A Whole New World
Khamet surveyed the area. There was so much for the mau to see. He had no idea there were so many people or places. He climbed to the top of the highest wall he could find and stared all around. In the far distance he could see the great structure that made him very curious. It was closer now, closer than it had ever been and it was enormous. There was a large body of water to one side of the structure with crafts and people moving about.
Khamet suddenly forgot that he didn’t know where he was or how to get back to Umayma. He was curious and he wanted to reach the structure. Even though it was just midday he could see the light from the fires burning against the great wall and at the base of the statues.
Khamet climbed down and found one of the community bowls. He ate and drank his fill before heading off in the direction of the structure. After several hours and numerous distractions which considerably slowed the mau’s progress, Khamet realized it was getting dark. He climbed to the top of a wall and looked out. The great structure glowed in the sun that was just setting and Khamet rolled around and released a long purr. He was getting closer.
Territorial mau were rare, but they were also the worst. Most clowders allowed for an outsider once they had a sniff, a rub and a cuddle to assess the nature of the newcomer. Some cats acted wary at the beginning, but generally clowders were hospitable. Single cats that lived in a home were more apt to be unfriendly, but sometimes there were clowders that were so territorial they didn’t want anyone new to come around. In the area where Khamet lived there was a clowder to the south which he always avoided when he ventured out at night.
The great structure was further than it looked and Khamet was anxious to reach it, but he had been going all day and was exhausted. He needed rest. He climbed a structure and found an unoccupied perch. He lay down and stared lazily off in the distance, watching the fires of the great structure throw shadows as he drifted to sleep.
When a cat meows, there are numerous tones. Some humans have developed an ear for the tones that determine hunger, affection, pain, anxiety and any number of meanings. There is one however, known only to cats. It is low and bold and not like the growl some have heard when they are confronted. There is a subtle pitch with inflections and changes in the throat similar to purring, but it is not purring. It is challenge. It is you are an intruder and it says, “I will kill you.”
The low rumbling tone assaulted Khamet and he awoke in an instant. Behind him a familiar silhouette stood draped in the shadow of a wall. For a moment Khamet believed he was dreaming. The figure reminded him of the things that came to him in his nightmares. The moon was not full, but he could see well enough. He watched as the mau stepped forward slowly with the challenging noise reverberating from its throat.
Khamet didn’t wish to fight. He began looking around for a way out as the low tone started from above as well. Khamet looked to see not one, but three more sets of eyes staring down at him. Then the noise began to reverberate all around and on the other rooftops cats began to step to the edges and stare. Some were coming across the narrow street towards the wall. This was a much older part of the city and as a result the impacted garbage and dirt had just about consumed the first stories of all the dwellings in the area.
A feeling overcame him. Twice before, a vision had come with a feeling like he had been here before and in that moment he saw what would happen before it happened. It had saved his life. Khamet heard the cat above him release the challenge with such ferocity that his mind split for the third time. And like before, he saw it before it happened …a hissing attack… a large mau dropped down on him from above …it struck him and he fell …the others attacked and he was quickly overwhelmed in a frenzy of sharp feline aggressiveness…
Khamet knew he would be dead if he waited for that to occur and suddenly other possibilities began to assault him as he searched for a way out.
Khamet’s mind seemed to split and run in different directions around the building. There were rooms below him, but each one was closed and he ended up trapped. …he fought the cat in front of him while the others attacked and overwhelmed him …he ran in the street and they overwhelmed him …the opposite side of the building had an alley filled with garbage and there was a narrow path to the street behind… he was free.
The aggressive growl came from above and Khamet darted fast. The large mau missed Khamet and went over the wall. Khamet ran one direction then turned and ran right at the cat who had challenged him first. Behind Khamet several more were hissing and growling. Khamet hissed back and swung his paw, batting the cat across the face. The challenger met Khamet and the paws struck fast. Khamet was able to claw past the cat and get to the edge of the wall. He darted left and dropped into the alley. The narrow passage inclined downward in a steep slope towards the back of the house and the street beyond. Khamet crossed the street and was on the next roof in moments with the clowders chasing him, but they were falling behind. Khamet didn’t stop until he was two streets away and he could no longer see his pursuers.
Exhausted, Khamet found a pile of baskets and slipped behind them to hide and peer out. Nothing came and the mau licked his wounds and cleaned himself. One particularly deep scratch hurt and Khamet tasted blood. After a while, he allowed himself to sleep a little more, though he remained ever alert. When he slept, he dreamt of the darkness.