June 3rd 2011 4:15 am
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They woke together in the waning light, when an owl hooted somewhere in the tree over their heads. Samhain shuddered instinctively, then, waking fully, relaxed. It was only a screech owl, too small to be a threat to them. Sleeper was on her feet, tensed and listening.
“I hear something,” she whispered.
“It’s only a screech owl,” Samhain yawned.
“Shhhh!” Sleeper hissed. “Listen!”
Then Samhain heard it, too – high pitched squeaking coming from a brush pile close by. They both went into a hunting crouch, slinking towards the brush.
“It’s coming from that mound of dead grass,” Sleeper murmured.
They came at it suddenly from different sides, surprising 11 baby mice. Now, as Samhain said, she HAD caught a mouse before. The trouble is, she hadn’t known what to do with it once she had it! Sleeper had no problem with this: she knew PRECISELY what to do, and was quick and efficient about it! She did save 5 of the mice for her favorite sister Samhain, however. She ate 6, which was only fair, since she did most of the work, and does weigh at least half a pound more than her sister and needs the extra food to keep up her strength! MOL! Samhain enjoyed her share, looking at Sleeper with pride and a little awe – never had she known her sister to be more assertive!
[SLEEPER: (beaming) “Gee thanks, Samhain!”]
[SAMHAIN: (giving Sleeper a sisterly nip on the face) “Don’t mention it, Sis!”]
Mama Mouse came back during dinner, and left without them seeing her. Not that she didn’t feel anything seeing her children be supper for a couple of cats, but this had been her fourth litter this season already, and she knew there’d be more before winter. It wasn’t the first litter she’d lost to predators either, but it most assuredly would be her LAST if she stayed around much longer! She shrugged her tiny shoulders philosophically and went on down the hill.
After a brief grooming session, during which time the sun had fully set, Sleeper announced that she was thirsty. As the wind was in the west - blowing across first the lake a mile away, and then, closer to home, the marsh – Samhain could smell the moisture on the air. The two girls headed down the hill towards water.
They’d never been there, never seen it, but they could certainly smell it! It smelled a little of stagnant water, decaying vegetation, and…animals! Lots of them and of all sorts. And it was full of music – insects chirping and the high trills of tree frogs mixed with the low bass of bull frogs. Plus other less recognizable sounds, huffs and snorts; once a high-pitched scream which cut off suddenly, as did all the other calls for a few beats…then they started up again. Instinctively, they both sank down, lowering their profiles. On the mowed path now, they crept cautiously, alert to possible dangers.
Abruptly the path ended at the border of a vast meadow, freshly cut for hay by their pawrents’ neighbor who kept horses.
[SAMHAIN: Thanks, Mama, for the little extra touches of information! ]
[THE MAMA: Don’t mention it, Samhain.]
From here they had an unobstructed view of the marsh. They hunkered down in the grass by the edge of the meadow to watch. Directly ahead they could see a Mama Deer grazing with her two twin fawns. Sleeper found herself fascinated with the fawns. She could tell they were just babies, but they were HUGE! She glanced back at Samhain, whose attention was focused further away on the marsh, then forward at the closest fawn who also was regarding her with wonder and curiosity. Almost against her will, Sleeper stood up and walked over to the young deer, touching noses. Simultaneously, Samhain’s and the Mama Deer’s heads shot up. Samhain let out a sharp whisper-hiss “SLEEPER!”, and Mama Deer’s head went down and she gave a loud snort. Neither made any further moves…yet.
Sleeper put up a paw and patted the baby deer’s face. “You’re so BIG,” she whispered. The fawn snuffled Sleeper’s head, then gave her a little lick on the top of her head. Mama decided this was quite enough interspecies interaction, and giving another snort which required no interpreter to convey the message “Leave my baby ALONE!”, moved forward quickly, stamping her foot and shouldering her young one back.
Samhain, by this time, had pushed Sleeper away towards the marsh. They sprinted towards the water, coming to a halt a little ways from its edge. They both looked back for pursuit, but Mama Deer had lost interest, as had the twins.
“Did you SEE that?! That baby kissed me! How can a baby be so BIG? Are there other creatures out there so much bigger than us? I want to see EVERYTHING!” Sleeper was excited with the newness of it all!
“You should be more careful,” Samhain warned with a frown, rapidly grooming her left shoulder. She was less enthusiastic about discovery of creatures bigger than herself. Sleeper didn’t realize that all animals weren’t friendly.
Now that they’d reached the water, Sleeper realized how thirsty she was. She took a step and several frogs plopped into the marsh in front of her. She made to pounce in their direction, and immediately jumped back, shaking her paws – it was all mud! Gingerly, she set her foot down again in the spot which looked driest. She wrinkled her nose as the ground squelched under her paw. To her astonishment, a small brown furred animal swam up at that moment, and seeing her dilemma, lisped “Like thith,” and proceeded to leap up out of the water onto the nearest grass hummock, skipping from mound to mound till he was on dry land.
“Thanks,” Sleeper said to his retreating tail. “Pleathed to be of thervithe!” was the reply.
Sleeper and Samhain hopped as nearly in his previous path as they could, bending down to the water’s surface for their drink. Sleeper was inclined to complain about the duckweed floating in the water, and kept fruitlessly pawing at the tiny plants, dredging up more mud and flinging some of it on herself and her sister. Samhain was about to tell her to cut it out when her attention was diverted by the intrusion of another creature just her size with a masked face and striped tail.
“Out of my way!” he hissed, baring his teeth. He was followed by another, obviously his sibling, so alike did they look. Samhain arched her back and bared her own fangs, unsheathing her claws. Still, wisely, she retreated, pulling Sleeper with her.
“What WAS that?” Sleeper asked in a low voice as they made their way around the edge of the marsh.
“I think I heard the Mama call them raccoons. She said once they can get bigger than us and pretty mean. I don’t think those were full grown.”
“Well, they’re certainly RUDE!” Sleeper gave them a backward shoulder lick. Samhain giggled.
They spent some time then playing at chasing frogs by the water’s edge. They were never able to catch any since they were unwilling to follow them into the muddy water, but it was fun anyway. Once they were confronted by a rather large, scary-looking turtle with a horny shell and long neck. It had a spiky tail almost as long as the rest of him, and he stank something awful! They decided it was best to avoid him, or maybe it was a her? He/she was laboriously digging in the sandy bank, not much interested in two young felines.
Suddenly, a billed face attached to a long black neck loomed up out of the reeds, honking in a truly menacing way.
“YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!” it blared. It startled Sleeper so badly, all her fur stood up till she looked twice her size! They both took off running, but stopped a short distance away, Samhain giggling and chortling, “You should have seen yourself! You looked like one big furball! He he he…”
“Well, I didn’t see YOU stopping to tell her off!” Sleeper felt a little embarrassed now, but it HAD startled her. Just then they heard off in the distance a sharp yipping cry, followed by another and another. This time, both their furs stood up. They exchanged looks of alarm.
“Let’s get out of here!” Samhain exclaimed.
“Go, Go, GO!!!” Sleeper yelled, putting action to the words.
They raced back to the path and headed up the hill. Behind them they heard the shrill yipping magnified by the walls of the valley, but they were sure the cries were closer!
They passed the spot where they had first entered the path, but kept on up the hill; the house must be up this way! Out of the darkness to their right, a black shape burst through the trees.
“Follow me!” it rasped in a gruff low voice. Samhain was brought up short, but Sleeper immediately adjusted her path to follow in the strange cat’s footfalls. Samhain felt she had no choice then, but to follow her sister and protect her from whatever came next.
There was no doubt now, the hunting cries were right behind them! Ahead loomed the rotting hulk of the shed, which in some time long past, horses had been stabled. And perhaps…chickens? The Mama had never determined any other use for the small two foot high doorway which was open on one side. Into this space the trio ducked, just ahead of the pack of coyotes which was now right on their tails!
to be continued...
Ohhh great story!!! This is fabulous, mom thinks you should write an actual book. This story is really entertaining!! Can't wait to see what happens next!
Ooohhh, skeery stuffs. Jen hadda 'splain to me 'bout coyotes an da racoons & stuff. I'sa city kit. I nefur been ina country. 'Citing story.
Wow, I am LOVING this story!!! You are a really good writer, and it's all such a great adventure!!! Can't wait to see what happens next!! Oh, I hope they don't get eaten! Oh, I hope they make it back home someday! Luv, Tink
Oh, it DOES have a happy ending! And wait till you hear who the strange cat is! (SAMHAIN: Sleeper - quit giving away the storyline!)
I love your story! Even if it did make me hungry for mousies in the beginning and I don't know where to get them.
Wow, what a great story!!! You make us feel like outdoor cats just by reading this. Your moms a great writer!!
Wait a minute, Simon & Tony - whaddya mean? - this is OUR story! The Mama only helped a little bit! :)
We're sorry, your mom did a great job raising you two to be such great writers ;)
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