Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo'09, Words 5164-6042

The lights were out in the children's barracks, and had been for three hours, now. The cat was hunting in an alley between the electric fence and the working slaves' barracks. He had seen a rat, or thought he had. He knew he had seen motion—a shadow moving quickly across the dirt near the barracks wall. Now the cat was crouched down, facing the wall; his chest brushing the dirt, his rear a little higher than his shoulders and his tail a-twitch.

A door, not a rat, squeaked. The cat lay down flatter upon the dirt, his eyes and his pupils wide and his ears pricked. A few heartbeats later, he craned his neck around and looked over his right shoulder. A guard was moving towards the east entrance to the children's field. The cat followed the guard with his head; as the guard entered the field, crossed the field and entered the children's barracks.

A few more heartbeats and suddenly a feeling of dread overcame the cat. He did not know what it was; in all his years he had never experienced such a sudden and dark inner void. It brought him to his feet, and he began to pace in tentative and then semi-frantic circles, whining quietly.

Suddenly, the cat jumped into a run. He ran to and up his tree and across the overhanging branch. He leapt from the branch without any slowing of speed, and landed farther into the field than ever before.

Now the cat paused. He had never before approached the barracks. He paced a few more circles in hesitation, and then suddenly broke again into a run. He charged the barracks wall, then began to pace along it near the door the guard had entered.

The cat knew when the guard began his approach to his exit. The cat posed himself and waited; his chest brushing the dirt, his rear slightly higher than his shoulders and his tail a-twitch. When the guard's feet passed over the threshold of the door, the cat raked one set of claws swiftly and deep into the back of the guard's right leg, then raced off along the barracks wall towards the mountains.

The cat waited for Roci in the tall grass nearest the mountains. Roci did not come out after breakfast. He could not be seen running and playing with the other children. He did not come out after lunch. The dinner horn blew, and the children stopped playing and went into the barracks.

Roci came out after dinner. He walked hesitantly across the field, looking this way and that. He pushed himself into the middle of the band of grass, so that there was grass all around him when he stopped.

The cat thought Roci looked like one of the ghost boys the cat would see at times in the moonlight. The paleness, the deadness—the cat looked for the light in Roci's eyes, the sun shining through his face; and felt a churning inside as his searching found only blankness.

But the cat was a cat, and his face was settled and calm as he asked, What happened?

Ugly came last night, answered Roci. The words were spoken very faintly, but the cat was good at hearing what he must.

Is the guard Ugly?


Roci was speaking so very faintly. The cat was listening very carefully, hoping to understand why his boy felt so bleak.

Is he very ugly, then?


The cat saw the lights turn out in the barracks.

Will you get in trouble if you are not back for bedtime?

No; Niti was very nice to me today. She knows I didn't want to do anything today; and she didn't make me. She brought me extra food, but I couldn't eat it. Roci suddenly began to cry. The cat, still, could not know why. As a cat he had fought, and he had killed; but he knew nothing of the particular violence that had poisoned his boy.

But he had a child sick with grief, and he had to try to help without understanding. The cat leaned into the boy, who leaned back into him. They sat together as the moon came up and the chill came down; the cat warming the boy with his stronger inner furnace, and his concern.

Roci had one strong thought he had to finally share with the cat. The cat felt the sinking fear as Roci shared his thought, but listened without perceptible reaction.

Tobi, said Roci, says he's going to kill Ugly. He says he's going to bash his head in. Niti gets very scared when Tobi says that. She says he musn't; that horrible things will happen to us all if he does. She says the guards own us; and that's why they can do whatever they want, and we can do nothing about it. She says if we owned ourselves we could fight, but they own us, so we can't.

Muri says it's not right—he says we should own ourselves. He says every person should own his own self. It used to be like that, but we can't get us back, because we can't fight. If we fight, we will lose us forever . . .

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