Splash blinked open his bright yellow eyes and sneezed as a silver ball of fluff tickled his nose. He batted Minnow’s tail away from him and let out a huge yawn. The sun was already high in the sky and the birds were singing their songs. A slight breeze swished through the reeds close-by. Minnow was still asleep beside him. His mother, Snow, was nowhere to be seen but he could tell from her scent that she was nearby, probably down by the river where she usually went to relax by the calm water. Splash whipped his head around when he heard something approaching from behind. Streak came into view, walking towards the willow tree across the small green clearing. Splash quickly got to his paws and scrambled out of the mossy nest to meet him.
“Streak!” Splash began to bounce around at his father’s paws, “Streak! Where’d you go? Did you catch anything? Did you bring anything for us to play with?” He jumped and tried to climb onto Streak’s back, “Wanna play?”
“Slow down little one” Streak rumbled, gently shaking Splash from his pelt, “I have brought something for all three of you.” He set down two magpies on the ground.
Minnow’s silvery gray head popped up from the nest, her dark blue eyes which were exactly like her father’s, shone with excitement and she began to hurry towards the prey, “Magpies! Those are my favourite! Their feathers are always so beautiful! It’s fun to decorate the nest with them!”
Streak’s whiskers twitched with amusement, “Where’s your mother?”
Snow was already returning and she padded forward to nuzzle Streak, then looked down at her kits, “Did you even try to wash your fur this morning?” Splash looked at Minnow, whose fur was sticking out in multiple directions. He realized that his own pelt must look just as ridiculous.
“Come on over here” Snow pulled Minnow towards her and started giving her a wash.
“Ugh, Snow! I can do it myself!” Minnow protested, trying to get away, but Snow held onto her with a firm paw. Splash let out a little snicker watching Minnow’s unimpressed face as his mother smoothed down the fur on her head.
“And now for you, my little warrior.” Before Splash could dodge her, Snow grabbed him by the scruff and began to wash his messy fur.
“Yuck” Splash tried to wait patiently while his mother finished but he was itching to talk to his father. Streak had been gone for the past two days. He didn’t sleep with Splash, Minnow, and Snow. He always left before the moon was high in the sky. Sometimes he’d be gone for two to three days before he returned. “Ok that’s good enough!” Splash tore away from Snow and skidded to a stop in front of Streak. “Where did you go? Did you go into the Shadow Marshes? The place that every other cat is too afraid to go? You said you’d take us there someday. Can we go now?”
Minnow’s eyes were round with excitement, “Yeah, can we?"
“No, not now” Streak glanced at Snow, who was giving him a stony stare, “Not until your older.”
“But we’re four moons old!” Splash argued, “I want to meet all those cats who respect you and treat you like a real warrior! Unlike everyone else around here. We promise we’ll be really good!” Splash and Minnow both put on their most innocent faces.
“I’m afraid you’ll still have to wait.” Streak’s tail was twitching back and forth, “It’s not yet the right time.” He paused and turned to look behind him. A familiar strange brown tabby tom was waiting near the river. He stared at Streak with unblinking amber eyes.
“I must leave now” Streak meowed. “Keep on practicing your battle moves little one,” He laid his tail tip on Splash’s shoulder, “You’ll be able to meet my fellow warriors soon enough and I don’t want them to think my kit weak.”
“I’m not weak!” Splash puffed out his chest.
Streak let out a deep purr, “I know you aren’t.”
“I’m strong too! Watch this!” Minnow leaped onto her brother and began to pummel his belly. Splash let out howl of shock and started to bat at her ears.
“You are both strong cats” Streak replied with pride in his eyes. An irritated yowl by the river reminded him of the tom still waiting. He walked over to Snow for a moment, who had a pleading look in her eyes, “I will be back tomorrow” He mewed. “Do not worry about me.”
Snow brushed her muzzle against his, “Just as long as you promise me you’ll be safe.”
Streak’s dark blue eyes were unwavering, “I promise, my beloved.” Then he turned and padded away towards the tom. Streak greeted the tom and then they headed off into the trees.
“Well, we should get these magpies eaten” Snow meowed to her kits. She picked up one of the birds and dropped it in front of Splash and Minnow, then took the other for herself. Minnow began to gnaw on one of the wings, but Splash was still staring at the spot where Streak had disappeared. How far are the Shadow Marshes? Is Streak going there now?
“Splash are you going to eat?” Snow was looking at him curiously.
“I’m not that hungry” Splash lied, “I want to go play by the Tall Oak tree in the forest.”
“Well, that’s not too far. Just don’t go climbing it. I don’t want you to fall and hurt yourself when no one else is nearby. And make sure you come back once you get hungry.”
“Yes Snow” Splash mewed and quickly padded into the trees. He felt a small twinge of guilt, for he didn’t intend to go play by the Tall Oak. He wanted to follow Streak. If he isn’t gonna take me with him, I’ll just follow him. I’m big enough to make it! He followed his father and the strange tom’s scent trail through the trees. But suddenly he paused. He didn’t know why he felt the need to stop. There was nothing unusual to be seen. Just some bushes, a small pool of water, and more undergrowth. Suddenly Splash was drawn to the water. He couldn’t understand why but his paws seemed to move on their own towards the pool. The ripples sparkled in the sunlight as he gazed down into the water. He felt a cold wind slip through his fur. A vision unfolded before his eyes: Flames. The trees were on fire. Splash raced through the forest, desperately calling for his mother. Skidding to a stop he leaped behind a bush to hide. He saw Streak and Snow arguing, but the fire was too loud for him to hear their words. Splash could feel the rage and heat in the air. Suddenly Streak snarled and lunged at Snow’s throat. Splash heard his mother’s shriek of fear. And then he was scrambling away from the pool, gasping with shock and confusion. He crouched low to the ground and tried to get his breath back. What just happened? Maybe whatever that was, is over and gone. Trembling, he stood up and tentatively walked back to the pool and peered into the water. Nothing happened. All he saw was his frightened face staring back at him. Completely forgetting about going to the Shadow Marshes, he raced back through the trees to his family’s home. Snow was resting in their nest underneath the willow tree and Minnow was chasing a large blue butterfly. Splash ran across the clearing and was barely able to skid to a stop beside his mother. Snow lifted her head to look at him with her pale yellow eyes, “Are you alright Splash? Did you get to the Tall Oak tree safely?”
“Yeah” Splash mewed nervously, “I just got kind of startled I guess.”
“Well why don’t you climb in here with me?” Snow purred comfortingly, “It’s nice and warm and you can have peaceful dreams that will chase away your fears.”
Splash crawled into the nest and Snow wrapped her tail around him. Almost instantly, his eyelids began to droop. He still couldn’t fully understand what had happened. Was what I saw from the future? Is that horrible vision going to come true?