Thursday, July 03, 2008
Akasha raised her pretty calico head and sniffed the air. Something about the brooding stillness didn’t feel right. There was too much electricity in the heavy atmosphere. The cat peeped out the cubbyhole in the boathouse, where she made her home, and looked at a sky turned black with storm clouds. The waves of the lake lifted and hit against the shore with a sharp slap that made her flinch. Thunder rumbled. In the distance a bolt of lightning cut through the dark and hurled a sizzling blaze of light to the ground.
“Mamma, I’m scared.” A tiny replica of herself, down to the gold spot on her chin and black splotch on her right shoulder, peeped at her from the top of an old wooden fishing boat resting upright on a flat webbing rack supported by eyehooks.
“Don’t worry, Cairo. Mamma’s here. Mamma will take care of you.” Akasha purred. Her first litter and she was so proud. She’d never known kittens that were as smart or as cute as her little five-week old darlings. She’d had no idea how it would feel to be a mom. That nothing in the world would ever matter as much as these three balls of fluff. She would lay down her life to keep them safe.
Cairo’s head disappeared abruptly, followed by a hollow thump as she fell to the bottom of the boat. “I’m okay, Mamma,” Cairo’s voice sounded muffled as she sang out from the bowels of the boat. “Oh look, I found a leaf.”
“That’s nice, dear.” Akasha lay on an old towel deep in the shadows of the boathouse, Cubbie and Cosmo, her two boys, drowsing beside her.
A crack of thunder sounded close by and a streak of blinding lightning landed almost on top of the building. The sound of splintering wood followed a great whoosh and the maple next to the boathouse crashed to the ground.
The wind picked up at a frightening rate.
The two boys woke with a start and burrowed against her. “What was that, Mamma?” Cubbie asked, raising his little black head to look around.
Blowing gusts howled. The heavens opened and rain battered the building pinging off the steel roof like the rat-a-tat-tat of bullets.
“Mamma.” Cosmo tried to burrow under her.
“Mamma, I’m scared,” Cairo called out.
A whistle like an approaching train sounded in the distance, getting closer and closer at an alarming rate of speed.
Akasha tensed and laid back her ears as the noise rose to a piercing shriek, hurting her eardrums. She sensed danger, terrible danger.