Catsandra settled near the entrance as Luis rested snug against the interior wall. The cat’s home was nothing more than a huge rock, at least at first glance. Jutting several feet above the ground, the strange formation resembled the bottom of a large tree that had been uprooted and pushed on its side. Parts of the rock were hollow, offering shelter to some of the forest’s inhabitants.
“How long have you lived here?” Luis asked.
“A long time,” Catsandra said, staring into the night. Light from the full moon helped illuminate the forest, some of the rays making their way inside. “Most of my life,” she added.”
“All by yourself?”
The cat bobbed her head. “I’ve never had family. None that I can remember, anyway.” Luis couldn’t imagine his life without Kendell, and he felt sorry for Catsandra despite the fact he hardly knew her. “That’s not really true,” she interrupted.
“Not having family.”
“So you do?”
“They’re all around me. The forest, I mean.” She pondered before continuing. “Still, it would be nice to know where I came from… who my parents were… if I had any siblings.”
Luis could relate. He knew his parents and siblings only briefly before being shipped off to another home. However, he did know them, and he loved his new family more than anything else in the world.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Where are my manners? Are you hungry?”
The dog hadn’t thought much about it given the day’s events. “I guess I could eat something.”
“What do you normally eat?”
“Obviously, but what type of food is that?”
Luis wasn’t sure how to respond. “I don't know what it is, but Kendell feeds it to me every day.”
“Have you ever eaten a mouse? I’m sure I can fetch you one.”
“Uh.” The thought of it disgusted Luis, but he didn’t want to insult Catsandra. “I don’t think I have.”
“They’re even easier to catch at night,” she said.
“Don’t bother,” Luis replied, sounding a little too desperate. “What I mean is that I’m not really that hungry.”
“Okay, but let me know if you change your mind.”
Luis nodded. “I will. Thanks.”
“I was thinking,” Catsandra said.
“Tomorrow. If you’re going to find Reagle, it might be wise to bring along some company.”
Catsandra seemed to be hinting at something, but Luis didn’t want to put her on the spot. “You think so?”
“There’s someone I know who might be able to help. His name is Barry.”
Though surprised with her response, Luis didn’t give any indication of it. “What does he do?”
“He can offer protection. As kind as these woods are to me, they can be very dangerous, too.”
“He lives just a few minutes from here. We can visit in the morning before heading out.”
“How else will you find him?”
“Of course,” Luis said, feeling somewhat embarrassed. A rustling in the woods distracted him.
“I saw you coming a mile away,” Catsandra said.
Moving into the light, Chuck appeared. “I’d like to go.”
© Kevin Hopson 2015