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Please take a long hard look
Through your text book 'cause I'm history
When I strap my helmet on I'll be long gone
"Come on, Sea! We're going down to the beach!" Jett calls from where he stands at the tip of the rocky slope. I am perched on a cold white stone, listening to the sounds of waves crashing not far away. As I hear Jett's words, excitement feels me and I feel glee from head to tailtip.
"Are you coming?" Hale asks, in his quieter, smoother voice. He looked very young next to Jett.
"Of course!" I jump down the speckled, white stone and swiftly glide over to my friends, where they wait. As soon as I reach, we take off to the awaiting beach below, feeling reckless. The mellow breeze catches on to my paws and carries me down. I feel like I'll fall any moment but I'm also in much control of myself. I reach the bottom of the slope first, panting until Hale follows me short after. We turn back to see what's holding up Jett and realize he's already running to the shore, his white pelt as glossy as a swan as he waded in the water.
"He fooled us again!" Hale grumbles as he started padding over, I following a tail-length behind. The sky is a dove-gray and the waves are a cerulean-blue. On sunny days, they twinkle teal but I feel energetic in the dim glow; darkness (or a variant of it) always puts me under a spell of lightning.
"Let's start swimming," Jett starts and I cut him off, flabbergasted.
"Already?" I ask in an astounded manner.
"Why not?" Hale frowns. "I've been itching to get my paws in the water!"
"There are already cats in there," I protest, sensing the tension arising. "Guys, how about we just stay on the beach." I tip my nose to where distant cats are wading in the blue waves.
"They won't mind us." Jett wrinkles his nose.
"We could go say 'Hi'," Hale suggests.
"Alright," Jett meows and I give in with a deep, exaggerated sigh. We lean into the waves and start steering with our paws and hind legs. I allow the tide to engulf me, only to be nearly drowned in a more heavy one. I hear Hale and Jett struggling with feeble mews which cut off abruptly, and I hear them soaring out of the beautiful, eloquent water. But I stay there, taking in the aura, wishing I could breathe. I lie my head back, my chest fighting. I'm on fire...I need to cool down.
The momentary peace is over now. I feel myself rising up, a sharp pain piercing my scruff.
"Is he okay?" A squeaky voice asks.
"He-ellp m-ee." A feminine voice chokes out.
"Oh, right!" I hear Jett swimming over and I feel him grab onto me. "What were you thinking, Sea?"
"You coulda drowned!" Hale snaps, swimming up to us. "Luckily, Jess saved you in time."
I turn feebly, blinking water out of my eyes, towards a dark gray she-cat. A block splotch is on her ear with piercing green eyes. It hits me; those cats we saw in the water earlier. Two she-cats swim up to her, one with a striking ginger tabby pelt, and the other a pure white. Both of them move gracefully, their paws nimbly paddling them across the water.
"Who are they?" I ask, while spitting water out of my muzzle.
"We are cats who reside around here," the pure white she-cat meows, her silky voice taking me by surprise. "in the Twolegplace. We come here every now and then."
"We live around here, too!" Hale says. "We're loners in the Twolegplace." I almost cringe at the common term.
"For introductions," Jett starts. "I'm Jett, this is Hale, and the mouse-brain who nearly drowned is Seastar."
"Hi." I meowed weakly.
"I thought you called him Sea?" The cat who saved me meows, tipping her head.
I open my muzzle but Hale beats me to it. "It's a nickname!" I glare at him but he only shrugs.
The ginger she-cat swims forward elegantly. "For introductions on our part, I am Harper, there's Louise, and that is Jessamy."
"But you can call me Jess." The dark gray she-cat mutters.
"Isn't that cool?" Hale asks, nudging me. "You both have nicknames!"
I give him a weird look. Why is he so giddy around these she-cats? He makes a face back.
Jett clears his throat. "So...are you rogues or...something?"
"No," Jessamy shakes her head. "We live in the Twolegplace, and to be precise, with housefolk."
"You live with Twolegs?" I ask, astounded, maybe even rude. I can tell because Jett gives me a sharp look.
Louise opens her mouth, but Jessamy beats her to it. "So what?"
"I mean- I just...I thought Twolegs force cats to be locked up in their den!"
Louise and Harper exchange glances, but Jessamy speaks - again. "This one seems to listen to all the rumors," she snaps.
"Not that we even knew that's what's been going around," Harper comments.
Jessamy turns back to me, her emerald gaze sharper than ever. "Our housefolk often let us out for a while. They are smart and can tell we enjoy each other's company. They let us out once a setting-sun and we must be back by moon-down. It's nothing like your silly stereotypes."
"Exactly," Jett speaks. "So before you go offending anyone even more, Sea, let's go now. It's been a long day." He nods to the rising moon.
"We should." Hale swims after Jett and before following, I turn back. The she-cats are already swimming the other way, their pelts flowers in the distance. I wonder if I should go back and apologize. Who knows? Maybe I might never see them again.
'Cause I've been dying to leave
Yeah, I'll ride the range
And hide all my loose change in my bedroll
'Cause riding a dirt bike down a turn pike
After departing from Jett and Hale, I peer into the entrance of my den. It's smooth and hollow for the inside of a tree trunk. I duck down at the low ceiling and crawl my way inside. I really need to find a new den - a much taller one to be specific for I'm growing by the day.
I crawl into my nest, yawning and stretching before curling up. I tuck my gray and white paws in and let sleep take me almost instantly. That night, I dreamed about the beach. A torrent carries me all the way to the other side of the beach. Instead of the Twolegplace dens, I see a thick forest. I decide to explore it, and I start weaving through the trees. Every now and then, I bump into one and the trunk scrapes my fur yet I feel no hurt, only see blood. I continue on, feeling an urge to find what lay in this forest, everything seeming so vivid.
I pause when I see the trees leading to a rocky formation. But the wind still continues, urging me forward. I peer at the edge of the rock and gasp - this is a gorge. My paws teeter and suddenly I'm running, running into the clearing that lays in between the cliffs. There are crevices everywhere, and in the middle of it all, I see a ginger tom and a sand-colored she-cat. They turn and their emerald eyes bore into me. I feel heat rising until I open my eyes. Wait, weren't they already open.
I breathe deeply for a full minute, and once I'm back under control, I wonder why I dreamed of that tom and she-cat. Why was my dream so vivid? Why wasn't it about water, like I usually dreamed of? I sigh and carry my self out of my den, forgetting to duck in my wonder.
Rubbing my head with my tail, I stare blearily at the rising sun. What was that gorge? Could it be real? Were those cats real? Or was it some mirage made up by my queer mind? I shake my head and decide to spend the day with my mother, who's been lonely ever since Father's housefolk went away - and took him with them.'
I would've been a kittypet too for my siblings were sold off. I knew my time was coming and the day after my sister was claimed, I ran as far as I could. I let my Father know and made him promise to tell Mother even though he was too busy eating disgusting pellets and laying on his lazy tail, doing nothing to bother to care that his son was running away. I was six moons at the time and met Jett who already had Hale tagging along to him. They taught me how to hunt and we stuck together for eight moons now.
I gingerly cross the boundary towards the Twolegplace, steering away from a batch of Twoleg kits and trotting down the sidepaths I remembered. I finally steer into the pale gray dens that Mother and Father had lived in. I scanned the area, surprised that no one was out. So I padded down to where Mother resided and poked my head through the cat flap. No one was there. Where had everybody gone? I climbed inside and padded around the faintly familiar den sectors. I hopped on the "sofa" and then trotted up the "staircase". Twolegs had such odd vocabulary. I climb into another sector, and see it's unoccupied. I then climb on the windowsill where Mother loves to overlook on and I gasp when I see the view. So beautiful...large...expanse...Little did I know cats were watching me. I tilt my head up, slamming it against the glass when I spot the other cats sitting on their windows. Time to get out.
But something distracts me. I turn ninety degrees and spot Jessamy on her window-ledge. She sees me too. And gapes.
Always takes its toll on me
I've had just about enough
Of quote "diamonds in the rough"
Because my backbone is paper thin
I know I have to speak first, but I don't. Because I don't want to. But Jessamy sees it in my eyes, and she arches her head back, a challenge in her eyes. Skies and beyond, there is no circling away from that she-cat. She's simply too clever.
I clear my throat. "This is not what it looks like."
"What do you think it looks like?" The gray she-cat asks with a low growl in her throat. When I don't respond quick enough, she growls again. "What did you do with that she-cat?"
"I didn't do anything!"
Jessamy narrows her eyes, and wordlessly points to a broader ledge with her tail. I understand, leaping there before she could. I could understand why she was angry to see me there. But hey, it wasn't my fault for wondering...was it?
"It seemed only a day ago you were mocking kittypets," Jessamy leers. "Now you seem to be a...hypocrite?"
"I am not a hypocrite!" I exclaim, flustered at the onlookers who couldn't mind their own business. "I truly am a loner, honest! I just-I just..."
"What?" She asks, leaning back, a challenging stare in her emerald gaze.
"I was just visiting her." I shrug helplessly.
Jessamy's face contorts into a flabbergasted, furious expression. "She's your...your...??"
"Yes," I look down at my paws, trying to look ashamed so she'd let me loose.
"WHAT?" Jessamy yelps. "She's an old she-cat, her housefolk are going to put her down any day! And you little stereotypical tom know h-"
"Wait what?" I leap my paws. "Put her down? Kill her?"
"Is that why she's gone?"
Jessamy pads up next to me, her soft gray fur brushing mine. "We don't know," she whispers. "at least-we think that's why Zinnia's gone. She hasn't been spotted since two sunsets ago."
"Oh." I shudder the word out.
"Well that's the end of that bond." Jessamy mutters.
"I suppose," I suddenly lift my head. "I'm going to find her."
"What." Jessamy says.
"I'll do it some way. I've already lost my father. I cannot lose her either."
"Wait. She's your mother?" Jessamy exclaims.
I gape. "...Which one do you think looks younger?"
"Me," Jessamy yawns and arches her back. "Anyways, how do you plan on finding Zinnia?"
"I...have no clue?" I begin shaking my head. "I'll come up with my plan as I go." It suddenly comes to me that I sound just like those idiotic heroes who say they can do anything.
"How clever you are. Poor cat." Jessamy purrs sympathetically, then yawns again. "Well, I hope you do your best. Seeya." She jumps off smoothly, and swiftly, disappearing inside the cat flap almost instantly.
I sigh and peer down the ledge and wondered how I'd get off.
Get me out of this cavern or I'll cave in
(I'll cave in, I'll cave in...)
I leaped onto the next boulder, scanning the sky for any suspicious movement (not that there would be any), and then I continued along the path to the river. Rumor has it, a young prophet lives nearby. Not many cats go near her, worried she'll start spouting how they'll die but others are sensible enough to ask mere questions. And I suppose asking where my mother has been for the past few days will be mere enough.
I spot a few dens nearby the sea and, as I walk up to one, I smell the tangy odor of saltwater. My nose finds it beautiful. I peek inside, jumping away as I spot a turtle corpse on a rock, its lifeless eyes staring me down. Next try ended up with a furious bird, thinking of me wanting to consume her eggs (although they looked delicious, my stomach grumbled in disappointment). I rub my forehead with my tail as I stepped inside the third, smallest den. Inside is a small silver tabby with dark paws and an enormous fluffy tail. It nearly sweeps my body away as the she-cat turns, her emerald eyes widening for a second before relaxing. "You're here for a telling, aren't you?" her eyes go to my forehead which I was still rubbing, and she laughed, like sweet ringing bells. "Let me guess - that ol' mama bird got suspicious of you, didn't she?"
"Yep," I said, a little bitter. I advance a step forward, bumping my head against the rocky ceiling. "Why is your den the smallest here?"
"Oh," the she-cat immediately looks down at her paws. "well, this den is closest to the sea and I like hearing the waves - it's what makes me go to sleep. And I see no need for such a large space like the other...animals occupy."
Of course, I thought bitterly. This she-cat was smaller than the average cat and she would certainly fit with her nest and her burrow of...herbs. The she-cat catches me looking at her herb collection and quickly speaks, "I'm Echo, by the way. What about you?"
"I'm Seastar, but you can call me Sea."
"Right! Let's, um...speak outside."
I follow after Echo, to the cave entrance, it's slanting downward as if it might cave in. I shrink lower and step a little more "outside" since that's what I agreed to speak in.
If the bombs go off the sun will still be shining
(The sun will still be shining)
Because I've heard it said that
Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining
(Though I'm always undermining too deep to know)
I finish explaining my story to Echo and the short, silky she-cat surprisingly holds on to every single one of my words, her emerald eyes boring into my own. I don't falter. I don't give in to her hypnotizing gaze. Throughout the story, Echo asked me odd questions, such as what my mother looks like, what her Twolegs looked like, how long has she been living (how should I know?) But I answer each as well as I could and after a while, she asks no more inquiries. Once I'm done, I take a step back and dip my chin as Twolegplace protocol (if you're trying to be proper unlike most thugs in the neighborhoods).
Echo contemplates this for a while with her eyes closed. After a few minutes of hearing only loud frogs and ducks, Echo speaks, her eyes slowly opening. "Gosh, Sea this isn't like anything I've been asked of before." I open my mouth but she continues. "I - I feel m-many signals and hints. But the largest one I can place my paw on....something like," she struggles. "like....meeting someone new? Meeting new cats before you find her? Like it's really important for you to meet new cats before you can reach her."
Echo is desperate now. "So..." I start, meowing each word carefully. "no prophecies?"
"You're a first," the prophet says dryly. "most cats despise prophecies and would rather like the actual meaning. Again, you're a first. Your case is one of the few where I've couldn't quite make words - only meanings."
I can't believe this. My mother is out there, probably being tortured by awful Twolegs and this fluff-brain is telling me to meet new cats? What about her location? The days time it'll take me to get there. Should I bring my friends? Even teaching me the Twoleg language to negotiate with her capturers is better than this load of dung. I struggle to keep an even face.
"Thank you," I meow darkly before whipping around and stalking up the boulders I had struggled to travel on, trailing back with no leads, no help, no anything.
Swallow a drop of gravel and blacktop
'Cause the road tastes like Wintergreen
The wind and the rain smell of oil and octane
Mixed with stale gasoline
I'll soak up the sound
Try to sleep on the wet ground
I'll get ten minutes give or take
'Cause I just don't foresee myself getting drowsy
When cold integrity keeps me wide awake
(Awake, awake, awake, awake...)
Get me out of this cavern or I'll cave in
(Cave in, cave in, cave in, cave in...)
Get me out of this cavern or I'll cave in
I'll keep my helmet on
Just in case my head caves in
(In case my head caves in)
'Cause if my thoughts collapse
Or my framework snaps
It'll make a mess like you wouldn't believe
Tie my handle bars to the stars
So I stay on track (so I stay on track)
And if my intentions stray I'll wrench them away
Then I'll take my leave and I won't even look back
I won't even look back
(Da da da da da da da da da daDa da da da da da da daaa...)