The Nine Lives of the White Spotted Cat, Book 1

In 1919, a black kitten with a white spot on his flank was born near a small town. A year after his death, a cat who looked almost exactly the same was born, and a year after his death yet another cat was found. This happened nine times. Was it one cat, living out nine lives? Or nine separate cats? Could it be proof that cats really do have nine lives? It all started in 1919...

Puma had a mostly normal life at first as a kitten. His mother taught him and his sister to hunt and climb trees, just like any other cat. But his life is shaken when a mysterious white cat from his mother's past begins stalking his family, appearing everywhere like a ghost. Puma seems to be the only one to notice. Why won't this cat leave them alone? And what happens when he finally attacks?

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3. The Hilly Land

Rose, as she was now called, was happy to leave the white cat’s territory. Unsure where to go, she took off down the dusty road. It was still dark out when she left. She didn’t know exactly where she planned on going, she just wanted to be leaving where she came from. She didn’t like the idea of hanging around another cat’s territory very much.

    It wasn’t that Rose didn’t know anything about cats owning territories, she just wasn’t that used to it. Where she used to live, there had been hardly any cats at all, so she pretty much just went wherever she pleased, not having to worry about invading another cat’s territory. But she was still a cat, after all, and she knew perfectly well about establishing territory. And wherever she went, she wanted it to be a good place to make her own.

    The farther she traveled down the road, the more trees there were, she realized, as well as more fat squirrels. As she thought about it, she realized that if there were more squirrels, than she must have been getting closer to the town filled with squirrels that Snowball had been talking about. And where there were towns, there were humans. And where there were humans, there was noise, there were crowds, there were small children with grabby hands, there was the frequent sound of a carriage clattering down the road, and besides all that, not all humans were always very kind. Of course, living in a town had advantages, too. Humans often had good food, and sometimes they left it behind in places where they would be all too easy just to take. And of course there was what Snowball had said about squirrels. But however inviting some aspects of going to the town seemed, she decided it wouldn’t be worth having to live so close to humans, always running away when she saw one.

    So Rose turned around and headed the other way. She hadn’t gone more than a few steps when a carriage came through, rolling the opposite direction toward the town. This all the more convinced Rose to continue on the way she was going. She continued on through the night as it got darker, careful to give a wide berth around Snowball’s territory when she passed it. Normally, Rose wouldn’t have travelled following a road, because anywhere there was a road, there were bound to be humans. But she was travelling unfamiliar territory, and while it would be easy to get lost in the trees, she always knew where she was and where she had always been because of where something or somewhere was in relativity to the road.

    Of course, she couldn’t follow it all the time. Sometimes she would have to stray away to get something to catch prey, since the sound of a carriage would likely scare away any animals she could eat, or to get a drink. In the end she always went back to the road.

After going on for awhile, she came onto more hilly land, with fewer trees. After going over this for a long time, she decided to hunt and get something to drink. But she saw no sign of life, no birds, no rodents, and hardly any insects were scattered across the ground. She didn’t even see any of the fat squirrels that were so abundant in the town.

    But she also knew that not all prey could be seen above ground. Some of it, of course, was hidden, burrowed underneath the soil. If she could find any holes or any signs of life buried underground, then she would know that she could find something to eat. She strayed away from the road, and with her nose to the ground, she searched and sniffed for any rodents or anything she could find that might be hidden beneath the dirt. She went on for a while, but found nothing. There was nothing here as far as she’d seen that she could eat and that could be enough, and on top of that she hadn’t even seen any water. She had two options: she could either keep going the way she was, and maybe find a good place to live and have as her territory, but for all she knew, the hilly, lifeless land could go on for miles and miles. Either that, or she could go the other way, to the town, where she knew there was plenty of squirrels to catch. Maybe, she could go even farther and see if there was a good place to live on the other side of the town, away from the humans.

    She decided to turn around and go back to the town. It was better to tolerate the humans as long as she was for sure she would have food and water rather than risk going without. After traveling for she had no idea how long, she became tired, hungry and thirsty. Rose knew that she must have been walking much slower because while she had no sense of time, she knew that it was taking a lot longer to get out of the hilly land than it had to get in. It had been late evening when she had left the town, when the sky wasn’t yet pitch black, but when it was a dark blue and few stars were visible. When she had first come onto the hilly land, she could see every star, and the thin claw-shape of a moon was climbing upward into the sky, almost to the top. Now the moon descending, and the sky seemed barely lighter as she could see just the faintest light of dawn at the edge of the sky.

    Rose could also feel that she was tired. She could feel weariness in every limb, and her sore paws screamed at her to lay down and rest. So, finding a low place beside a hill, she lay down and curled up in a ball and slept.

    By the time she was awake, the sun shone proudly up in the sky. She rose to her paws. Despite how long she had slept, she could barely stand. She got back down again, but instead of lying down she sat up. She wanted to lie down, but she knew if she did she did she would just go to sleep again. But she knew she had to get out, or she would become dehydrated. Of course she was a little hungry, too, but she had had the squirrel the night before and the biggest issue at the time was getting something to drink. After sitting for awhile and fighting drowsiness just being up made her feel more awake. Soon she stood up, and walked over to the side of the road and began to walk very slowly. Gradually, she got faster, and eventually she was at a pace that she believed was almost as fast as she had been walking at first the night before when she had originally begun walking in the direction of the town.

    Rose soon began to slow down, though, and she knew that she needed water. She tried to remember the last time she’d had anything to drink; as she thought, she realized it had been the night before the previous day. She kept going.

    It seemed like the hilly land would never end. Her traveling during that time was mostly uneventful, just her continuing to go, getting more tired by the second and frequently stopping to rest. Every time, though, she had to get up and keep going. The longer she took, the longer it would be before she got any water.

    Of course, she hadn’t completely given up hope of finding any water where she was. She was constantly on the lookout, but since she couldn’t see over the hills, she knew it would be all too easy to simply walk past a puddle only twenty feet away just because she couldn’t see it. Once in awhile she would go and stand on top of a tall hill to get a better view, but there was no water, and no trees to be seen. Just the seemingly endless wave of rolling hills.

    She began to wonder how it could have gone on so long. Had she really gone that far? Then a startling thought shook her. She wanted to go back to where she came from, so that she could get to the town. But what if she had gone the wrong way? The road did curve sometimes, and sometimes there were forks in it and she wasn’t always for sure that if she was still going the right way.

    Rose thought about it, and realized that she had to have been going the wrong way. She could have been anywhere. She had no idea where she was, she was tired, hungry, and most of all thirsty, and wherever she was there was nothing she could hunt and nothing she could drink. And she had no time to rest.

    She then decided that it was time to stop following the road and follow her own instincts instead. She tried to think of the last thing she saw before she had entered the hilly land. There had been a single tall crooked tree, and beyond that there had been no trees and no fat squirrels. If she had known that it went on so long, she would have went back to the town or went another way, but since she was unable to see over the hills she didn’t know and had just assumed that there were more trees.

    Rose turned around, left the road and went up the hill without looking back. She traveled left of the way that the road had been, and for a long time she went on, frequently switching directions and going another way. Even though she was now going up more hills than she had been when she was following the road, she seemed to be going faster than she had been. Somehow going her own way rather than being stuck by the road changed things.

    She went on for a long time before something good happened. It was something she saw--out in the distance. Standing at the top of a tall hill, she could see a dark, crooked figure at the side of the hill. It was the crooked tree she had seen before she had come into the hilly land.



 

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