Bandit's Story (Tears Warning)

I am old now, but I still remember my youth. I was born 14 years and 5 months ago, in a dark, warm, closed-in space (hoomins call it a closet). I remember the rich smell of leather emanating from the hard wrappings that hoomins put on their feet (I think those things are for helping them walk around on only two of their legs). I still love the scent of leather even now, it reminds me of my birth mommy. Those days are a blur of warm milk, mommy's licks, and purring siblings - it was a perfect time of peace and security. It was over much, much too soon.

When I was just a little over 5 weeks old I overheard one of the hoomins saying, "No, we can't keep them, we can't afford any more animals!" Another voice answered, "Please don't take them to the pound, they'll put them to sleep." I began to feel uneasy. "OK," the first voice answered, "we'll drop them off in a rural neighborhood so they can fend for themselves." "Won't they just starve to death?" the second voice asked. "Nah, they can hunt birds and mice, they'll be fine." the first voice answered. I began to be really scared, what were birds and mice? Mommy had told us that she would teach us to "hunt", but she hadn't started our lessons yet. When I felt a large hand scoop me up and put me into a box with my 3 siblings, I began to shiver. I heard my mommy calling for me and my siblings and I called back to her but she wasn't allowed to come with us. The box started moving and was placed in a strange machine that roared and smelled nasty. The box began shaking and this continued for quite some time before it stopped. Suddenly the hand scooped me up and placed me and my siblings on a wet, cold surface full of spiky green stuff. We huddled there for a moment then tried to run after our departing hoomin, but we weren't quick enough to get to him before he climbed back into the scary machine and went away.

This place was not warm, it was not dark, it was not enclosed. There was too much space around us and we were so very, very frightened. We huddled there for a few more minutes calling for our mommy, but our mommy didn't come for us. What did come for us was a large monster who yelled, "Woof, woof." We started running for any shelter we could find, but one of my brothers was not fast enough. The monster grabbed him up with his huge teeth and we knew we would not see him again. We finally came to rest under a round, puffy green object that had spiky things sticking out of it. The monster didn't follow us here. Again we huddled together and cried for our mommy, but she still didn't come and get us.

Gradually it began to get darker and this made us feel a little more secure, but we were starting to get very hungry. My belly rumbled and I looked around for something to eat, but there was nothing there that smelled like it might be food. When it was completely dark we couldn't see anything around us and were afraid to call for our mommy in case it brought another monster to us instead. It got colder and we huddled closer for warmth. I started to feel things biting my skin and making me itch, but couldn't figure out how to stop them from doing this, so I just lay there trembling and wishing very hard for my mommy to come and get me and comfort me with her warm tongue and nourishing milk.

One of my sisters was a very brave girl. She decided that she would go and find our mommy for us. I pleaded with her to not leave us, but she told me she had to go because she couldn't stand the pain in her belly any longer. My brother and I watched as she crept away towards the spot where we had been placed by our hoomin. She sniffed around a bit and then ventured further onto the hard, rough surface where our hoomin's scary machine had been. I saw it coming and I tried to warn her, but my sister was too petrified to run and the scary machine ran right over her.

My brother and I could hear her pitiful cries and we ran to her side and tried to lick away the hurt, but she was hurt too bad for us to do anything. We could only try to comfort her until her pain went away forever. It took a very long time before she finally stopped trying to move and stopped crying, and it hurts me to this day to remember that awful time.

When it was over my brother and I found our way back to our hiding place. We were starting to feel very weak and the pain in our tummies was becoming unbearable. I tried nibbling on some of the spiky green stiff that surrounded us, but that just made me throw up and feel even worse. My brother was much smaller than me and I noticed that he was getting to the point where he could barely move. I tried to cuddle closer to him and give him some of my warmth, but this didn't seem to do any good. Three times the dark had come, but our mommy had not. Three times the light had come but our mommy had not. When I looked over to my brother I saw that he was no longer breathing. I nudged him with my nose, but he felt cold and stiff. I was alone now and I didn't know what to do. I knew I could not stay with my brother, I had to move away, so I started walking.

I was very weak and it was hard to stay on my feet, but something kept me going, on and on, until I was too tired to move any more. Then, faintly, I smelled something that made my now numb tummy start to rumble again. With my last bit of strength I ran forward to a round white thing that held tiny pellets of something that smelled really good. I ate so fast that I threw up and had to start all over again. Soon I began to feel stronger and lay down in front of the food so it wouldn't disappear and I could eat some more as soon as my tummy could hold it again.

Then I heard a noise and looked up to see a door opening and a hoomin coming out of it. I didn't know this hoomin, but something about her told me that she wouldn't harm me. Besides, the warmth coming from the other side of the door was just too tempting. I dashed inside. Finally! No more big scary space, just soft carpet beneath my paws, four walls keeping away the frightening world! I was determined that I would never go outside again!!!

The strange hoomin, however, had different ideas. She came back through the door and reached down to pick me up and bring me back outside. She set me down in front of the food and said, "It's OK, you can have as much as you want, all the other strays for miles around know where to come and chow down. Your mom's probably around here somewhere, I'll have to put out the trap and see if we can get her fixed. Strange, though, that a feral would come running into the house like that."

No way, no WAY was I going to stay out here. As soon as she set me down I hightailed it back into the house. This was going to be MY house and she'd just better get used to it. I saw what the world had done to my siblings and I wanted NO PART OF IT. I wanted to stay inside where it was safe.

The hoomin came back inside and looked at me with her head tilted to one side. "Hmmm," she said, "it looks like you've laid claim to my house." HAH! HER house!! I don't think so. "Well, I guess you've adopted me, so let's see what we can do about those fleas. I'll keep an eye out for your mom." I knew my mommy wouldn't show up, if she could have she would have come for me and my siblings a lot sooner. It made me sad to think about how she would be missing us and not knowing what had happened to her babies, but I must put all that behind me now.

It took some time, but I finally trained my new hoomin how to properly pamper me and she serves me well to this day. She has even put up with my biting her... I can't help it, sometimes the memories just come to the surface and I panic when I'm being touched. She doesn't scold me though, she just leaves me alone for a few moments and gets a sad look in her eyes, then she murmurs sweet things to me and pets me again. I think she understands me. I think she knows what it's like to be abandoned and alone, left to fend for herself in a world that doesn't seem to care about the innocents it hurts.



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