The great escape

00:00 April 11, 2011
By: Debbie Lindsey

The spunky tabby sat at the window staring out. Zack would make two this april 1st; 2 years old and still treated like some wet behind the ears kitten. Everyday, dogs got to go out their front doors and face the world head on. He’d watch for hours on end as the neighbor dogs walked their leashed people, rain or shine. He liked dogs, had his own, and would be interested in meeting others, toss a ball, sniff some butts, pee free in the grass with the big guys. Even more interesting were all the cats out there. He needed some feline chums to pal around with.

There was his buddy Pepper, a black siamese, who lived indoors with him, but she was slow to motivate. she preferred a soft bed and a good book. Zack thought this a waste of time. Just shred the book and move on to the next emery board. sure, sharp nails are a source of pride but what good are they if you can’t climb a tree or kick some ass. Zack tried to rekindle some fight in Pep. He stalked and leapt upon her every chance he got. all in fun of course. Pepper didn’t quite agree yet would muster up a retaliation from time to time. The young kid seemed to enjoy it and she was a good sport.

Being a resourceful young cat, Zack found many ways to amuse himself even if no one else would play. at the far end of the house he’d get on his mark, sprint, quickly gathering speed, then fly onto and steer an antique satin comforter like a glider until it flew off the bed leaving him to leap upwards scaling the lace curtains along the way. securing a foothold atop the window molding—a suitable vantage point—he’d survey his domain and wait for Pepper to come and inspect the commotion. Fixing his sights on her, Zack would pounce ten feet down upon her unwelcoming back. Great fun.

He filled his days as best a young adventurer might, investigating random bits of string, a sock, potato chip crumbs, Pepper’s food bowl. He had duties to perform: sorting laundry and evenly distributing cat hair throughout; catching roaches and scattering uneaten parts on the bed so his people could see how mighty a hunter he was; and his favorite—shredding newspapers.

But these mundane putterings about the house were not enough, not if he was going to ready himself for ‘The outside’. so Zack began his own boot camp training for the big day. He began running obstacle courses throughout the kitchen shelves, weaving in and about the crystal and china. Practiced stalking anything that moved. He perfected his timing and speed in rushing the door every time his people opened it. He’d already escaped several times only to be scooped up before he could advance more than a few feet. But Zack had learned from those mistakes and knew, if he played his cards right, that when opportunity knocked he’d be ready.

and then one morning it knocked. Everyone but Pep and him were getting ready for work—today Zack felt particularly irked by this. always the dogs. They took sophia and that damn little rosie, every where they went. “Come on girls, who wants to go for a ride?’’ “Girls, get a move on, gotta get to work.” The dogs even had careers out there, met interesting folks all day, earned the big bucks, got to boss the tall people around. What he’d give to

be in charge for just one day, just one day of freedom out there.

But this day was going to be different. The door lingered open just a wee bit longer as the four of them forgot and remembered a dozen different things needed for departure—keys, lipstick, tennis ball, “not that lease the other one”, and wait, someone forgot rosie. They also forgot to watch door as Zack made his escape.

‘run for cover’, he thought and straight away he knew where to begin his great adventure. He’d been told some stories by Pepper, and then more by Mickey, a young cat his age, who would visit him at the screen door sometimes. They both wove tales of a dark place under the house, in fact there were many such “under the house” places. so, before he could change his mind he darted beneath the house and into a terrifyingly beautiful world of gray shadows and crevices.

The cool, moist air filled him with adrenaline. Little creatures scampered here and there. He remembered missing breakfast and wondered what these guys ate, surely there must be food down here. He began to search through the detritus and found the skeletal remains of previous dining experiences scattered about. Wondering if young cats might be on something’s menu he decided to keep his distance from anything larger than a mouse.

With his appetite bypassed for the moment he explored the ancient ruins beneath the house. This crawl space was home to the castoffs of those who had lived above--a hundred years worth. Little bottles, rusted cans, pots and pans, all once filled with food or tonics, now sanctuaries for spiders and beetles. Zack made his way over old rakes and a tangle of garden hose that snaked through bricks loosened from the fireplace’s foundation by that great flood that swept through before he was born. Pepper had told him that many cats and dogs had been left to their own devices when the water came; many did not live to tell the tale. suddenly, movement to his left snapped him out of his thoughts and he sprang into high alert.

A large gray cat with thick jowls, matted fur, and yellow eyes that burned through the darkness, was perched in the hollow of a rotting beam above him. Zack felt his bladder weaken and his pulse race as the fur on his back sprang up so fast it hurt. He tried to stand tall and fix those yellow eyes with his but all he wanted to do was run. He had heard about cats, feral cats, that could infect you with a terrible disease with just one bite. and this guy looked serious. Then a low hissing growl preceded the warning: “You’re right, young man; this is the day you begin to die.” Zack didn’t wait to reply, he made record speed in reaching the safety of his porch and for good measure hid himself behind a bag of potting soil. and there he would be when his people came home.

Down below, a snickering mew came from behind a jumble of old paint cans. “Weezel, you old softie, you let him off with just a warning.” “Mickey, i did the same for you once, now go check on our boy and make sure he gets back home before i change my mind.” and with a wink and a nod and the flip of his tail Weezel disappeared into the shadows.

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