Chapter 1 – hope

I jolted awake and scanned my surroundings. Placing my paws on the moss, I pushed myself upright into a standing position. My little home comforted my muffled breaths, and the moss eased my claws back inside. My white paws shimmered in the sunlight that poured into the room. My black stripes stood out as if they were knives slicing through the morning rays.

Most passer-bys would say that you can never find one's home, but I've found mine. It was nice and cozy- only meant for one or two cats. There was a puddle in the back corner, and a hole between the gnarled roots let rainwater from last night pass through. My prey pile was located in the back corner- but only had a small crow and a scrawny mouse from a couple days ago. Cold season was over, and prey would be larger and satisfying for my growling belly.

I couldn't settle for that mouse or crow, my mind was reeling with question. Should I be worried? Was the dream a real warning? I shook my head and proceeded to mindlessly crunch on the crow. I nibbled and spit, but I was too nauseous. Deciding I would go clear my head with the beauty of the forest, I climbed up to the small entrance and pushed my way through the ivy strings.

The morning birds comforted my spinning head, and the vibrant greens and reds brought my shivering body some peace. The sun sparkled, emphasizing the black and silver patterns of my small body frame. Cold season really did take a toll on me.

I made it clear to myself that I would make a morning stroll. My paws pushed on the ground, yet the ground never pushed back. It felt odd after that dream, running through the ivory painted forest. My paws flew over boulders and logs, as if they were pebbles. My fur was slicked back by the wind, and my ears flapped in front of my eye-sight. The tips were black and had little tufts of white fur on them. I was snapped back into reality once I was nearing another boulder. I stumbled and hit my head on the boulder. Blood clung to my fur and stuck to the gigantic rock. I shivered with displeasure as my vision turned blurry, and my mouth tasted salty.

Taking it upon myself that I needed to go home to the safety of my tree, I tried to stand up. Tried. My paws fumbled over a small pebble and I fell once more into a patch of twigs. Cuts and scrapes littered my body, causing blood to pool around my paws. The ground turned black and I could see that bright orange paw again, haunting my every move. H-how? I only dreamed this! It can't be happening!

Rustle

Rustle

Rustle

My breath hitched. I stood frozen as if my life depended on it. I scanned my horizon, only to find nothing but leaves and twigs. Sighing with relief, I continued to make my way home. My paws drug, making a trail for the unseen enemy. They leaped when commanded to, but never made it over the obstacles needed. Splinters caught in my paws, and dirt clung onto my body. My sides required support of every tree possible, and my lungs wheezed for air. Drops of blood littered the ground, creating another trail.

The sky darkened to a peaceful red. Lights that once guided me home disappeared into the thin air. My paws ached to sprint home, but my body said otherwise. The world spun around me, creating blurry lines and shapes. My eyes watered up, and I wailed. "Mom! Mom! I'm sorry! Come help me!" The birds stopped singing their tunes, trees stopped rustling, and bushes stood eerily quiet.

"Mom…" I sobbed. It was no use. I couldn't remember her face, or my family's. They were gone. I was gone. I was slowly beginning to accept my fate. Death. I wouldn't meet my mother again. My father. My brothers or sisters. Just because I hit this stupid rock.

Rustle

Rustle

Rustle

"Mom?" I screamed. "I'm over here mommy! Come back!" My eyes welled up, my paws shivered. Seconds later, I heard my wails echo back. My voice sounded weak and pitiful. Like a kit without its milk.

Rustle

Rustle

Rustle

Mom was coming closer. I sprinted west to where I heard the sound of the rustles, but reeled back in surprise at what I saw.

A reddish brown creature was sniffing around my den, its black tail sweeping the floor menacingly. Its dark paws were caked in mud, trying to dig inside my house. It scratched the beautiful roots that were woven into the ground. Suddenly, it turned its head. Its red eyes shone on my blue ones, and its mouth foamed an ugly white-red color.

I took a step back, but to my dismay, I stepped on a twig. I loud Crack echoed through the night air, slicing into the silent night. Birds took off, rabbits fled. The creature prepared to pounce on me. That's when I realized somewhere in my brain, it clicked. Words met pictures, and everything fell into place. But it was a bad thing though.

I had left a perfect, unhidden trail for a Fox.

A rabid Fox.