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She lives in fear—of the two-legs, of the noisy, massive trains that scream in and out of the station, of cats and rats and dogs and the dark of the tunnels. She lives in the subway, where the hard shoes kick her ribs, where shrill voices beat her ears, where she subsists on the garbage of the humans. But the little cat walks alone.

   Until she meets Candlewax, a street kid exiled from the subway tunnels, and Katherine, a student photographer who loves her on sight. From these two she learns that trust can banish fear and love provides a home wherever you are.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2008
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781554696154
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0470€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Text copyright 2008 Bev Cooke
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Cooke, Bev Feral / written by Bev Cooke.
ISBN 978-1-55143-747-7
1. Feral cats--Juvenile fiction. I. Title.
PS8605.O6445F47 2008 jC813 .6 C2007-907396-4
First published in the United States, 2008
Library of Congress Control Number : 2007942396
Summary : A street kid and a small cat experience fear, hunger and pain in a dangerous subterranean world.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover image by Getty Images Cover and text design by Teresa Bubela Author photo by Sunphoto

www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada.

11 10 09 08 4 3 2 1
To the world s best brother-in-law-Eric Hargreaves. To Gidget, the real subway cat. To the memories of Ivan and Tasha- two extraordinary cats who live on in the personality and appearance of Little Cat.
Thanks, as always, to my family-for putting up with a wife and mother who lived more in the fictional subway than at home. To Donna and Mavis, sisters of the heart as well as the pen. To my dear friends and harshest readers, Joe and Margot, Sheila and Jan, for reading, friendship and support. To opus, my marvelous online crit group. And to Sarah, editor extraordinaire. You saw the story and challenged and encouraged and nudged until I brought it all out. And to you, the reader. Writing is an act of telepathy-I write, but until you flesh out the story in your imagination, it s not complete. And most important: Glory to God for all things.
Bright-lights cold-tile or noisy-dark shaking-ground? Bright-lights are where hard shoes kick the little cat s ribs, where shrill voices and whistle echoes beat her ears, where the glaring lights hurt her eyes. But her belly grumbles, and the light has food.
She gathers her courage and darts onto the platform to hide between the end wall and the cold iron post that holds up the ceiling.
Except for the two-legs sleeping in the corners and on the benches, the platform is empty. The air is still and quiet. No noise filters down the stairs, no heavy wind or rattle comes from the tunnels. It s the safe-time, the sleep-time, when the earth-shaker ear-breakers run seldom and the two-legs are few.
This is her place, her territory: from the ledge that leads to the dark, all the way to the stairs and from one side of the platform to the other. It is where she belongs. It is where she feels safest.
Her nose twitches. She scents old dirt, candle wax and sleep. She knows this lost one, although he does not know her. Candlewax Sleep-smell is as agile and as careful as any cat. His skin is brown, darker than many of the two-legs, but lighter than some. His straight black hair hangs in his eyes so she can t always see them clearly. He sells candles on the platform, and this and his thick brown coat are what make him smell like himself. He sleeps on the platform sometimes too.
Her ears flatten at the sound of the earth-shaker ear-breaker arriving.
Candlewax stirs and sits up. Lousy trains, he mutters. He looks around. Hey, a cat. Here, furball, c mere.
She is not close enough to be caught but takes no chances. She darts backward. She walks alone and it is right.
Hard, hurtful voices fill the air, and booted feet clatter onto the platform from the train.
Candlewax glances up and scrambles to his feet. Better get gone, small one. Bad news on its way. He shifts closer to her; his hands disappear into his coat. She moves away from him, to the metal barrier. A narrow ledge extends from it toward the dark. In the wall along the ledge is her hidey-hole, which lies between the platform and the dark, shaking ground of the tunnel.
Her caution and fear war with her curiosity. She should hide where the two-legs can t see her, wait until they ve left to find some food. But they are fascinating, and there is no telling what they will do.
Two-legs crowd the platform, pushing, yelling, hitting each other with their fists and sticks. Some wear hats, with the bills jutting out over their left ears. Others wear headcloths tied tight, with little tufts of hair sticking out from beneath them.
Candlewax yells to a headclothed one. Affa!
A dark-skinned two-legs turns his head. My man! His teeth gleam as he bares them at Candlewax, his eyes glitter in the white light and he dances over to Candlewax, hitting and kicking the ones who wear the hats. Voices thunder, clattering feet rumble and crash, pushing out the quiet and peace of the sleep-time. Candlewax, Affa and two others are surrounded by the hatted ones, fighting like the rats in the noisy-dark shaking-ground. The scent of blood fills her nose, mates with the noise in her ears, and she retreats to safety behind the barrier.
Candlewax stumbles by. He grabs the barrier as one leg swings out over the dangerous space where the trains run. Then he balances and his feet, like a cat s, are under him again.
She watches from the shadows. He swings his fists, ducks and kicks with hard-booted feet. He is helping Affa and the ones with Affa.
A flat crack , then another flat crack . The station fills with an odd burning smell as a hatted one falls, blood spilling over the hard gray ground. Her ears are battered by screams and yells. The two-legs scatter: up the stairs, into the subway trains, down to the other end of the platform. Headcloths and caps flutter to the dirty concrete floor.
The blue-legs come. They grab the slower ones, take the fallen one away.
After a long time the quiet peace of sleep-time returns. The cat creeps out to the iron pole. The smell of blood and the burning stink linger in the air. Two-legs are dangerous and unpredictable. They aren t that different from the bare-tails in the tunnels. They hurt each other for no reason she knows. That is why she walks alone. She doesn t understand them, but she is still curious about them.
A movement on the other side of the platform attracts her attention. A rat. A bare-tail four-teeth has invaded her territory, creeping around the barrier on the other side of the platform.
The little cat crouches, her tail lashing back and forth, grumbling in her throat. This is her space. He is big and can hurt her. Can she beat him?
He sniffs, lifting his head to scent the same thing she has: the food in the rotten-smell box between the stairs and the iron post. It must call him the way it calls her. But he can t have it. It is hers; she must drive him out.
She creeps forward. She is afraid. The bare-tails teeth are sharp and their claws are strong. But this is her place, not his. She hisses. The rat looks at her.
She growls. Her muscles bunch. Will it run if she attacks it? Or will it fight? She wouldn t win a fight, but she steps forward, growling.
Sniffing, it darts toward the rotten-smell box. She runs a few steps forward but freezes when it turns and bares its teeth at her. So long, so sharp. They would tear her legs, her belly. She hesitates as the rat tugs some meat out of the box and darts back to the tunnel.
The little cat follows it and peers into the darkness of the noisy-dark shaking-ground. She shivers, her guard hairs standing on end, tail straight behind her. Next time. Next time she will not pull away. She will defend her place and kill the rat that dares invade her space.
Two-legs come onto the platform, clumping and clattering, growling and snarling at each other. They bite at the food in their hands and throw things in the rotten-smell box. Later she will eat well. Noise and smell and confusion fill the platform. It is the busy-time. She hides in the shadows near the cold iron pole.
A thin two-legs comes down the stairs, squats and puts out his hat. He puts his box with the black and white levers on the ground and presses the levers. The box makes a strange but pleasant sound, and the odd noise he makes in his throat blends well with the box s sound.
Other two-legs throw things in his hat as they crowd together. They hurry down the stairs and jitter while they stand waiting for the train, or they dash up and down the platform and the stairs.
They push on and off the subway cars, all tangled together, shoving each other, rushing in all directions, talking, yelling, hurrying. So many of them that even if she tried, she couldn t move between them.
With his tray of candles, Candlewax moves through the crowds. People pick the candles up, smell them, turn them over. Sometimes they keep them and give him something that he puts in his pocket. He walks up and down the platform, talking, pointing at his candles, putting things into his pocket.
As the busy-time subsides, Candlewax comes down to her end of the platform. He smells strongly of his candles. The tray is gone, and in his hand is a box that smells delicious. He winks at her as he sits in his spot and tosses her wonderful-smelling food from the box.
Egg McMuffin, furball. Sausage and egg, says Candlewax. Enjoy. She snatches it, backs up a

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