Season One, Episode One of Ghosting!
I open my eyes, and poke my head out of the nursery. My brother Needlekit looks out beside me. Deadstar emerges from his den. Today we’re going to become apprentices.
“You two are a mess! Come here!” Exclaims my mother, Stormshadow. She begins to groom us, licking out fur the right way, and getting all the twigs and dirt out of it. We protest and squeal, writhing and wriggling. “Sunkit, stay still!” My mother scolds. “Calm down, Stormshadow.” Says my father.
“They’ll be fine for their apprentice ceremony.” Stormshadow looks up at him. “I just want my two sons to look perfect for one of the most important days of their lives, Snowstorm.” She says in between licks. Snowstorm smiles as our mother finally lets go of us. We hear Deadstar call for a Clan meeting.
Me and Needlekit race out of the den, with Reedkit, Redkit, and Lightningkit following us. We weren’t all exactly the same age, but we were close enough to be apprenticed on the same day. And become warriors on the same day.
All of us bump into each other as we skid to a halt in front of the Tallrock. The older warriors laugh softly as we do so. Embarrassment floods through me.
Needlekit goes first. “Needlekit! From this day until you receive your warrior name, you will be Needlepaw. Blackfur. You mentored Fireshadow, and he is all the credit to his Clan. Now MoonClan asks you to prove yourself once more a great mentor.” Blackfur dips his head, respectfully, and nods. Needlepaw touches noses with Blackfur
Of course I go last. I’m always last. Deadstar apprentices me to Scarstripe. I look up at Scarstripe, after the Clan meeting is over. “What do we do first?” I ask. Scarstripe looks down at me. “We’re going to patrol the borders.” He says. “And then what after that?”
“You’re going to do the elder’s ticks.” He says, smiling. Disappointment drops in my belly like a stone, but I don’t complain. Scarstripe and I head out of camp, as the other apprentices go to train with their mentors. I try not to think about what I’ll have to do after we patrol the territory.
Scarstripe leads me to a large ravine. “This is the border with CaveClan.” He says. “The ravine marks it. No cat could survive that fall, or make that jump.” He says, grimly.
I shudder at the thought. He then leads to the border with DarkClan. “This is the DarkClan border.” He says. “Nothing obvious marks this one so we have to make sure the scent markers are stronger.” I nod. After we patrol the territory, we head back to camp. Glumly, I begin to make my way to the medicine cat’s den for some mouse bile, when Scarstripe stops me.
I look up at him. “You said I have to do the elder’s ticks, remember?” I say. Scarstripe nods. “I remember. But you’ve been doing good today. You can do the elder’s ticks another time.” Excitement floods through me. “Thanks!” I call over my shoulder, as I sprint over to Reedpaw, Redpaw, and Needlepaw who are at the prey pile.
Lightningpaw comes into camp behind his mentor, looking disappointed. “What is it?” I ask, coming over. “I’m stuck with tick duty.” He growls. “It’s not funny!” He adds, as he sees me trying not to laugh.
I go back over to where the other apprentices are. “Lightningpaw got stuck with tick duty.” I say. Reedpaw sighs. “Get ready for a sleepless night. He’ll stay up all night talking about it.” She says. I laugh along with Needlepaw and Redpaw.
Over the next moon or so, me, Lightningpaw, Reedpaw, Redpaw, and Needlepaw all focus on our training, determined to become warriors. One night when I get back to camp, late, Needlepaw is beckoning be over back out of camp, eagerly. “What?” I ask, yawning.
“We’re going to sneak out tonight!” Bursts out Lightningpaw before anyone can say anything. Needlepaw glares at him. “I was going to tell him!” He snaps, but he quickly gets over it, looking at me expectantly. My eyes widen. “But what about our training? And becoming a warrior!” I exclaim.
“No one will know.” Says Needlepaw. “We’re going to the ravine, to explore.” He whispers. “Come on, it’ll be fun!” Everyone is looking at me with pleading eyes.
“Come on, Sunpaw! Pllllleeeeeaaaaaassseeeeeee.” Begs Lightningpaw. I sigh, and give in. “Alright, alright, I’ll come!” I say.
That night the five of us manage to sneak out of camp past the guards. Those guards are Scarstripe and Blackfur. I realize with a sickening feeling in my belly. Silently we run through MoonClan territory and make it to the border with CaveClan. “We’re here!” I hiss.
I look up at the sky. It is pure black. Huge gray clouds are covering the moon and stars. Suddenly there’s a loud boom, and lightning splits the night sky, and rain starts pouring out of the overgrown clouds. “I hate water!” I hiss, jumping back.
“I love water!” Exclaim Needlepaw and Reedpaw at the same time. I roll my eyes at them. Just then, lightning strikes the edge of the ravine on the MoonClan side. The ravine begins to grow as it swallows up the earth that falls down on it. “Run!” Screeches Lightningpaw.
We manage to leap out of the way, before the earth beneath our paws disappear. All of us except for Needlepaw. “Needlepaw!” I screech. I throw myself at him, whisking him out of the way just in time.
For him. Suddenly I’m falling. There’s nothing beneath my paws, nothing above my head. I hear one of the apprentices cry out, “Sunpaw, NO!” I’m still falling. Pain jolts through my body as I hit the sharp, rocky, wet ground of the ravine, and then there’s nothing.
I open my eyes, hesitantly. I remember everything. The lightning. Sneaking out. Falling. Surprisingly I can’t feel anything. No pain. Nothing. I look around. I try to deny it, but I know I can’t. I’m in StarClan now. “Welcome, Sunpaw.” Comes a voice.
I turn around to see multiple starry figures coming towards me. “Am- am- am I in St- St- StarClan now?” I stammer. A large tom comes forward. He looks at me, pitifully. “You are dead but you are not with StarClan.” He says. I gasp, taken aback. “Am in the Dark Forest?! Do I have to go there?!”
Before I can say anymore, a StarClan she-cat interrupts. “No! You are a ghost. You cannot come to StarClan.” I open my jaws to reply, but she continues, “Listen, Sunpaw. StarClan has watched over the Clans for countless moons. But we can’t see them anymore. They are dark. All of it. All of them. We can’t give new leaders nine lives, and we can’t communicate with medicine cats.”
She hesitates before going on, “We fear a great evil is surrounding the Clans, and we have to do what’s best for them. A little bit ago, we decided that the next cat that dies will stay a ghost, because they can watch over the Clans, and communicate with StarClan as well, when summoned.”
I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. “I’m that cat.” I say, numbly. She nods, sadly. “Yes, Sunpaw. You are that cat. You must watch over the Clans for us, but first. . . .” She seems to trail off. I realize they’re fading. “What!?” I call out. “First, I have to do what?”
The only word I can make out is a name, Frostfire. That name sounds so familiar. Suddenly I remember stories my mother used to tell me and Needlepaw when we were kits.
Frostfire was supposedly the only cat who could see, hear, and even touch a ghost. Some say he is or was half-ghost. Confusion swarms through me. How am I supposed to find Frostfire? I had no idea where to start. Or where to go. But he must be alive if StarClan told me to find him.
I realize I’m back in the ravine. I realize the MoonClan medicine cat, Featherheart is following Needlepaw down the ravine to my body. I study Featherheart closely. He knows StarClan can’t communicate with them. Why didn’t he tell Deadstar? Or Fireshadow, the MoonClan deputy?
I’m not sure why. I watch as Needlepaw shows my body to him. “Is- is he. . . ?” Needlepaw trails off. Featherheart looks at him. “He’s dead. No cat could survive that fall.” He says sadly. Needlepaw creeps close to my body, and sniffs it.
“We have to bring it back to camp!” He cries. The ravine starts to shake. “No time!” Says Featherheart. “If we take that time to drag it back up, we’ll die, too!” Needlepaw looks crestfallen, but he follows Featherheart back up the ravine.
The moment they get back up, water begins to flood the large ravine. A flash flood. It carries my body away. “It’s all my fault.” I hear Lightningpaw whisper, his eyes wide with horror and grief.
“It’s not your fault!” I want to cry out. But they can’t hear me. My sadness is washed away by determination. I will find Frostfire.
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. My mind can barely process it. Sunpaw can’t be dead! I look at Needlepaw, Reedpaw, and Redpaw. This is my fault. All my fault. It had been my idea to sneak out, and look at the ravine. If it weren’t for me, Sunpaw would still be alive.
“It’s not your fault.” I hear my sister, Reedpaw, whisper to me. I nod, but I don’t believe her. I really don’t. Pain surges through me. Sunpaw was like the brother I never had. I look at Needlepaw.
I guess he’ll have to be the new brother I never had. I think. “Let’s go back to camp.” Says Featherheart. Before we even get to take a step Deadstar, Fireshadow, Stormshadow, and Snowstorm emerge from the undergrowth. “Is Sunpaw alright?” Asks Stormshadow, frantically.
I turn away. I can’t bear to look. I can’t imagine how Needlepaw or his parents are feeling. I listen as Redpaw and Featherheart talk to Deadstar and Reedpaw fills in Fireshadow, and how Needlepaw breaks the news to his own parents.
Guilt blinds me as we plod back to camp. Deadstar calls a Clan meeting and tells everyone that Sunpaw is dead. He gives us a lecture. The only part I really hear is, “If it weren’t for you four, Sunpaw would still be alive!” I flinch.
I dare look up at Deadstar. His face is twisted into a mask of fury and pain. He is looking directly at me. He knows it was my idea. I think. He knows I killed Sunpaw.
I want to deny that fact, I really do. But I know I can’t. Sunpaw is dead because of me. I run back to the apprentice’s den unable to bear the pressure, any longer. I bury myself in it, and close my eyes, surprised at what happens when I do so.
I open them. I’m not me anymore. I don’t understand, but part of me does. Part of me knows this feels natural. This is who I am. I’m not Lightningpaw. I’m this.