In the wee hours of morning, a little grey cat, awakened by a burst of thunder and a flash of lightning, crouched against the cool wooden floor of an abandoned cabin. She trembled with the fear of the unknown, her world growing hot and dark around her until a thick powdery blackness enveloped her body, taking over what once was light and lively. After the heat came an unfamiliar weightlessness. It lifted her just above the tess where Smoke could see what had caused the darkness: a fire had started in the dry grass nearby, devouring the old cabin she had always called home, and now crept slowly towards the local campground where the shy cat was sometimes tossed little bits of fish and salty meat. She had to warn the others, but how? Gliding through the air ever so lightly and with such effortless fluidity never felt before, she headed to the meadow where she spotted a herd of grazing deer. Hovering around the large animals, she tried to whisper in their ears about the danger nearing, but they could not hear her. As she passed under the chin of the largest stag, he lifted his head and sniffed the air cautiously, then stamped the ground in a most urgent manor, alerting his family. Smoke realized now how she could help.
At the edge of the woods, Smoke drifted past a young black bear who sat quietly, eating berries in the shade. She swirled around the bush just under the bear's twitching nose. He sneezed twice then snapped to attention at the scent of smoke in the air. He got up, deserting the berries so he could swim to safety across the river. Satisfied with the bear's response, Smoke wafted away, through the tall pine trees. Soon a familiar sound caught her attention and she stopped in time to see a young songbird stretching it's wings as it's mother cheered it on from the nest. As smoke approached, the mother bird's cheerful chirps turned into a loud call that carried deep into the forest. Songbirds flew away from Smoke in a frenzied cloud of squawking an flapping. The mother bird now encouraged her fledgling to leave the nest hastily. Nests lay empty throughout the forest as the grey cat floated on a warm wind toward the campground. The birds could rebuild across the river but Smoke knew that the campers would be trapped once the fast growing fire reached the valley. Smoke soon recognized the outskirts of the park and was feeling hopeful as she came upon a ranger picking up trash along the outter trail. The ranger stopped and sniffed the air, but thinking it was just an early riser preparing their breakfast, she went back to her task. Smoke worried she would not be able to get the people's attention in time. I an act of desperation, Smoke approached a large, sleeping dog, tied to a trailer. It took some coaxing but once the tired dog got scent of Smoke it got up on it's feet, quick as lightning, and started to bark. One by one the other dogs in their sites got caught up in the chaos and a chorus of barking, growling and howling filled the campground. Sleepy campers now began peeking out of their windows and unzipping their tents to quiet their pets and check their surroundings for potential intruders. A rising cloud of ash above the treeline was starting to draw their attention away from the panicked dogs. Finaly a call was made as the park ranger realised an impending forest fire was fast on it's way. She jogged from campsite to campsite and began knocking on trailer doors and shaking tents, telling the visitors to get in their vehicles and head for the bridge. As the people began to evacuate, Smoke caught the hot breeze and was lifted above the tree tops; gauging the distance and winds she sensed that if they acted quickly, the visitors and animals of the forest would have time to cross the river or seek shelter in the large rocks along it's bank. Finally, sirens faintly approaching allowed the little cat to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the fire crew was on the way. The distant whirring of helicopters was a promise of water. It has been a very tiring day for Smoke; the responsibility bestowed upon her had been a lotfor the little grey cat. Knowing she had accomplished her silent mission and served a purpose greater than herself, little Smoke stretched her long, slender back and her silky soft paws one last time before settling deep into the sun warmed soil for a much deserved nap.
By Alycen Sparrow