A Word to Readers

Dear Readers,
I am going away for some time and I will come back sometime in the middle of JANUARY. When I do, I will notify you.

I posted again on The Light.

Hi, I will post every Saturday from now on, but there might be a few exceptions. If so, I will notify you. The new post I have posted today will be continued every week on the same post. Notice that I have put the date on the top left hand corner. I will do so every week so that you know where you have left off.

At the same time, I would like to thank all of you faithful readers for encouraging me. Your encouragement has motivated me to publish a book. In fact, Dawn is going to be my first book. The prologue I posted on this blog is a rough draft of the book's prologue. I'll keep you posted on my progress, but I cannot reveal the details --Book Progress: Chapter 14

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fire Storm

            Smoke and buffeting winds of stinging ash made Feather’s eyes sting as they swirled around her. She could see nothing around her except flashes of gold. In the distance, there was a deafening roar that made her ears ring. Abruptly, the smoke thinned and Feather could see bobcats fleeing for their lives.  Then the choking blackness engulfed her again. A distant voice warned, “Beware of sun and fire.” Before she could comprehend the ominous warning, blobs of glowing red flew at her. Then a wave of crimson, bright red crimson, engulfed her.
            In a lush glade on Mount Mazama, a volcano that lies on a convergent plate boundary in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon in the year 5677 B.C., a silver bobcat with a fluffy tail opened her dark blue eyes and squinted in the early morning sunlight that streamed through the low-branched holly bush. Feather arched her back in a luxurious stretch and pushed her way out of the bush. Bobcats bustled around the hollow, reinforcing the barrier of thorns and fixing broken dens. A week before, the mountain lions and their mighty leader had invaded their home. The invasion was well planned and the mountain lions would have won if the Wolf Tribe, a group of wolves, the bobcats’ allies, had not come to save them. Everyone was chipping in to repair their home. Feather decided that she would contribute by hunting. As usual, she searched out the gray tabby pelt of her friend, Cloud, to ask her friend to accompany her. They always did everything together. She glanced around the leaf strewn clearing and spotted the lithe body of Cloud on her favorite place to bask, a mossy rock in the edge of the clearing. Feather padded over to the mossy rock where Cloud was stretched out on, relaxing.
            “Hi, do you want to go out hunting today? All the prey will be up and about on a warm day like this.”Feather queried.
            “Come on, I just climbed on the rock a minute ago and you ask me to get off! Yesterday I hunted until my paws ached. All night long, you muttered in your sleep and thrashed around. I clambered up this rock because I wanted some peace and quiet. Let me have some rest.”Cloud grumbled drowsily and put her black paws on her small pink nose.
            “Okay, I’ll go alone then.”Feather tossed the reply over her shoulder as she bounded toward her usual hunting grounds.
            The sunlight streamed through the canopy of trees as Feather padded through the forest. The soft chattering of the birds told Feather that her guess that the prey would be up and about was correct. A nearby stalk of grass swayed and a mouse crept out, its eye on a seed by an oak tree. Instinctively, Feather fell into a crouch and glided forward swiftly. As she slid forward, her mind drifted to the dream of the smoke and winds the night before. What had the voice meant by beware of sun and fire? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that the mouse had snatched the seed and was trying to return to the safety of its burrow. Feather snapped out of her thoughts and chased after the mouse, but it was too late. The little creature had reached its burrow and scurried inside.
            “Great!”Feather moaned,”That one was plump enough to feed half of the tribe.”
            Feather pricked her ears again and detected a soft flutter of wings. She looked up and spotted a blue jay spiraling down for landing. The bird lighted on the forest floor and pecked at an acorn. Determined to not lose another piece of prey, Feather stalked forward lightly and pounced on the bird. The blue jay struggled, trying to get in the air, but Feather was faster. She killed it with a swift bite to its throat. Content with her catch, Feather hid it under a nearby bush. She would collect it later.
            By dusk, Feather had caught three mice, a thrush, a blue jay, and a plump rabbit. Proudly, she hauled in her catch and deposited it in a hollow tree stump where the tribe put their catch.
            “Good catch!”Cloud congratulated Feather, her eyes no longer bright with exhaustion.
            “You too,” Feather motioned to the chubby pheasant that her friend dropped in the tree stump.
            Feather grabbed a magpie for herself and a squirrel for Cloud. She padded over to their usual eating spot, a bed of sweet smelling flowers in the center of the glade, where Cloud was already waiting. She put down the mouse in front of her friend and settled down next to her. As Feather ate, her thoughts drifted back to the ill-omened dream. In the background, she could hear Cloud chattering about something, but she pushed the voice out of her mind and concentrated on the warning.
            “What is bothering you today?”Cloud’s voice snapped Feather out of her concentration.   “Wha-nothing.”Feather mumbled around the magpie, avoiding Cloud’s gaze.
            “I know something is bothering you. You can tell me and maybe I’ll be able to help you with it.”Cloud meowed, her amber eyes concerned,” Isn’t that what friends are for?”
            Feather sighed. It was hard to hide what was bothering her from Cloud and maybe two minds would be able to decipher the dream’s meaning.
            “Okay. Yesterday, I had a dream,” Feather began hesitantly,” I-I dreamed that smoke was everywhere and I couldn’t see anything except flashes of gold. Then, the smoke thinned out and I could see the tribe fleeing for their lives. A distant voice said to beware of sun and fire.”
            “Sun and fire…”Cloud said thoughtfully,”Hmm…maybe there will be a fire in the forest.”
            “Then what about the sun part?”Feather inquired, confused.
            “Uh…I don’t know. Why don’t we sleep first and think about it in the morning?”Cloud suggested, looking up at the starry night sky and waning moon.
            “Sure,” Feather’s answer was broken by an enormous yawn.
            Feather and Cloud slid underneath the holly bush and settled on the moss. Feather curled up and wrapped her tail around her nose, but she couldn’t sleep. Cloud’s labored breathing and soft snoring told her that she had already fallen asleep. Feather rolled over in the moss and closed her eyes, trying to sleep but failing to. Finally, the snores of the other bobcats lulled her to sleep.
            “Wake up!”a paw prodded Feather,” Dawn wants you to help repair the barrier today.”
            Feather lifted her silver head and nodded in submission. Stone, a dark grey bobcat with long fur, nodded back and turned and pushed out of the bush. Feather got up to her paws and followed him. She blinked slowly, her eyes adjusting to the bright light outside. Cloud, Leaf, and Fall were already there, weaving in branches of thorns to make the barrier stronger and fill in gaps. Feather padded over to join them and picked up a branch in her jaws to weave in the wall of thorns. Leaf greeted her with a friendly nod, unable to say anything because of the branch in her mouth. Feather returned the greeting with a lick on Leaf’s black-tipped ear. She started to use her paws to push the branch in a large gap.
            “Feather, do you want to go out and hunt with me today because I couldn’t go with you yesterday?”Cloud invited cheerfully.
            “Sorry, but Dawn asked me to fix the barrier. I can’t disobey our leader’s orders.”Feather meowed.
            “Okay then. I’ll go out alone.”Cloud answered.
            “I can go with you, if you want me that is.”Fall offered to Cloud.
            “Sure,”Cloud started for the entrance of the glade, a gap in the barrier just big enough for a bobcat to squeeze through.
            Just then, Dawn yowled from the Tree Stump, where she held all meetings with the tribe. Feather stopped working and sat down near the stump. The rest of the bobcats gathered around the stump to listen to what their leader had to say.
            “We have made much progress with repairing the barrier and I would like to thank Stone for doing such a good job in supervising this. I have talked with the senior bobcats and they agree with me that we should no longer wait for the mountain lions to attack us again. Instead, we should bring the battle to their cave.”Dawn began.
            “Is that a wise thing to do? We do not know their cave’s layout and it will be hard to fight in the dark. Last time we tried it, we failed and many of us were killed”Wind, an old bobcat asked.
            A few bobcats agreed with Wind and yowled their disapproval to Dawn. Dawn raised a tawny paw for silence. Slowly, the yowls and murmurs died down.
            “The mountain lions will not know about this. It will be hard for them to maneuver in the cave since they are so big. Also-“a yowl from the other side of the clearing interrupted Dawn.
            “The mountain lions are attacking!”a small, black tortoiseshell bobcat cried, his sides heaving for breath.
            “What happened, Thunder?”Sky, a white bobcat, asked urgently.
            “While I was hunting, a saw a tuft of golden fur on a branch and the smell of mountain lions was in the air.”Thunder gasped.
           “Are you sure it was fresh, not stale?” Berry queried,” Thunder has a wild imagination.” she added to Dawn.
            “It wasn’t my imagination. There were even paw prints on the ground.”Thunder retorted angrily.
            Feather looked up at Dawn, waiting for her to tell them what to do, but Dawn seemed stunned.
            “Should we send out a patrol to check?”Feather prompted Dawn.
            Surprisingly, Feather’s voice was calm despite the terror raging inside her.
            “Y-yes. We should send out a patrol to check. Stone will lead it with Sky, Thunder, and Star.”Dawn regained her confidence,” The rest of you will stay here and guard the glade. I want to post a guard on the mossy rock over there and one on the other side of the clearing. Who wishes to volunteer?”
            “I’ll guard.”Feather and Oak volunteered at the same time.
            “Okay. Feather, you guard on the mossy rock and Oak can guard over there.”Dawn pointed at a patch of grass at the edge of the glade,” Yowl loudly if you spot something. We never can be too careful. The meeting is over.”
            Feather bounded over to the mossy rock she was assigned to keep watch on. When she lifted her head to smell the air for mountain lion scents, she was distracted by a deafening roar. The northeast side of Mount Mazama had exploded. A towering column of ash and wind spread through the sky, obstructing the sun. A shadow fell across the clearing. A bobcat glanced up and cried out in terror as a vast cloud of smoke rose from the volcano. A red liquid that Feather could not name, lava, gushed out of the volcano and streamed down its side, heading toward the glade.
            Feather came to her senses and called out,” Something is happening to the volcano!”
            No one seemed to hear her. Feather spotted Dawn calling the tribe for a meeting and leaped off the rock. She landed gracefully and pelted to the Tree Stump.
            “I do not know what is happening-“Dawn began.
            “They’re coming! The mountain lions are coming! They got Star!”Sky screeched, rushing into the clearing.
Behind her, Stone and Thunder skidded to a halt, gasping for breath. There was a pounding noise behind them, as if there were rampaging elephants on the loose. As the thorn barrier tore apart, Stone, Thunder, and Sky leaped out of the way. The leader of the mountain lions ripped through the barrier like it was made of strands of spider webs with Star in his mouth. Star’s jaws gaped in a soundless yowl as the leader flung her across the clearing. Star hit the mossy rock with a thud and lay unmoving. With a roar, the leader leaped toward Dawn. As he was in the air, the sun lit his fur, making it glow like the sun. The mountain lions burst through the clearing. Then, the smoke was upon them. Feather could see nothing but the golden flashes as mountain lions thundered past her. In the distance, there was a roar. Suddenly, it dawned to Feather. The dream. The flashes of gold were the fur of the bobcats’ enemies. The sun must have symbolized the mountain lions because when their fur caught the light, it flashed like the sun. The fire must have been whatever was happening to the volcano. Unexpectedly, the smoke thinned. Feather could make out the silhouettes of Dawn and the leader, writhing in a screeching ball of fur and claws. Dawn was bleeding heavily, her body matted with blood and she had a long scratch from her shoulder to her hind leg. The leader did not even lose one hair, it seemed. Now, Dawn was struggling as the leader pinned her. Dawn loosened, trying to trick the leader into loosening his grip, but the leader did not fall for the trick. Feather let out a screech of fury and pelted across the chaotic glade toward Dawn.
A lithe shape loomed in front of her and leaped at her. Thinking quickly, she dodged to one side and followed up with a bite to the mountain lion’s hind leg. Enraged, the mountain lion pounced on her and pinned her. Feather struggled, but her opponent’s weight squashed the breath out of her. The mountain lion aimed for her neck and was bringing its paw down when a blurry gray shape rammed into it.
            “Feather, run!”Cloud yowled.
            Feather looked around franticly for Dawn. In the distance, the volcano had collapsed on itself and pyroclastic flows were racing down the volcano’s sides. The tribe was not safe here. They would soon be dead if they did not flee soon. Finally, she spotted Dawn hanging from the leader’s jaws, her paws flailing at the leader’s thick coat. Feather raced to Dawn and rammed into the mountain lion’s side. Surprised, the leader let Dawn go and turned to her. Dawn’s limp body fell onto the soft grass. Feather bit down hard on the leader’s tail as the leader turned toward her. The leader ripped his tail away and lunged at her. His teeth came in contact with her paw. Feather tried to wrench her paw away, but the leader’s teeth were deeply embedded in her paw. The leader picked her up in his powerful jaws and flung her against Tree Stump.  Feather lay winded, the breath driven out of her. With a tremendous leap, the leader pinned her down. Feather tried the trick of lying limply, but the leader was not fooled. He pressed his paw on her neck, ready to deal the death blow. Then, the tawny shape of Dawn slammed into the leader. The leader stumbled and bit Dawn’s throat. Then he dropped her. Feather let out a wail and leaped at the leader. She landed squarely on his shoulders and dug her claws in. The leader rolled on the ground, trying to dislodge her, but Feather hung on. The leader twisted to grab her neck. Feather bit down hard on the back of his neck. The leader thrashed around in a desperate attempt to dislodge her. Feather slipped and fell off his back. She rolled to a stop a few feet from the leader. He leaped at her. Feather judged the distance and jumped. Feather and the mountain lion met in midair. Feather’s jaws met their mark and she bit down on the leader’s throat. The leader fell to the ground. His eyes glazed and his body stopped convulsing.
Feather bounded to Dawn.
“You did well. I want you to be the new leader of the tribe.”Dawn rasped, blood trickling out of her mouth as she struggled to talk.
“Don’t go!”Feather cried, gazing at her leader desperately.
“You will be a great leader, perhaps the best the tribe will ever have.”Dawn said and closed her eyes for the final time.
Feather slowly got up. There was no time to mourn now. Blobs of the red stuff started falling from the sky. The mountain lions, seeing that their leader was dead, fled. Feather called to the bobcats of the tribe.
“We must leave!”Feather yowled above the roaring of the volcano.
The bobcats filed into a line and raced out of the glade. Feather took them in the opposite direction of the volcano. Running with her tribe, Feather felt proud and content, but she also felt a pang of sadness.
“Are you okay?”Cloud asked,” I heard that you defeated the leader.”
“Yes.”Feather replied, looking away in hopes that her friend would not see how insecure she felt inside.
The tribe traveled far from the volcano and settled in a forest. Feather and her tribe lived free from any threats. Feather puffed her chest up, gazing proudly at her tribe. They had found a perfect place to live. Prey was plentiful and tall, flourishing trees provided shelter. She lifted her head and stared at the sky above her, light blue with puffy shapes of white that were the clouds drifting across. Thank you, Dawn, she whispered, for entrusting the tribe to me. You can trust me. With the battle of the mountain lions over, we can look forward to peace.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rising Water

Rising Water
The dog drooled as it approached the cowering, defenseless kitten. The kitten mewled again, for its mother and father, eyes wide with terror. It glanced around, heart thudding harder against its little chest as it realized that it was surrounded by the vicious dogs. For a moment, it met the lead dog’s malicious gaze, and then it looked away. The dogs closed in on the lone kitten. It was all that was left of the group of cats that had once lived in the neighborhood. The dogs had annihilated all of them, and the ground was still soaked with the blood of the cats and the very air seemed to shimmer with grief. Sneering, one of the dogs lunged. For the kitten, suddenly the whole world was the dog. Nothing else mattered. It was the slavering jaws, the rank of the dog’s acrid breath, and it was fear. The kitten made no move to protect itself. It didn’t have time. And then serrated teeth dug into the kitten’s throat. The world in the kitten’s eyes turned blood-red, crimson. Everything was pain. Fire seemed to rage in his throat, on his throat; he didn’t know.  It was excruciating, lacerating. But the kitten would not bear it for long. His body twitched in one last spasm and the light of life left his gaze as death claimed him. Death as cold as the winter night.
“Race you to the river!” Ribbon called, her dark blue eyes flashing in the morning sunlight.
            “Sure,” Stream replied, her dove-colored coat blurring as she dashed through the lush forest.
            Ribbon had winged paws. Even though she was a cat, she ran as fast as the wind. The giant fir trees and everything else around her became hazy, blurring into a sea of colors. Only the silhouettes of the boulders beside the riverbank remained clear, glowing incandescent in her vision. The wind whipped at her face and buffeted her fur, but Ribbon rammed through the headwind. Through the blur of colors, she could see the riverbank just a few pawsteps away. She recognized the mossy rocks and the sandy bank with round pebbles, smooth with years of erosion. The bank came up and she leaped onto it, feeling the smooth stones underpaw. Her eyes bright with anticipation, Ribbon looked forward to the soothing feeling of basking on a rock, the calm river softly lapping at the shore. The sun warming her fur. Feeling like a newborn kit cuddling against her mother. The ecstatic feeling of exhilaration.
Of winning.
            Ribbon skidded to a halt where the water lapped against the bank. The fur at the back of her neck pricked with curiosity. Narrowing her eyes, she cautiously padded up to the river. The water level was higher than usual. It had raised two tail-lengths. The calm river that Ribbon was so used to had been replaced by one with spinning whirlpools. She jumped, startled, as a branch from a tree broke off and fell into the river with a splash. Immediately, it resurfaced and sped away in the rapid current. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. The sound of pebbles flying made Ribbon whirl around. Stream had reached the steep bank and was scrambling down it, her muddy paws trying to get a grip on the slippery pebbles. A moment later, Stream crashed into Ribbon, pushing her hind paws into the river.
“Hey, you’ve gotten me wet!” Ribbon exclaimed, shaking her sodden mottled pelt.
“Sorry,” Stream apologized, “I lost my footing on the bank.”
“It’s fine. Haven’t you noticed how high the river is?” Ribbon asked curiously, gazing at the swollen river.
“No, want to swim?” Stream questioned, a playful twinkle in her eyes.
“No way!” Ribbon replied. “I don’t want to swim in that.” She remembered how Silk, her sister, had drowned and shuddered.
“Scared?” Stream teased. “C’mon!”
“Not!” Ribbon’s tail shot up indignantly.
Ribbon took a tentative step forward, her heart pounding furiously against her white chest. She couldn’t back down now. Stream was watching on the bank. The river was twice its size now, swallowing the bank slowly. Rocks in the middle jutted up and the swift current seemed strong enough to pull even a dog downriver. She took another timid step, and her heart leaped as the freezing water sent a tremor through her. Ribbon mustered up the courage and forced herself to go deeper. Glancing at the opposite bank, she noticed that it rose steeply up to a glade of trees. She wondered if she would be able to climb up the bank, let alone cross the river. She did not want to answer the question, afraid. Eyes widening with fear, Ribbon’s breathing quickened. The water rushed past her in a steady flow, and she dug her claws into the pebbles at the bottom of the river, not wanting to be pulled into the swirling currents. Closing her eyes, she took another step, the icy water numbing her paws,-
-and almost fell as her forepaw plunged into a hole in the bottom of the river!
Off balance, Ribbon struggled to keep upright. Her consciousness screamed at her to call for help, but she kept her mouth clamped shut. She would not back down. Ribbon looked across the river again, and at that moment, a branch overhead cracked. The noise resonated through Ribbon’s ears, blocking everything else out. She only had time to look up, dread filling her body, before the branch crashed into her. She opened her jaws to yowl for help, but only succeeded in swallowing a mouthful of water. Choking, Ribbon churned her paws, fighting the pull of the river. But it wasn’t enough.
The river was taking her downstream.
Water coursed down her throat and her trembling paws seemed helpless against the tugging river. Ribbon’s head resurfaced and she sucked in air hungrily. Water blurred her vision and all she could see were a mess of colors: green, blue, and a blur of gray. Groggily, she squinted at the bank. Or what Ribbon thought was the bank. A blurry gray shape was hurtling toward her, yowling her name. Water streamed down her face and her strokes grew feebler and feebler. Her head bobbed for a few seconds and then she went under again. She was dimly aware of Stream shouting at her not to give up, but her voice sounded distant, like she was miles away. Then a wave of black rose up to overwhelm her, but Ribbon pushed it away. She would not give up. She had to persevere. This could not be the end of her life. Panic clouding her gaze, Ribbon struggled as the black wave once again rose up to engulf her. And then there was a flash of gray. Was it Stream? Through the murky depths of the water, Ribbon could make out a vague shape. Claws grabbed hold of her. Bubbles emerged from her mouth as she opened her jaws to call out. But her voice seemed to be robbed from her, because only more water coursed down her throat. Ribbon’s vision blurred. She could not longer see anything. All was gray. And when the black rose up to swallow her, she no longer had the strength to resist it. The wings of unconsciousness enfolded her in its embrace, enveloping her in total silence.
   Ribbon opened her eyes to a completely different world than the one she was used to. The trees here had branches that seemed to reach for the ground, filled with sweet flowers. The smell of honey filled the air, and someone leaned over her.
“You’re awake at last.” A tom with black fur blinked at her. “I found you lying on the riverbank. The river must’ve washed you downriver.”
“Where is this?” Ribbon began, “I-“ Then she broke off, vomiting water.
“You shouldn’t talk. You swallowed some water,” The tom said, his green eyes, the color of wild grass, were concerned.
“Thanks,” Ribbon managed to choke out, “for saving me.”
“It’s all right,” He said. “By the way, my name’s Storm.”
“Mine is Ribbon.”
 “You shouldn’t stay near the river, you know. It’s flooding,” Storm warned.
“What!” Ribbon jerked up, alarmed. “My family and friends live close to the river. I have to tell them.”
“We can leave tomorrow. You have to rest. I guess I’ll go with you. If you’ll have me, that is.”
“Of course.” Ribbon drowsily replied, her dark blue eyes drooping like the setting sun as exhaustion overwhelmed her.
Darkness closed onto Ribbon as sleep claimed her. She dreamed of the river flowing over its banks.
The scene blurred and was replaced by a new one: a tortoiseshell she-cat with the same color eyes as her, streaking through the forest. Water tugged at her hind paws as she tried to escape the rising water. Then she suddenly stopped and turned around, facing it. She had reached a dead end. Giant rocks blocked her path and Ribbon watched helplessly as her mother disappeared in the swirling water. Then she heard a familiar screech, but this time it was of fear, rather than the usual complaints. It sliced through the night like a blade. Ribbon’s sister, Blossom, only two seasons old, teetered on a rock with water rising around it. Blossom was wailing now, calling for her mother and for Ribbon, who was watching, frozen on the sidelines. She struggled to leap up to help Blossom, but her paws were rooted to the ground. Blossom suddenly turned around and locked her terrified gaze with Ribbon’s. Just then, a wave of water rose up, knocking Blossom into the waiting tide below. A thin wail escaped her mouth and Blossom’s paws flailed around helplessly before her sodden body slowly sank down, out of Ribbon’s view.
 No! Ribbon screeched. Paws suddenly unfroze, as if the tendrils bounding her paws had finally yielded to her, she raced toward the still-rippling water where her sister had vanished, paws pattering on the ground. Ribbon slowed to a halt at the edge of the swirling pool, hesitating. She knew how it felt like to drown. The emptiness around her, her lungs screaming for air… Shaking her head to clear it, Ribbon took a step forward into the water. She gulped and took another deep breath, putting her paw forward. And then she halted in her tracks. Her ears pricked. Something was roaring to her left, resonating through the forest. Whirling around, Ribbon spotted a huge wave of water stretching up to the sky, towering over her. Trees were uprooted, sucked into the ravenous monster. Closer and closer it came, tearing Ribbon’s beloved home apart. She didn’t even have time to screech. One moment the roaring boomed in her ears, and the next it was eerily silent. Once again Ribbon fought the pull of the current. Desperately she pushed her body toward the light above her. Then she felt a tight feeling in her chest, as if something were squeezing the air out of her. Her subconscious mind sought out the name for it, and found it: suffocation.
Ribbon began to panic, but then, suddenly, something touched her lightly: a tail-tip. Ribbon gasped as she recognized the slender body in front of her. It was poor Silk. Her sister simply looked at her, her eyes pools of sorrow. Ribbon opened her jaws to speak, but her sister gave her a tiny shake of the head and put her tail over her mouth. Then she left, disappearing into the gloom, leaving her alone on Death’s doorstep.
“No!” Ribbon yowled.
Storm immediately sprang up and prodded her belly with a paw. Ribbon woke with a start, her sides heaving as she panted.
“Sorry, just a nightmare,” Ribbon puffed once she calmed down.
“It’s alright. It’s almost dawn anyway,” Storm replied, looking up at the brightening sky, “We should leave if you’re ready.”
“Okay,” Ribbon told Storm, scrambling to her paws.
Ribbon and Storm padded side by side toward her home, following the river’s winding path. The willow trees thinned and were replaced by fir and pine trees. The ground was covered in bright leaves and leaf mold. Ribbon breathed in, smelling the scents of home.
“We’re-“ Ribbon began.
Storm suddenly pushed her beneath a holly bush. A whiff of dog filled the air and a nearby bush rustled. A dog with two tufts of cinnamon-colored fur as ears pushed through. A wet black nose sniffed the air and its owner sat down. More dogs shoved their way into the clearing, some with spotted coats and some with mottled.
“Today we gather to discuss the trespassing cats. Too long have we put up with them. We won’t tolerate this any longer!” The first dog barked.
Enraged barks and growls rippled through the no longer silent clearing. The first dog, which evidently was the leader, held up a snow white paw for silence. The maddened barks died down and stillness filled the clearing once more.
“You all know of those other cats that had quarreled with us. They refused to obey our orders, and paid dearly for it. Now, we must do the same again. We will attack tonight, when they are sleeping, and drive them out!” The dog barked.
Echoes of agreement traveled through the clearing. Ribbon caught glimpses of dogs nodding and exchanging glances with one another. A shiver passed through her as the spotted dog with the cinnamon tufts continuing on describing the battle plan. And then, as silently as they had come, the dogs left.
Ribbon burst out of the bush, frantic. I have to warn them, she thought. Storm slid out gracefully, a look of worry on his face.
“What’s wrong?” Storm asked, gazing into her eyes and seeing the horror in them.
“They’re going to attack my home!” Ribbon wailed, clawing the ground in distress.
Storm looked up. “The sun is setting right now. We should hurry then.” Ribbon and Storm raced toward the glade where Ribbon lived. The ground grew lush as she approached her home. To her right, Ribbon saw that the gray rocks that she loved to bask on were submerged in water. She tore through the forest as fast as she could, Storm hard upon her paws. The sun had set and the last of its warm rays had gone with it, leaving the world swathed in shadows.
Yowls of terror and rage reached Ribbon’s ears as she burst into the grassy clearing. Dogs were everywhere, tearing the moss and bracken nests the cats slept in. Cats flailed under their thundering paws and slavering jaws. From behind, a dog leaped onto her back, digging its claws in. Ribbon’s legs buckled under the weight. Fangs aimed for her neck. Then, suddenly, the weight lifted, and she whirled around. Storm clung onto the dog’s back and hissed until the dog fled. Giving him a nod of thanks, she whirled around to drag a dog of the back of another cat. 
“Climb trees! The river’s flooding! Flee from the dogs,” Storm yowled.
Dazed cats began climbing. Seeing that they had reached the top of their trees, Ribbon scrambled up a pine. A shaggy dog snarled at her at the bottom of her tree. Its claws gouging into the bark, it began to climb. Heart thudding, Ribbon sent a silent plea to whoever was watching over them. The dog was only a couple tail-lengths away from her now, eyes glittering. As an answer to her call, the swirling tide swept in, carrying with it a couple of dogs. The others fled in terror, their snarls dwindling to whines and whimpers.
The midnight sky was jet black like a crow’s feathers. The river had calmed down, the water going on its usual journey through the woods. The swollen river had been reduced to a quiet one. Ribbon’s family and friends all came up to her, congratulating her and embracing her -all except for one: Stream.
Ribbon spotted Stream lurking on the side. Once she met her gaze, but Stream instantly looked away. Wondering what was wrong, Ribbon padded up to her.
“ Anything wrong?” Ribbon prompted.
“Nothing.” Her friend turned away to leave.
“Really. Tell me what is bothering you. Perhaps I can help. Just spit it out.” Ribbon blocked her path.
Stream looked at her paws. “ I-“ she began hesitantly, then broke off. Suddenly she jumped to her paws and wailed,” It was all my fault. If it weren’t for me, you would not have nearly drowned!” Her gray paws churned the ground and with every word, Stream’s voice rose.
“No! It was never your fault. I should’ve refused to swim in the river. I should’ve known that this would happen.” Ribbon exclaimed hotly. “Besides, I would never have found out about the attack, if it weren’t for you,” She added, hoping to soothe her friend.
“I thought you drowned,” Stream mewed, tail drooping and eyes filling with sorrow.
“But I’m here and no one’s hurt,” Ribbon replied, trying her best to sound convincing.
“I guess,” Stream acquiesced, nodding.
“Who’s that?” Ribbon’s mother, Velvet, asked, pointing at a black tom. Ribbon jumped in surprise. She never noticed her mother coming up.
“Oh. That’s Storm. He saved my life. Can he stay here?” Ribbon beamed.
“Sure, if he wants to,” Velvet replied.
“Will you stay? Velvet said you could,” Ribbon purred to Storm.
“Of course. Do you think I’m going to leave and let you get all the praise?” Storm answered, butting her with his head.
   Ribbon breathed in his warm scent and stared into his green eyes. She pressed her muzzle against his for a heartbeat and then went to look for a dry sleeping place. She found one and called for Storm and Stream to come over. As Stream bounded over, Ribbon asked if she wanted to rest together. Stream nodded and together, they all ducked under the bush and made themselves comfy. Lying by Storm’s side, Ribbon couldn’t remember having ever been happier.