Chapter 71 - Relocate
As the days passed, Kale’s mind adjusted more and more to his circumstances. The people holding him in this room began bringing better than average meals to Kale three times a day, at least he thought it was three times a day. Not having access to a window disorientated him. The only time he was allowed to even have a chance to see light from outside was when he used the bathroom, and even then they didn’t always come let him out when he needed to go, although they were starting to learn his bathroom schedule.
Once a day Oren would come in and inject Kale, putting him to sleep, after he awoke Oren would treat him to anything he wanted. Kale started to trust the people around him as they brought in constant updates about his parents’ health, and they would even deliver messages back and forth between them.
Kale wanted to watch the four cats he chose to save get their injections every day, to make sure they were okay, but Oren wouldn’t let him. Oren would place treats in a cage and lure the specific cats in and take them away up the stairs. Upon returning, the cats dashed over to see Kale, tottering in their wobbled state.
After a month passed, Kale grew used to all the usual activities, and even began to look forward to them, meal time mostly. His gang of cat friends always put him in a better mood no matter how he felt previously. He had taken an extreme liking to the gray one which he named Zair. As for the other three cats he chose to save, he hadn’t finalized names yet, but their temporary names were as simple as Bright, Dark, and Spot.
Kale still missed his parents, but he was just happy to know they were going to be okay. The letters sent back and forth brought him a sense of joy in an unfamiliar world. He felt comfort in knowing they were all going through similar things right now, even if he couldn’t see them.
To add to his loneliness from other humans, his room was still mostly empty, but every few days Arlo would bring in extraordinary amounts of comic books. On these days, time would fly by as he sat with his blanket of kittens, reading. Sometimes, the researchers would ask him questions about the stories he was reading, and they would listen on and on while he gushed about characters he liked.
“Hey Kale,” Arlo said. “How’re you holding up?”
“I’m okay.” Kale laid flat on his back surrounded by felines, they all hissed at Arlo.
“We’re thinking of moving you to a new facility. One with other kids.”
Kale’s eyes lightened up and then darkened. “You guys have more kids? And they are being treated too?”
“Yeah, it’s better than this place. Oren’s still gotta decide though. Also, we might try for faster treatments if you go there, that would require you getting two shots a day.”
He liked the idea, even though he hated the idea of double the needles. He would be able to return to his normal life quicker, but would it even be worth it if he still had to wait for his parents to heal? Kale’s eye movements were sluggish as he looked around at the kittens. “What about all these guys?” He didn’t want to part with all of them, especially the four he was promised would undergo treatments.
“Oren says you can only take one with you.” Arlo scratched his head. “I’m guessing you will take Zair?” All of the researchers knew that Zair was Kale’s favorite.
“Only one…” Kale pondered his thoughts. “But, what will happen to all the rest?”
“Don’t worry, there’s a village out around here, Lyros. We already talked to some of the people that live there. They said they’d take ’em in. They already have quite a cat obsession anyway.”
“Will I ever be able to see them again?” Kale asked.
“Uh, well, probably someday. Some of the people we work with live there, so I don’t think it would be much of a problem.”
Kale missed playing with other kids, even though he had grown used to his time around animals. In his mind he had begun to feel as if he understood them, and they understood him. At the same time however, he felt deprived of human conversation. Sure, he talked to the researchers, but he felt they didn’t really get him like other kids would.
“Fine… I’ll do it.” Kale grazed his hands across the sea of cats.
“Sounds good, I’ll tell Oren,” Arlo said and left.
“Dad! The van is here!” Jack shouted as he caught a glimpse of a vehicle stopping in front of the trailer from the window.
“Okay, if they come to the door tell them I’ll be out in a minute.”
Jack brushed himself out of the sinking couch as he glanced back at the television. Occasional strings of static flushed through, fuzzing the edges of the screen; it could only be expected to have a bad reception out in the middle of nowhere. However, the signal was still strong enough for him to enjoy the cartoon about pirates.
“What do you think they are bringing this time?” Ambri asked as she laid on a beanbag chair in the middle of the living room.
“Not sure…” Jack walked up to the window and watched.
“Well, I think it’s more cats!” Ambri grinned while petting a cat beside her.
“Don’t we have enough of them though?”
“We can never have enough!”
Jack looked around the room. In this space alone were four cats relaxing around them. They didn’t need any more cats. Couldn’t they bring something else? Why did his dad even want so many cats?
The people from the van opened the back door of their van and carried out cages, and Jack groaned. “Well, you’re right. There are more cats.”
Ambri sprung up from the floor and ran to the door to greet them. The orange cat beside her meowed and followed her to the door.
“Did I hear they brought more cats?” Jack’s dad, Lars, passed through the living room smiling.
“Yeah…” Jack plopped back onto the couch.
It wasn’t that Jack didn’t like cats, they were just always around. In fact, he had a cat he was close to of his own, but he couldn’t figure out why these guys kept bringing them to Lyros. Was there no other place to take them?
His father had told them that they were for his work, but he worked at a leech farm so Jack couldn’t believe that reason at all. He couldn’t deduce even a single reason of why they would think to bring all the cats here every time. His father did love cats though, and it seemed the rest of the village did too; maybe that was reason enough.
“Jack! Come and look at these! They are all so cute!” Ambri’s voice squealed.
He didn’t move, he kept watching his show and rested his hand atop his black and white cat, Nyli.
Jack’s father had called for the whole village to get together to figure out what to do with all the new cats. Some chose to take a few of them as personal pets and the rest were just left to wander the neighborhood with the others, becoming everyone’s pets.
“You don’t want another cat?” Ambri asked, as she sat in their front yard, holding two cats of her own.
“We have enough, don’t we?” Jack leaned back in the grass and looked up at the fading pinks in the sky.
“I don’t think we can ever have too many… They’d be lonely without us.” She rubbed her fingers against their faces.
“I doubt it, there are so many cat friends for them to make,” Jack sighed. “Hey, Ambri, do you ever wonder what Dad does all day?”
“He works. What do you mean?”
“Ahh, nevermind. I don’t know.”
Ambri pushed her face up against the small creatures. “I’m happy we can help these guys. I feel like doing this allows me to give back kindness to the world and help pay back what you and Lars did for me.”
Jack didn’t say anything.
“If it weren’t for you guys, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I didn’t want to be sent from house to house…” Her voice quieted with somber. “Even so, I wish I didn’t have to be here… My parents shouldn’t have died from such an accident.”
Jack didn’t know what to say. She rarely brought this subject up as it happened when she was only five years old. They were twelve now, and Jack couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to lose both his parents, even though he grew up with only a father.
“I guess we are kind of the same though right?” Ambri gave a weak smile. “We have both lost people important to us. But now, I’d love to be such an important person to someone else…” She set the cats in her lap.
“Yeah, I guess that would be a nice feeling, right?” Dull clouds flew by, obscuring the beauty of the sunset.
Ambri nodded and brought herself back to her feet, still carrying the animals. “If you’re so interested in what your dad does maybe we should ask if we could come along.”
“I don’t think he’d let us.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try. I’ll ask for you!” She stuck out her tongue and ran for the door.
“No! Wait!” Jack’s words didn’t come out in time as she already entered their trailer. He threw himself up to his feet and chased for the door.
By the time he got inside he heard the last few words of Ambri’s question to his father. The expression he gave in return wasn’t what Jack expected. It was one of a solemn, aching expression.
“Ah, if you guys really wanna check it out, I don’t mind takin’ you both.” Lar’s put his hand to the back of his head. “I’ve been meanin’ to show you some of the stuff I do anyway.”
He wanted to show them how to run a leech farm? Not that Jack was that surprised, he figured he would want him to start helping him with it once he reached a certain age anyway. Handling leeches didn’t bother him either as he regularly went fishing with father and lined them on the hooks. Ambri, on the other hand, she still didn’t like handling them, but her fears were beginning to quell.
“What’d you say? You guys wanna come with me tomorrow morning? It’s a bit early, but I think you guys should.”
Now it seemed like he really wanted them to come. Jack and Ambri both nodded, however, despite her not being as much of a fan as leeches, she looked more optimistic than Jack about the day that awaited.