A swift glance to the rear-view mirror told Edwin all he needed to know. His green eyes shifted over to the country road ahead of him, then to the side mirror, as his paws clenched the leather steering wheel tighter in nervous agitation.

The low slung powder blue Nissan had been following him over the twists and turns of Twelve Mile Road, even as other traffic turned off for their quiet suburban bungalows. Edwin\x92s trained eyes had picked out the tail right away in the growing dusk, although it had probably been following him only for a few minutes at most. It was all a matter of animal instinct, really. He knew he had to do something, and quickly. It was certain he couldn\x92t lead the driver of the Nissan to his destination.

Edwin allowed himself a small tight smile as he spotted the Old Quarry Road turnoff just ahead. In a smooth motion he swung the Mercedes E-Class onto the side road and stomped on the pedal enough to pick up some speed, but not too much. He didn\x92t want to lose his pursuer completely.

He glanced into the mirror and inwardly congratulated himself. The Nissan had made the same turn, still riding behind him, although increasingly visible only by the glow of its headlights as the evening darkened.

Edwin\x92s face was lit by the soft glow of the dashboard lights, revealing a visage most would call handsome, if anonymous. There was little that stood out about Edwin, the standard orange and brown striping of most tigers, clean-shaven, always immaculately dressed, and entirely plain. He was neither ugly nor beautiful, but being nondescript suited him. It made him easy to forget.

The night around him was utterly peaceful, and possessed a beauty utterly lost on Edwin. The last of the suburban subdivisions had by now faded away behind the two cars. Now they drove through a countryside of quiet farmhouses whose occupants were already bedding down. The only sounds in the night were the quiet purr of the luxury car\x92s engine, the slightly throatier rumble of the Nissan, and the summer song of cicadas in the trees.

The tiger knew that the only chance he had lay in the old quarry that lay barely a mile ahead. He probably had just enough of a lead on the Nissan to be able to pull into the dark quarry, turn off his lights, and find a place to lay an ambush.

While keeping his eyes trained on the road ahead, Edwin fumbled for the glove compartment latch with his right hand. After a moment, he succeeded in opening it, and his large white paw wrapped around the comforting butt of the Colt semi-automatic. He transferred to the passenger seat beside him where is lay within easy reach.

He allowed himself another small smile, flashing a long canine and growing more confident. It would be tricky he knew, but he expected to get the drop on his pursuer. He saw the stand of trees by the quarry entrance caught in the glow of his headlights and risked a quick glance behind him. He looked just in time to see the twin beams of the Nissan swing in a leisurely arc as the car pulled into a farmhouse driveway.

Edwin knew enough not to be fooled. He barely slowed, but continued on, turning into the quarry and turning off the ignition. Then he waited.

In the near silence of the quarry the drone of the cicadas seemed deafening to his straining ears, swiveling to listen for any sign of the car following him. There was none.

He let out a long sigh, and started the engine. After turning the car around he cautiously rolled out onto the road and turned back the way he had come. He watched that farmhouse as he passed; the Nissan parked in the gravel driveway and lit by the yard\x92s single yellow bulb. The door of the house was just shutting as he passed, and he had time to see a fox greet his husband, home from a day in the city. Then Edwin was past, alone in the night.

He retraced his route, turning back onto the main highway. There were no cars in his rear-view mirror this time; it was late. His high beams lit up the way ahead, but all they revealed was the double yellow stripe of the curving road, and the occasional silver mailbox.

At long last, he pulled up his driveway, past the line of poplars that shielded his two-year old house from the road. The house stood in stark opposition to the land around it. Large and ugly, it was the house of the young and newly rich who knew not what to do with their money. Edwin lived in it alone. He fumbled for the garage door opener a moment, before remembering it had broken last Tuesday and he had yet to call anyone in to fix it. He let out another long sigh.

He pulled the Mercedes to a stop on the driveway, shut it off, and gazed at the house. It looked exactly as he\x92d left it, he ruefully noted. All the windows were intact; the door hadn\x92t been forced. It short, everything was perfectly ordinary. It was just like always. With this thought Edwin resignedly put the Colt back in his glove compartment and shut off the car's headlights.

He climbed slowly out of the car, and walked up to the door. He fumbled a moment with the house key before slipping it in the lock and entering his fantastic, modern, and empty house. He knew what awaited him. Another night of watching TV. Another night of being alone, masturbating to the same tired porn before falling asleep and losing himself in more dreams. Another night spent trying not to think of the dull day that lay ahead of him the next morning.

It was at that moment, before Edwin had yet shut the door, that he was grabbed from behind. A large furry arm wrapped around his throat, holding him still as he felt something cold and metallic pressed to the side of his skull. There was a sharp click, which Edwin realized was the sound of the safety on a pistol being drawn back.

He couldn\x92t help himself as he let out a joyful laugh.

"Survival" and all characters within copyright 2001 by Skip Ruddertail, Lutramat Industrie, and Russell Smith. Questions and comments always welcome at Thanks and have a good one!