Lily just wished that she could sleep through it all. All of the horror, all of the misery.
But she couldn't, because of the reek of cats and their frightened cries. The sound of them getting sick from the movement of the vehicle.
But sleeping won't be any help with getting out of here! She pawed at the intertwined wires, meowing with fury. It was solid as a rock. But she couldn't stay in there forever!
She attempted to reach her paw through the cage bars, trying to find some sort of lock or catch she could use to pop the door open.
Struggling, she tried to push it open, but once again had no luck.
An intimidating voice rang out behind her. "It's no use."
She whipped around. "So you're just going to sit here, doing nothing, while the Twolegs are going to take us away to do who knows what?" she hissed.
He fiddled with his claws almost carelessly. "Oh, it's not so much of a secret what happens to us."
Bile rose in her throat. "What? What are they going to do?" she demanded.
But just then, the truck screeched to a bone - rattling halt. Lily was thrown forward in her cage, causing her side to slam against the edge of the bars, her cage jamming into the one next to it. The she-cat contained in it let out an angry hiss.
The cries turned into worried mutterings and rushed love confessions. Fear raged through her. She turned to the tom once again.
"Where are we?" she questioned breathily.
He gave her a mocking grin. "We're at the pound."
By ones and sometimes twos, the cages were removed from the dark back of the truck. The outside light was blinding, and because of this, she could see the complete inside of the truck. She wouldn't have been able to get out even if she somehow managed to push the door open, because the cages were packed so tight that she was surprised there was even any air in there.
A big, hairy Twoleg paw finally reached towards her cage. She didn't know whether or not to be relieved that she was escaping, or horrified that she was going to meet her fate.
The cage swung around so much in the trip inside the Twoleg building, that she thought she was going to feel sick. Unable to stop herself, she vomited in the corner.
To her relief, she was soon set down. The cage still reeked though.
From what she could gather, these Twolegs would take cats off of the streets, and stick them in these cages. Sometimes Twolegs would bring kittypets, too, but apparently that wasn't as often. What kind of Twoleg would abandon their own kittypet?
At the end of her nauseating journey, she found herself in the very same cage, yet in a row that was more spacious than the awful truck. But there were still cages and cages piled on top of her and around her, all full of terrified cats mewling and talking and crying. It certainly wasn't cheery.
Eventually, the stuffy air in there grew colder. She could tell that it was nighttime. For awhile, she curled up in the clean corner of her cage, in a futile attempt to get some sleep. She soon realized that it was no use. Half of the cats didn't seem to want to sleep, because of fear or nightmares.
Eventually, she just rolled over and stood up. A small white tom stood next to her, licking his paw irritably. His green eyes glimmered.
She decided to make herself known a little bit more. "When are we ever going to get out of here?" she asked him wistfully.
He sighed. "When a Twoleg decides that they want you. Unlikely, though."
Lily's mouth dropped right open. "So we're stuck here forever?"
He laughed. "Well you seem uninformed," he mewed.
Lily growled. How hard was it to find a nice, sensitive cat on these streets? But she realized that he was better than most, so she listened when he continued to speak.
"If you're here for a certain amount of time, and no Twoleg wants you, then, well..." he hesitated before continuing. "They take you away, you'll know when it's time. And they'll gas you."
"Yeah, gas you. Make you breath poisonous air until you die."
Her stomach lurched. It sounded like one of the most painful ways to die... unable to get fresh air, fighting not to breathe, then finally taking a breath... choking and writhing. It was like drowning in air.
She didn't realize that she seemed to be frozen, until the tom pointed it out to her by poking her with his claw.
Embarrassed, she instantly leaped up. "Ow!" she mewed instinctively.
"Anyways, my name's Light," he said, yawning. "Well - I mean - it's Spike."
Lily raised an eyebrow. "Are you part of BloodClan? I'm guessing you are."
"Well, yeah," he said, "Light was just my name before having it changed. I still haven't gotten used to Spike."
Unsurprisingly, he was no exception either. There weren't many cats against Scourge those days. It saddened Lily, but then she realized that she didn't have the courage to do it as well.
"My name's Lily," she mewed.
"Ah," Spike mewed, "So you're a kittypet?"
Insulted, she replied sharply, "No. That's just my name." She prepared herself to give the whole lilies-are-poisonous-flowers speech, but Spike interrupted her before she could.
"That's a pretty name. Quite... unusual."
They didn't speak much after that. But that was fine with her; Lily thought that she might have finally found a friend in an cruel world.
The next morning had to be one of the most painful ones in her life. She had a rude awakening, from some Twolegs plodding down the rows. She shrunk back in her cage, as they carelessly flung open the cage door and dumped some pellets in her food bowl.
The clinking sound rang in her ears. This made her realize just how spacey and tired she was... ugh...
It seemed like a few moments later, that she opened her eyes again. She was slumped on the hard floor of her cage.
"Tired?" Spike asked her teasingly, poking his nose through the bars.
"You bet," she grumbled, eyeing him in a grumpy fashion.
"We all want to get out of here. So don't feel alone. Plus - with your pelt and age, it will be easy for you to be chosen. Me, on the other paw - not so much."
"No Twoleg would want a boring cat like me!" Lily couldn't tell if he was joking or not, so she just said, "You're not boring!"
The day dragged by at a slow pace, everything completely monotonous. Towards the afternoon, a cheery little Twoleg came in. She didn't look quite young enough to be a kit, but she wasn't old enough to be an adult Twoleg either.
"That's Mandy," Spike explained, "She comes in every week to take care of us."
Her brown Twoleg eyes seemed to zoom in on Lily instantly.
Mandy padded over quickly, and popped open the cage. Lily, of course, saw her chance. In a flash, she darted out of the cage, hoping to landing on the hard gray ground, and run.
But intead she was caught in Mandy's arms.
She made little cooing noises and squealing as she tried to struggle free. Then she set her down.
Lily was elated. Happy that she was free, she began to scrabble away, desperately trying to find an exit.
She did come across the Twoleg doors. But they were closed and locked.
"Pigeon dirt!" she snarled. There was no escape. The only way she could get out was being adopted.
If she didn't.... she shuddered.
Time seemed to drag by in her enclosed prison. There was no view of the sun, so she couldn't tell whether or not it was day or night. She just slept when she was tired, ate when she was hungry. Well... she was always hungry. The pound servings weren't enough for the average cat, and on top of that, they were absolutely disgusting. Lily honestly couldn't be able to tell the difference if they were rat droppings or food.
Meanwhile, she talked to Spike. Unlike most BloodClan cats, his name didn't really suit him. Lily honestly thought that "Light" was much better. Although if she thought about it, "Lily" was a name for a beautiful and pampered little tortoiseshell she-cat. Not a tough alley she-cat. For the first time, she really thought of her old name more, and the more she missed it.
"How long have you been here?" she asked Spike one day.
"Hmm. Moons," he replied distantly.
"Moons?" Lily asked, in complete shock. How could a cat possibly survive if they had been here for moons? Wouldn't they be insane? And how long until they would exterminate the cats?
And yet Spike seemed fine, undaunted by the times ahead. She figured it would be rude if she asked about it though, so she refrained.
"What part of Twolegplace did you live in, before you were captured?"
"Oh - um, gosh..." Lily thought of all the different places that she lived. It was like a blurred memory before, and now it was distinct and clear as day and night. Before she talked to Spike, she didn't reflect on her life much. Maybe she didn't want to, which was understandable. Shuddering, she thought of the time when she had been forced to fight and flee and suffer. Her loved ones, too. Shade certaintly didn't deserve those scars.
"Uh - I live just down by the park, several blocks away," she stuttered. Spike looked at her curiously.
Like a gushing waterfall, unable to stop herself, Lily poured everything out. From when she was a tiny kit and trying to survive, to when she was older and searching for enemies around every corner.
Spike gave her a strong gaze of sympathy. Through the cage bars, he reached out his tail to give her a light, reassuring touch on the shoulder. Lily returned a look of gratitude.
"You don't belong in BloodClan," she said suddenly.
He shook his head. "I do. I really do."
She looked at him dubiously. "But... it doesn't seem like your type of life."
Dejectedly, she looked outside. Drab and gray as ever, was the hallway, full of unlucky cats in cages. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Spike slumped against the side of his cage. Worry coursed through her. Spike had remained considerably cheerful all throughout the miserable experience. What if his confidence had cracked...?
"Spike? Spike?" she mewed. All he did was give her an empty look, and begin to eat his stale food. Lily could hear its unpleasant crunch from where she was.
Lily tried to curl up and go to sleep, yet she was having trouble falling asleep. She had obviously stirred up some horrible memories in Spike; yet instead of spilling them all out like she had, he closed himself up.
The next day was considered exciting in their situation, because Mandy came that day. Lily actually found herself purring and letting Mandy stroke her; it wasn't so bad, once you got used to it.
"Not so tough now, are you?" Spike lightly teased.
Lily didn't have the heart to tell him that he was a really bad joker, so she just swatted him lightly against the side with her paw. Her fur slightly snagged on the cage bars.
Familiar frustration welled up inside of her, because of their predicament. They couldn't even go where they pleased. Boredom ate away at her as well. The occasional hunger pang too.
Spike just went on to make a face. Lily giggled. He was probably the most fun cat she had ever met, and the nicest one from BloodClan.
Not until then, did Lily consider that there may be more kind souls out on the streets. She counted as one, right? Or did she?
"You are honestly the nicest cat I've ever met," she mewed to him. He just shuffled his paws.
"Well, you surely are unique," he responded finally. She found herself inching closer, until she experienced the weird sensation of their fur brushing from between the cage wire. It pushed into her skin, but she didn't care.
"If we ever make it out of here, do you think that we could maybe..."
"Become mates?" She finished bravely. Spike looked at her sheepishly.
Come on, say the words, you idiot! she told herself.
"I love you!" she choked out.
"I love you too," he replied certaintly.
The pitch black of night seemed to eat away at her. It especially bothered her that when she closed her eyes, it made no difference.
"Are you still awake?" Lily whispered.
"Yes." Spike's voice echoed back through the darkness. She heard a gusty sigh.
A niggling worry was seething inside of her since the day before. "Spike... did you want to say something?"
"Look, the other night, you said something about being deserving of BloodClan's harsh treatment. And I'm worried."
"If you want to talk about it, I'll always be here."
"I don't want to talk about it, okay?" She flinched at the angry snap in his voice. Spike had never been this upset in all the time Lily had spent at the pound.
"Spike, I'm really sorry."
"No, it's fine, you didn't do anything."
"It seems like I've stirred up memories in you that you've been trying to forget."
"You're picking at me again."
Exasperated, she sighed. "I'm not, I swear. It's just that I'm worried. You haven't been able to sleep."
"Well who can, in this place?" Good point.
"Just tell me some of it," Lily requested.
"Okay. I did something horrible, that I really shouldn't have done. You would hate me if you knew." She could hear conviction in his voice.
"You can trust me," she whispered to him.
"I realize, I'm just not comfortable with saying."
"Come on, can't we share anything with each other?"
"You just want to know, you don't care about me. You've been picking at me to find out."
Shocked at the accusation, she proceeded to snap back. "Well excuse me for caring!"
A storm was brewing between both of them, when Lily was sure that only the day before that she loved him. She went to sleep with a cold resentment burning inside of her.
Later than usual, Lily woke up, to the customary rows of cats, all depressed or scared or bored. Guilt crashed over her, when she remembered the night. She didn't know why she would push him like that, he had every right to be angry with her now. Automatically, she turned to apologize to Spike.
But he was gone.
Desperately, she called out, "Spike? Spike! Spike!"
"Shut up!" the speckled she - cat next to her snapped.
"Have you seen him?" she mewed, flustered.
"He's gone, stupid. They took him, they gassed him. No surprise, he was here for quite a while."
She's lying, she's lying, she's lying, because she's a jerk. she told herself.
"Please? Has anyone seen him?" she cried.
A striped tom on the other side of Spike's empty cage spoke. "Like Lila said, he's gone. Gassed. A shame."
Lily's heart already had been broken plenty of times in her life. So now it was fragile enough for it to be shattered into little pieces, like it did at that moment. Unable to control herself, she slumped onto the floor of her cage and began to cry.
He was the only thing that kept her going in the hellish prison called "the pound", now he was gone. Forever. Because he had been killed.
After that, she didn't try to eat or do anything. She just lay there, lethargic. Spike was gassed even before she could apologize for their fight. He died thinking that I didn't like him. Her heart wrenched. And along with him, died the secret that was never told.
Jilly's breath was taken away at the offer.
"Yes," she whispered.
Scorch purred, and wrapped his tail around her. Her heart thumped in her chest.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
They stayed there for a moment, until Jilly lightly pulled away.
"So... when do I join you?" she questioned.
"Whenever you want," Scorch mewed cheerfully.
She cast a glance over her shoulder at her house. Would Susan miss her? They became more and more distant over the moons. Would she miss Jilly?
But she thought that she had to at least say goodbye to her, before she joined Scorch on the streets.
"Maybe in a quarter moon," Jilly replied.
"Okay," he said. With flourish, he flicked his tail and leaped over the fence.
I can't believe that I'm becoming a street cat. It's unreal. Excitement and adventure blossomed before her, promising a future shaded with light and darkness. Soon, she remembered how rough life could be for a BloodClan cat. Yet Scorch could protect her from that, right?