Prison Tat (Pebbleshade's Secret) Jan 29, 2019 1:29:00 GMT
Post by Fireflake on Jan 29, 2019 1:29:00 GMT
Pebbleshade nestled further and further into the wooden corner of the barn, willing his mind to drift off to some distant place. He'd been squirming and tossing around since sundown and hadn't caught a moment of sleep. All he could catch were odd scents and glimpses out of the corner of his eye. Maybe it was best he was awake anyway, he reasoned, so that he could protect MistClan. Their cave camp had flooded only a few days ago and cats only got out as quickly as they did thanks to Dustfur being awake. If only he hadn't gone out hunting that morning, or had come back just a bit sooner, they might have all escaped. A sick feeling settled in as he lay awake thinking about it.
As much as he wished he could be sleeping against a tree instead of straight dead wood, he knew it was a bad idea. He had let Buckleap convince him it was okay the be away from camp at night a moon or two ago. Now he knew he should never have spoken to that cat. He was a bad influence. Pebbleshade turned over, then back over again as he failed to get comfortable. He was fully aware of how impractical it would have been to take the soaking clan to camp in the forest, and he truly was grateful to the cats that had let them stay in the barn, but he wished it hadn't been a barn. He wished it had been anywhere but a barn, tended to by a Twoleg, just over the border from a clan that was being trapped by Twolegs. He lay awake until the moon started to fall back down in the sky, then his eyelids finally fell too.
The dream he drifted into was one full of long white pelts and paws and stone needles and horrible disfigurements. If only the nightmare had been a torment concocted by his own imagination, and not just a more condensed distortion of what had really happened...
Pebbleshade stalked through the Twolegplace with perked ears and a high tail. He was bombarded with scents and sounds he didn't recognize, not to mention the completely foreign look of the angular stone paths and dens, but unfamiliarity had become oddly familiar to him by now. He'd just spent the last two moons searching for new clans with another clan's warrior-- a rude aloof cat that seemed all too happy to take on a loner's name-- and was glad to be headed toward a future where he'd only have to see the tom across Gatherings. Will the new clans have Gatherings? He tried to look up to the sky but found it blocked by overhanging roofs. Never mind. There was sky everywhere, which meant there was StarClan everywhere. They had already led Pebbleshade this far.
While pondering questions of what the new clans would be like, the tom wandered out onto one of the stone paths. The sound of clicking and squeaks hit him just after something solid slammed into his side. Everything from there moved fast. Pebbleshade yowled and tried to scramble back to his paws. His front paw wouldn't hold his weight. He looked up to see a Twoleg reaching at him... big furless paws and odd-looking claws! He clawed and bit, pulled all of the battle tricks he'd been taught, but the Twoleg grabbed him around the waist and it was useless.
Some time later, after he'd ceased his futile efforts to escape, a full monster rolled up beside the Twoleg and he was hoisted inside, shoved into a cage. He slashed at the cold stonelike bars but only hurt himself further. He was stuck.
Pebbleshade pressed himself into the corner of the cage. It was cold and unwelcoming, but only half as much as the Twolegs outside of it. All around him he could hear dogs barking and leaves shuffling. He didn't want to look around. He pressed himself into the shadows. He thought he'd be safe there for a while. After all, why would the Twolegs bother to trap him if they didn't plan to let him out at some point? If they wanted him dead he'd be dead. Everything was- moving! The ground shook. He hissed and tried not to squeeze his eyes shut. The world outside was dizzying.
When the Twolegs finally placed him back down, his eyes widened and his claws unsheathed. "Get away from me!" he yowled. He slashed as the white paws of one of the Twolegs reached into the cage to grab him. Training and border skirmishes hadn't prepared him for this nightmare. His breathing quickened and he sulked at the back like a shy kit. His front leg felt as if it was being clawed at already. Now the Twoleg was doing some odd gesture. Time crawled by this way for what seemed like moons before the Twoleg finally reached in and held him down, coming at him with something long and pointy. He couldn't tell whether it was a claw or a tooth, but he knew for sure he didn't want it going in him. He squirmed and slashed and tried to wriggle free until he finally drifted off to sleep, hoping this wasn't the end.
When Pebbleshade woke up, his leg was wrapped in some thick red covering that he couldn't claw off. Everything ached but nothing hurt as much as before. Nothing apart from his pride, which had been torn to shreds by the Twolegs. Just-- what, a day or two ago?-- he had been headed toward a new life in a new clan. Now he was facing layers of cages and locks, going against a Twoleg while his front leg was damaged.
It never tried to hurt him again. Not as far as he could tell, anyway. It would come near him and gesture or give some twisted miaow sound, but it didn't poke him with sharp things or ram into him with half-monsters. He guessed he was already a conquered enemy at this point, and it was just bad sport to injure a prisoner further. The strangest thing was the way it let him out of the cage during the day. He could wander around the den and do whatever he liked so long as it didn't involve getting away. It even tried to give him food which he, of course, refused. It didn't matter how little prey there was to hunt. It didn't matter that he could hardly hunt in his condition. It didn't matter if his clan had fallen apart or that he didn't even know if the clans Buckleap spoke of were real. What mattered was that Pebbleshade was a warrior, and it was against the warrior code to live like a kitttypet.
He had to succumb eventually. His long fur, which the Twoleg had at first tried to groom with a collection of other long pointy things but had eventually given up on, worked as a cover for a while. He could feel his ribs when he groomed it himself but they didn't show. He could feel how weak he was getting and how feeble his escape attempts seemed. He had lived through a few Leafbares with his clan and it had never been pretty when he and the other warriors didn't manage to find or borrow enough food in the territory and surrounding areas. Finally, one day almost a half-moon after his capture, the Twoleg offered him a small dish of wet food instead of brown pellets. It looked like something had already chewed it up and spit it out. It smelled like those prideful water cats across the old border. But it was better than scrawny shrews and bugs from the ground. Pebbleshade hung his head in defeat and licked up the food.
It was moons of this. Maybe only two, but two felt like forever when kept that way. He sat one day, staring up through a square hole that had an invisible covering, trying to catch the sun's rays. He'd never really liked the sun before but now he wished he'd spent all of his life sitting out on a warm rock. The last time he'd even been outside was for a few moments the day after that horrible hard thing on his leg was taken off. The Twoleg had caught him quickly and plopped him back down in that deceptively soft nest. The sun hadn't been out that day, and it wasn't out on this one either. Puffy grey clouds that he used to love covered the sun and he curled his lip at them. Memories of soft breezes and fragrant grass swirled around him and taunted his heart. Usually he'd leave at this point to scratch at the door or yowl at the Twoleg for putting him in this position, but that day he decided to stay. He didn't know why, but he decided to stay there. He slowly closed his eyes and wondered whether that was a triumph or just another defeat.
A raindrop landed lightly on his nose. He slowly opened his eyes, then crossed them as he tried confusedly to look at the droplet. He glanced up to the ceiling, then his eyes slowly dropped back to the square hole. Oh. Oh. Getting closer, he could see that the invisible covering was up, not covering the hole at all. It was quite a way above his head, but no higher than the treetops he used to hunt in. The tom narrowed his eyes, crouched down, lashed his tail as a goodbye to the trap, and launched himself at the hole. His front paws reached out. His claws unsheathed to dig into the ground outside and give him stability. He aimed. His head smacked against something hard and he fell back down with a yelp. "But..!"
Pebbleshade squinted and checked again. The covering definitely wasn't on. He'd just... missed. The tom growled lightly. "Are you a kittypet or a warrior?" he whispered. "Kittypet, or-?"
The tom leapt up to the hole and went straight through, landing on the other side with as much shock as joy. He stood still in disbelief. "Warrior."
A sound from behind him willed him on and his paws began to move faster than they had before. He ran. Pebbleshade wasn't particularly good at running, but he ran anyway. He ran and ran until he slipped on a puddle and leaned to recover against a wall of the invisible square-hole-covering stuff. He was free. He was free, and he was a warrior, and he was on his way once more to a new life in a new clan. No more long shiny needles. No more pre-chewed food. No more doubt or shame or misery. And no more of that horrible stuffy scent!
Pebbleshade purred loudly and began to groom his fur. All of it, all of that Twoleg smell, gone! He didn't stop until he was sure of it. His pelt was shiny and oddly slick. He moved on to grooming the fur that curled out of his ears as tufts. His tufts, beloved by a few of the queens that had raised him, had gone neglected in the times when he couldn't move his front leg well. He'd found creative ways to keep the rest of his pelt from becoming a tangled mess, but hadn't bothered with something so insignificant. He took his time with it now, staring at his excited, blurry reflection in the mostly-invisible wall. Everything was great until he brushed back the fur in his right ear. There was a little dark mark that hadn't been there before. He gulped and tried to wash it away. No luck. He scrubbed harder. No luck. It looked... it looked like a Twoleg marking. Worst of all, it was too far in to claw away.
Pebbleshade crumpled against the hard invisible wall and tried to dig his claws into the ground with no luck. "Stupid... so stupid!" he muttered. "Walking out in the open, and the Twoleg, and all the cages, and now-!"
A yowl clawed its way into his throat but he bit back and trapped it behind a cage of fangs. No. The Twolegs would not find him again now. He was not a kittypet, no matter what that marking in his ear might say. It was a birthmark if anyone asked. It was a strange scar. It was anything but a Twoleg mark, and he'd been doing anything in these last few moons but hang around in a Twoleg den. He wouldn't tell them. This new clan never had to know about this chunk of his life.
Pebbleshade trundled on and kept to the side of the forest for a while, playing at the land between the Twolegplace and the clan border markings. He hunted and gained strength again. He started to look healthy again. He watched the warriors from afar and observed the way they lived and acted. He'd always hated the idea of other clans, but if he'd been able to endure Buckleap and the Twolegs for more than a season in total, he felt he could handle it. After all, he would only be sleeping in a dangerous place for a moon at most before he got to know the cats and became a real part of the clan. They would know he used to be a warrior for a disbanded clan, they would know he was their warrior now, and they would know he was a good cat. Maybe they would even know he was born a loner, if they seemed the kind to allow that sort of thing, but they would never ever know of the marking hiding behind his ear tuft.
Pebbleshade jolted awake and stared at the ceiling of the barn that loomed so far above him and blocked the stars. He took a deep breath and tried to tell himself tomorrow would be better. The Twolegs wouldn't come to take his clan away. There would never be another moon stained with red, or another flood that he arrived too late to save anyone from. His exposure to Buckleap would be kept at a minimum. The tom pressed himself against the corner of the barn and told himself these things, but he wasn't sure he believed them. It had been disaster after disaster ever since his last clan fell apart and he couldn't help but wish he was there now, pressed against some tree roots and lounging in the shade. That, or joking and training with his mentor, trying not to let on that he knew her sister was distracting her. If only his dreams would take him into those memories, into a place like that, instead of back to the traumas of the Twolegplace, he was sure everything would get better.