This is the First Episode, Season One, of Solitary.
The rustling of leaves brought me to attention in the midst of the forest. Standing there, I watched its beauty silently, like I do every day, alone.
Alone is what I do best. I do not wish to live with other cats. In other words, if I could separate myself from other cats, I would.
I am Wisp, an ordinary twelve-moon-old tom, and this is what I want.
Standing to attention, I heard the song of a bird chorusing in the distance. Narrowing my wide blue eyes, I stared at it. It was rustling its feathers, burrowing into itself.
Stand there much longer, and you will be food, I thought. All mine.
I crouched on the forest floor, the way my mother had taught me when I was a kit, before she had been killed brutally by a vicious pack of rogues. Thick tail lying just above the forest floor, I crept forward. Closer and closer I was getting. I was just about to leap –
“Hey, get away from there!”
“Mouse dung!” I hissed, as the bird fluttered away. Who scared off the prey?
I turned in the direction where the noise had come from. Shadowy figures were nearby, and the sight chilled me to the bone.
Two cats were standing there, their dark eyes narrowed at me. I tried not to run away from them.
“Wisp,” one of them hissed mockingly. He started pacing around me, while I trembled with nerves. “The unsociable cat in the forest.”
The cat – Oak – shot an evil glare at me. His companion – Raven – purred loudly with amusement beside him.
“Why don’t you hang out with some of us?” the dark tabby continued. “You need to learn to hang out with the best cats.” Oak’s amber gaze burned into me.
“Why would I want to join you?” I mumbled, looking down. My thick-furred tail started to swish from side to side along the dusty ground.
“You steal all our prey.” Raven shoved in front of Oak to face me. His amber eyes were glinting maliciously. “If you join us, you won’t be stealing. You’ll be getting prey from us.”
“Come on, Wisp…” Oak taunted. “Think about it…”
I didn’t need to think. I knew what my answer was going to be. Why would I want to join the very cats that despised me?
“No,” I hissed. “I know how you feel about me. Besides, I hate you just as badly.” Turning away from the two cats, I ran away into the forest.
My mother’s voice echoed in my ears. Her sweet voice calmed me – but her body was not what I expected.
Many long cuts scarred her body. The stanch of rogues hit me. Shaking, I crouched down beside her.
She turned towards me, her green eyes staring back at me. I was her spitting image, except that I had my father’s eyes – the father I had never met, the one that died before I was born.
“Wisp.” My mother’s voice called me again.
I looked over at her. “Yes?” It was an effort to meet her gaze – the bright green gaze that was fading as each moment passed. Her visible scars did not need to be seen.
“Promise me something,” she whispered. Her gaze was pleading with me. “Promise that you will find something beyond yourself. There is a lot to this world, and many more cats live beyond what you have seen. Make the most of your life, Wisp – you only have one shot at it.”
I gulped. “I promise,” I sighed, as my nose touched her fur.
Her chest started rising and falling slowly, and then it was still. Grief crashed upon me.
As I lifted my head, after smelling her scent for the final time, I heard her whisper, once again, in my ear:
“Promise that you will find something beyond yourself. There is a lot to this world, and many more cats live beyond what you have seen. Make the most of your life, Wisp – you only have one shot at it.”
For me, reliving that moment was painful. It was hard for me to see the only part of my family slip away from me. I was my mother’s – Stream’s – only kit. I was the only cat left to pass on her legacy.
The words that Stream said on her deathbed continued to ring in my ears, over and over again: “Promise that you will find something beyond yourself. There is a lot to this world, and many more cats live beyond what you have seen. Make the most of your life, Wisp – you only have one shot at it.”
Make the most of your life, Wisp…
For the first time, I truly realized what her words really meant. She wanted for me to explore the world, and live with others. She wanted me to forge a life that would be great.
However, I have no idea how I am going to get out of the swirl of being alone. Since Stream’s death, I had done just that. There was no need for me to do it just now.
Not that it seemed to be, anyway.
I tasted the air, and my fur bristled with surprise. I could smell Stream. Staring around, I looked to see if I could find my mother, but she wasn’t there.
She’s dead, you mouse-brain, I thought to myself. She isn’t here.
But despite this, I could still smell her scent. Then, I felt breath on my ear.
“Stream?” I called. “Are you there?”
There was no reply, and I relaxed. Just then, I heard a voice whisper in my ear:
“You’ve got to learn not to live alone, Wisp. Life isn’t always about you.”
“So what am I meant to do?” I replied. “I don’t know how I’m meant to join a group. Those rogues…” My fur bristled at the thought of them.
“You will see, Wisp. Your break will come soon enough. You just need to realize where you belong.”
The breath vanished, and the scent of Stream faded away. Shaking, I rose unsteadily to my paws. Stream’s words were echoing in my mind, becoming clearer the more I thought about them. You just need to realize where you belong…
The following day, I watched the cats swarm below me, the cats that roamed the forest as rogues, like me. Intent on the morning hunt, they didn’t see me lurking.
“Did you hear?”
I jumped. A cat was speaking. Looking below, I saw Raven talking with a brown tabby she-cat. Raven’s eyes were wide.
What is his problem? I thought. Raven is never worried about anything!
As the brown tabby shook her head, Raven continued: “There’s a rumor going around that something’s going to happen,” he meowed. “Oak is saying that he has seen some cats approaching the forest lands. They might be coming to live around here.”
“I hope they’re not,” the brown tabby meowed. “There is peace here. There is no place for them.”
Cats, inhabiting the forest-lands? I thought. That doesn’t help me – I walk alone. They’ll interfere.
In the apprehension, I felt my pale gray fur bunch up. Looking down worriedly, I saw Raven moving away with the brown tabby. I had never seen her before.
I didn’t want to see her again, either, as I walked alone. There was no need.
Usually, I would have dismissed Raven’s words. But this was different. There was urgency in Raven’s voice that I had never heard before.
Maybe cats were coming to invade the lands.
The sun sunk under the trees in the sunset light. I lazily drifted a paw over the tip of the branch that I was sitting on.
The day had been peaceful. Living alone is perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
A rustling was evident in the air. I looked down, like I had done earlier in the day. Oak was there this time, with Raven. Thankfully, the two toms hadn’t spotted me – as of now.
“They’re coming,” Oak hissed. “They’re coming, Raven. I know that they’ll come tomorrow. You just wait.”
“Are you sure?” Raven replied, his amber gaze nearly singeing Oak’s pelt in intensity. “I haven’t seen them. Is this because you travel beyond the forest-lands, where hardly any cat goes?”
Oak gave a weary nod. “I assure you. They will come tomorrow. All the cats that live in the forest will be threatened.” He paused slightly, and then continued: “Especially Wisp.”
My blood chilled. Something bad was going to happen! However, by the tone of their voices, they hadn’t spotted me. I relaxed slightly, knowing that fact.
“He prefers not to talk to anyone,” Oak went on. “With all these new cats coming to stay, he won’t cope.” An evil look swept onto Oak’s face. “Then he’ll leave. Our life here will be so much easier.”
“By the sounds of it, it won’t be, with those groups of cats coming,” Raven countered.
What if they’re lying? I thought. What if they’re trying to trick me? Realizing their meaning, I blocked out those thoughts. No… Oak wouldn’t lie about something like that.
I felt my blood chilling again. Tomorrow is going to be a time of change, and I’m going to dislike it.
At sunhigh, I padded to the edge of the forest. That place was where Oak had said the strange cats – that possibly were going to be invading the land – were going to enter, and take over.
In a rush, I climbed up a tree, and held on to a sturdy branch – not too low to the ground, so that they couldn’t see me, but not too high, so I would be able to see them. They wouldn’t even know that I was there.
I waited. And waited. The sun slid below the treetops, and sunset light spilled over the forest. Still I waited, in the apprehension of what was coming. I had to see these cats, whoever they were.
Finally, as the sun slipped below the horizon, I heard a noise:
“Let’s settle down for the night. Every cat needs to rest. Tomorrow, we will see if StarClan has brought us to where they have wanted us to go.”
StarClan? What’s that? I thought. Then the obvious popped into my head. Oak was right! Those are the strange cats he was talking about, wasn’t it?
Silently, I slid down the tree, and fled. As I moved away, I heard the voices of cats:
“Hey, I smell this rogue moving about the place,” one cat mewed.
“Quiet!” hissed another. “We need to sleep. Wait for StarClan to show us if this is the place for us!”
Their voices faded away after that, as I fled into the distance. But by what they were talking about, I knew instantly that it was about me.
The sun slid into the branches as I woke up. The breeze of newleaf ruffled my long, thick fur. I wondered why I was so jumpy – and then I remembered.
That group of cats that was talking about StarClan, whatever that thing is.
I rose to my paws, and stretched. I had to go back and see those strange cats – whoever they were. All I knew about them is that they weren’t from this area, and that they had a thing called StarClan.
And in my opinion, that wasn’t much at all. To me, there was more to it than that.
I followed my scent from the previous night, which was now stale. As I followed it, I felt my heart giving leaps and bounds. What were they? What was their business here? Was their stay going to be permanent?
If it’s permanent, I swear I am going to explode, I thought.
As I rounded the final bend, I smelt the scent of the foreign cats. They didn’t have distinctive scents – they all smelt the same.
I quickly darted up the tree that I had climbed up the night before. Narrowing my blue eyes, I looked down.
There were a lot of cats, all swarming within each other. There were too many to count. In the anxiety of seeing so many different cats, I turned my head away.
This is too many cats! There’s way more than I expected out there! Oak knew what he was talking about when he mentioned them!