Fallen Hero

The Early Days

His life may have started in the big house and he may have received countless lucrative offers early in life, but he didn't follow the easy path. His brothers and sisters had all followed the accepted route into government or the civil service. That was not the way for him. Sitting behind a desk? Not a chance!

He went straight into the military as soon as he was old enough. It was immediately obvious that he was destined for great things. His intelligence, bravery and steady paw quickly saw him working on the front line. Thousands must have owed him their lives thanks to the number of booby traps he had disarmed in his career. He'd seen them all in his time. But he was never complacent. He'd seen what they could do when you got lazy. His back legs told the story of what could happen.

It hadn't been his fault. A couple of youngsters had come across it and, despite all the warnings, their stomachs had got the better of them. He saw them heading straight for the small blob of peanut butter. He hadn't stopped to think how foolish they were to be taken in by such an obvious trap. Leaping forward he managed to push them both out of the way, but his paw flicked the trip device and the spring slammed the metal bar down hard onto his rear legs. There was a sickening crack as the bone shattered. Somehow he managed to wriggle free and drag himself back to the base. He refused a desk job and was back in active service, as soon as the legs would allow him to move.

The small glass beside his bed had a further evidence of the impact of his years in the service of others. The set of dentures lay at the bottom of the glass, untouched for several days now, since his appetite had waned. He'd been so proud of them when he first got them. Almost as proud of them as he was of his old, broken tooth, which lay on the plush, red cushion in the military museum. There it laid, a constant reminder of the trap he had bitten through to release the three hostages who had been lured inside by the smell of a small piece of Cadbury's chocolate button.

Yes - the traps had taken their toll, but it was the ambush that had finished his army career. The scars could still be seen through the balding patches on his belly. He'd been escorting family groups of refugees to safety. Large amounts of chemical weapons had been deployed in the attic and a mass exodus was taking place. He was guarding the passage into the garage. It should have been a routine operation. The route had been checked and the only booby trap had been disarmed easily. He'd let his guard drop. He hadn't heard the soft, padding footsteps approach from the rear. The large tabby had crossed the border and had managed to get within striking distance undetected. She pounced and took him completely unawares. With one flip of the paw he was smashed onto his back. Sharp claws raked across his belly and he squeaked in agony. That was the last thing he remembered.

He woke under a bush. Dried blood matted his fur and his tail throbbed but he was alive. He had no idea how but he was alive. The official report cleared him of any negligence. 'An ambush could happen to anyone,' they had said. He was lucky to be alive. He had been grabbed and dropped in the kitchen. A few hours later the house giant had swept him into a dustpan and dumped him under the bush behind the oil tank. The powers that be would have been happy for him to continue his duties, or push him upstairs to enjoy an easy retirement. It wasn't for him though. He'd lost focus and, for him, that signalled the end. He couldn't trust himself anymore and he left.

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