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Song six of Night Visions.


I'm sorry, mother

I'm sorry I let you down

The fog was so thick that Mosspaw thought he could see cat-like shapes dancing within it.

“Larknose?” he asked, tasting the air. He retched, but at least he managed to catch his mother’s scent.

Larknose emerged from the fog in front of him, her eyes clouded with grief. “Why did you choose this?” she asked him.

Mosspaw looked at her with eyes of steel. “I thought it was the best choice to make.”

“For what?” Larknose spat, “For a cold-blooded killer for your mate?”

Mosspaw took a step back. “N-No,” he stammered. “I just wanted a change.”

Larknose snarled at him. “You disgust me, Mosspaw.”

She lunged at him and Mosspaw was knocked to the ground, unconscious.

Well, these days I'm fine

No these days I tend to lie

“Are you okay?” asked a soft voice nervously. Mosspaw rolled over, wincing at the pain in his side. “You got some nasty scratches,” it spoke again. A she-cat. “If Martha hadn’t found you you’d be food for the dogs.”

“Who’s Martha?” Mosspaw grumbled. Then he remembered: Falling down onto stone, dogs coming closer, a she-cat fending them off and carrying him inside a twoleg nest. Martha. Martha saved him.

Mosspaw heard another cat come into the room. “I’m Martha,” she stated. She had a twinkly, soft voice as smooth as honey. “And the other cat here is my mother, Suzanne.”

I'll take the West train

Just by the side of Amsterdam

Mosspaw tried to get up, despite the pain. “I think I’ll go now,” he said casually. 

He opened his eyes and looked around him, scolding himself for the fact that he should have done that before. He was in a small room surrounded by the sort of unmelting ice that he had heard about in elders’ tales. Sunlight streamed through the walls and spilled out onto the den floor. The room was plainly decorated, with a few pieces of furniture.

Suzanne pushed him down onto his nest. “No,” she growled sternly. “You have to stay here.”

“But I’m on a mission!” protested Mosspaw.

Suzanne purred with laughter. “Mission or not, it’s my responsibility to get you well.” She groomed her immaculate white pelt.

“Should I get some mint tea for our guest, mother?” Martha asked, her head tilted to one side.

Suzanne nodded. “Certainly dear. Perhaps get out the biscuits as well?”

Martha widened her eyes, then sped out of the room in a white blur.

“We only get out the special cat biscuits for special occasions when our housefolk are out,” explained Suzanne quietly.

“Where are they now?” Mosspaw asked, his spirits lifted.

“Work,” chirped Suzanne. “Abigail’s teaching at her school, David is working at his office as always, and Jo and Alice are both at school.” 

Mosspaw didn’t understand a word she said. But thankfully, Martha entered the room balancing a tray of sandy-coloured squares and a white hollow stone with a golden-brown liquid inside of it.

“Drink dear,” coaxed Martha. “Mint tea always helps injuries heal quicker.”

Mosspaw lapped up a bit of the tea. The taste was sharp as well as mellow. “Amazing,” he said.

“Told you you’d like it,” purred Martha. She pushed her head through a small white flap. “May I visit friends, mother?” she called out, her voice muffled.

“Sure! Just be back before Abigail and the girls arrive. You know Abigail hates stray cats coming in here. We have to say farewell to our guest.”

“Of course, mother,” meowed Martha loyally. She disappeared out of the flap and into the outside world.

Just by my left brain

Just by the side of the tin man

“Go!” hissed Suzanne. “I hear Abigail’s car.”

Martha nudged Mosspaw to his feet and hastily guided him to the flap.

“Can’t you come with me?” he asked.

“I cannot leave my housefolk and especially my mother for no longer than an hour,” replied Martha. “Your ‘mission’ might take days! Mother will be worried sick. But maybe you can visit us on your way back? I’ll post lookouts every day!” she yowled as he exited the room.

His journey had been delayed. He would not attract any more disruptions until he was on his way home.

~-~-~-~-~

I'm sorry, brother

I'm sorry I let you down

A monster roared past Mosspaw, and he hastily retreated from the edge of the thunderpath. It had been days since he had left Martha and Suzanne, and he had made little progress.

“Are you ok?”

The voice made Mosspaw jump. He turned around, snarling. A tom was crouched against the wall of a twoleg nest, his ears flattened. “I was just asking if you were ok,” the tom answered in a small voice.

Mosspaw studied him closely. He was dark ginger, with reddish-brown stripes and a brown tail tip. His cherry-pink eyes stared at the ground.

Mosspaw cleared his throat. “I’m lost actually,” he meowed coolly. “Do you know the way to the church?”

“I do, actually! There’s several.”

“I need the tallest one,” ordered Mosspaw.

“There’s Woodsford Church. You can see the whole town from the top of there.” chirped the tom. “And if you’re wondering, my name’s Marmalade.”

Mosspaw snorted at the ridiculous name. He gestured to Marmalade to keep moving.

Perhaps he was making progress after all.

Well, these days you're fine

No these days you tend to lie

The next day, Mosspaw plodded through the rain listening to Marmalade’s non-stop tales of his past. He noticed the same thunderpath they had crossed a few hours before. Mosspaw growled. He had to stop Marmalade from going around in circles!

“So Betty said, ‘My, Arthur, what a wonderful—’”

Mosspaw screeched and shoved Marmalade to the ground. “Are you taking me to this Woodsford Church or not?”

Marmalade panicked and cast a fearful glance over Mosspaw’s shoulder. He relaxed for a moment and smiled mischievously at Mosspaw. The next thing Mosspaw saw was an orange blur and a twoleg carrying him into a monster.

Note to self, Mosspaw thought sleepily after he felt a pinprick in his side. Never trust a cat who…

Before Mosspaw finished his thought, he was fast asleep.

You'll take the West train

Just by the side of Amsterdam

Mosspaw heard a rattle. A rattle?

Then he woke up. His feelings sank so low that they were underground.

“You need help to get out?” hissed a voice. “You’re lucky you’ve got a faulty cage.”

Mosspaw squinted at the black she-cat in the den opposite him. “Are you sure you can get me to Woodsford Church?”

“As if we ever agreed that!” She shrieked with laughter. “But ok. Fumble around with that silver thing in front of you and do the same to mine and we’ll both be out.”

“What about us Alice?” retorted another cat. Yowls of agreement swept throughout the dark room.

Alice snorted. “I help the ones who look like they need it.”

“We need it!” snarled the voice again.

Alice waved her tail at them as she exited the room. “Well tough luck, honey, try again next time.” She turned back to Mosspaw. “Coming?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Mosspaw scampered after her. 

“A lot of stuff has happened to me in the past few days,” he said as walked beside a thunderpath. “Bad luck seems to follow me around like a shadow.”

“Pretty adventurous, huh?” chirped Alice.

Mosspaw was about to respond when he was somehow slammed into a gritty stone surface.

Oh Starclan, what’s happening now?

Just by your left brain

Just by the side of the tin man

Mosspaw watched in horror as as several black blurred shapes swarmed around where Alice supposedly was. Mosspaw couldn’t tell for sure, but he was certain that she was there.

The shapes cleared, leaving Alice lying still on the stone, alive but weak, covered in heavily bleeding scratches.

“Alice!” he gasped. “We have to get you to safety!”

Alice shook her head. “No, Mosspaw,” she croaked. “I;m dying. My dying wish is for you to have the directions to where you’re going.”

“Tell me where! Tell me and I’ll honour you.”

Alice smiled, and it was obviously hurting her. “Just down that road,” she croaked. “And there’s a tall building. That’s Woodsford Church.”

She closed her eyes, and her breathing stilled.

~-~-~-~-~

Your time will come

If you wait for it, if you wait for it

It's hard

Believe me

I've tried

But I keep coming up short

The evening was spent burying Alice in the grounds of Woodsford church. He had found a pile of stones and some flowers and spent half the night building a memorial. He breathed in the strong scent of the memorial and prepared for his vigil.

Oh, Alice, why did you have to die?

Three shapes padding along the stone wall in front of him caught his eye. He sniffed casually, but straightened up as he caught a familiar smell. The three she-cats on the wall were young, and frolicking and giggling as they passed by Mosspaw.

“Careful, Abby,” warned a very familiar voice. “Your father will get very mad at us if we drag Felicity home with a broken neck.” The moonlight caught her pelt and spilled across it, making it seem whiter than ever before. She must have noticed Mosspaw watching them in the shadows, because her face became alarmed and started to hurry the other cats across the wall.

“Martha?” gasped Mosspaw. “Is that you?”

~-~-~-~-~

I'm sorry, lover

I'm sorry I bring you down

“Yes,” Martha answered. “Why are you in the cemetery?”

“Burying a dead guide,” Mosspaw shrugged.

Martha hopped down from the wall, followed by her two friends.

“I thought your mother didn’t allow you to go out of your den at night,” said Mosspaw, looking confused.

A pale grey tabby she-cat groaned and barged aside Martha to be face-to-face with Mosspaw. “Listen, honey, I don’t know where you come from, but the ‘den’ you’re talking ‘bout is a house. Plus,” she chirped, “It’s a Saturday, so Martha’s mother allows her to stay up all night. The same with our parents too.” She stepped back.

Martha rolled her eyes. Inside, she was a meek, obeying daughter, but outside she was like a wild rogue. “Don’t mind Felicity. She can be a real brat sometimes.”

“I am not!” Felicity shrieked furiously. She was shoved by a red she-cat, presumably Abby.

“Be quiet!” hissed Abby. “We don’t want the groundskeeper finding us here.”

Felicity rolled onto the ground in defeat. The other two of the posse ignored her.

“You’d better come back to Abby’s place with us,” groaned Martha. “Don’t worry; it’s a few blocks away. You’ll do whatever you want to do in the morning.”

“I have to climb the church,” blurted out Mosspaw.

Martha and Abby exchanged an excited glance. “Well,” purred Abby, trying not to laugh. “Sundays are always good climbing days. We’ll be there to watch you.”

Mosspaw peered at them curiously. There was something wrong with the way Abby said her words. Mosspaw wondered if climbing tomorrow morning was the best idea after all.

Well, these days I try

And these days I tend to lie

“So,” Martha chirped as the four of them were settled around the main room of Abby’s house. “Tell us more about yourself, Mosspaw.”

Mosspaw wondered about telling the truth about his life, but instead spewed up some random story about him being abandoned and fighting for survival and his friends sending him to climb Woodsford Church for a dare.

“Aren’t they worried about you by now? You must’ve been gone for a few days now,” meowed Abby in awe.

Mosspaw shrugged in an attempt to be cool. “They probably think I’m dead or something.”

“Oh, Mosspaw! That’s horrible!” gasped Martha, and she rushed up to lick him on the cheek. Mosspaw breathed in her heavenly smell of pine and honey. Her fur was soft and warm, unlike the bitter spring air outside. It felt like one of the happiest moments of Mosspaw’s life.

The moment only lasted for a second though, and Mosspaw as left staring into space.

Kinda thought it was a mystery

And then I thought I wasn’t meant to be

One of the good things about Abby’s house was that Mosspaw could lie next to a fire and not get burnt. Only comfortably warm.

Mosspaw stared into the flames dancing around. He was suddenly reminded of Flame. Was she missing him? Had she forgotten him? What if he died tomorrow?

Then a question struck him: did he really love Flame?

~

“Oh, Mosspaw,” sighed Martha as they huddled together in a room that Martha called ‘the kitchen’. “I can’t blame you. We all get blinded by love sometimes.” She laughed. “Even me.”

“So do I really love Flame?”

“Well, if I were you, I’d say no. She’s a cold-blooded murderer, for goodness sake!” shrieked Martha.

Mosspaw grabbed a biscuit between his teeth and crunched it up.

“Feel better now, honey?” asked Martha.

Mosspaw lifted his head to look at her. “Yeah,” he beamed. “And I think I love someone else now.”

“Oh really?” purred Martha. “Who?”

“You, Martha. I love you.”

You said yourself fantastically

"Congratulations, you are all alone"

“So,” said Abby quickly, “If this mission is for Flame and you don’t love her anymore, then that means this mission is worthless!” she declared triumphantly.

“But I still have to climb the church, and get back home, tell Flame, avoid being killed, and return here. Sounds like a walk through the forest,” he said, his tone dripping with sarcasm.

Abby jumped up and down on the spot. “My house, my rules. Well, my father’s, actually. Rule 487: no sarcasm in the house.” She eyeballed Mosspaw. “So get out.”

“Fine.” Mosspaw glanced quickly at the brightening sky. “It’s almost daylight anyway.”

“Oh, yeah,” muttered Abby. “Good luck on your climb!” she cheered.

Oh Flame, forgive me for loving someone else, he prayed silently.

~-~-~-~-~

Your time will come

If you wait for it, if you wait for it

It's hard

Believe me

I've tried

Mosspaw dashed behind a bush as he saw a twoleg coming. Soon more began to file out of monsters and gather around the entrance of the church. He quickly glanced up and down a side of the church, looking for places to put his paws. He scampered to where he just looked, and he heard a twoleg scream. A twoleg carrying a sharp stick charged at him.

Mosspaw’s body filled with adrenaline. It’s now or never, he thought.

So he scrabbled up the first few metres of the church wall.

~-~-~-~-~

Your time will come

If you wait for it, if you wait for it

It's hard

Believe me

I've tried

Mosspaw perched on the roof of one part of the church, terrified. Twolegs clad in fluorescent colours were chasing him up the wall, but were moving at a slow pace. Meanwhile, a crowd of twolegs crowded around the church, pointing at him. He spotted the same twoleg who charged at him before, but this time he was charging at three shapes on the wall.

Oh no! Abby, Martha and Felicity!

Martha and Felicity managed to flee, but Abby got stabbed through her flank. The small she-cat was skewered on the stick.

Mosspaw felt a flat thing slam onto his tail and a yowl from behind. Mosspaw froze in fear, then dashed up the wall and into a small room with a large thing that was usually on kittypets’ collars.

A bell. He was in the bell tower!

~-~-~-~-~

But the rain won't fall for the both of us

The sun won't shine on the both of us

Believe me when I say

That I wouldn't have it any other way

Veronica Pyles pushed her way through the crowds. She pointed to the grey cat in the bell tower. “Get that cat off of there! He’s delaying the church service!”

Two stocky firemen stood in front of her. “Sorry, Miss,” one answered. “He’s too fast.”

Veronica tutted. “Excuses, excuses.” She shot them a scathing glare. “If you don’t get that cat off of there I will file a request for both of you to lose your jobs. Not that you weren’t that good at them, anyway.”

The two men exchanged a worried glance and hurried back to where they once were. Veronica mopped her brow and took a sip of water.

Running a town was hard work.

~-~-~-~-~

Your time will come

If you wait for it, if you wait for it

It's hard

Believe me

I've tried

Mosspaw had climbed the rest of the church fairly quickly. He clung to the spire, the wind fiercely buffeting his fur and threatening to knock him off.

He looked down on the town below. The houses looked like pebbles and the twolegs had gone inside the church long ago.

He smiled at the peace. For the first time in his life, Mosspaw felt truly happy. He wanted to stay there forever, but he had to get back home.

And say goodbye to the cat he loved.

But I won't wait much longer

Cause these walls they're crashing down

And I won't wait much longer

Cause these walls they're crashing down

And I keep coming up short

“You saw Abby?” choked out Martha a few days later.

The funeral for Abby had taken place earlier that day, and the twolegs and other cats had left. Felicity had fled one night, and she hadn’t been seen since. Now it was only Mosspaw and Martha left staring at the plain grave.

“I saw the whole thing. The attempt to flee, the stick, her death, everything.”

There was a long silence. The orange evening sky had now turned to a navy blue.

“Will you come back?” whispered Martha. 

Mosspaw thought about her question for a minute. “If fate allows,” he meowed quietly, “I will come back and we will spend the years together. I want a new life. My life as a clan cat and a rogue were both corrupt.”

Martha’s eyes widened. “You didn’t tell me you were a rogue and a clan cat!”

“You know clan cats?”

Martha snorted. “Who doesn’t.” She paused. “Tell me! Tell me!”

Mosspaw purred as they settled down together. “It all started in a place called Featherclan…”

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