lived only twenty minutes away from my apartment. Why lucky me? Well, we started dating and are now thinking about moving in together. Aiden changed my view on the lives of the furry. He made me understand that life isn’t over just because you turn furry once a month. We have done so much for our community and he always acknowledges my hard work and ideas but if it were not for that tragic day that almost ended my life he would not be with me and we would not be running this life changing institution.