Chapter 3. The Wild Cats

Chapter Three
The Wild Cats

 

February 1st (Although I wish it wasn’t.)
A sea of yellow and red eyes turn towards the tree Wilfred and I are hiding behind. My instincts tell me to run around the clearing yelling, and I trust my instincts.
“HELP! HELP! WE ARE DOOMED!!!! WE ARE GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“SEIZE HIM, BLACK TEAM! (And shut him up while you’re at it) screams Deadeyes. The “Black Team” chases me three times around the clearing. I am exhausted, sweating, sad and absolutely terrified, and I know that I will probably be killed in less than a days time, but I can’t just give up my life! A chant starts. It does not help me calm down. In fact, it does the exact opposite!
“GET THE RAT! KILL THE RAT! GET THE RAT! KILL THE RAT!” See why it doesn’t cheer me up? I spy a pathway up the cliffs and away. I think fast. I still have enough energy to keep in front of the cats, but I can only do it for a few more minutes. I feel a sharp pain in my tail. I know what has happened, but if I turn around to look, they will get the rest of me, not just the tip of my tail. “GET THE RAT! KILL THE RAT!” The stone steps will slow the cats down, so I might just have a tiny chance of escape. But if the cats catch me, I know the consequences will be huge. No time to choose now. I dart up the stone steps. “GET THE RAT! KILL THE RAT! I am going really well. Just a tiny bit to go! Suddenly, I see the thing that I have been dreading. Two of the Black Team have seized Wilfred’s tail and front paws, and he is struggling. They roughly drag him to the middle of the clearing, and drop him at Deadeyes’s feet. “GET THE RAT! KILL THE RAT!” I pause, scared for poor old Wilfred. That one second pause is enough. The leader of the Black Team barrels into me, shoving me off the narrow path. Accompanied with vigorous cheering from the cats, I tumble down. I seem to fall in slow motion, but when I hit the ground, the affect is more or less the same. I see stars, then everything goes black.
I come to in a dark stone cell.
“Wilfred, are you there?” I whisper, not wanting to catch the attention of more vicious things than old Wilfred.
“Yes, I am, but only just.”
“Then will you come over to me please? I really don’t like this.”
“Yes, sure. Then I will tell you what happened.”
“Good.” Wilfred shuffles closer to me, until I can feel his warm body against mine. “Great. I almost feel SAFE now.” I hear soft laughing coming from Wilfred’s direction. Then I hear another voice, a rat’s voice, by the sound of it.
“Hello. Lil at your service!”
“Who’s there?” I say.
“Hey matey, been a long time since me had OTHER rats in here! They thought me too thin to eat, so that’s why I’m here still, instead of bubblin’ away in some fat old cat’s belly!” Then she seems to realise why we are here. Her voice softens. “What ‘bout you? You gonna be in that Rat Stew, aren’t ya?”
“Not if we can help it.” I say tersely.
“That’s the trouble round here, you CAN’T help it. Otherwise those fat cats down there wouldn’t have gotten any food, would they? Can I do something to help ya before ya get gobbled up?”
“We are not going to get “gobbled up” as you put it, thank you very much.” That’s Wilfred again.
“Oh yes yes you are! What can I do to help you?”
“Fine. If you insist, we would like you to follow the Black Team’s prints, until you get to some lakeside houses. There you will find Mr and Mrs wombat. Tell them this: From Wilfred and Stanley. We have been captured by the wild cats. Do not come after us.” I whisper to Lil.
“Sure, mateys, but how can ya get me out?”
“You’re so thin that you can fit through the bars!” I reply.
“Off I go!” Yells Lil. “So long, mateys!” Lil slithers between the bars, and heads up the stairs to the top of the cliff-wall. I sigh. I wish I were Lil.
A few hours later, another cat, this time a large grey one with red eyes, comes into our cell.
“You are coming to the Cauldron Room.” She snarls. She rakes her sharp bronzey-black claws down my flank, and I gasp in pain. “That’s for running away from us this morning!” The huge she-cat grabs me and Wilfred, and roughly drags us out of the cell. When we get to the steps, I struggle, then make a break for the top of the
cliff-wall.
“Not so fast, stupid!” the grey cat growls. She grabs me, and tosses me over the stairs. I land on a ledge some way down, then skid backwards, only just grabbing the jutting out rocks. A few minutes later, the grey cat arrives, dragging Wilfred behind her. Then she stomps on my fingers until I have no choice but to let go. I fall down another level, and crash onto the hard stone. Dazed, I sit up, and come face to face with the grey she-cat. She is looking away, listening to Deadeyes.
“What’s taking you so long, Bloodfur? You better have a good reason!”
“I’m just teaching the white one a lesson, Deadeyes!”
Then she turns towards me, shivering with rage. “DON”T-YOU-EVER-DO-THAT-AGAIN!” Bloodfur growls. “This should teach you!” Then, without warning, she races forward and bites off my left ear. She is about to bite my tail off, but a warning growl from Wilfred sends her backing onto the path. Wilfred may be a rat, but he is the size of a small cat and has very sharp teeth indeed!
“Into the cell.” Bloodfur barks, and then,as she sees me racing for the path, “BOTH of you!!” I reluctantly shuffle back to Wilfred. Bloodfur shoves us into the cell, and we tumble into a large pit. I look up, and see Bloodfur’s grey face jeering down at us. “Have fun being eaten!” she gleefully calls down to us. Then her face disappears, and the door slams shut. Wilfred and I quietly stare at each other for a while. Finally, a thoroughly deflated Wilfred says
“Well, she was rude, wasn’t she!”
We start to explore our new cell. I am exploring the left corner, when Wilfred, (who is exploring the middle,) calls out to me. “Hey Stanley! Come here, I’ve found something!” I walk over to Wilfred, and find what seems to be a large hole in the floor. “I think that this is what Bloodfur meant by the cauldron room!” whispers Wilfred. As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I see what Wilfred has been seeing. Underneath us, there is another room, and in the middle of that room, there is a huge cauldron. Around the cauldron, there are more cats, who seem to be stirring a thick red sauce. One cat looks up at us.
“Soon you’ll be in there” she says, pointing to the red sauce in the cauldron. The other cats laugh. “And the you’ll be in HERE!” She signals to her fat belly. “I AM looking forward to that bit!” The cats around her explode into hysterics.
The next day, the mother cats start to take their kits on tours around our cell. The first load of kits is a bit of a surprise. They are all black, with grey ears. Their mother is black too. They all jeer at our matted fur, and one kit even asks her mother “Can I bite off the teensy white one’s ear Mummy?”
“Hmm… I’m not sure”
“Please Mummy?”
“Maybe…”
“PRETTY please?”
“Fine.”
“YAY! Thanks Mummy!” The kit lunges forward, but before she gets to me, Wilfred steps in front of me, and bares his sharp teeth.
“DON’T YOU DARE LAY A PAW ON MY GRANDSON, FILTHY CAT! He yells. The mother hurries to herd her litter of black kits away from the cell.
“Thanks Wilfred” I say shakily. “I’ve lost one ear already, and I’m planning to KEEP the other! (At least for a while. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it in THIS kind of place!)”
For the next few days, there is little action. Clearly the mother cat has told everyone about the disastrous kit-tour. Wilfred and I spend most of the day plotting ways to get out. Occasionally, food is brought to us, and when it is, it is disgusting. I get gruel and mouldy cheese, but I am so hungry that I eat it anyway. Suddenly, I hear a commotion outside.
“Hear that, Wilfred!?” I call to my grandfather.
“Yes! I think someone has come to rescue us!
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” I hear cracking and grinding. It’s almost like… The stairs are falling down? Then I hear someone calling my name, and I finally know what this is all about. “Wilfred! Mr and Mrs Wombat AND Wally Wombat have all come to rescue us, but they don’t know where we are! Let’s call to them, so they can find us before it’s to late! “
“Great idea Stanley!”
“MR WOMBAT! MRS WOMBAT! WALLY! WE’RE IN HERE!” Finally, I hear footsteps on the ledge outside our cell. The hatch opens… and a smiling Mrs Wombat hauls us out.
“We better hurry, the stairs are crumbling.” She says. So me, Mr Wombat, Wilfred, Mrs Wombat and of course little Wally, race up the stairs (which are crumbling away behind us) and burst into the light. We’re FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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