The scent of blood was on my tongue, a scent I knew only too well. Alarm shot through me - what had happened? The last thing I remembered was anger, and then light, and then darkness... oh no. Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
I opened my eyes. The golden she-cat's face, with glassy eyes and a blood-stained muzzle, stared back at me, just a whisker-length away from my nose.
With a yowl of terror, I scrambled backwards, trying to put as much distance as possible between myself and the corpse. In response, my back legs throbbed, and my back felt like it was on fire. I twisted my head around, trying to figure out what had happened to me - had I killed? Again? But where did these scratches come from? I never got hurt when I killed... and why couldn't I remember anything?
There were gashes running through my fur, some still bleeding, all matted with dried blood. With a sick feeling, I slowly looked around me, at the flattened grass and the three bodies lying in a perfect circle around where I was standing. The golden she-cat. The grey tom, his sky-blue eyes still looking at me accusingly. And one of the to-bes, even smaller in death than he was in life.
My stomach heaved, and I had to turn around and vomit out the contents onto the ground. Almost nothing came out; I couldn't remember when I had last eaten. What had made me do this? I had sworn to never kill again, but why had I gotten so furious that I killed three cats without even realising it?
Had I gone insane?
My head was spinning with exhaustion and hunger, and my stomach felt like it was twisted in a knot. I stepped backwards, shaking like a leaf in the wind. I had to get away from here. Sooner or later, someone was bound to find this... bloodbath... and I couldn't let myself get caught.
My back paw stepped on nothing - on air. I had forgotten the cliff edge behind me. Too late - I lost my balance, and only managed to keep from slipping off the edge by scrabbling on the stone with my claws. I almost cried out for help, but then remembered that any cat that saw me would sooner kill me than help me escape.
Oh stars, what have I done?
I was panting. No one was going to save me, so I had to save myself. With a titanic effort, I hauled myself back onto the edge of the cliff, and onto my feet. Almost at once, I collapsed, exhausted and in pain, but at least I wasn't lying, broken and dead, at the bottom - at least I wasn't like that poor little to-be, his expression so innocent and scared as blood continued to slowly pool out of the gash in his throat. I struggled against nausea again. Where had the other to-be gone? I didn't know, and as long as he wasn't dead, I didn't care. As long as he was safe, and far away from me.
I looked around at the dead cats again, and then at the darkening sky. Already, several ravens were circling far, far, overhead, probably waiting for me to leave so that they could feast on the still-warm meat. I immediately regretted the thought as my stomach growled with hunger.
"I will NEVER eat cat meat!" I yowled to the dark birds, death's companions. "I'd rather die than be like you!"
Their only response was a cacophony of caws that sounded like mocking laughter.
"I have to get out of here," I muttered. Without further ado, I began the descent down the cliff face, jumping from ledge to ledge without really thinking about what I was doing. Where did I go? Away from here. What could I eat? Anything but my kills. Where would I sleep? Not anywhere near the ravens, that's for sure...
The sky was a deep, dark blue by the time I reached the bottom. The sun set quickly in the autumn... the Tribe of Falling Autumn... what if they found me? I had to get away from here as quickly as possible.
But my scratches and bites and sprains and whatever the Tribe cats managed to do to me before I murdered them made me collapse onto the ground almost as soon as I reached the first grassy hill. I couldn't go on... I couldn't... I had to sleep... maybe someone would find me and kill me in my sleep... it was all that I deserved.
I fell asleep to the cries of the ravens, far above me.