The brown queen looked at her mate as she lay, the pain apparent in her eyes. "Socrates," She spoke softly, "I'm having a little trouble." The silver tabby tom sat by her, holding her paw and coaxing her onward. His disappointed eyes fell on each of the kittens as they appeared, all of them dead. The pair's older daughter, Christine, looked on. Christine was the only child of their first litter, and she looked just like her father, who doted on her. Violet's breathing grew heavier as she laboured to bring the fourth one into the world. Socrates squeezed his mate's paw.
"Violet? The kittens are dead." He said gently. Violet only bit her lip and nodded. They gazed sadly down at the four kittens. "I'll find a place to bury them." Socrates said, getting up to hide his disappointment. He didn't want to upset Violet. Christine, eight months old followed him. She didn't quite understand what was going on, but she realised that she wouldn't have any brothers or sisters to play with.
Once the other two had left, Violet looked down at the four still bodies. The sight of them felt like a knife in her heart. She picked each one up in turn and cradled them, trying to imagine warm fur and movement instead of cold stiffness. She picked up the first one, a mottled brown tom. "Gaspar." She named the stillborn kitten, running a paw over his tiny head. A silver coloured queen was next. "Tarnish." she sighed, cuddling it to her cheek. The third was a silver tom with tabby markings. "Quince." Slow tears ran down her face as she mourned for her lost kittens, and she reached for the fourth. She stared at the tiny replica of herself - the same soft brown fur, marked with cream on the stomach and a little on the face, the kitten probably had blue eyes, as well.
The almost-new mother broke down, all dreams of a new family turning to dust - until a feeling in her paws made her look up. The kitten was warm! She had been too upset to notice when she first picked the kitten up. She felt gently with her paws around the kitten's chest. Her face broke into a smile, feeling a weak heartbeat. Keeping the kitten against her body, she massaged the tiny body to raise the body temperature to normal. Soon, the kitten let out a faint squeak and nuzzled against her. Violet let the kitten nurse, gazing at her new daughter. "Sillabub. Your name is Sillabub."
Sillabub grew strong and healthy, despite being the runt of the litter. Violet showered her with attention, keeping her away from anything that could be potentially dangerous. Christine was almost a second mother to the kitten, filling in the times when Violet was away, either mousing for the family in the field across the street, or running errands to get milk and such. Her father would sit in the doorway and stare at them, not liking this new addition that took 'his girls' attention away from him.
One day, as Violet was crossing the street to catch mice in the field, she was struck by a car. The screech of tires and a bleat of pain brought Socrates quickly to the door of the old abandoned house they lived in. He soon turned away from the gruesome sight. Violet was dead. He then realised that now he was stuck with two kittens. He figured Christine wouldn't be much trouble, but the kitten... Sillabub was the one who took the household attention away from him, and now it was too late. He started back to the house, and a grin spread across his face as an idea surfaced in his mind. Now was his chance to pay back the little hairball for what she had done. His grin grew wider, and he motioned Christine over, telling her of his plan.
He forced her to stop crying over her mother's death, and then dragged her to the room where Sillabub was playing. He shoved her inside, and she sat down near Sillabub. Sillabub cocked her head and asked for Violet. "Mommy?"
All Christine could do was hand Sillabub a new toy and look helplessly towards her father. Socrates stepped into the room, and unbeknowst to Sillabub, stepped lightly on Christine's tail - not enough to make her cry out, but enough to remind her of her role.
"Your mother is dead, Sillabub. She died when you were born. Surely you remember?" Socrates spoke up, staring at the kitten with distaste.
Sillabub looked at Christine, who merely nodded. Socrates spoke again, his voice full of disgust. "She doesn't remember. That kitten must be stupid."
Sillabub glared. "Silla not stupid! Jus'... forgot."
Socrates hid a smile of satisfaction. It looked like his plan was going to work out fine.
Sillabub asked for her mother often, but every time the answer was the same. Later that week, Christine was talking to Socrates in the kitchen of their house.
"This can't possibly work, Papa. Silla knows that Mommy was around. She remembers her. The least you could do is tell her how Mommy..." Her voice dissolved and she was unable to continue.
"Young minds are easy to mold, Christine dear. Do you remember things from when you were a month old? Just stick with the plan - unless you want me to ruin your life, too." He glared at her.
"Why are you doing this? Didn't you love Mommy?" Christine demanded.
He laughed, but he valued Violet's doting attention more than her love. "Of course I did. But Sillabub took her attention away from me, and for that, she has to pay."
Christine narrowed her eyes at his words. "You're a monster!"
Socrates chuckled wryly. "I'm your father."
Sillabub's requests for her mother soon tapered off as she began to accept the new idea. She grew up ignored by Socrates, and Christine stepped in to take Violet's place, teaching Silla what she needed to know about life, and fabricating false memories to answer Sillabub's questions about her earlier life.
"Christine?" 7 month old Sillabub looked up at her older sister. "If Mommy died when I was born, how'd I stay alive? Doesn't a little kitten need it's mommy?"
Christine knew that Silla was too old to distract with toys, so she took a deep breath. "There was a queen living just down the street who had kittens your age. She had a little extra milk, so Papa sent for her when you needed fed, and I kept you warm." She lied.
Sillabub grinned and snuggled against her sister. A sudden image came to her mind, a flash of brown fur, coupled with a purring vibration, and the smell of milk. "What color was she? The queen that fed me?" She asked, suddenly.
Christine looked startled, but thought quickly. "She was white, Silla. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no reason." Sillabub was puzzled, but she pushed the memory out of her mind. She didn't want to make her life any more confusing than it was now.
"I dunno, Socrates. 10 months is a little old. Is she strong?"
"She is a hard worker, and I'm sure you'll do well by her."
Christine stopped suddenly, hearing her Papa talking to another cat. She was a year and a half now, and by now knew how to handle her father. She was just about to barge in when she recognized whom the other voice belonged to. "Hadley, the tom from a couple blocks down. What's he doing here?" She muttered. Hadley's voice broke through her thoughts.
"I guess I'll take her, then. Older kittens can work longer, and she can help teach some of the younger ones. How much will I owe you?"
Christine could almost hear Socrates calculating. "We can work payment out later. How soon can you take her?" She heard him reply. Suddenly, a thought made her gasp out loud. Hadley built things, strange contraptions that he used to help him burglarize the human's houses! And he bought kittens to help him! She knew immediately that her father was selling Sillabub. After clapping a paw over her mouth and waiting a couple of seconds to make sure the toms hadn't heard her, she rushed to Sillabub's room. She started dragging Sillabub out without a word of explanation.
"Hey, Christine! What are you doing!" Sillabub complained. "Lemme go!"
"Shhhhhhh!" Christine hissed. "You have to get out of here."
"W-What?! What are you talking about?" Silla hissed back, keeping her voice down.
"Papa's selling you to Hadley! You have to get away! Now!" Christine hurried Sillabub down to the basement.
"Hadley?" It took a moment for it to register in Silla's mind. "But Hadley takes kittens!"
"And you're not quite an adult yet, Silla. You know Dad's always been against you ever since..." She hesitated. "Mother died." Christine grabbed a small satchel and quickly started filling it with food and Silla's personal belongings.
Sillabub nodded. That was true. Her father hardly ever spoke to her, and when he did, it was usually an order, or 'get out of my way.' "Christine? What was Mommy like?"
Christine looked up. "Your mother looked just like you." She looked like she was about to say something else , but quickly went back to packing, to hide her emotions.
Sillabub thought about that for a moment. "If I can't stay here, where can I go?"
Christine fastened the bag shut, and handed it to Sillabub. "Go far away. Out of this town if you can. Find a human and claim them as your pet. Someday, I'll try to find you. I'll come and visit you."
Sillabub started to cry. "I don't want to go, Christine! I don't want to leave you and be all alone!
Christine looked as upset as Silla. "You have to, Silla. If you don't leave yourself, Papa's going to give you to Hadley, and you'll never see me again." She gently detached Sillabub from herself and jumped onto a table to open the basement window.
Sillabub sniffed and jumped up next to Christine. "Promise me you'll come find me?"
Christine picked Silla up and pushed her outside through the window. "I promise." She smiled at Sillabub. "Now go, quick!"
Sillabub looked through the window. "What about Dad?"
"I'll take care of Dad. Now, go!" Christine shut the window.
Sillabub looked at Christine, and then took a few steps away. She turned back, but Christine beckoned her away. She saw her sister turn and look behind her, and then she caught a glimpse of her sister struggling against her father, trying in vain to keep him from following. She moved faster, her heart pounding.
"Sillabub." Her father's voice came from behind her, cold, and hard. She turned to find him out the window, standing a few feet away. She looked at him helplessly.
Socrates looked straight into her eyes. "Where were you going, Sillabub?" He spoke softly and started moving forward slowly. "Did you think you'd get away from me? No one gets away from me." His voice was low, almost melodic. He was still staring into her eyes. Sillabub was finding it hard to look away. "You have to remember your place in the family." Sillabub finally realised what was going on, and a cold fear started spreading across her body. Her father could hypnotise people! The trait hadn't made itself known in either Sillabub or her sister, but her father could. His eyes burned into hers, she felt her body succumb, and she stopped resisting. Socrates smiled cruelly. "Come back inside, Sillabub."
Sillabub felt herself moving back towards the window. NO! She screamed in her head, but all she could do was walk helplessly behind her father.
"NO!" Sillabub dimly heard a voice scream. Was that her voice? Did she break her father's hold? No - it was Christine! Her sister had launched herself off the top of the window, and was on Socrates' back. He had left Sillabub, and was trying to dislodge Christine. She blinked - her limbs were under her own control again!
"Run, Silla, RUN!" Christine yelled, still wrestling with the much bigger Socrates. Sillabub stared at the scene for another second, and then ran into the woods as fast as she could.
She ran for a long time, dodging trees. Her breath panted raggedly in her ears, and she forced herself onwards, until the trees around her turned upside down and she was lying on the ground. She lay on her back, panting, until she got her breath under control again, and stood up slowly, noticing the stick that she had tripped over. She wondered how far she had ran. Turning slowly in a circle, she surveyed the cold, dark forest, the remnants of a late february snow still on the ground - not enough to show any footprints pointing her direction, but enough to shine in ghostly white patches from the light of the moon, and it gave Sillabub a terrible aching feeling. She was on her own now. She tried not to think of what lurked in the woods at night, and looked around, wondering what direction she had come from. It was hopeless. All she could see were just trees, with no indication of what way she had come.
A twig cracked, and it echoed in the stillness of the night. It could have been a normal woods-at-night noise, but Sillabub was up and running again, like a flash. she grew tired more quickly, and was soon walking, dragging her feet. She couldn't ever remember being this tired! A wind picked up, blowing the old snow up off the ground and out of the trees, and it swirled around her, the grains stinging her sides. She dropped herself to the ground for a rest. 'I'll keep going in a couple of minutes' she told herself, but soon, she fell asleep, huddled at the base of a tree.
She awoke in the morning, but it was hard to tell, because the sky was a menacing grey. She sighed and kept walking. The trees were becoming fewer and farther apart, and so Sillabub thought she might come to the end of the forest soon. But then where would she go? "Why did I ever leave?" Christine's face came to her mind, and tears came to her eyes. "I don't even know what happened to her. Papa might have..."
"Talking to yourself, little kitten?" A low voice hissed.
Sillabub whirled around, her fur fluffing up. A large german shepherd was standing next to a tree, staring at her. She glared at the dog. "What does it matter to you?"
"Oh, it doesn't matter much at all. I just like to know a little more about my toys before I chase them." The dog came closer. "Now run, like a good little kitten, so I can have a bit of a challenge."
Sillabub looked at the dog, sizing him up - she'd never be able to get away from one that big! She was unconciously backing away from him. The dog leaped, growling, and she started running, but she had run so much lately, and her muscles were sore. She broke out of the woods into an open field - and the dog was upon her. He knocked her off her feet with a large paw, scratching her back with his claws, and had pinned her down, when a whistle reached their ears. Sillabub noticed a collar around the dog's neck, with a little brass name tag. She read it.
"You have... a human. Your name is... Killer?" She gasped for breath.
"It is. I was aptly named, wasn't I, cat." He growled, reaching a claw for her throat. Suddenly, the dog was seized by the collar, and Sillabub was gently picked up from under him.
"Killer! This is the third cat this week! I'm going to shut you in the backyard if you don't learn to behave yourself." A large, angry human was yelling at the dog. He then turned his attention to Sillabub. "Poor thing. I'm going to take you home and get you all fixed up." He looked for a collar. "No collar - must be a stray."
Sillabub struggled, trying to get away from the hands, but the human held her tightly, and brought her back to his house. All her energy spent, Sillabub could only hiss weakly while he cleaned off her wound. "Shhhh, now." The human spoke to her. He looked her over, and then went into the kitchen. She heard a female voice speaking with the man. "Another one, John? How many cats are you going to bring home?"
"I wouldn't need to bring any home if you kept that idiot dog of yours in the backyard, where he belongs." John came back into the room where Sillabub was, picked her up, and brought her to another room, where a bowl of food and water, and another queen was sitting, eating. "You eat up, now, kitten." He placed her next to the other cat, a full grown queen, and left.
The fluffy grey queen looked Sillabub over. "Killer got you too, huh?"
Silla blinked. "Yes." She replied, shyly.
"Want something to eat? My name's Talinnad. I was going for a walk yesterday, and that fool dog caught me off guard. Next time, I'm going to..." She trailed off and looked at te trembling kitten before her. "Oh come now, I'm not going to bite you. I leave that job to that stupid pollicle. Now, have some food." With a push of her paw, she moved the dish closer to Sillabub and jumped up onto a chair.
In spite of being in a new, strange place, Sillabub was hungry, and she tried the dry cat food in the dish. It didn't taste like the mice she was used to eating, but it didn't taste terrible, either. She took a drink of water and turned to Talinnad, feeling better, and started nipping at the strange sticky bandage the human had put on her. "That man.... he said I was the third."
Talinnad jumped down from the chair and sat across from Sillabub. "Yes. I was the first - oh, you shouldn't do that, dear." she said, noticing the bandage. "John is very good at fixing us up. Killer's caught me before. Someone's going to get that mutt, someday soon. Now where was I? I was the first cat he brought in this week. Yesterday, there was a tom, a rather handsome one at that. Killer did a pretty job on him. John had to take him to... the vet." She shivered, expressing her opinion on such matters. "Now, kitten, what's your name?"
Sillabub looked up. "Sillabub."
"Sillabub, eh? I've never seen you around the neighbourhood, and you look too big to have been born recently - where are you from?"
Sillabub dropped her gaze again. "From the other side of the woods." Just then, the door opened and the man came back in. He poured more cat food into the bowl, and changed the water in the second one. He lowered his hand to pet the new kitten, but Sillabub sensed his intention and darted quickly out of his reach. She backed into a corner and hissed every time the human came close to her. He finally gave up and left.
The door closed to the sound of Talinnad laughing. "You silly kitten, those humans won't hurt you!" Sillabub and Talinnad became good friends, despite their age difference. Talinnad taught Silla about humans and life with them. A week went by, and Sillabub healed completely.
"Talinnad?" Sillabub asked one day. "You don't look hurt, why are you here?"
Talinnad chuckled. "Well, little miss, I'd say John took a liking to me. He was actually happy when Killer caught me for a second time. I have no pet human of my own, you see, so after he fixed me up, he let me stay here. He likes you, too. I can tell. See, you're all better now, and he hasn't let you go like he usually does."
The impact of this hit Sillabub and she let out a mew of frustration. "No!"
It startled Talinnad and she jumped to her feet. "What're you yelling about, kitten? You don't want to stay here?"
"It's not you, Talinnad." The memory of her sister telling her to find a pet human came back to her. "I know pet humans are good ideas, but I can't stay cooped up in here like this. I'd rather catch mice than eat out of dishes."
Talinnad sighed. "I felt that way at first, too. It's much easier having food set in front of you than having to go out and catch it yourself."
Sillabub paced back and forth. "You have to help me get out of here, Talinnad. I can't stay here!"
"If that's what you really want, Sillabub." the grey queen sighed. "John won't like it, mind you." She leaped gracefully up to a window, short and close to the ceiling. "Another cat in here once taught me how to undo window latches." She slid her paw around the latch, gave it a sharp tug, and the window swung inward, tumbling her to the floor.
"Just out there. Run straight, you'll have to jump over the fence, but it's not very high." Sillabub followed the instructions, pausing in the open window to look back at Talinnad.
"Thank you, Talinnad, for helping me, and being my friend." The two touched noses, and Sillabub left the yard, clearing the fence.
Sillabub felt even more alone now that she had spent a short time in the company of another. She knew she couldn't stay with the human - she couldn't stand staying indoors all the time. She knew John's home was not the place for her.
She walked for a long time, catching mice in fields and sleeping in trees. Night sounds didn't scare her as much anymore, she was almost enjoying travelling - except she was alone.
One night, she was walking near a fence when she heard noises - they sounded like other cats! She sniffed her way closer, peering through the fence... yes! Other cats of all colours, gathered together in a junkyard. Bolder than she felt, her feet moved one after the other, drawing her nearer to the junkyard gate...
**Note: This fic was created by me for entertainment, I make no money off of this, nor do I own any CATS characters.