Chapter 15: The day after.

Lucy opened her eyes, day had broken, and she clung instinctively to the tree. Sun shone through the broken canopy and highlighted the area of the nights skirmish. There were traces of rustling, but the twisted floor below seemed empty. There weren’t mountains of dead rats and cockroaches. It was as though the valley had simply reclaimed the matter. Or that it had never happened.

The daylight imbued the twisted air with a soft light, and she could now clearly make out the shapes of the ledges around her. She stood up, compressing her legs to stretch again and lept quickly up through the branches, pulling ever closer to the ridge wall. Being rested and used to prowling around the bramble, she leapt up and flew out of the valley and skidded to a stop on the ridge path.

She looked left and right, and walked apprehensively up the path, trying to pick up the scent of Sartoris. Not long down the trail, the wind picked up the She sidled down back across the ridge and down to the woods. Two steps in, she crouched, pounced and plucked a squirrel scurrying up a tree. Satiated, she stayed under the wind and away from the valley and continued to head south.

The forest was a welcome change to the treacherous night before, and she padded confidently and at a quick speed. As she approached the south ridge, the path up to the ridge path sank down lower and the wall grew steep. At last she picked up the scent of Sartoris, at the base of the plateau. The wall was too high to scale, and the wall to the ridge was untenable. Above her, the sewage pipe gurgled and slushed out menacingly.

Stuck, she walked the length of the plateau, stalking and looking up towards the wall. A cat on a mission, she couldn’t stop at this point, there was too much determination and too much had happened to give up. She clawed at the wall, scraping away dirt, trying to find any kind of ledge or a footing. She even took a few brave runs at the wall and lept up, only to find her self flailing and dragging down.

She headed back up towards the ridge, and pawed at the wall, surprisingly, it was much more solid than the wall in the valley, and unlike the plateau, it seemed to have more natural terrain, rocks and sticks and the like. Slowly, she pawed at the dirt and brushed the crumbles away at the side. Finally, she got the courage up and flung herself at the steep hillside, but this time, her paws took. She quickly scrambled up the wall, and repelled against it just under the ridge path, flinging back towards the cities wall, she landed deftly on the exposed pipe, and quickly leapt again to land on the wall.

Feeling quickly exposed, she ducked off the wall and into the trash pile, steeped in Sartoris’ scent. There were several things moving around and the city was bustling with sound. Being a wood cat, and not a people cat, she burrowed under the trash and tried to stay out of view. She had made it in the city, but now had to stay out of sight, and being buried in a huge pile of trash is not a pleasant way to spend a day in the sun.

Fortunately, for her, the events had left her fatigued and she fell back into a light, relaxed sleep, one ear perked and keeping her on alert.

Time passed quickly, and she woke in the afternoon. The perked ear had not helped and the weight of a few more bags of trash weighed her down. Annoyed, she slithered out from under the pile, and peered cautiously down the pathway. There were still sounds in the the distance, and she clung to the side of the wall. Taking a few steps forward, there was a strong scent of food down an alley lined with cages, and no people, by the likes of it. She padded quickly in, there were faint clicks around, and she walked her way down slowly. Sniffing predatory at the cages. As she made her way down, the smell grew stronger, but she could not pinpoint the location. Finally, she came to the end of the coops, and was none the fatter. Her annoyance mounting, she turned around and sprinted to the other end, then back again. Still nothing, she had completely lost the trace of the smell.

A quick snort later, she poked her head out the other end of the alley, and looked directly at Junk Ridge. The sun was cresting over the top of it, and the twisted metal glistened and hurt her eyes. Instinctively, she howled and backed up into the alley averting her eyes. The bustling noises of the trading post in the distance grew silent, and then the noises grew in intensity and began to draw near.

Panicking, she turned an about face and headed towards the back entrance, three quarters of the way a few large people began crowding in, looking down. They were wielding weapons, and far too many for a trapped wildcat to take on. Skidding to a stop, she turned back around and ran the other direction, only to be blocked again.

She was completely trapped, she backed up again, turning around several times, trying not to keep her back open. In a last desperate attempt she scaled the coops, and the crowd closed in on where she was, she bounced back across the people filled chasm. She bounded again, and landed on top of the chemical toilets. Leaving the fevered panic pitch of the locals down below. They quickly routed from coops to the platform, and poked skyward towards the snarling cat.

Lucy became more and more ferocious, and finally jumped back again to the coops. Jumping past the first one, she quickly jumped down into the second row and tore directly back towards Junk Ridge. The sun had passed, but she still averted her eyes, and ran headlong into the first path she could find. Forcing down to belly to ground to drag herself along the path. As she turned in the path, she could hear the raging mob running around behind her, sticks rattling against the ridge. She pulled her tail in out of view and padded her way in deeply, trying to pull away from the noises behind her.