When I wake up I immediately stretch my fingers over to make sure my sister's cold body isn't lying next to me. The bed is empty, but slightly warm. I lift my head of curly red hair and see my red-headed mother and sister sleeping together in my parents bed. My father is gone, already at work. It's not a real job of course. Everyone is required to work at the factories, striving to find a way to kill the tigers. Or at least reverse the experiment. Or as I like to call it, "Some idiots big mistake that ended the world'. They can't be killed, you see. Or, at least, by us. The only way they can die is by each other or by old age. Which is very rare. So we search for a cure. If we find anything we get payed in food. It's been a long time sense that happened.
Soon I must join them. They recently lowered the age to eighteen, so I'm required to go and work. Stifling a sigh, I pull on my clothes and take a look at our pitiful amount of food. Deciding I can go without breakfast, I kiss my mother and sister goodbye, grab my bag, thrusting in my water bottle, and march towards the door. There's still the old beef jerky in there, it could be breakfast. I snicker quietly. Nah, I'd rather starve.
"Dawn?" A little voice calls. I look over my shoulder and see my little sister Melinda, or Mel for short, staring at me. My green eyes meet her chocolate brown ones as I reply with a casual, "Yeah?".
"I love you."
"I love you too, see you after work." I blow her a kiss then close the door carefully, as to not wake my mother.
Even though I hate my job, the pay, and the people, walking to work was the best part of my day. The birds sing to the sun, coaxing it up. And it replies with an explosion of color. Suddenly, I freeze. I had been so distracted. Oh no. No, no, no. The quiet chuffing behind me is suddenly the only sound for a mile. The birds have stopped singing and the world seems frozen. I barley have enough sense to duck and cover my head before the tiger pounces.
Reaching into my waistband, I remove the gun I carry with me everywhere, as the tiger turns to face me. Sickness runs over me. The black and orange coat is scarred and matted with scarlet. Three claw marks slashed up the once beautiful face and where the right eye used to be is an empty socket. The leader.
I fire. The sound turns lights on in the houses. I silently beg the people to stay inside. But, I know it's no use. So to protect the people I've known sense birth, I start to run. I run to the factories because they're ready for things like this. My legs scream in protest, and my lungs heave, but I run for my life, because the sound of paws is getting closer, and the breath on my back hotter.
The factories are getting closer, as are the pounding of paws, the scraping of claws. But I don't look back. With a final burst of energy, I'm there. Through the gates. I collapse, and look behind me. The tiger is hissing and snarling but the gates repel the deadly animal. Thank goodness for shock fences.
Brushing myself off, I strut to the door and let the guards pouring out of the building, deal with the animal. My co-workers great me silently and then turn back to their work. In no time at all I spot my tall father and his head of curly black hair and crooked glasses.
"Hey sunshine." He says, but after a glance at my face and appearance he frowns. "What's wrong?"
"Tiger, Dad--" But his face is pale. I know why. If that tiger escapes the guards, it will hunt me down. And after me, my family. Sickness is returning.
"Shhh. It's okay. Let's focus on work." He tells me as more guards patrol our lines, weapons at the ready. Setting down my bag with shaky hands, I remove my papers and notes. As well as my gloves. Taking my notes and scanning them, I find it impossible to focus. I hardly remember what I put in my pot as I stir randomly. As if in a trance, I pour half of it into an old fashioned hairspray bottle and head toward the cage of captured tigers. I get one to look at me then squirt it full on in the face.
Horrible hissing erupts from the tiger, but fortunately, I'm used to it. But what I'm not used to is the way his eyes are flickering, he's staggering on his paws. He's falling, falling. On the ground, I realize he's dead. I've done it. I run back to my station and empty the rest of the pan into my half empty hairspray bottle. Then I freeze. Out of the corner of my eye, I had just seen him. The leader. He was here. He may have already killed my mother and sister.
With a mournful glance at my curious father, I shove the bottle into my bag and whisper a soft 'I'm sorry' then run for the door, my bag in one of my gloved hands, my white lab coat and red hair flying behind me. I run past the guards, but only barely. They knew I had it. The antidote. But I had to keep my family safe. Safe from him. My downfall. As long as he was after me, he'd ignore my family. Guards were chasing me, my father screaming my name. I knew they'd question him, and I pray he had been watching me. Then, throwing off my long coat, I run into the woods full on. I was getting away, I was saving my family.