Hi everyone! This is going to be a quite different story than the ones I've posted so far. Going for a mystery/ suspenseful vibe here. There will be more characters and more chapters too!
This came to mind after watching a lot of recordings of Cats, particularly focusing on Tumble and Pounce, who are just too much fun to ignore.
I promise at the end of the story things will make sense but for now just enjoy the ride!
It was a terrible day for a stroll. It was a terrible day to be outside, period. All week long Asparagus had been complaining about his joints acting up, about how it was going to rain, going on and on until the younger cats had excused themselves to go do literally anything else so long as it got them away from the cranky cat. That left the older cats to try and sidle away without being rude.
Mungojerrie had been one of those cats. That particular morning Rumpleteazer had ditched him for a so called 'brunch with the ladies' or whatever she did with her queenfriends, leaving him to hang about the junkyard with nothing to do but listen to Asparagus complain. When Plato had innocently made an appearance Jerrie grabbed the younger tom and hightailed it out of there, proclaiming loudly that they were going to be gone all day on a training patrol and that they didn't have time to listen to Asparagus talk about the weather.
So that was how Mungojerrie and Plato wound up huddled under a soggy paper bag outside the junkyard, both lamenting that they had not listened to Asparagus when he had said it was going to rain.
"So… heard any good gossip travelin' round the 'yard lately?" Jerrie asked, trying not to crowd the younger cat.
It was more like Plato was trying not to crowd him. The young tom seemed to have grown taller overnight, placing him among some of the tallest toms in the junkyard, second only to Munkustrap and Alonzo. It would have been comical if they weren't both trying to keep from getting wet.
"Uh, no, I haven't. Sorry." Plato said, trying to find somewhere to put his tail in the cramped space. It ended up being wedged between the two cats.
"Oh come on, you have to know somethin'. I see you hangin' around Vicki and the others-"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Plato said, noticeably turning red under his white fur.
"Ah, haven't told her yet, I see." Jerrie said wisely. "Waitin' for the right moment to tell Vicki that you-"
"Please, if we could talk about literally anything else right now I'd really appreciate it." Plato interrupted.
"Sure, sure, forget I said anythin'."
"Uh, so… is it that obvious?" Plato asked hesitantly. "About me and… me and Victoria?"
"Plato, please. Give me some credit. I have some superior sleuthin' skills that not just any cat has."
"Yes. See, I notice things that others don't. Got a special eye for these sort of things. 'S how I know that you're sweet on Miss Victoria." Jerrie said smoothly.
Now, he was a perceptive cat, but even a pollicle could see how Plato's world revolved around Victoria. But that didn't mean that Jerrie could ignore this opportunity to perhaps… impress his skills upon Plato a little. Put some ideas into the tom's head about his abilities. Especially if Plato was going to start training with Munkustrap and Alonzo to help protect the junkyard like the rumors said. It wouldn't hurt to get on the tom's good side, just in case.
"See, Plato, with my superior skills I can just about tell who likes who all over the 'yard. Gives me an edge."
"Really? That sounds useful."
"Yes, it is. So." Jerrie slung a soggy arm around Plato's shoulders. "Why haven't you told Vicki that-"
A howling wind tore through them both, blowing away their meager shelter. The rain fell harder.
"We gotta get out of here!" Jerrie yowled.
"Right behind you!" Plato shrieked, long legs propelling him out of the alley.
Within minutes Jerrie was left behind.
"Wow, kid can really run." Jerrie huffed, taking a quick break in a doorway. The wind had died down but the rain continued to fall. The street had cleared out quickly, leaving Jerrie to wonder if it was worth heading back to the junkyard now or try and wait out the storm. Plato would make it home just fine. The tom was probably home already judging by how fast he ran.
As Jerrie's gaze swept the surrounding area a familiar shape caught his eye, sitting on top of a tall brick wall that separated the buildings. Just to be sure he squinted, leaning out from his shelter for a better look. Yep, it was a patch tabby tom, perched like a statue on the wall, completely drenched in the still falling rain.
Curiosity got the better of him. Jerrie left his doorway and climbed up on the wall, resigning himself to the fact that it would take forever for his fur to dry. The other cat didn't seem to care at all, not so much as flicking an ear in Jerrie's direction as he approached.
"Hey Tumble, whatcha doin' all the way out here? It's not the best part of town to be hangin' around, especially in the rain." Jerrie asked, sidling up to the younger cat.
Tumble remained still, eyes flicking towards Mungojerrie in clear distaste. It was such an odd look from the normally pleasant kitten that it was enough to make Jerrie take pause.
"Tumble, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. Go away." Tumble's eyes flicked back towards the street.
"See, that's the exact opposite thing to say if you don't want me to stick around. Now you have to tell me what's wrong." Jerrie nudged Tumble's shoulder.
"I said go away." Tumble none too subtly moved out of reach.
"Did you and Pounce get in a fight?" Unless Tumble suddenly developed an intense but forbidden love for getting soaked to the skin that he desperately wanted to keep secret there was no reason for the kitten to be this far away from the junkyard.
"Don't call him that." Tumble spat.
"What, don't call him Pounce? What else should I call him? Are you feeling alright?"
Tumble seemed to remember himself and took a deep breath. When he turned he had a small smile on his face, expression seemingly even more out of place on him than before.
"Sorry, of course you should call him Pounce." Tumble said, voice holding an edge that made the hair stand up on Jerrie's neck.
All sorts of alarm bells were going off in Jerrie's head, but he couldn't pinpoint what exactly was causing such unease. Tumble was generally one of the nicest (if not a little rambunctious and mischievous) toms in the junkyard, always trying to entertain others with his impressive acrobatics. Of course, everyone was allowed to have their off days, but this Tumble… this cold, quick to anger Tumble, was not one that Jerrie had ever seen before.
"Hey, Tumble, you know you can talk to me, right? I know we don't hang out all the time but you can always let me know if somethin's botherin' you or if someone's gettin' in your fur about somethin'."
"Thanks. And yes, I know." The rain was falling harder than ever but Tumble didn't even seem to notice. He looked sad. "But this isn't something you can help me or… or Pounce with."
"How about you come back to the 'yard with me?" Jerrie liked the sad look even less on Tumble's face. "We can go pull a trick on ol' Asparagus and see if we can get him to stop complainin' about the weather."
Back to the annoyed look. Kitten had some serious mood swings. It was hard for Jerrie to keep up.
"No. I'm leaving now." Tumble stood, giving Jerrie one last look. It was hard to tell what the tom was thinking. "But thank you for caring. I guess."
With that Jerrie was left alone. Alone and very confused. He peered down over the wall. Tumble was gone.
The rain finally stopped just as Jerrie made it back to the junkyard. Everyone had just started emerging from their den, looking clean and dry and not at all like they had been caught outside in the downpour. Like they had all listened to Asparagus.
"Wow, Jerrie, did you go swimming or something?" Pouncival hung upside down from an old piece of fencing, looking completely dry and very smug.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, furball." Jerrie shook himself, making sure that a generous portion of water hit Pounce squarely in the face.
As predicted Pouncival sputtered and fell off, landing unceremoniously on his face. Within seconds he was up again.
"Hey yourself. By the way, how're things between you and Tumble?"
"Huh?" Pounce stopped his attempts to bluster. "What d'you mean?"
"Just wonderin'. I saw him recently and he looked kinda upset about somethin'." Jerrie said casually.
"Oh. Uh, I dunno. Haven't seen him since it started to rain. But I don't think he's mad about anything. I hope. Is he mad?" Pounce fidgeted with his tail. "Maybe I should go find him."
"Whoa, Pounce, calm down. I wouldn't worry about it. Forget I said somethin'." Jerrie patted the kitten on the head.
Pouncival didn't look convinced but climbed back up on the fencing. "Fine. But I'm gonna talk to him later."
"You do that. I'm gonna dry off." Jerrie had enough of today. Maybe tomorrow would be better and less confusing.
As he hurried off to his den Jerrie took a look over the junkyard, scanning the familiar faces for one kitten in particular. There he was. Tumblebrutus was sitting over with the other kittens, looking completely dry and happy despite having been drenched and miserable in the rain only an hour or so before. Tumble even gave him a little smile and wave when their eyes connected.
"Crazy kittens." Jerrie sighed. Any day now and he'd start complaining like Asparagus.
It was less than a week before the Jellicle Ball and Alonzo was sure that this was the year Munkustrap was going to go bald from stress. The Jellicle Protector was currently tracing the perimeter of the junkyard for the fourth time that morning, fastidiously ensuring that there were no hidden paths in or out that could be used for nefarious purposes.
"Munk, you need to take a break. Nothing's changed in the last hour since we were last here." Alonzo said exasperatedly.
"I appreciate your concern but I have to double check, just to be sure-"
"This is our fourth time this morning. Any more times around the junkyard and you're going to fall over." Alonzo watched the realization cross Munk's face.
"Fourth time? Seriously?"
"Yes. Seriously. Sit down before I make you." Alonzo wound his way around the silver tabby.
"Yeah?" Munk's eyes fluttered shut.
"Then make me." Suddenly Munkustrap was running off down the path, leaving a bewildered Alonzo behind.
"Munkustrap I swear to the Heaviside-" Alonzo took off after him.
It wasn't a long chase. Munk was waiting for Alonzo around the next corner, leaping out and playfully tackling the tom to the ground.
"Argh!" Alonzo halfheartedly tried to kick the silver tabby off of him. "Where do you get all this energy?"
"I save it up for occasions such as this." Munk sat atop him, looking smug.
"You specifically wait for us to be alone so you can tackle me and do-" Alonzo stopped mid sentence.
They were not alone.
There was Tumblebrutus, sitting off to the side and looking mildly surprised.
"Oh. Hello, Tumble. What are you doing all the way out here?" In one fluid motion Munkustrap climbed off of Alonzo, smoothing down his ruffled fur as if he hadn't just tackled the cat to the ground.
Tumble tilted his head to one side, then the other, the rest of his body still as a statue. "What are you two doing?"
"Patrolling." Alonzo said somewhat stiffly as he sat up. "It's not safe for you to be this far out in the junkyard."
"Oh." Tumble seemed to realize that while he had caught the two toms in a somewhat questionable position, he himself had also been caught where he shouldn't have been. He still didn't move from his spot, seeming to wait for Munk and Alonzo to do something.
Munkustrap extended an arm towards Tumble, intending to gently guide him back to safer section of the junkyard, but the kitten ducked and skittered away.
"I'm leaving now." Tumble announced, heading back the way Munk and Alonzo had been. "Don't worry about following me, I know the way home."
"What was that all about?" Alonzo asked as soon as the kitten was gone.
"I don't know." Munk admitted. "But I think that we really should check the perimeter again."
Alonzo felt a shiver go down his spine. "Agreed."
He has back in the place that didn't make sense. It was impossible to be where he was, but he was there, yet he was also not himself.
Who was he?
Anger rose within him. Anger twinged with a flicker of anxiety. He was walking down a set of stairs, down, down into a basement. He could smell the damp air as he opened the door.
There they were. Huddled in their corner like rats. The larger one was waiting for him, always watching. The smaller smiled. Why did the smaller one always smile?
These two were loyal. He had no doubt. But so much depended on them. Was it truly wise to base such an important plan on the actions of these two?
Yes. It would all go according to plan. He would soon have his answers and he wouldn't have to worry anymore. It was time.
The larger one remained still, waiting and watching. The smaller one wiggled out of the larger's grasp and bounded up to him, mouth open to say-
The voice woke him from his dream- nightmare?- and sent him nearly tumbling out of the lawn chair he had curled up in. His heart hammered in his chest.
"Plato! Wake up!" The voice would not be deterred.
Plato yawned and stretched, trying to shake the hazy recollection of his dreams from his mind. It was already fading from memory, leaving him only with a vague sense of unease. These dreams didn't happen often but when they did he always felt less rested than before.
"What is it?" Plato asked, eyeing the source of his rude awakening.
Pouncival wiggled impatiently. "Didja already forget? Jeez, Plato, we talked about this yesterday."
Yesterday. All he could remember was being soaked in the rain with Mungojerrie. They should have listened to Asparagus. He had run home, unwittingly leaving the other tom behind, focused only on getting out of the rain. Then he had run into Pouncival and Tumblebrutus at the entrance to the junkyard-
"Wow. I see how it is." Pounce huffed, turning his back on Plato and flicking his tail impatiently. "See if I ever help you dry off again. Sheesh. Should've asked Tugger after all."
"Hey, hold on. I remember." Plato did remember. "You and Tumble wanted to learn how to do lifts. For the ball."
Pounce's bad mood quickly disappeared. "Yeah. Thought you forgot."
"You just woke me up, give me a minute."
"Dreaming of Victoria?" The queen's name was said in an annoying sing song voice.
"No!" Plato aimed a swipe at Pounce's head.
"You were grunting and muttering in your sleep. Must have been a good dream." Pounce danced out of the way, laughing maniacally.
"Look, did you wake me up to learn something or just to torture me?" Plato huffed. "'Cause I can just go find somewhere else to sleep. I don't have to teach you anything-"
"Alright, alright, jeez, nevermind. I won't bother you about you and Vicki." Pounce pouted. "Even though it's so obvious."
Plato rolled his eyes. "If it was obvious to you then the whole junkyard would know."
"You're not a very nice cat, you know that?" Pounce pretended to be wounded.
"Where's Tumble?" Plato asked, hoping to change the subject.
"This way. I told him to meet us over in our usual spot."
"Usual spot?" Plato followed Pounce through the winding piles of junk, noting that they were leaving the central portion of the yard and heading towards the outer perimeter.
"Yeah. 'S where we can do secret stuff without Munk knowing."
Plato briefly wondered what exactly this 'secret stuff' was but decided not to ask. There were some things that were better left unknown.
It took a little bit of time and a lot of clambering to reach Pounce and Tumble's usual spot, but eventually Plato and Pounce found their way. Tumble was waiting for them. He wasn't alone.
"Hi, Plato!" Jemima waved. Next to her Etcetera bounced up and down excitedly.
"Hi, Jem. Hi, Cettie. What are you doing here?"
"Well we have to practice lifting someone. Didja think I was gonna let Tumble lift me in the air like some queen?" Pounce said, sounding slightly offended.
Tumble snorted. "Like I could lift you anyways. Not with the amount that you eat in a day."
"Hey! I am perfect as I am!"
Plato watched the brothers wrestle each other in the dirt. Jemima and Etcetera joined him.
"You owe me five mice." Etcetera said smugly.
"Aw, I was hoping they would at least make it five minutes without fighting." Jemima sighed.
"I don't think they're fighting, I think that's how they communicate." Plato commented.
Eventually Pounce and Tumble's 'discussion' was over. Now much dustier and disheveled than before, the two settled down to await Plato's instructions.
"Alright. I'm going to need a partner." Plato said.
"Me! Pick me!" Etcetera raised her paw excitedly.
"So, the most important part is to make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground. If your legs are unstable then you won't be able to complete the lift." Planting his feet, he placed his hands on Etcetera's hips. "You also need to have trust in and the trust of your partner."
"Oh, I trust you, Plato." Etcetera giggled.
"You sound like you're quoting somebody." Tumble observed.
"Yeah, Munk taught me." Plato tapped Etcetera. "Ready?"
Up she went. It was easy practicing lifts with Etcetera, who had zero hesitation in being held up above his head. Plato had originally learned watching Munkustrap lift Demeter, and then practiced by lifting Demeter himself. It was rather embarrassing but Demeter had been a very good sport, even forgiving him when he almost dropped her. Almost being the key word. He had yet to drop anyone and he wasn't planning on doing so any time soon.
Etcetera's giggling was distracting though.
"Wow!" Jemima gasped. "Plato, you make it look so easy!"
"The trick is to always be aware of your partner." Plato barely had to grunt as he held Etcetera over his head. She had decided to show off a little and do the splits, moving slowly so he could adjust his grip. They ran through a couple different poses before Plato gently set her back on the ground.
"Okay, I think I got it." Pounce said, sidling up to Jemima. "Ready to go?"
"Hey, I thought I was going to lift Jem." Tumble said.
"Nuh uh, you have to lift Cettie. You think I could lift someone her height over my head? You have a better chance."
"Excuse me?" Etcetera said, putting her paws on her hips.
Plato wisely stepped back. Predictably the queen jumped in to give Pounce a piece of her mind, eliciting a shriek from him that would probably be heard across the junkyard. Jemima and Tumble looked like they were taking bets on who would win. The battling kittens rolled their way, sending the two observers disappearing into the junk to avoid the fight.
"I'll uh, I'll just be over here. Let me know when you're done." Plato said, taking up a comfortable position on top of an overturned canoe. Tumble and Jemima would return once the fight was over. Hopefully.
Time passed. Still Etcetera and Pounce fought on. Plato was beginning to think that the lesson was over. Sighing, he settled down to try and get comfortable. At least he could get a nap in.
A rustle behind him caught his attention. Curiously he popped his head over the junk to get a closer look.
Tumble was sitting on top of an abandoned car, staring down at something out of sight and whispering urgently. As Plato crept closer he could make out what the kitten was saying.
"Come on, you have to. We're running out of time."
Whoever he was talking to- presumably Jemima- must have replied, but it was too quiet to hear.
"They're busy. Now it's our turn. Don't you want to- to be happy?" Tumble's shoulders slumped. "Please. Please do it. For me, at least."
Plato frowned. He had a hunch that Tumble was sweet on Jemima, and figured that she returned his feelings to some degree, but it sounded like whatever he was asking of her was not being readily agreed upon.
"Look, if it doesn't work out we can leave. We can find our own place, far away from here. But we don't have a choice right now." Tumble was starting to sound desperate.
Plato was torn on whether or not he should intervene. There was an air of urgency about Tumble that set Plato on edge, but it was clearly a private conversation that was not meant to be intruded upon. The thought of Tumble and Jemima planning on running away together if it didn't work out wasn't making much sense though.
It took too long to come to a decision. Tumble sighed and slipped off the car and out of sight, leaving Plato alone with his thoughts.
"Hey, Plato!" Jemima's sweet, innocent voice scared the living daylights out of him.
Plato spun around to face her. "Wh- huh?"
Jemima giggled. "Pounce and Cettie are done fighting. We're ready now if you want to continue the lesson."
"But I thought you and Tumble…."
"Tumble left to go get some snacks. He said he'd be back soon though."
Plato wondered if he should mention that he had just seen Tumble speaking with an unknown cat. Clearly it hadn't been Jemima, but if it wasn't her he was speaking to, then who was it?
There wasn't a chance to get an answer. There wasn't a chance at all.
"Hey, what's that smell?" Pounce asked, sniffing the air and wrinkling his nose. "Smells like-"
"Fire! There's a fire!" Tumble wailed, voice echoing through the junk. He stuck his head through a gap in the junk pile, looking wild and terrified. "We have to run!"
"Where? Where can we go?" Etcetera cried, holding on to Pounce.
Plato climbed to the highest point he could and looked out over the junkyard. Off in the distance he could see black smoke. It wasn't close enough to pose a threat yet, but it threatened to spread. They had to evacuate before it was too late.
"This way!" Tumble shot out into the clearing, pulling Pounce along with him. Quickly they disappeared into the trash without waiting for the others.
"Tumble, wait!" Jemima called, but it was too late. In Tumble's haste he had loosened the already unstable pile of trash, sending it crashing down between them. They would have to find their own way out.
"Here, climb up and over." Plato said, jumping back up on the canoe and helping lift Jemima and Etcetera up next to him. The smoke was rapidly getting thicker.
"Where- where do we go?" Etcetera coughed.
"Out. We have to leave the junkyard." Plato said. With the rapidly thickening smoke he strongly suspected that there was more than one fire. This was not something he shared with the others.
"What about Pounce and Tumble?" Jemima asked as Plato guided her and Etcetera up and over the other side of the junk pile they were sitting on.
"They'll be able to find their own way out. We have to focus on getting ourselves to safety." Plato said.
"Tugger! What about Tugger and Electra and Jenny and-" Etcetera didn't have time to stop and think as Plato gave her a good shove, sending her flying forward towards the edge of the junkyard. She could be mad at him later once they were out of harm's way.
It seemed like forever before the three were safely huddled on the other side of the fence that separated the junkyard from the rest of the city. Plato corralled Jemima and Etcetera into the nearest doorway. There was no sign of any other cats making it out of the junkyard.
"Stay here. I'm going back to see if I can help." Plato said, detaching Etcetera from his leg.
"Plato, no, you can't-"
"Cettie, I have to. I need you two to stay here and help anyone who happens to come this way."
"Please be careful." Jemima begged.
"I will." Plato took off before he could doubt himself.
The smoke was thick on this side of the junkyard. There was definitely more than one fire. Something- or someone- had set fires on opposite sides of the junkyard to cause the most chaos. He edged around the thickest part of the smoke, trying to listen for signs of anyone in distress.
Someone screamed. Plato ran towards the sound.
Tumble and Pounce had not made it out. Seemingly disoriented by the smoke, they had accidentally wandered deeper into the labyrinth of debris and found themselves in more trouble than before. A large pile of metal had come loose as the wood beneath it burned, falling across their path and knocking them over. Tumble was on the ground with Pounce standing over him protectively.
And they weren't alone. Three large cats with wet rags over their mouths and noses were advancing on them, holding a net between them.
"Not me! Don't take me!" Tumble yelled, struggling to stand. There were painful burns on his leg where he had fallen into the hot metal. Flames flickered behind him.
Plato didn't know if he could take on the three cats. While he was big, these cats were bigger, and he doubted that they would be pushovers. They also seemed to have started the fires if their masks were anything to judge by.
Pounce stood bravely between the three cats and Tumble, unwilling to move despite the threat. Whatever retort he had planned was lost in uncontrollable coughing. Tumble winced and swayed on his knees, looking like he was about to pass out at any moment.
It was time to act. Plato darted forward, intending to rescue the kittens at all cost. It was too late. He had been so focused on what was in front of him that he didn't notice what was creeping up behind. A fourth cat had snuck up behind him, tackling him to the ground and slashing at his middle with sharp claws.
One solid hit to the head and Plato felt the world fall away, Pouncival's terrified eyes the last thing he recognized before it all went dark.
"Everyone accounted for?" Munkustrap asked, wiping soot from his brow as he tried to count the faces in front of him. From his perch on the tire he could see the majority of the central part of the junkyard.
Luckily the main part of the junkyard had remained unscathed from the fires. Whoever had set them had deliberately set them on the outskirts of the junkyard in an attempt to cause chaos and confusion but not kill anyone. Or so he hoped. The humans had put out the fires easily enough, leaving the Jellicles to sort themselves out. It was not an easy task.
"Skimble, Teazer and Jerrie are taking a look through the neighborhood to see if anyone made it out there." Alonzo said, leaping up to sit next to him. The white patches of his fur were covered in soot. "I checked the north side and it's clear."
"Good. Tugger's checking the east and Bomba is checking the west. I just did a sweep of the south. Jenny and Asparagus are making sure that no one got seriously hurt." Munk ran an eye over the center of the junkyard again. Looked like everyone was there except for….
"Have you seen Plato and Etcetera?" Victoria asked, wringing her paws together. There was a fine layer of ash over her fur, turning her a light grey.
"And Jemima and Pounce?" Tumblebrutus was with her, the white parts of his coat also grey. Beyond the ash he appeared unscathed.
"Not yet. But Skimble and the others will find them." Alonzo went to put a reassuring arm around Victoria but hesitated, not wanting to get her more dirty than she already was. "Let's get you two cleaned up."
The black and white cat shot a look at Munk over his shoulder as he led Tumble and Victoria away towards a bucket of water someone had procured. Munk nodded, indicating that he would be fine for the time being. He really had no choice but to remain calm. If he lost it then everyone else would. Well, maybe not Jennyanydots. She was a force to be reckoned with in times of stress.
A shout from the corner of the junkyard got his attention. It was Skimbleshanks, half dragging, half carrying an unconscious Plato. Jemima and Etcetera were with him, both trying their best to help.
Immediately Munk ran forward, shouldering the lanky tom and helping Skimble carry him to Jenny's den, which had become a makeshift infirmary.
"What happened?" Munk asked, motioning for Jemima and Etcetera to help clear the way.
"I don't know. I found him like this. First I discovered Jemi and Cettie huddled together by a house just outside of the junkyard, and then as we were headed back we nearly tripped on poor Plato. He was just lying out in the open. Looks like he got a nasty knock on the head, the poor lad." Skimble explained.
Plato groaned at the sound of his name, trying to move his feet of his own accord. This did not help Munk and Skimble's efforts to get him to Jenny's den, and the three of them did a complicated dance that finally ended up with Plato giving in and slumping forward again, sending all three of them crashing through Jenny's doorway.
Jennyanydots looked like she was about to give them a lecture about being careful but was stopped at the sight of Plato.
"Lay him down over here so I can get a better look at him." Jenny said, indicating a clean bed she had put together for any injured cats. Despite the fire it looked like Plato was the only injured cat.
"Thanks, Jen." Skimble said as he and Munk carefully hauled Plato up on the bed, arranging his long limbs on top of the blankets.
"Don't thank me yet until he's awake and moving of his own accord." Jenny said, checking the wound on his head. "Poor thing. Something wanted him to stay down."
Munkustrap took in the scratches on the cat's torso. "He was definitely attacked."
"Attacked?" Etcetera said from the doorway, sounding just on the verge of being hysterical. Jemima was right behind her, eyes wide.
"Skimble, please, could you?" Jenny gestured towards the frightened kitten.
"Right. Come along, let's leave Jenny to her work. Don't you worry, Plato will be right as rain in no time." Skimble bustled the two kittens away from the scene, giving them no choice but to go with him.
"That'll be enough to fuel the gossip for a while." Munk sighed.
"It was bound to get out somehow." Jenny said, taking a wet cloth and gently cleaning the wound on his head.
Munk picked up a cloth of his own and started to work on the scratches on Plato's torso. They weren't particularly deep but they were long and painful looking.
"I can take care of this if you need to go and tend to the others. Plato's my only patient." Jenny said.
"We'll be lucky if he's the only one." Munk sighed again. "Pouncival is still unaccounted for."
"A kitten of his abilities could be hiding anywhere." Jenny commented. "I wouldn't count him missing just yet."
On the bed Plato groaned again, trying to move away from the wet cloths. "Pounce…." He broke off into harsh coughing.
"Hush, Plato, you're safe. Try to stay still." Jenny gently quieted him.
Munk continued his silent work, trying not to give in to the anxiety that was steadily rising inside of him. The fires were enough to worry about, but now that someone had attacked Plato and left him out in the open it was impossible to deny that there was a strong chance of them being connected somehow. And with Pouncival still missing… the implications were there but Munk stubbornly refused to voice them. Still had to keep calm.
Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer hadn't yet come back from their search outside the junkyard. Alonzo, now clean, had briefly popped his head into Jenny's den to inform Munk that Bombalurina and Tugger had finished their searches from inside the junkyard. Soon it would be night. While searching in the dark wasn't really a problem, it was what else came out at night that posed the danger.
Stay tuned for the next chapter. And, as always, let me know what you think!