Chapter 6 of Fuega Fuega. By the way, this IS NOT the chapter with the characer with Alzheimer's.
Have you ever chosen to do something that you don't know what you're really getting into? And when you think about it for a moment, you're not sure why you chose to do so?
We all have plenty of those moments, I guess. Sometimes they can have fateful consequences, whether good or bad. Other times they won't really affect you at all; those are the rare lucky times. Mostly, though, they turn out to be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
And So It Begins
"They got in?" snarled Ink.
"How could they have got in?" hissed Itch.
"Um, we're right here," I mewed uncomfortably.
"Is Skull trying to say," growled Ink, gesturing all around the inside of dumpster two with her tail, "that you're leaving this to go to dumpster three already?"
"Pretty much," meowed Vulture.
"This is an outrage!" yowled Itch. "What was Skull thinking? Did he get his brain shaved off along with his ears?"
"Most likely, sis!"
"We've been here longer, and we're still stuck here!"
"It makes no sense!"
"Hardly any at all!"
"If you two would just shut up for once," a voice hissed at the top of the dumpster, "then you just maybe would have gotten in dumpster three. Dumpster four, even, or five. You could have even gone all the way to dumpster six with me and the ladies."
We looked up at Skull's face staring down at us.
"Couldn't we talk about this?" I suggested in a murmur. "Once my mom and Twitch get back from hunting? Then we can decide what to do."
"It's almost certain what will be the outcome if we wait for them to get back," growled Skull. "Of course Peach will favor moving upwards in the ladder. And Twitch barely even mews unless it's an order, and he'll say he's a Twoleg if someone told him to. At least, if I told him to, he would. Hmm, that's an interesting idea for a punishment, I should remember that."
"Skull, you're the boss of us, you know that," meowed Ink, a little softer than usual. "But I'm not getting the reason behind the decision to move these scraps over to the next dumpster."
"I'm not getting it, either," agreed Itch. "Peach moving there makes some sense, but these little fleabags haven't done a mousetail of work. What happened to all that battle training I heard from them?"
"Yeah, shouldn't Peach be training them?"
"Didn't one of them kill their sister?"
"Quiet!" hissed Skull. "Look who's talking about cats being useless. But you do have a point, girls. Peach should be teaching them how to fight. From what she was telling me, these kits could be guard scouts in a moon's time if they continued their training."
"But we're only four moons old," I mewed. "Don't we have to be older to be guard scouts?"
Vulture whacked my face with his tail. "Knock it off, will ya, Fuega? I've been wanting to fight ever since we came here."
I could see in his eyes that he was hungry for battle, even as a young kit. I couldn't help but notice the similarities between Vulture's ears, torn in ribbons, and Skull's shaved head.
Skull let out his high-pitched laugh. "In due time, you little runt. Your mother has been busy hunting, that's probably why she hasn't been training you. That, and she may think that you are safer here than you were in your old home, so safe that you should leave all the fighting with the guard scouts." He showed his crooked teeth, his black abysses for eyes gleaming. "When she gets back from hunting, I will ask her to continue your training. In a moon, we shall have a guard scout test for each of you. If you pass, you shall skip over to dumpster four, where many of the guard scouts stay. If you fail, well, just hope that there'll be a mission that will require a useless kit."
I grunted as, once again, I was pinned to the ground by Peach's paw.
"Get up, Fuega!" she snarled. "This isn't that hard! Look at Vulture!"
Still pinned down, I glanced over at Vulture and Hurricane practicing. Even though my brother and I were less than five moons old and Hurricane was a pretty big cat, Vulture and the guard scout were around the same size and were evenly matched, as they feinted and clawed and blocked each other. These practice fights had never come as easy to me as they did to my brother.
"If you don't train right, Skull will kill you!" My mother bared her teeth and moved her paw off of me so I could get up. I did so slowly, processing what she had said. He's going to kill me. I looked back at Peach, who was in a fighting stance and ready for my first attack, and I imagined her as Skull, shaved ears and all.
This is your life on the line, Fuega, I told myself. Now fight him!
I ducked down and impaled my sharp young teeth on his scarred front leg. With a high-pitched hiss, his own jaws clamped down on my back thigh and, still in pain from me biting down, awkwardly shook me. Still I held on and blindly flung one of my paws upwards, hoping to make contact with his face. Success! I felt him loosen his grip on my back, as did I on his leg, and I backed away.
"Don't stop because I let go!"
I shook my head, and the illusion was over. Skull's black eyes were replaced by Peach's, and I tried not to notice how much they looked like mine as she stared down at me in disgust. Several claw marks stood out on her face from where I had scratched her, but she wasn't paying attention to those.
"Just because your attackers beg for mercy doesn't mean you should give it to them," she growled at me. "Every fight you start must be finished properly."
"Okay, okay," I muttered.
She rolled her eyes. "Just go hunting, why don't you."
"But it's late at night and dark outside, and everyone else has gone hunting."
"You think you're going to win over Skull because you're whining?"
A snarl rose in my throat. "I hate this place!"
And before I knew it, I was scrambling out of the alley and running down the dark Twoleg street.
I didn't bother to stop, even though I was gasping for breath and my limbs were on fire. It wasn't until I felt I was going to faint that I skidded to a stop. For a long time, I just stood there trying to catch my breath, looking around at where I was.
Even if it weren't nighttime, I wouldn't have recognized the place. It was much quieter than where Skull's gang was, and extremely quieter than where I was born. The Twoleg nests were small and very neat-looking, like someone actually lived there instead of just hanging around for most of the day.
I might as well stay here for the night, I thought.
I padded over to the nest on my left, my paws feeling the ramp where the Twoleg monster was sleeping. Going behind the main structure, I leapt up on a white fence that surrounded a grassy area at the back of the house. It was the first time I had actually seen real grass, and when I hopped down on it, it felt really strange. Prickly yet soft, and just…natural.
Without thinking, I flopped down on my back and rolled around, feeling the grass on my matted fur. I could have slept there all night.
I could have, if it wasn't for the rain that started to fall.
Hissing and sputtering, trying to shake the cold water off of my fur, I ran to the nearest form of shelter: a sort of miniature Twoleg nest up against the fence. I dashed inside and huddling in the back corner of it, my teeth chattering from the cold.
Something beside me in the nest stirred. "Who are you?"
I nearly yowled in surprise. I couldn't see exactly what the thing that spoke was, but it was too big to be a cat. It didn't really sound like another cat, either; it had a gruffer and stupider-sounding voice. But it spoke cat, which was odd.
"I-I'd like t-to ask y-you the same thing," I shivered at the big creature.
The animal yawned sleepily, and I nearly choked on its bad breath.
"Too tired," it grumbled. "Explain in the morning. You sleep now, kitty."
I twitched my whiskers, not entirely sure what to say. "Um…I'm Fuega."
"Butch," the thing growled sleepily. A moment later its snores filled the nest up.
I curled myself into a ball and tried to fall asleep. At first, Butch's loud snores kept me awake, but after a while it became a sort of lullaby. My eyes closed slowly, and I drifted off.
It would have been nice to have a dream-free night, but instead, I got something even better. In my dream, nothing really happened at all. I was simply lying on the banks of a lake, watching the reflections of the stars twinkling on the surface of the water.