Startled, Sami jumped up from the floor and screeched. Once again, she had fallen asleep during combat training. She panted as she looked around at all her Mutant classmates staring and giggling. It wasn’t the first time that’d happened, but it was always embarrassing. It wasn’t her fault, though. She didn’t choose to be a Mutant house cat.
“Sorry,” she apologized to her Keeper who was calling her. Playing with her black tail, she kept her green eyes locked on the ground as she waited to be scolded for her misbehavior.
To her surprise, Mr. Mallory was more understanding. “Relax, it’s cool,” he said, pushing his matted blond hair out of his face. “You’re still getting used to your need for sleep.” Smiling, he looked at his electronic clipboard and said, “Since you’re up, why don’t you come up next?”
Nervous, Sami shook as she walked towards Mr. Mallory. The palms of her furry hands were sweaty and the black hair clung to her neck. Reaching him, she asked, “What should I do?”
“You need to climb something for me,” he said, keeping his eyes on his device. “Remember the first test I had Alex do when he was Spliced with an Aye Aye?”
Sami nodded. “Yes, sir. You had him climb up our tallest oak as fast as he could.”
“Right on,” he replied, looking up and pointing a bony finger towards her. “You’ll do that plus one more thing.”
“Which is?” she inquired.
Mr. Mallory smiled. “To get down, you’ll need to jump.”
Before Sami could object, her Keeper grabbed her arm and pushed her towards the tall tree in the center of their training grounds. It was over 80 feet high with thick branches and beautiful leaves. He wants me to jump…from up there? Sami thought as Mr. Mallory brought her to the base of the tree. Looking up, she couldn’t see the top. Scared, she began to shake.
“You ready?” Mr. Mallory called as he went back to stand with the other Mutants.
“No,” she croaked.
“Good!” he replied. “On your mark, get set,” Mr. Mallory clicked the stopwatch on his clipboard, “go!”
With no other choice, she latched onto the tree trunk and raced up. The climbing part was easy. She hopped from branch to branch with ease and scurried her way to the top in no time. Peeking her head out, she looked down at the tiny people below. The height made her sick and she didn’t think she could survive the fall. I’m going to break my legs and die, she thought negatively. This is it. He wants me to die.
“Don’t be a scaredy cat!” my Mutant Dragonfly friend, Lucas, called. He was usually never any help when it came to motivation.
Thankfully, Becca, my Cheetah friend, was slightly better. “You can do it!” she yelled. “We’ve got your back!”
Who’s going to catch the rest of me, then? I thought as I clutched the top of the tree.
“You’ll have to jump soon or else I’ll have Lucas fly up there and push you!” Mr. Mallory told her.
Not wanting that to happen, Sami shut her eyes, took a few deep breaths, and counted to three. When the count was up, she leapt from the top of the tree. As she fell, she screeched and flailed her arms and legs. She wasn’t ready to stick the landing. Her body flopped in the air and she was sure to land on her back. I’m going to die, I’m going to die, Sami thought as she free fell.
Getting closer to the ground, Sami put her hands over her eyes and waited for the impact. To her surprise, she never hit the ground. She heard a loud buzzing and felt arms wrap around her body. Carefully, she peeked through her fingers and looked around. Below her, she saw the ground was getting farther away. Realizing what was happening, she accidentally clawed at the prickly arms that were around her and begged, “Don’t let go! Don’t let go!”
“Crikey! Stop scratching me!” a familiar voice yelled. “Why would I drop my best mate?” She turned her head and saw Lucas laughing, his giant bug eyes glowing in the sun light. Carefully, he flew her back down and let go. She put her feet on the ground and struggled to stay standing. Her legs buckled from beneath her and she began to collapse. Lucas grabbed her again and helped her up. “What would you do without me?” he joked.
Coming over to the two, Mr. Mallory said, “Good save, Lucas. That would’ve been messy.” He tapped a few things on his keyboard. “Next time, Sami, I’ll start small. I know cats are supposed to land on their feet, but…” he clicked his tongue, “if you’ve ever seen those old cat videos, most of them fall right on their faces.”
“We’ve never seen those,” she confessed. “But I probably wouldn’t have survived landing on my face.”
He looked up and smiled, his green eyes filled with mischief. “We will try this again tomorrow, but I’ll have Lucas throw you off a shed first. Then we’ll go back here.” Chuckling, he continued, “Cats have nine lives, you know.”