New Horizon is the first story in the House Cats series.
Evie squirmed and struggled, but the attacker's grip only got firmer.
How would she get out of this one?...
Smudge hit the fence. He couldn't run any further. Fur bristling furiously, he swiped out a paw, but it barely skimmed the ginger tom's muzzle...
Jasper leaped on the dog's back, clawing frantically. Blood oozed out of the claw-wounds, staining the dog's black fur scarlet. He was winning! But the dog was stronger...
He felt himself hit the ground with a large thud and saw the dog tower over him, its muzzle beding down closer...
Evie has always dreamed of living a wild life, with no fences that mark the edge of her borders. Driven by curiosity, Evie starts to stray further than her garden. Little does she know, there are groups of rough, wild cats living on the outskirts of Brindy Hills and they are getting closer to the human town every day.
Smudge lives happily with his humans at Brindy Hills. He has no borders or limits to how far he can wander. Could a house cat have a better life than that? But soon some new cats move in. And these new cats are invading his territory...
Jasper lives at his human's horse place. There is plenty of space to roam and plenty of food so he never goes hungry. The only thing is - will those dogs ever shut up?
Three house cats. Four enemies. Who will win?
Chapter One - Evie
Although it was dark, I could still see. My whiskers brushed against the fence that marked the limits of my garden. My ears were pricked and all senses were alert. I could hear movement up ahead, a small scraping, scuffling noise and guessed it was some kind of mouse.
Placing my paws carefully on the narrow flower bed, I crouched closer to the ground. I could see the small grey creature now. Its paler fur glowed in the shadows.
I lunged forwards, slapping my paw down on the mouse’s tail. The mouse’s shrill squeak cut through the still night’s air. I jumped slightly, my grip loosening on the tail. The mouse squirmed free and disappeared into the shadows.
Hissing in frustration, I whipped around and leaped back up the stone path. I would never be able to catch up with the mouse and its cry would have scared off any other prey that may have been lurking in the flowerbed. Giving up, I took the path back up to my house.
Inside an assortment of strange objects were casting sinister shadows up the walls. I shivered although the air inside was stifling hot. The ground beneath my paws was slippery and I dug her claws into the smooth, hard floor.
I knew my human’s were very generous for letting me live under their roof but I’d still preferred to sleep outside in the garden – even if it was rather cold. Reluctantly, I padded over the slippery floor to me bed. It felt squishy and uncomfortable underneath me.
Wrinkling my nose in distaste, I curled up on the soft, red material. Next to me, I could hear the radiator hiss and the television clicked. The hair on the back of my neck prickled. How could I ever sleep?
Up above me the floorboards creaked and groaned and I heard heavy footsteps. Muffled voices drifted down the staircase and I covered my ears with my paws, trying to block it all out. But the voices kept coming, getting louder all of the time. I gave a small hiss of frustration and got to my paws. There was no way I could ever sleep through this.
Growling as my paws slipped, I leaped back outside. I sighed in relief as the night-cool air ruffled my fur. The close-cut grass was moist underpaw as I crossed the garden.
I leaped up onto the fence, taking in all of the night sounds. Ahead of me a huge field stretched out, its long grass swaying in the wind. A small wooden shed was placed at the corner of the field. Through the day it was used as a horse shelter. I loved watching the ponies gallop around the pen or watch them graze on the lush green grass. Sometimes I dreamed of being a horse. I knew it was stupid and just... Well – plain weird. But if I were a horse I wouldn’t have to eat bland, dry pellets or soft mush. I wouldn’t have to drink metallic water or make my dirt in a box. Never again would I have to sleep on the red bed with all of the creepy noises or be confined to my tiny garden.
As a horse I would be able to run free all day, eat the lush green grass and drink from puddles. I would sleep with my friends, the only sounds would be the night-noises and the soft breathing of the other horses.
Moonlight turned my white pelt silver, a cool breeze ruffling my fur. I gazed thoughtfully out at the field before leaping down lightly into my garden. The soil felt soft beneath me. I nosed my way through the jungle of plants. My human’s liked to come out and water them or plant more brightly coloured flowers. I lay down behind a sickly sweet smelling bush with heavy blue flowers.
Sleep washed over me like a wave lapping the shore.
Chapter Two - Smudge
“Hello, Lily,” I mewed. As usual my fur grew hot and prickled uncomfortably. I stared at my white paws that shuffled nervously on the soft brown earth.
“Hey, Smudge,” Lily purred back. I sighed. I could easily drift away with that beautiful, soft voice and drown in her leaf-green eyes. “What’s new?” I jumped out my trance, trying to act as normal as possible.
“Nothing much,” I told her lightly. Lily nodded, scuffing her dainty paw along the dry dirt path. “Some new cat’s moved in next door.” Lily’s lovely, sparkly, green eyes widened and she gasped.
“New cats!” she exclaimed. “Lori told me about them! Apparently they attacked one of her kits!” My whisker’s twitched.
Harry and Bill? That was very unlikely!
“Are you sure?” I asked, trying to keep my voice as gentle as possible. I didn’t want to upset Lily. “Harry and Bill seemed very nice when I spoke to them.” Lily purred, batting me playfully with a paw.
“Not Harry and Bill, silly furball!” she mewed. “They’ve been here for ages. I’m talking about Tips and Draco!” I shook my head. I had never heard of Tips or Draco.
I looked up at Lily as she got to her paws. Her eyes were sparkling with mischief. But I only had to wait a few moments to know what Lily was thinking.
“Let’s go welcome the new cats,” she mewed. My fur instantly sprang up and my claws unsheathed. What was Lily thinking? Was she crazy? These cats actually attacked a kit!
“No way!” I growled. “You stay away from those cats!” Lily’s eyes narrowed and I knew instantly that I had said the wrong thing.
“You’re just scared,” she taunted, whipping around. “I’m going with or without you!” I watched, my eyes widening in dismay, as Lily started padding away towards the group of houses where Lori lived.
As she began to disappear from view, I scrabbled to my paws and charged after her. I couldn’t let her go to these new cats alone! My paws slipped and skidded on the dry dirt track. Lily’s fluffy cream fur brushed mine I dropped my pace to match hers. Lily glanced sideway’s at me. I was glad to see that the green fire had been extinguished from her eyes.
“I knew you’d come!” she mewed. “This will be great fun!” I nodded, though thoroughly unconvinced. It was okay when trouble found us; it was just wrong going looking for it. I was starting to get the feeling that Lily liked the horrible feeling of fear.
We leaped across the track, over to the house opposite Lori’s. As we bounded up the garden, a cold feeling of dread was starting to build up in my chest. Unlike all of the other gardens, the grass here was stringy and yellow. A single, slightly charred tree stood at the corner of the garden and the air tasted strange, a bit like ashes. All around the house a huge fence stretched up to the sky, barbed wire jabbing the air with its sharp points.
Lily was shivering with excitement, her tail-tip flicking with impatience. We plunged forwards, my paws slipping on the greasy grass.
At last we came to a halt in front of the fence. It was obvious how we would get through; there was a missing plank and a space big enough for even a dog to get through. Lily passed through first and I followed soon after. The sight that met my eyes was horrifying.
Half of the huge mansion-like house had been burnt away, the other half boarded up so nobody could get through. A stick jutted out of the ash-stained grass with a white sheet stuck to it. Blood-red symbols were painted onto the white sheet so that they stood out boldly.
I glanced at Lily who beckoned with her tail towards two cats. My jaw dropped as I caught sight of them. They sat in the shadows, pressed up against one of the walls. One of them was a clearly a tom. He had sleek black fur and glowing amber eyes. I was impressed by his broad shoulders and huge head.
The cat beside him was more delicate. She also had black fur, although she had white paws and tip of tail. Her dainty paws were anxiously scuffing the ground and she glanced around worriedly with huge green eyes.
Lily nodded at me and shot forwards. I leaped after her, alarmed at her sudden take off and the fact that she was heading straight towards these huge new cats. As Lily got closer though, she lowered her pace so that I crashed into her. Lily gave a startled squawk and bounded forwards so that she was nose-to-nose with the large she-cat.
“Ooh,” the she-cat cooed. “Looky here, Draco. We got ourselves another pretty little she-cat.” My eyes narrowed and I could feel my claws unsheathing. I pressed against Lily’s side.
Chapter Three - Jasper
A small breeze ruffled my fur and tickled my whiskers. I gazed down at my owner’s horse pen. The horses ran around in huge circles, their hooves thundering on the ground. My gaze flickered towards a rustling in the grass; I spotted a long grey tail sprinting down the field. I flicked my ears.
How stupid was this cat to go into the field while the horses are running! Whiskers twitching, I turned and raced down the slope towards the barn. The sun would set soon and I was getting pretty hungry.
My paws slipped and slid down the muddy hill and I was soon tumbling down to the stable at top speed. I skidded to a halt a paw step away from the stone wall of the stable. A small dappled grey pony stuck her head out of the stable’s window and whinnied loudly, tossing its head from side to side.
I flicked my tail and padded along the side of the wall. I breathed in the familiar stable scents, wrinkling my nose slightly.
A couple of moments later I was at the barn. Milky scents washed over me and I couldn’t help but feel my mouth water.
I bounded lightly inside, immediately spotting my sister, Violet. Her four kittens were snuggled cosily by her side and a small purr escaped my jaws. Violet glanced up, her unusual blue eyes sparkling.
“Hello, Jasper,” she murmured. Flicking her tail over the kittens she mewed, “They’re so sweet. Why don’t you come and help me choose names?” My blue eyes widened and I stepped back a few paces. Choose names for her kittens?
“Don’t you have a mate?” I meowed, twitching my ears. “Can’t he choose?” Violet’s eyes clouded and suddenly she looked heartbroken.
“He’s not my mate!” she hissed, surprising me by the emotion in her voice. “He’s a terrible cat and my kits must never know about him!” I snorted.
“So,” I meowed. “What did he do?” Violet sniffed, turning her head.
“If my kits won’t know, you won’t know,” she told me. I couldn’t believe it but her stubbornness just made me want to hear more!
“At least tell me his name,” I pressed. “What does he look like?” Violet sighed, giving in.
“His name is, Ash,” she meowed. “He’s grey and white.” I nodded and bounded over to her, gazing down at the newborn kittens. There was only one tom; the other three were she-cats. All four kittens looked almost identical with their fluffy grey and white fur. The tom had a black tail and the she-cat had one white paw, but apart from that you couldn’t tell them apart. I glanced up at Violet. She had cream fur and looked nothing like any of her kittens.
“So,” Violet mewed. “What do you think?”
“I think the tom should be called, Milo,” I meowed. Violet purred.
“Hello little, Milo,” she whispered, licking his fluffy grey fur. “Greetings, Joy.” Violet began to lick the tiny she-cat next to Milo. I nosed the largest she-cat.
“Good day, Dawn,” I welcomed. Violet glanced up at me with sparkling eyes.
“Dawn is a lovely name,” she purred. “And Sunny.”
My heart ached. I knew Violet was just trying to be nice but the image of the little black she-cat popped up inside my head.
Her shrieks and cries replayed in my mind, sending a shiver down my spine. I really didn’t want to think about that ever again.
I looked down at the tiniest grey kitten with her white paw and thought of the small black she-cat with her glowing yellow eyes. Although she had looked nothing like the sun, she had a heart of gold and I knew exactly why she had been named, Sunny. I also knew that she had been the love of my life.
“I’m tired,” I mumbled. “I need to sleep.” Violet’s eyes clouded again.
“I’m sorry, Jasper,” she meowed. “I’ll call her something different if you like-“
“No,” I interrupted. “Call her, Sunny. It’s fine.”
Suddenly I was tired as I padded over to the huge pile of hay in the corner. I felt completely drained and sleep hit me as soon as I lay down.
My dreams were shadowed by the terrified wails of, Sunny. My eyes were wide and horrified as I swung my head around in search of the cries. But I couldn’t see anything but black. Then darkness engulfed me and I couldn’t see myself or even feel the ground beneath my paws. All I could hear was, Sunny. Poor, poor, Sunny. The thing that haunted me the most though was the fact that it had been my fault. It was my fault that she had died.
Chapter Four - Evie
Sunlight dappled my icy white fur. I yawned, my jaws stretching wide, breathing in the sweet floral scent of the bush. My stomach was grumbling loudly and there was no way I could get back to sleep now. Giving up to hunger, I scrabbled to my paws and stretched luxouriously.
My jaws parted, ears pricked and eyes strained. I searched the garden for any trace of life. Nothing. I was making my way up to the house when I stopped in my tracks. No way did I want to eat that mush my human’s fed me. I could just hunt elsewhere.
A surge of excitement washed over me as I leaped down into the horse field on the other side of the fence. I had never ever left my garden before.
I was soon lost in a jungle of long grass, following the faint scent of a mouse. Setting my paws carefully on the ground, I tried to avoid the big piles of muck. The mouse scent was getting closer as I stalked forwards. I bounded forwards lightly, making sure not to make a sound. My hunger was making me impatient.
As I weaved around a sharp corner, I saw the tiny creature. It was sniffing the ground, a small seed between its two front paws.
Purring to myself, I lunged forwards. The warm body was right beneath my paws. I hooked my claws into it and through it upwards, sending it in an ark across the air. The mouse landed dazed on the ground. I leaped over towards it and flung it up again.
The mouse lay limp on the ground, its side rising and falling frantically. I was about to finish it off when a rustling in the jungle of grass distracted me. I turned around to see a smudge of grey and white shoot forwards. My ears flattened against my head as the grey smudge disappeared with my mouse. My mouse. I hissed angrily. That mangy, flea-bitten prey-stealer!
Bunching my muscles, I charged forwards after the grey cat. No cat would get away with this!
Grass flashed past as I raced forwards, my paws hardly touching the ground. As I spotted the grey cat up ahead I felt new strength and plunged forwards.
But as I caught up with the cat it spun around. Suddenly I was knocked to the ground. The cat was surprisingly heavy and its weight crushed me down. I squirmed and struggled, trying to use my puny size as an advantage, but the attacker’s grip only got stronger. How am I going to get out of this one?
The cat’s claws ripped through my fur. I pushed upwards, and, taken by surprise, the tom fell back. I was on top now. I raked his white belly fur with my back legs. The tom’s fur was oozing with blood and I felt him go limp underneath me.
I gave a yowl of triumph. I couldn’t believe I had won!
But suddenly the cat knocked me to the ground again, seeming to find new energy. Soon we were rolling around on the grass, locked in battle. We flattened the grass down, our screeches and caterwauls tearing through the otherwise still morning’s air. It was then that I felt the ground vibrate. The tom must have felt it to because he immediately got off of me.
“Horses!” he cried. “Run!”
Panic flared in my chest and I scrabbled to my paws, shooting after the tom. My sides stung from where the tom had cut me. But there was no time to worry about that. As I ran I could spot hooves thundering on the ground. Every hair on my pelt stood up as I tried to match my pace with the grey toms. We were sprinting downhill and I suddenly realized we were heading for the little wooden shed.
“That’s ages away!” I called to the tom. “We’ll get crushed before we make it!” The tom glanced at me, amber eyes full of determination.
“Then we’ll just have to run faster!” he declared. His paws began to work even faster – if possible. I leaped forwards, following his long grey tail through the masses of long grass. We ran for ages, my heart beating in my throat. I was so out of breath! I slowed down, trying to breathe. But a horse galloped by, waking me to my senses. I took off again, my sides heaving. I realized I had lost the tom. My paws felt as though they were on fire as I leaped onto the trampled grass.
I could see! The wooden shed stood tall in front of me. The grey tom was sitting on top of the roof, his long tail hanging from the side. Bunching my muscles, I leaped up beside him, my claws just hooking onto the wooden roof. I hauled myself up beside him.
“That was close,” I gasped, glancing at him out of the corner of my eye. The tom purred, flicking his tail happily.
“It was an adventure,” he replied. I gulped in deep calming breathes, trying to stop my heart hammering. “Can’t you at least admit it was exciting?” I looked at the tom again and then at the horse field. Ponies and horses were thundering around the pen, sending mud flying out behind them and trampling the long grass.
“I guess,” I agreed. “But I’d rather not do it again.” The tom narrowed his eyes playfully.
“You’re such a pet,” he mewed. I twitched my ears.
“Maybe,” I meowed. “But I’m not a soft pet.” The tom looked at me, clearly confused. Letting out a playful battle cry, I sprang onto him. The tom let out a rumbling purr and we tussled on top of the shed roof. We fought just as fiercely as before but this time our claws were sheathed.
Before long the tom got up, shaking his ruffled grey fur. His amber eyes sparkled and I could tell that he had had just as much fun as I had.
“I’d better go,” he mewed. I watched as he turned and leaped back into the horse field – this time jumping onto the fence that ran along the edges. I was surprised at how balanced he was as he ran along the wire. As he began to disappear from view, he glanced over his shoulder. I purred.
“I’m Ash, by the way!” he called.
Chapter Five - Smudge
“Go and show her inside Tips,” Draco ordered the she-cat in a low and menacing growl. “I’ll deal with the tom.” A wide grin spread across the she-cat’s lips and I shuddered as I saw her yellow, rotting teeth.
“Come with me, pretty,” she sneered. “I’ll show you around.” Lily hesitated, throwing me a fearful look. Her green eyes were no longer sparkling with excitement but wide and terrified.
Not wanting to upset these huge and terrifying cats, I nodded encouragingly. Lily stepped forwards, keeping her head held high and trying to make her eyes go blank. Tips shot Draco an amused glance.
I stood rooted to the spot as Tips beckoned Lily forwards. They turned a corner and vanished instantly; leaving me alone with Draco.
I looked at him, not sure what to expect. But I was startled to see his lips curl into a menacing snarl. A low hiss came from deep inside his throat and his long, curved claws glinted in the dim light. I backed away slowly, trying to make cover it up by rubbing my paws on the dirty grass. Draco took a step forwards towards me. I could feel my paws move backwards and soon I was almost running. Draco stalked forwards as well, quickening his pace as I quickened mine.
Then I hit the fence. I couldn’t back away any further. Fur bristling furiously, I swiped out a paw, but it barely skimmed Draco’s already battle-scarred muzzle. A small smile lit Draco’s face as he realised how poor my battle skills were. He shot out a paw and managed to knock me over with one blow. I could feel my side sting and blood ooze from the scratches. I shivered and bit Draco’s paws. The huge tom gave a small yelp and backed away. I opened my jaws to bite him again but the tom stepped back so that he was out of my reach. I was forced to get up.
But while I was heaving myself to my paws, Draco lunged forwards and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. I gave a startled cry as my paws were lifted from the ground.
Draco shook me violently and threw me against the fence.
My vision blurred and my head clouded. I could make out the hazy figure of Draco approaching. All at once I knew that this was the end. He was going to kill me. I stared at him with fearful amber eyes as he stepped closer.
What happened next was so quick I had no time to breathe. A ginger blur streaked past, clawing quickly at Draco’s sides and dodging as he threw out massive bear-sized paws. I watched, amazed, as the she-cat ducked down and scraped her claws down Draco’s belly. He shrieked in pain and tried to squish the she-cat, but she was already out from under him.
Somehow she managed to drive the tom back towards the house. Draco was soon running back the way he had come. I purred softly as, in his hurry, he tripped over his own paws.
Then, I don’t know how long later, the she-cat was helping me to my paws. She managed to support my weight and I felt vaguely surprised at how strong she was. As we raced down the garden, my vision blacked out completely and I fainted.
I woke in a jungle of green leaves. The ginger she-cat that had saved me was pacing anxiously by my side. I blinked up at her, still feeling slightly slight-headed.
“Where am I?” I asked wearily. The she-cat jumped, glancing down quickly at me.
“You’re in the forest just outside Brindy Hills,” she told me. “But we’d better get going.” My ears pricked.
“Get going?” I whispered. The ginger she-cat nodded.
“Of course,” she meowed. “If Tips and Draco don’t come after you, then my name isn’t Holly.” I shook my head.
“But what about, Lily?” I asked. “Tips took her inside.” Holly shrugged.
“She’s dead for sure,” she meowed. I gulped in air.
I was feeling woozy again and I laid my head down on the cool grass. My eyes closes and slowly I fell into a deep, deep sleep.
Chapter Six - Jasper
I woke gasping and struggling in the hay, my fur sticking to my sides with icy sweat. Cold sunshine made the whole barn shimmer and, still panting, I scrabbled to my paws.
Violet’s kittens were sleeping soundly but as I peered closer, I saw Sunny’s glowing eyes. I stepped back a few steps, startled. Her eyes... They were just the same as Sunny’s.
I turned my back away on the small kitten and leaped out of the barn. Early morning dew sparkled on the grass, making everything glitter. I glanced up at the stable but was startled to see a grey and white tom sitting on the roof.
"Hey!" I called. "What do you think you're doing up there? This is my land, you know!" The grey and white snorted, leaping lightly from the stable roof. He sauntered over to me, tail straight as an arrow and head held as if he owned the place. I felt my fur prickle in annoyance.
"Its my land too," he retorted. "My mate's is there." The tom flicked his tail towards the barn, where Violet and the kits lay. I suddenly realized who this cat was; he was Ash, my sister's former mate, the father of her kits. I couldn't believe the nerve of this cat.
"Get lost," I snarled. "You're not going to see, Violet. No chance; not after what you did." Ash shrugged.
"No worries," he mewed lightly. "I guess I'll be off then." He turned around and began to make his way further down the mud-path, back towards the horse field. I stared after him with narrowed eyes.
To be continued...