The Hoarders: Part Six
Kannice woke up herself the next morning. There were quite a few empty blankets, and she was relieved that she would not be sitting in the Hoarders’ house alone. She pushed her own blanket off and stood up. She brushed all the dirt off her once-clean red coat, then turned and headed towards the bedroom door.
She pushed the rubble out of the way, and crawled out into the main hall. She looked around, and spotted Cane appearing from behind a pile of collapsed wall. He saw her too, and came directly towards her.
“Are you ready for your second day?” The muscles on his face twitched a little, but he kept his expression serious. “You’ve definitely proven yourself already, so I think today we can move to the next level.”
Kannice’s heart clenched. “Shops? You want me to rob a shop?”
The Lupe gave a crooked smile. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”
Kannice stared, still unsure. The Kougra still did not feel comfortable with robbing a single person, let alone an entire store. She dug her claws into the dirt floor, and bit her lip. How could she rob a shop? She just couldn’t!
It only occurred to her then how many more pets had entered the room. It must have been almost everyone, but she couldn’t quite be sure. However, she was very much aware of Shantiya’s presence in the room, due to the constant glances she was throwing her. Kannice tried to avoid her gaze.
Finally, Cane climbed up onto his podium. He called out names to be paired, and again paired himself with Kannice. He leapt down and began heading towards her. Kannice began moving towards him too, and they met half-way.
* * * * *
It was still dark, but Kannice’s eyes had adjusted to it. It was raining too, but she hadn’t adjusted to that. She shivered violently from the wet and the cold. She longed for her endless supply of warm jackets, not for the first, or last, time.
It took an eternity to reach the main street, and Kannice felt a little guilty when she realised it was probably her fault for dragging her feet across the slippery ground, so that Cane had to keep stopping so she could catch up.
There were a few lone people wandering the streets. The Kougra examined each person or pet she saw very closely. They all seemed very wary and guarded, definitely not easy targets. But then again, they weren’t robbing a person.
“It’s just like yesterday. Remember how we needed it to be busy? It’s the same deal with the shop. The busier it is, the less likely we are to get caught. Ok, so do you understand what we’re doing?”
Kannice shook her head. “Yesterday, I did the stealing. I can’t do that!”
Cane sighed. “I’ll do the stealing, and you’ll do the distraction. All you have to do, is distract the shop keeper. I’ll steal as much as I can, then make a run for it. We’ll go in at different times, and you won’t leave until AFTER I leave.”
It took a few more hours, and the two filthy pets were thrown many disapproving looks as they sat on the steps of the bank, trying to keep out of the rain.
“Which shop?” Kannice finally asked. She was going to ask which shop they were robbing, but she decided it was probably a stupid thing to do. Actually, the most stupid thing she could do.
Cane didn’t even look at her. “The Food Shop. It’ll be the most busy, and we want food, after all.”
By the time the street was busy enough, Kannice was trying to hold herself back from diving out and robbing some of the unbelievably easy targets that had passed. She tried to convince herself that she was being silly, that wasn’t what she was like. She felt her paws twitch. “Are we ready?” she asked through gritted teeth.
Cane smiled. “It’s setting in, isn’t it? Your urge to run wild, live like a real pet. We all get it. Don’t worry, it’s only natural.”
The Kougra felt her eyes starting to water from the agony of trying to fight every muscle in her body with only a tiny fraction of logic. Her claws were extending, scraping on the stone step. Her teeth were clenched so hard that her head was aching. Her voice quivered as she spoke. “Are we ready?”
Kannice let her body take over, and leapt down the stairs. She hit the ground running.
And then she ran straight into something.
* * * * *
“Is she ok?”
“Where’s your owner, dear?”
Kannice sat up, and tried to open her eyes, but someone jammed them closed again. She cried out in pain and writhed around on the wet ground. “Let go of my eyes! Let go of my eyes!”
“Shhh sweetie, keep your eyes closed for now. We’re going to take her to the hospital.”
“Where’s your owner, dear?”
Kannice pulled away. “No, let me go!” She opened her eyes. “Stay away! I just want to go home!” She put her paw in a deep puddle on the road. “Urgh!” She lifted her leg up out of the water, and started to look downwards.
“Close her eyes! Close her eyes!”
There was no need for them to close her eyes. She fainted.
* * * * *
When Kannice woke up, she was lying on something soft, and the rain wasn’t falling on her anymore. She tried to open her eyes, but it seemed almost as if her eyelids had been stuck together.
She thrashed, rubbing her eyes with her paws.
“Whoa, she’s awake! Settle down, honey, it’s just sleep.”
Kannice sat still. “Sleep?”
“On your eyes. It’s sleep. It’ll unstick in a minute.”
She sat still, and opened her eyes, more slowly and carefully this time. She could see the blurry image of a hospital room. A large pink thing was leaning over her.
“See?” the Cybunny said gently. “It’s fine now.” She started mopping Kannice’s face with a damp cloth. “My my my... that was quite an accident! I think you’d better watch where you’re going in future, missy.”
Accident? Suddenly Kannice began to remember. The accident. My... my face! She sat up straight away. The nurse had cleared all the gunk away, and she could see clearly now. At least, out of one eye. “A mirror! Give me a mirror!”
The nurse, who (judging by her name tag) was called Leitr, began fumbling around on the trolley. “I-I...” she stammered. “There’s no mirror there, sweetie. Maybe later you can have a look...”
“Now! Get me a mirror!” Kannice felt like a lunatic. She felt crazy. Nothing mattered at that moment except her seeing her face.
“Ok, ok, sweetheart, just wait...” Leitr grabbed her purse off the ground. She dug her paw into it and produced a disco-print compact. “Here you are, darling.” She handed it carefully to Kannice.
The Kougra’s paws were shaking violently as she opened the compact. She folded the lid up.
It was much better than before. There was no longer blood all over her face, and the gash was covered by a clean white bandage. A tear rolled slowly down her face. “What did I run into?”
Leitr reached out and gently pulled away the compact. “A tree, darling. You must have been moving very fast.” She clipped her purse shut and put it on the ground. “Some people said you looked like a wild beast!”
Kannice nodded slowly. She didn’t care what this nurse was talking about. She just wanted to remember why she would have been moving so fast. She didn’t remember anything but the accident, and her face. “What was I doing?”
“We’re not sure, sweetheart. But apparently there was a big commotion at the Food Shop. You just missed it. A pet tried to rob it! He was caught, of course, and they took him away, presumably to the pound. Good riddance, I say. We don’t need that sort hanging around on our streets!”
“Who was it?”
“Well, honey, I don’t know. A Lupe, I think?”
Kannice yelped and held onto her head. What had just a moment ago been a blank space was now being flooded with memories. “You’re the oldest, so I figured you’d cope with it the best.” “Us. The Hoarders.” “You want me to ROB someone?” “I meant the privilege of running away.” “Are we ready?” “Yes.”
Cane. The Food Shop. She screamed, and turned to a rather alarmed looking Leitr. “When are you going to let me out of here?”
* * * * *
“That’s your mother? Right there?”
“Why can’t she come in and talk to me?”
“She’s... afraid of hospitals.”
“Oh. Well, I’ll go talk to her...”
“She’s afraid of doctors.”
”Oh. Ok.” The doctor eyed Kannice suspiciously. “I suppose...” He sighed. “Ok, off you go.”
“Ok.” Kannice turned and ran for the hospital doors. Her whole body ached, and she could only see out of one eye, but she had to get to the Food Shop. She had to get to Cane. She pushed through the door and sprinted off down the road.
“Hey! Hey, I thought that was your mother?”
To be continued...