Fern’s Fear of Fighting (Chapter One)

10 Sep

By: Tessa Hansen

Pretty much no one knows my secret. I’ve hidden it so well no one did know, or will know. Except one cat: Blue, who doesn’t really like me.

“Hurry up, Fern! The ceremony is starting!” I was yanked from my thoughts by my mother’s call.

“Coming, Mom,” I whispered, shivering all over from head to paw. I may be popular, but only for now. If my friends find out, I’ll be dead for sure.

“Dew, you are bold and insistent, and Beetle shall be your teacher.” My eyes widened as Stone, the head tomcat, came forward to touch muzzles with my silver-furred sister.

“Frost, you are kind and gentle, and your teacher shall be Dove, whose personality is similar to yours.” I sighed. I was so jealous of my sister, no matter how much I didn’t want to be. She was pretty, kind, and everything anyone would want to be. She had tortoiseshell colored fur and glowing green eyes. Anyone would prefer that over dull brown with ugly blue eyes.

“Fern, you are determined, energetic, and brave. Your teacher shall be Blue.” My fur fluffed up as the dark gray-headed tomcat came forward to touch his muzzle to my forehead. Blue, I should’ve known! Of all of the cats that could’ve been my teacher, Blue was chosen. I was counting on Bird, who was one of the kindest teachers out there to be mine.

“Hello, Fern. I think that you know what I know, don’t you?” Blue’s terrifying yellow eyes bored into my scared blue ones. Eyes still gleaming, she stalked off, no one having noticed at all.

“Hey, Fern! Blue told us you were coming to battle-training with us tomorrow morning!” My fur tingled at the sight of Rock, whose eyes were excited. “Are you?”

“Um, yeah, of course I will!” I agreed, my pelt slowly becoming drenched in sweat. Oh no, how could I be so stupid? Now I was going to make a fool of myself in front of the only cat that I actually had a small, teensy weensy little liking for!

“So you decided to go, did you?” Blue’s malicious gaze was turned on me again, full of contempt. No matter how much I tried not to, I flinched, and she smirked.

“Yes, I did.” I turned my head up towards the sky, not wanting to meet her gaze again. “And I am going to learn.”

“Bravely spoken,” Blue murmured. “And I just might teach something useful to you, if you would listen for once. But yet, you will always be alone, won’t you?” she shook out her long, glossy, blue-gray pelt and padded rather than stalked away.

I nodded, still in a trance. Was it just me, or was Blue being nice to me? No, she had to be just getting me comfortable around her so that then she could pounce and catch me off guard. That had to be it. That’s just the kind of thing that Blue would do to me.

As I began padding back, it sounded, or at least I thought it sounded, as if all of the trees, branches, brambles, and even the rocks were tormenting me. Their air of eerie gloominess, their stench of cold doom, or maybe, maybe it was just their presence that kind of creeped me out.

I soon fell into a slow yet easy sleep, although the sweat that was building up on my back was now dripping into my undercoat.

My eyes opened to a quiet place, enhanced with dampened trees, roots, and grass. It was normal looking, but not normal feeling. There was a cold mist in the air, as if to tell me something. It seemed as if my whole life was to be doomed.

“Hello?” I called. Just as I expected, no answer. Gosh, did I have some crazy and stupid dreams!

Suddenly, I sensed a pair of gleaming amber eyes behind me, watching me, boring into my back, making me flinch. I could be brave, but not very often. And right now wasn’t a time for being brave. Just when I thought the cat that was watching me would disappear, more eyes, yellow, blue, green, even the rare brown cat’s eyes were staring into mine. I backed up, only to whirl around and see more! I yowled in terror, covering my face with trembling paws. Then, when I strained, I heard the cats whispering something: “alone” was all I could hear, but I knew they were saying something more, something more meaningful. Then, all was quiet. Nothing was there, only the eyes, intense, staring back into mine.

“What do you want?” I breathed, not wanting to break the silence, but having to. “Do you have anything to tell me?”

Then, after a brief pause, they’re voices came back, louder, more serious than before. This time I heard them, and wished I hadn’t. They said this, and this alone: “You’ll always be alone” over and over again. I shivered. That was the exact same thing that Blue had hissed into my ear before I went off to bed.

“Did you hear us?” I glanced around to see the first pair of eyes gleaming in my direction: “You will always be alone, forever, your whole life, no matter how hard you try.” And then they began the chant again, over and over, until I began to yowl. Right when I was about to claw at the first pair of eyes, they began to close in on me, breath stinky, teeth rotting, fur pale and ragged, hissing the chant over and over again, until I was enclosed by hissing cats, afraid. I’m going to die! I thought, ready to feel the teeth in my scruff, blood everywhere, my life draining from me. But just then, I awoke, breathing heavily, sweat pouring down my face, shock still vibrating through me. The stench of the cat’s breath still singing my nostrils. It was only a dream. It was only a dream. I repeated, still shaking. Or was it?

I stood there for at least ten minutes more, taking huge breaths in, and large ones out again just to calm myself down, to make sure that I was really in the camp, still safe, still intact, and most of all, not alone.

“Fern, are you in there? We need to get going to practice fighting!” I almost cried as I remembered that the dream wasn’t the biggest of my troubles. I needed to go to fighting practice, only to make a fool of myself. Yay.

“I’m coming, Blue.” I sighed, heaving myself up out of my nest. All of the other learners were going except, pleasure of pleasures, Frost, who had to stay behind and check the mothers and elders for ticks. Ha Ha!

“Hi, Fern, I’m glad you’re coming to train with us.” Rock dipped his head honestly, and my fur tingled. Rock still liked me, but not for long.

The trek to the training hollow took longer than it should have. It seemed as if every single bramble thicket that crossed my path raced toward me and I fell into it, making everyone, even Rock, purr in amusement. I’m sure Blue got a real laugh out of it! But it wasn’t funny at all, not for me at least.

“We’re here.” Blue announced. My heart plummeted. Dang it, I was kind of enjoying not having to see the hollow. But here we were, and I just hoped that I wouldn’t have to train with Rock.

“Okay, how about Dew and Tiger, you train together. Ice and Bracken, you two. And that leaves Rock and Fern to train together.” I glared at Beetle, even though he didn’t realize what he had done. That mangy piece of filth! This would be the end to my popularity!

“Okay, Rock and Tiger, show Dew and Fern how to do the simple dodge and swipe, and then we’ll do some leaps.” Blue decided. “We’ll help you if you need any.”

“Okay, Fern leap at me.” Rock commanded.

I sighed. I really didn’t want to hurt Rock, but since I was so scared I probably wouldn’t even make a dent on him. I leapt, and I felt as if every single tree was screeching insults of every kind at me as I leapt head-on at Rock.

My mind side-tracked: he was so strong, and walked so funny, and stared at me in a zoned way and…

“Thwap! My head was thrown to the side as Rock hit me head-on with his large paws. Not ready, I let out a frightened screech and landed head-first into the brambles, for like, the tenth time that day.

“Good job there, Rock! Fern, did you have your head in the clouds or something?” Blue glanced at me, and I flinched, fur burning. “You need some more concentration techniques.” She whisked around to watch Dew and Tiger who were circling each other dangerously.

I glanced at Rock, and there was a new expression on his face. Scorn, maybe. I ducked my head too. Now I was the lame one here, but I guess I always was, just not to everyone. Only to me and Blue. Now, I was all alone, abandoned by all of my friends, even Rock. Well, at least the whole tribe doesn’t know.

“Ooh, I’m going to tell everyone that Fern is afraid!” Tiger jeered, shoving me, eyes gleaming. I burned like a forest fire, shivering all the while.

“It’s okay, Fern,” Blue whispered. “You’ll just have to live with it.” and she turned away from me.

I sighed. Now I was for-real alone, and I knew it. I sat down. Just as long as there is no battle, I’ll be fine. 

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