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A Matt Christopher Adventure Classic


Author: Matt Christopher
2014 Reissue Edition
Retail: $9.95US; 96pp
5"x 8" Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1-933523-51-4 print
ISBN 978-1-62268-088-7 ebook
LCCN 2014957893


Chapter 1

It was two days before Christmas in the sleepy little town of Joberg in upstate New York.
    Whitey, a white Persian cat sitting in the sun at the corner outside of Bundy's Grocery Store, stirred. His eyes widened into round, perfect circles. His long fur bristled.
    A boy and a dog were coming down the road.
    Whitey heard the door of the store open and glanced around, hoping it was the boy with whom he had come. But it wasn't. It was an older man who must have gone into the store earlier. Bundled in a gray winter coat and carrying a bag of groceries, he smiled at Whitey and shuffled down the snow-caked walk to a car.
    Whitey watched him put the groceries in the car, get in, and drive away.
    Then he looked back up the road, and the black elongated pupils in his yellow eyes focused sharply on the boy and the dog.
    They were still beyond the intersection on the same side of the road that Whitey was on, and they were approaching at a leisurely gait.
    The boy was black and about the same size and build as Whitey's master. He was friendly and well-mannered. But Whitey knew that the dog, Ginger, wasn't.
    The two animals had met on previous occasions. Ginger always wanted Whitey's attention, and Whitey always tried to ignore her. But not even his firm cat commands could discourage Ginger, who would keep persisting, drawing closer, and barking that harsh bark of hers. She was a fresh, intolerable animal who refused to give up.
    Whitey waited. The boy and dog paused momentarily at the intersection, watched carefully for cars, then ran across, slowing down as they reached the other side.
    Between the store and the intersection was a house with a large front lawn. Ginger was at the edge of the lawn when she suddenly spotted Whitey and stopped. Her long, fluffy tail started to wag and she barked. Then she bolted forward, tail and mouth going at the same time.
    "Ginger! No!" the boy yelled.
    Ginger ignored him. The boy yelled again, running toward her, but the dog apparently didn't hear or just refused to obey.
    Five feet from Whitey Ginger crouched on her belly and looked at the cat with wide, imploring eyes. Her ears were long, her tongue was hanging out, and her brown and white coat was smudged with dirt.
    Whitey arched his back, his mustached lips pulling away from his teeth exposing his extra-long, menacing side molars. As he kept an alert, cautious guard, he extended his forepaws in front of him, claws ready for action.
    Ginger crept closer, barked, and made a surprising leap forward.
    "Meowrrr!" Whitey shrieked and sprang backward, both paws lifted to rake Ginger's black nose should she dare pounce.
    Ginger stopped inches away from the bared claws, leaped back, then bolted forward again, barking in a way that did not sound angry, but which disgusted Whitey nevertheless.
    Whitey, who lived with the Nooley family, enjoyed a privilege few other felines could boast. Most cats with whom he had come in contact during his brief excursions outdoors were allowed indoors only at night, or else they slept in a basket on a porch and had to resort to mice or bird-hunting to completely satisfy their hunger.
    Not so with Whitey. He lived indoors day and night, winter and summer, and his food was served to him in a special dish. Because of his distinguished breed, he was selective about his friends, and, as a result, he had so few he could count them on one paw (were he able to count). As a matter of fact, there were only two whom he actually looked forward to seeing, and both were females. His other acquaintances were males, none of whom he could encounter without getting into a fight.
    A natural instinct told him that this overgrown, conceited dog was also a female, but her sex didn't make a bit of difference. A dog was a dog, and dogs had no business in a cat's life.
    "Stay here, Ginger," the boy ordered as he went into the store. "I'll be out in a minute."
    Whitey looked hopefully at the door, waiting for it to open again and his master to emerge. But it didn't open, and he was left to face Ginger's irritating teasing.
    Suddenly a thunderous roar broke the silence, startling both animals. A huge truck lumbered up, its high, black wheels menacing, and stopped in front of the store. For a moment Ginger watched it, her tongue still dangling from her mouth. Then she looked at Whitey. A mischievous gleam sparkled in her brown eyes, and Whitey wondered what she had in mind.
    He remained still, hoping that Ginger would go and do her own investigating and not bother him any more. At the same time he remained alert in case she tried a surprise lunge at him.
    His ears perked up at the sound of a slamming door. He watched a man's legs step down from the left side of the truck and come around toward the rear. Then the man, a fellow somewhat taller than his own master and a good deal older, came fully into sight as he opened up the truck's rear doors. Stored inside was a vast assortment of boxes.
    The man hopped into the back of the truck, pulled down several boxes from the pile, hopped out, and carried two of them into the store.
    Whitey watched with avid interest, and it dawned on him that the truck could be his refuge. There was ample space between some of the piles of boxes through which he could squeeze to hide from Ginger, who simply refused to give up pestering him.
    Slowly he rose up on his four paws, his eyes never leaving Ginger. Then, in a move that caught her by surprise, he lunged past her, leaped into the truck, and squeezed through the pile of boxes toward the rear where he was sure he would be safe for the time being.
    He turned around and lay down, his face comfortably resting on his forepaws. A little while later the man came back for some of the remaining boxes and carried them inside.
    Whitey heard Ginger bark just outside the open doors, but he couldn't see her. Then the barking stopped. Whitey waited, his ears perked, straining for the next sound. His large eyes watched the opening with mounting anxiety. His body was as still as a rock. Nothing about him moved except the tip of his tail, which curled one way and then the other and his heart, which kept beating fast.
    Suddenly a dark streak shot up into the opening, and Whitey bolted up on all fours. His back arched, the fur rising in tufts from his hide. His lips curved back in seething anger, for there stood that obnoxious dog inside the truck, looking at him with a pleased glint in her mischievous eyes, her tongue dangling and pulsing almost as if it had a life of its own.
    His heart beating even faster now, Whitey watched, waiting for Ginger's next move. One thing for certain, Whitey wasn't afraid of her. He was just terribly annoyed with her rambunctious child-play and wanted no part of it.
    The sound of a latch opening registered in Whitey's ears, and for an instant his ears pricked. At the same time, as if she had heard it too, Ginger looked quickly around, and then she bolted almost soundlessly up a pile of boxes at the cat's right. Only the scraping of her nails against the cartons betrayed her position.
    Whitey, who had shrunk back momentarily at the sudden, unexpected move, now looked up to find Ginger. But she was out of sight now, sitting or lying on box close to the roof.
    Escape and freedom from Ginger now seemed to be in order for Whitey. He stood up and took a step toward the opening at the rear of the truck, only to shrink back again as heavy footsteps crunched the frozen ground. Quickly one door slammed shut and than the other, the sound of inevitable doom. And everything was black.
    Whitey heard footsteps crossing around to the side of the truck, the motor starting up, the grinding of a gear, and finally he felt the truck moving. He remained still in the darkness, his heart pounding.
    It was tragic enough that he couldn't see, but it was worse that he couldn't do anything.

copyright ©2014 Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

Author: Matt Christopher
2014 Reissue Edition
Retail: $9.95US; 96pp
5"x 8" Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1-933523-51-4 print
ISBN 978-1-62268-088-7 ebook
LCCN 2014957893


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