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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8. The River

Thrashing his paws, Puma tried to get his head above the water long enough to get a breath, but to no avail. Snowball had shoved him far enough into the river that it was over his head. The current carried him swiftly away and he could feel the slick bodies of fish quickly swim past him. Where the white cat had gone or why he had pushed him into the river Puma wasn’t sure, but it wasn’t his biggest concern at the moment.

When for a second his head was above the surface he opened his mouth to breath, but he was quickly submerged again and instead of air, water filled his mouth. But when his head had been out of the water, he had seen something. It was a huge tree branch laying on the ground, sticking out about an inch above the water. It was far out enough that he could probably grab it and pull himself out of the water.

Puma relaxed a bit, letting the river carry him to the branch. He just had to wait, and every time he got a peek out of the water it was closer than before. Finally when he thought the right moment had come, he thrust his head and paws out of the water to grasp the branch. His head knocked hard into the branch. Everything went black as the current pulled him further away.

 

Eyes closed, Puma had the vague sense of teeth in his scruff. He went limp, thinking it was Rose, not remembering what had happened last he’d been awake. But suddenly feeling the pain of his injured paw, the weight of his sopping wet fur, and hearing the thud as whatever had been carrying him dropped him roughly on the ground, all the memories came back. He opened his eyes. Standing over him was an irritated looking old orange tabby cat. He broke into a long fit of coughing, water spewing out his mouth.

“Hey!” The cat said. “What were you doing trying to swim in the river?”

“I wasn’t trying to swim,” Puma choked, out of breath.

“Then what were you doing?” The tabby glared at him through pale green eyes that Puma thought probably didn’t see as well as they used to. His suspicions were confirmed by the next thing the tabby said.

“I thought you were just a fish so I pulled you out, but then I get a good look at you and you’re covered in fur!” He said it as if Puma being a cat and not a fish was his fault and somehow offensive. He didn’t know what to say to the old cat and broke into another fit of coughing.

“I didn’t catch a fish,” the tabby said. “Now what am I supposed to eat?”

Puma was in a bad mood and had had enough nonsense for now. “Just catch a stupid fish,” he spat.

“An ungrateful kitten doesn’t sound too unappetizing,” the old cat muttered to himself just loud enough for Puma to hear. “After all, I caught him myself.”

Ungrateful? “What do you mean, ungrateful?” Puma asked. “I was shoved into a river and nearly drowned. What do I have to be grateful for?”

“You nearly drowned,” the tabby reasoned. “If I hadn’t pulled you out of the river, you’d be dead now.”

“You pulled me out because you thought I was a fish you could eat.”

“Just because you’re not a fish doesn’t mean I can’t eat you.”

He’s bluffing, Puma decided. Despite the fact that he had almost drowned, was sopping wet, half this cat’s size, and having a hurt paw, he believed he could beat the elderly cat in a fight, or at least outrun him if he had any intentions of eating Puma.

But then he saw the sky. Dawn had come, and soon his mother and sister would be awake and wondering where he’d gone. If Rose wakes up and I’m not there, she’ll never let me out of her sight again!

He decided to leave. He stood up weakly without a word and began walking away, limping slightly on his injured paw. “Where do you think you’re going?” the old cat said.

“I’m leaving,” he replied.

“I saved your life, and because of you I didn’t get a fish.”

    Puma resisted telling the tabby that it wasn’t his fault he didn’t get a fish. “So?” he said.

    “So you owe me.”

    Puma sighed. “What do you expect me to do?”

    “I think you should catch me a fish.”

    “I don’t know how. And last time I was in the water I almost drowned.”

    “You seem to think you’re really smart. Figure it out.”

    Puma sighed. He approached the water and stared at the fish, each one almost as big as him, and going by way too fast just like the last time he’d tried to catch one. He looked at them for awhile, trying to figure out how to go about catching one. But he couldn’t think of any ways other than the failed attempts of the previous night. He snarled in frustration.

    “This is ridiculous,” Puma hissed. “I fell out of a tree, injured my paw, had to sit and do nothing for five days, was shoved into a river by a weird cat that won’t leave me alone, and I nearly drowned. I really have no idea how to catch a fish. I’ve had enough of this. I’m leaving.”

    He turned his back on the tabby and stomped away. “Wait,” the old cat said. He sounded tired, like he didn’t want to argue anymore, and the irritation in his voice was gone. “Please come back. I’ll teach you how to catch a fish.”

Puma held back a sigh. “I can’t,” he replied. “I left in the middle of the night, and my mother doesn’t know, and she’ll be worried about me. The longer I’m away, the worse she’ll think my paw is, and the longer I’ll have to lay by our tree and never leave.”

Puma was surprised at how truly disappointed and sad the previously grouchy old cat looked. “Go, then,” he said. “You need to go back to your mother.”

“Goodbye,” Puma said. “Thanks for pulling me out of the river.”

He left the cat and headed away toward his home. He walked as fast as he could, but he was still soaked wet and weak, and his paw was still sore. Despite his efforts, it was a very slow pace. Rose and Rain would most definitely be awake before he got back.

Puma suddenly thought of something that could be a much bigger problem than Rose being mad at him; Snowball. When Snowball had pushed Puma into the river, he had obviously meant to kill, and was a dangerous cat. He could be out there anywhere, and if he found him so alone, weak, vulnerable, and still alive, he would definitely attack and Puma could do nothing to stop him. And this time Snowball would make sure he was dead.

Puma continued on cautiously. He jumped at every sound, even that of his own pawsteps, and frequently stopped to look around and listen. He kept to the trees, and every time he came to one he would linger and hide, and walked as quickly as he could the distance between each one. After going on for awhile, he saw something that startled him; bright white hairs on the ground. There were only a few of them, but he knew they definitely belonged to Snowball.

Puma sniffed the air, and picked up a strong scent of...blood? He then forgot about Snowball and realized how hungry he was. Somewhere near, he thought, there must be a recently killed animal. Whether another creature had killed it, or if it had died of some other injury, there was a dead animal somewhere near, one he could probably eat.

His hunger summoned a speed in his paws that just hadn’t been there before, even when he thought he was going as fast as he could. Puma followed his nose to find the unfortunate dead animal that he thought he was going to eat.

It was his sister.



 

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