A Tail from the City

Just a few days ago, I thought I was the only speck of sanity left in the house.

The Father? He always was and still is off in his own little world, a world of suits, briefcases and fancy sedans. Every weekday John would go into the city for work and then he'd come home to work. Even today, he' rarely outside of his office except for dinner. Sometimes I wonder why even has a family.

The mother isn't much better. Susan seemed to have managed to make a career out of playing bingo and shrieking, "Yoo Hoo!" at all the neighbors who walk by. She's the kind of person that seems to get along with everyone, but hardly anyone gets along with her. When she's not socializing, she's reading up on the personal lives of famous celebrities – at least, the tabloid versions. One of these days reality is going to smash that stupid woman hard with a two by four, and completely take her out.

The dog. At the time, I really hated that stupid, disgusting, annoying, stuck up dog. Spencer, a Labrador Retriever with brilliant golden fur, came from the streets, and still spends most of his time on the streets. He knows the island of Montreal more then anyone I've ever met, and he truly acted that he was better then everyone else because of it. It really grated at my nerves, along with his hobby, which seemed to be sleeping with more females then he could count. And call it jealously, but I couldn't stand the fact that a stupid dog got all the women when a smart cat got nothing.

And of course, no family is complete without children. Well, child in this case. David the preteen son. David seemed to live his life hidden away from everyone else; with no real friends except me and Spencer. Suffering from some sort of social phobia, hardly anyone knew David because David made it a point not to know anyone.

Well, this story is mainly about David and Spencer.

Not true. This story is mainly about me: Araan, the cat. A purebred American shorthair with brown fur and black patches across my back. I came to this family many years ago, when David still carried his lunch to school in a bright red plastic lunchbox. It was obvious at the time that the family needed me, but over time I realized that there was nothing I could do as it seemed they were all sinking into a whirling vortex of doom.

While what took place didn't do a thing for John and Susan, it managed to do wonders for the rest of the family. And even though I am the central figure in all that transpired, David and Spencer had their roles to play.

It all began several days ago, on a sunny Friday evening in June. The air was hot and humid as it always is during a Montreal summer, and I was lounging in the family living room, curled up on my large, cream coloured sofa half listening to Spencer explain his "flawless" flirting technique.

"I find that playful works best," he told me matter of factly. "You know, down on the front, high on the back, wagging tail and that great big goofy grin."

I sighed in irritation. "With all that street sense, you'd think you could at least have some common sense."

"Eh?"

"Do I really have to explain it? When a cat 'wags' its tail, it usually means he's pissed off."

Spencer looked shocked. "Really?"

I decided I couldn't be bothered with a response and simply rolled over. Finally the door opened and I saw David step into the house, wearing a simple pair blue jeans that looked perhaps a size too big for him and a large red hooded sweater. Without delay, I jumped off the couch and walked up to him, purring. He owed me a belly rub, and I had been waiting all day to collect.

He greeted me by name before gently scooping me up in his arms and carrying me upstairs. A few minutes later, I was stretched luxuriously across his lap, my head resting comfortably on his bed pillow, being treated as I should always be: like a god.

"I've had enough, Araan. No one cares anymore. The teachers don't care, mom and dad don't care, nobody cares."

I only purred in response, not really listening, my mind in a sate of total feline ecstasy. Looking back though, had I paid more attention to what he was saying I probably could have prevented the whole thing.

That night, I was once again in the living room, on the windowsill, watching the front yard. The house itself was rather quiet. David was in his room, Spencer was out somewhere, John was working away in his office as usual and Susan was in the kitchen cooking supper. Well, heating up supper was probably more appropriate. Susan couldn't really cook. Still, the frozen salmon smelled good enough to me. A few minutes later I heard Susan yell from the dining room that supper was ready. Getting off the windowsill, I walked into the dining room and rubbed up against her leg, meowing softly.

"No, Araan, you can't have any."

Hmph. Oh well, I knew all I had to do was wait for David. He always shared his fish with me. Except, David was late getting to the table, which was odd. David was hardly ever late for dinner.

"David!" Susan called.

No response. This had me worried, as David always at least answered his parents. I decided I needed to investigate, and ran up the stairs. His door was closed, so I scratched at the wood. Usually he'd let me in right away whenever I did that, but this time nothing happened. Something was very wrong.

"David?" I heard John call from behind me. "David, open this door."

John waited a few seconds, then opened the door himself. I ran into the room and stopped right in the middle. David wasn't there, and the room seemed empty and cold. Too cold in fact. Not so much that any of the humans would notice it, but there was a definite chill in the air. I turned to the window and noticed it was open. Leaping unto the windowsill, I poked my head outside and give the air a delicate sniff. Yep, David had definitely been out that way. Near the edge of the roof was an oak tree, and I figured that clumsy as he is, David could probably climb down it quite easily. Which meant that David was no longer in the house. For some inexplicable reason, he had run away.

About an hour later, I was still rummaging around David's room, trying to find some clue to his sudden disappearance. The parents were downstairs talking to the police, but I wasn't sure whether I'd get any relevant information from them. They had already looked through the room, but not being as careful as cats, I was certain they had missed something. As I was flipping through his various notebooks, I heard Spencer come bounding into the room, back from wherever it was he had been.

"What's going on with everyone? John and Susan seem really bummed out. What'd I miss?"

I glared over the notebook as I began pawing at the pages. "Lots."

Spencer yawned and stretched before lying down on the other side of the book. "All righty then, spill the story. I want to know everything."

I sighed in irritation. I guess I shouldn't really blame him, since he had no idea what had just happened. But I couldn't help it; David had disappeared, I was desperately trying to figure out why, and there Spencer was treating it all like a piece of celebrity gossip.

"David's gone, ok."

"Gone? What do you mean, gone?"

"Gone as in he ran away. And I don't know why, and I'm trying to find out why, and you're not helping."

I sighed as I batted the book away. Nothing, and that was the last one I could find.

"Well I think know why he ran away," Spencer said in a bored voice.

"Well you could tell me," I snapped, "Instead of playing these stupid games with me!"

"Sure. I've been past his school several times, although he never takes any notice of me. See, he's having trouble with bullies. Big trouble. Near as I can tell, no one's done anything to help him out, poor kid."

I stared at the window. David's words from earlier that afternoon came back to me. No one cares anymore. The teachers don't care, mom and dad don't care, nobody cares.

"And you think that's why he ran away?" I asked.

"Probably."

I sighed. Mentally, I was clawing myself. Why hadn't I paid more attention to him? Downstairs I could hear Susan and John say goodbye to the police. Susan was in tears.

"What do we do now, John?" She asked.

"Nothing, dear. The police are going to start working on it, and there's nothing we can do."

"Surely there's something…"

"It's out of our hands now, Susan. Besides, I have a big project that's really biting my butt hard that I need to work on."

I was shocked. Had he just said what I thought he'd said? That his work really was more important then his own son? David was right, it truly seemed that nobody cared. No, that wasn't true at all. I cared, and if nobody else would do anything, then I would.

"Where are you going?" Spencer asked as I hopped towards the still open window.

"I'm going to find David myself," I replied.

"You're gonna what?" Spencer yelled, suddenly sounding a lot more interested. "Oh no… now just wait a second!"

I gave Spencer a furious look. He was probably going to try and talk me out of it, and I didn't want to hear a word of it. I wanted to go out there and start tracking David down before my common sense kicked back in and held me back, because once I started I would be forced to see it through to completion.

Spencer continued, "You don't know the city. At all. Sure, you can follow his scent but then what? You'll be lost."

"Well at least I'm doing something, which is more then I can say for the rest of the family"

I turned and walked out the window. Being summer, it was still light as day outside. Giving the rooftop a quick sniff, I followed David's scent towards the large oak tree. Crouching at the edge, I made a small leap into the foliage, then hopped nimbly to the ground, only to find myself face to face with Spencer.

"Now what do you want?" I hissed.

"I'm going with you."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You're what? No, you're joking."

Spencer sat down and looked at me calmly. "You need me, Araan. I know the city inside and out, once we find him I can bring you both back home."

I sighed, irritated. He was right, and I hated it when he was right.

"You were right, back upstairs." He continued. "At least you're trying to do something. I guess I kind of felt bad about doing nothing."

"Really?" I asked in genuine surprise. I had never known Spencer to care about anything. "Well if he means that much to you, then fine I guess you can come."

"Not like you had a choice."

After about half an hour or so of walking, I was lost. Every street seemed the same, with streetlamps, signposts, and a billion intersections. Even the buildings all seemed to resemble each other. I had never wandered this far from my small territory around the house and its neighbourhood before and had absolutely no idea where I was. Still, David's scent continued to remain fresh, if a little mixed up with the millions and millions of others scents in the city. We continued to follow it until it began to lead towards a series of glass doors beneath a blue sign featuring a white circle with an arrow pointing downwards in the center.

"Whoa, hold on!" Spencer told me. "We can't go any further."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Don't you know what that is? That's a Metro station! He's taken a train somewhere."

I stopped to think about that. If David had taken the Metro, he could be anywhere in Montreal, and we wouldn't be able to find him.

"Come on, I have an idea." Spencer told me, turning to walk off.

"What is it?"

"Splint. He's a friend of mine, a drug dog with the police. He knows everything that's going on with the police, and may know something about David."

"Will he help us?"

Spencer laughed. "I'm probably his best friend in the world, of course he'll help us."

So I followed him to the local police station. Spencer led me through an alley and to a large wooden fence with a small hole near the bottom. On the other side, a large German Shepard lay leashed to an enormous red kennel. As we crawled in, he looked up and smiled.

"Spencer! What a surprise!"

"Hey, Splint. Uhm, look I was wondering if you could help me with something. See, one of our humans, David, has gone missing."

Splint nodded. "Yes, my humans were talking about that. He was last spotted by security at the Mount Royal Metro station. Other then that I don't know."

"Great," I groaned. "Mount Royal is probably an hours walk from here, by then who knows where he might have gone?"

"Hey, cheer up a bit," Spencer told me. "It's a start, and I know how to get there."

"Huh, who doesn't?" Splint retorted. "It's right smack in the middle of the city, kinda hard to miss. But seriously, Spence shouldn't you be leaving this to the humans?"

"No offense to your humans, Splint but how many missing children are found on this island every day?"

Splint sighed. "I know, Spence. But with everything that's been going on, I think it might be safer…"

"Splint, I'll be fine."

"All right, all right. Well, good luck."

I shot Spencer a confused look but he ignored me and went back through the hole in the fence. Back in the alley, I asked him what Splint meant.

"It's nothing, Araan. The city's been getting more and more dangerous, that's all."

I believed him, since he knew the city much better then I did, but it didn't make me feel any better. If anything, it made me more worried about David.

Spencer took me back through the alley and then onto the streets again, leading me past the Metro station and further away from home. Off in the distance, I could see Mount Royal, a slope of green behind the million towers of gray steel and brown brick.

"Where are all those huge towers I see in photographs and such?" I asked, feeling rather disappointed that I had come this far and not seen any of them. They always intrigued me with their massive height.

"Ah, well most of them are on the other side, in the centre-ville. I've been there once or twice, but I tend to avoid it."

"Why's that?"

"Not very pet friendly. You have to keep to alleys and such, otherwise some human on his lunch break with nothing better to do will freak out and call the police or something. Best to view it from a distance, really. Like, form the lookout points at Mount Royal. At night, when the sun goes down, all the lights flicker on and the city comes alive. It's possibly the most beautiful sight in the world."

"You go there often?"

"Often, yes. Great place to take someone for a first date, really sets the mood. I'll show it to you sometime."

I snorted, "Mood? Date? You make it sound romantic."

"And why not? What, you think I'm like a hooker or something?"

Quite frankly, I did. But Spencer was hinting that perhaps he was more then that. Intrigued, I was about to ask him more about it but stopped when I heard a loud growl behind me. Spencer stopped and turned around. I saw his eyes go wide and suddenly, a large mass of brown and black fur flew over me, slamming into Spencer and pinning him to the ground.

"Hello Spencer," the dog snarled.

"Ugh… nice to see you too, Ben" Spencer retorted.

"Don't use that tone with me, you know exactly why I'm here."

"You just like pouncing random guys on the street? Agh!"

Spencer winced in pain as the large dog nipped his left ear.

"Man, you got a lot of nerve talking to me like that, especially after all you've done."

I stared at the two, not knowing what to do. Clearly, Spencer had done something to upset this large dog, but I had no idea what it was. Whatever it was, it must have been something serious. I just hoped Spencer could get himself out of this situation, because I needed him. Much as I hated to admit it, I needed his help if I was going to get David back home.

"One thing you gotta realize, Ben," Spencer grumbled. "I have more nerve then anyone you'll ever meet."

Suddenly Spencer twisted around beneath the Rottweiler, catching him off guard. Spencer managed to bring his legs beneath the massive dog's chest, and kicked hard. With a yelp of pain and surprise, the dog went flying into the wall.

"Run." Spencer said simply, dashing into a nearby alley.

I didn't need any encouragement and I ran after him. Behind us, I could hear more paws and several loud barks coming after us.

"Damn, he's sending his friends after us," Spencer complained as he turned down another alley.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"You'll see!"

We kept running past cinderblock gray walls with old balconies and staircases turned green from age. The only variation between the various alleys was the colourful patterns of graffiti, and even those seemed to be repeating themselves. Finally, he turned us into a dead end, and I was certain that he'd made a mistake, until I saw the large rectangular grate in the ground.

"Emergency exit from the Metro," Spencer explained, hooking a paw into the grid of iron and pulling the grate open. "Or, our entrance."

"I thought dogs couldn't open those."

"We can't as far as humans are concerned. Come on, we don't have all day."

The clicking of paws and frantic barking behind us was getting louder, so I hopped through the opening and landed a couple of meters down on some sort of cement. The air felt slightly cooler down here, and completely still. Even before my vision adjusted to the dark that was punctuated here and there with emergency lights, I was aware of the comforting feeling of walls all around me, creating a sort of weight to the air and providing a sense of closeness. My eyes then adjusted about a fraction of a second later, and I could see I was standing in a huge tunnel that seemed to go on in both directions forever. We were on some sort of platform that ran along one of the walls, and the other side the ground dropped a few feet to where the tracks were laid out.

"Come on. I don't think they'll follow us down here. Most animals avoid the Metro."

"Why?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

We continued to run. As we did I felt the air start to speed up around us. Suddenly a train flew by at an unbelievable speed, tossing my fur in all directions and threatening to throw me right off the ground, but within seconds it was over.

"Once we get to the station, we need to rush past everyone and keep going down the tunnel," Spencer explained. "We can follow this line to the mountain, since we're already here. If I remember quickly, it's only about five stations till Mount Royal.

We continued on and finally I began to see a large light coming from the end, which Spencer assured me wasn't another train. Soon we reached the end of the tunnel and jumped onto the red and brown tiled station platform. I don't think there was a single commuter who wasn't staring at us, as it isn't every day you see a couple of pets emerge from a Metro tunnel. But what's even more uncommon is to see them dash back into the tunnel at the other end.

"Undoubtedly one of those commuters is going to tell someone, but I doubt it'll make much of a difference. The real trouble will come when it's time to leave the station. That's why most animals avoid the Metro."

We continued through the tunnels, slowing our pace to a walk due to lack of breath. Several more trains past us in each direction, and each time many of the passengers stared at us in disbelief. We walked for what was probably an hour, during which I asked Spencer about that Rottweiler that had chased us down here. Spencer didn't seem very eager to tell me anything.

"Well, Ben's kinda mad at me because I slept with his girlfriend."

"You what?" I asked, although from all the sleeping around he'd done in the pas, I wasn't very surprised.

"Yeah, but honestly I don't think it'll be that big of a deal. Try not to worry about it." But he didn't sound very convincing.

When we reached Mount Royal station, Spencer explained to me just what we had to do.

"Right, now just follow me, and act calm, but when you hear someone yell, run upwards. Remember that, when in a Metro station, always run upwards."

As we neared the stairwell, we suddenly heard a man in a large Quebec accent yell out, "Hey!"

"Run!"

So I ran full tilt up the stairs, dashing around the legs of the various confused citizens. Spencer unfortunately wasn't as nimble and I could hear behind me several cries of surprise and upset as he plowed his way through. When I reached the top, Spencer continued past me.

"No time to stop!" Spencer said, "Have to go through the gates then up to the street."

We continued to run with several people behind us yelling.

"Stop those animals!"

Although no one tried to stop us, instead they merely stopped what they were doing to look around and see what all the commotion was about, giving us time to dart past them. When we reached the gates, I looked in dismay at the huge queues but Spencer led us to an empty gate with a glowing red "X" over it.

"One thing you can always depend on in a Metro station: at least one gate isn't working."

I ducked under the metal bars and stopped in amazement. The place was absolutely huge, and completely packed with people and shops along the walls. The sheer size of the place had me awestruck, along with the fact that it was all completely underground.

"Don't stop, don't stop! Keep moving!"

We kept running forward, people continuing standing still watching us, and the cries of the security staff continued to remain behind us. For a minute I felt certain we were going to make it out. Until suddenly I felt strong hands cup themselves around my torso and I was lifted into the air. In a panic, I began to squirm violently and yelled desperately, "Spencer!"

I could hear Spencer's paws skid on the floor as he turned quickly. "Araan!"

I continued to squirm in the mystery person's hands and twisted myself around to try and bite him, but he was wearing thick leather gloves. As I struggled, I realized there was a second man, and this one was carrying a cat carrier.

"No!" I screamed, struggling even more but it was no use, and I was roughly shoved into the plastic cage. On instinct I tried to run backwards, but my tail soon collided with a door. As I spun around to try and get a better look on what was going on, I heard Spencer start to growl viciously before yipping in pain.

"Spencer!"

"Araan! Araan where are – mmph!"

Spencer's words were cut off and I watched as two men, both wearing leather gloves slipped a muzzle over Spencer and strapped him to a thick leash.

"Right, let's take them to the van!"

A few minutes later I was removed from the carrier and placed in a small metal cage. Spencer was shoved into a slightly larger cage next to me and his muzzle was removed. Then the doors were slammed shut and the four men climbed into the front. As they began to drive away, Spencer told me he had a plan to escape.

"It's simple, you open the cages, I can open the doors over there. We jump out and book it into the next alley."

"Ok," I said, completely unconvinced. "How do I open these cages then?"

Spencer sighed. "See, this is why animals like you get taken to shelters, you don't think. See that catch on the door? That's what's holing it closed."

I looked at the door and noticed that indeed there was a small metal peg holding the cage shut. "So, all I have to do is move it…" I said, reaching a paw through the wires and sliding the peg over.

"That's it, and the one on the bottom there, great. Now spring me."

"Why can't you spring yourself?"

"Because my paws don't fit through the wires. Come on, hurry up."

I slid the pegs out of place and Spencer pushed his cage door open. Walking to the back doors, he pressed downwards on the handle. With a soft click, the door swung open and I looked down at the street. It seemed to be moving awfully fast, with the small pieces of asphalt flying by at a dizzying rate.

"Just wait a few seconds," Spencer told me. "There's a billion intersection on the island, we have to come to red light eventually."

Sure enough I felt the van begin to slow down and stop altogether.

"Now!" Spencer said, jumping off. I jumped after him and followed him through the line of stopped cars, the drivers all watching us go by. Spencer ran through an alleyway that led to another street, then took a sharp left and ran down the sidewalk for several blocks. Finally he stopped.

"Here we are," He told me.

I looked up and realized we had reached the foot of the hill, for really that's all Mount Royal was, a very large hill in the middle of the island of Montreal. Ahead of us the sidewalk turned into a narrow path ascending upwards to the top.

"There's a park by the top, and one of dogs who lives up there, Jared, is a good friend of mine. We should talk to him first, see if he's seen David." Spencer told me before plunging into the trees that covered the hill.

A few minutes later we emerged into a large clearing filled with various humans and dogs. I couldn't find any cats around, but that hardly surprised me since most humans don't take cats on walks to the park. Spencer told me that Jared usually spends most of his time looking after and playing with the children near the playground area, and started off in that direction.

"There he is!" He exclaimed, nodding towards a small group of kids all ranging from ages seven to about ten.

I blinked in surprise. Right away I could tell that Jared was a mixed breed of some sorts, since no pedigree dog featured blond hair with black spots. My guess was that he was a mix between a Retriever of some sorts and a Dalmatian.

"Jared!"

Jared looked up from the kids and his tail started to wag energetically. "Spencer! Wow, haven't seen you in a while. How are you doing? Or should I say, who are you doing?" Jared snickered at himself while Spencer grinned.

"Ha ha, very funny."

"Oh but it's true! But seriously, how are you doing?"

"Well, it's David."

Jared nodded. "I figured that. Because he was just here."

"Was he?"

Jared nodded again. "Yeah, one of my humans found him. He freaked out though and ran away. They're calling the police about it now."

"Which way'd he go?" Spencer asked.

"Towards downtown, I think."

Spencer sighed. That was obviously not the answer he wanted to hear.

"Well, there's nothing for it then. We'll have to go down there and find him."

At that comment Jared's tail stopped wagging and he fixed Spencer with a serious look. "Spencer, I'm not sure that's such a good idea. Ben-"

"I know about Ben," Spencer said, cutting Jared off. "I ran into him on the way up here."

"You what? Spencer, no, I, no I can't let you go down there. Let the police handle it."

I was confused. There was more to Spencer and that Rottweiler we met in the streets that Spencer wasn't telling me, and I wanted to know exactly what it was, and how it affected our chances of finding David.

"Don't worry about Ben," Spencer said. "If David was just here, I can probably follow his scent and find him before the police ever will. It's practically dark already; I don't want him wandering those streets at night. Bad things happen to kids on the streets when it gets dark."

Jared sighed. "Ok. Fine. He took the main path into the city, the one over McGill. But Spencer? Be careful."

Spencer grinned. "You know me, Jared. I'm always careful."

As we walked across the park, I started to demand exactly what had happened between Ben and Spencer and why so many others seemed to know about it.

"Araan, would you relax, ok? Dogs are social creatures, word gets around very quickly. I mean, if you think Susan's gossipy, well… But it's nothing for you to worry about."

I wanted to believe him, but I just couldn't be sure.

However I soon forgot all about it. We had reached the edge of the hill, and ahead the city lay in waiting. It was the most amazing spectacle I had ever seen. The towers spread out in all directions, but they seemed to fade into the blue of night and all but disappeared in the distance, leaving instead a million small lights, shining from windows, rooftops and streets as far I could see. It was as if the stars had left the sky and decided to hover over the ground.

"Oh my god," I breathed, barely able to speak.

Spencer stopped beside me. "I told you I'd show this to you sometime."

"Oh wow. It's… it's beautiful."

"Yes, it is. But its only skin deep. Inside, lies a world more sinister then you can imagine. Where people go about their lives with almost with no soul. If we attract too much attention, they'll call the authorities on us, without reason. So listen to me very carefully. Keep your guard up, and be ready to run at a moments notice."

We made our way down the hill and into the city. Spencer continually sniffed the sidewalk and continued onward. It was obvious that he was getting tenser and tenser, and he seamed to jump slightly at nearly every car that drove by. As we walked, the other people on the street gave us quick glances, looking down on us like we were some moving piece of litter they just had to contend with.

However, I wasn't paying much attention to them. I was spending practically the whole time with my head in the clouds, staring up at all the buildings. They had totally mesmerized me, and I couldn't focus properly on anything else. They were just so huge, towering over me like the giants.

As I continued walking, I wasn't paying any attention to what was right in front of me, and before too long I found myself smashing right into someone's leg. I fell back startled and as I looked up, I was staring at a pair of very large, very strong looking canine legs covered in dark brown fur. I moved my head upwards, and saw the legs join a very rippled torso followed by a large brown head with a grinning muzzle flashing rows of large teeth.

"Hello kitty. Imagine finding you in this part of the city."

"Araan…" I heard Spencer yell from behind me. "Run."

"Yes," Ben agreed, "This doesn't concern you. This is just between Spencer and I. You know Spencer, that was quite the escape you pulled back there. I wonder if you could manage to do it twice?"

I turned around and to see Spencer's reaction and saw three more Rottweilers step out of an alley behind us. I turned back to Ben and saw that he now had another two Rottweilers flanking him. We were trapped.

"Ben, come on man," Spencer began, a hint of desperation in his voice. "It happened what, a month ago? You need to let this go and move on."

"I don't think so Ben, because as you and I both know, this wasn't just something that happened six months ago. There's a lot more to it then that, and now that I've finally found you, I don't feel like just letting you go unpunished for four weeks of such betrayal. Boys? Take him."

"Sure thing boss,"

"Araan, run. Run! Come on you walking couch cushion, let's see what you've got!"

I watched as the Rottweilers, snarling, leapt at Spencer. Spencer barked loudly and scratched the first dog right across the face, causing the dog to yip slightly in pain. Unfortunately another Rottweiler immediately jumped on to Spencer's back, knocking him flat to the ground. The canine leaned forward and bit Spencer's neck, hard. Spencer yelped loudly in pain, then again as he was bit by another Rottweiler. I cringed as he began to emit an unearthly howl of pain from another assault.

If I ran now, I could probably get away. But I couldn't. Not after all the help I'd gotten from him, not after all he'd shown me. I simply couldn't run away knowing all the pain he was going through. The pain he had chosen to go through for me, me the one who ignored, mistreated and stereotyped him. I owed it to him to do all I could to help him.

I charged towards the Rottweiler and with a high pitched cry leapt onto the nearest dog's head. Without thinking or planning, I started to tear furiously at whatever brown or black I saw, scarping it away to red. The dog squealed loudly in pain, and I continued thrashing about until something, either a muzzle or a paw, slammed into my side and I began to fly.

The last thing I remembered was hitting something very rough and very solid from behind, feeling the energy force itself through my body, crushing at my bones and pounding furiously at my head with a thunderous crack that tore viciously through brain, blinding me and deafening me, plunging me brutally into total darkness.

I awoke a little while later, I'm not sure how long, and found myself in a dark alley somewhere. The only light came from a small lamp near a wall. I wasn't sure where I was, I figured Ben and his men must have taken me here after I was knocked out.

I had absolutely no idea where Spencer was, or even if he was still alive. What was worse, I had no idea where I was. The alley looked like every other alley I'd been to, and smelt just like all the other others. Except for one scent, which was clear, unique, and instantly recognizable.

David. I sat up right away, ignoring the pain in my muscles. Somehow, David was in this alley. I looked around and realized that I was sitting under a chair. In front of me a pair of ankles were tied to the wood, but the shoes were David's. Which meant that I had found him. I stepped out from under the chair and looked up at him, excited. He seamed to be alright, although his face was filthy and covered here and there with scrapes and cuts. At first I began to wonder what the connection was between Ben and David, but I banished that the back of my mind. I had found him, and that was the important thing right now.

"Araan… is that you?"

I hopped onto his lap and nuzzled his chest, purring reassuringly.

"Araan! I thought I'd never see you again! Oh, god I took the Metro to the Mountain, and then, I don't know I freaked out and ran to the streets." His words spewed forth in an almost incomprehensible babble. "I had no idea where I was going, I was so lost… and then I bumped into this guy, this really tall and big guy with a Rottweiler, and he just… he just grabbed me by the neck and shoved me in a van."

So that was the connection with Ben. The guy who had kidnapped David was probably Ben's owner.

"He drove off, I don't know where and then he… he tied me up here and I haven't seen him since. I don't know what he wants, and I'm so scared, I'm… I'm so scared, I just want to go home."

David started to cry, his tears causing long streaks through the dirt down his face. I did my best to comfort him, while at the same time trying to figure out just how the hell to get him out of here. I had no idea where we were, and no idea how to get home. I needed Spencer for that, and I had no idea where he was either.

Ok, one thing at a time, I told myself. First, set David free, since he's right here. His ankles are tied to the chair, and most likely so are his arms. Maybe I can get him free.

So, hopping off of David's laps, I went behind him to check it out. Sure enough, his arms were tired together behind the chair, but the rope wasn't very thick. Hopping onto my back legs, I started to scratch away at the strands like they were my scratching post back home, hoping I could tear the rope enough that David could break free. It took a while, but eventually the rope began to fray and David, realizing what was going on, was able to break his hands loose.

"Excellent!" He exclaimed. "Ow, damn rope burn. Still, you're amazing Araan." He told me as he leaned forward to untie the binds on his ankles.

David and I started to creep down the alley, which seemed to go on forever with no form of intersection or end. I kept sniffing the ground in the hopes of picking up some sign of Spencer, but I couldn't find anything, and I was starting to get worried.

At last we came to a T-Intersection, and to my relief I could smell Spencer's scent along with Ben's, going off into the distance. I started to follow it, then stopped when I realized David was following me. I felt uncomfortable with him going in the direction of all those rottweilers, and I couldn't tell him to wait for me there. But we needed Spencer to get us out of here, so I continued on hoping that David would have some common sense.

As we continued walking I began to hear voices. We soon came to a corner, and I could hear clearly now from the other side Ben yelling angrily at Spencer. Every now and then he'd pause, probably so that one of his goons could strike a blow at Spencer, because these pauses were always followed by a wail of pain.

"So you think you own the whole damn Island, eh? Think you can just sleep with whoever you please, is that it? Do you? DO YOU?"

A few seconds later I heard a loud growl, pierced by a shattering cry of agony from Spencer.

"I really don't know which is more stupid, Spence." Ben continued as I poked my head around the corner. What I saw made my heart sink. There was Spencer, lying on the ground with two Rottweilers sitting on either side of him. His golden blond fur was matted almost all over with dirt and blood, both dried and fresh seeping from jagged bite marks all over his body, especially his upper torso and lower neck. On the other side of the space stood three more Rottweilers, all lazily watching the proceedings.

And between them, standing his full impressive and oppressive height was Ben; walking back and forth with an air of utmost confidence and power, complete with a sadistic grin across his face.

"The fact that you slept with Sarah in the first place," Ben continued. "Or that fact that you continue to do so."

I was taken aback slightly by that comment. Spencer had failed to mention that minor detail. I knew Spencer had mentioned he was more then just a man of the night, but I had never imagined he was going steady with anyone. I heard him murmur something, but I couldn't hear exactly what it was. Whatever it was, it sure seemed to piss Ben off. He whipped around, his expression changed to one of pure rage.

"What did you say?"

"I said," I heard Spencer say faintly. "You don't deserve Sarah."

Immediately one of the Rottweilers to Spencer's side lunged forward and I winced as the guard bit savagely into Spencer, who cried out again.

"NO!"

I stopped, frozen. The cry hadn't come from either Spencer or Trent. It had come from David. Oh hell, it had come from David. I stood frozen in terror as all the dogs turned to look at us, and Ben gave a nod in our direction. One of the dogs standing behind Ben started walking towards us.

"Touch… either of them" Spencer hissed, "And I swear I'll kill you."

Ben ignored Spencer as the Rottweiler started growling at us. I lowered myself into an attack stance, ready to leap if necessary and hissed back, but I never got the chance do anything. Something large flew over me and crashed into the dog, sending him rolling to the floor. I stood still, startled as another canine with brown and black fur began wrestling on the ground. It took me a little while to realize that it was Splint.

At first I began to wonder what Splint was doing so far away from home, but then I saw Ben turn to run away. I was not about to let him get away so easily. He had caused Spencer, David and me a lot of grief, and I wanted to make sure that he at least got what he deserved. I started to run, ignoring all the other animals in the room before leaping through the air onto his back. I gave his fur a good scratch, and he jumped out of surprise.

"Get off me you stupid cat!" he yelled, shaking around in attempt to knock me off but I only dug my claws in deeper. Ben continued trying to shake me off while growling viciously until my grip started to loosen and I was sent flying through the air. I fell to the ground and slid for a few inches, but got right back up and charged towards Ben once again. This time he saw me coming and snapped his strong jaws at me, but I managed to jump out of the way, scratching the side of his head as I did.

Ben snarled angrily and spun around, a deep grow reverberating from down his throat, his ears flat against the side of his head, and his lips curled back, baring his teeth. He lunged at me again. As he moved foreword, I quickly dove under him. Once again he was slow, and behind me I heard the sharp smack of his jaw hitting the pavement. I quickly ran out from beneath him and hopped back onto his back, biting into his fur and skin, hard. Ben yelled in pain.

"Piss off, you bloody cat!" He snapped.

At that moment about three humans in police uniforms and a couple of men wearing the same leather gloves that had caught me in the Metro came running in. The gloved men carried leashes and muzzles. The snapped a muzzle onto the Rottweiler Splint had pinned down, and started approaching the others.

"I hope you can hold on, kitty." Ben snarled, before racing off in the direction he had originally tried to flee. I was thrown back slightly by the sudden burst of speed, but I latched my claws into him and held on for all I was worth. I could feel Ben tense at my digging of claws, but he ignored it and continued running. When he came to an intersection, he spun around to his right, throwing himself into the turn in an attempt to knock me lose, but I managed to hold on.

"Dammit cat, just let me go!"

Ben continued running, slowing down every now and then to try and shake me off, but I was prepared this time and kept me claws firmly embedded in his back. When we came to the next turn, Ben stopped altogether; probably hoping the momentum would throw me off, but no such luck. He continued running, yelling at me, "This is your last chance, cat. Jump off now and I'll ignore you. Force me to carry you much further, and I'll kill you."

I bit his back again in response.

"Fine, have it your way."

He turned suddenly and jumped towards one of the windows that wasn't boarded up. He tilted his head down, and smashed into the glass pane. With a loud explosion, pieces of glass started to fly everywhere. I closed my eyes and hung on tighter then I thought possible as the shards began to fly past me. They snagged at my skin and fur, tearing it off in streaks down my back, sides and legs. The pain coursed through my body and my grip started to weaken.

Then Ben hit the ground, and twisted around quickly. I struggled to regain my grip, but only managed to hold on with my forepaws, while the back half of me swung out behind me, only to smash into something a moment later. I yelped, and lost my grip completely, falling to the ground. Quickly, I opened my eyes. Ben had leapt into some kind of warehouse, and the room was full of large wooden crates and metal poles, supporting the ceiling. That's what I had hit, a dull gray metal pole.

Panting from the sprint, Ben turned and glared at me. "I warned you," he growled. "But you wouldn't listen. And now, it's going to cost you…"

He lunged foreword again, and I rolled quickly to my side, lashing out at his face. I felt my claws hit something soft and tore at it as fast as I could. Ben howled in anguish, a line of blood seeping down his cheek. I had completely torn out his right eye. Having caught him off guard, I leapt onto the pile of crates, climbing as fast as my legs could carry me to the top of a pile. I was about to climb higher when I felt the crates below me start to sway slightly from improper stacking.

Then I got an idea. Looking around the pile before me, I saw that Ben was sitting right in front of my stack, barking madly.

"You can't stay up there forever!"

I didn't intend to. I ran towards the small pile and slammed myself right into the side. It slid slightly, and I could feel the crates beneath me start to sway a little more. I took a few steps back, then slammed into the pile again, causing the sawing to increase. Stepping back once again, I repeated the process. This time, I felt the pile sway foreword more violently, and I could tell it was about to fall. I hopped of the pile just as I heard Ben cry out in surprise at the pile of crates about to rain down on him. When I landed I heard the crash of wood smashing to the ground and falling apart over the yips and yelps from Ben.

I turned slowly, about to run incase Ben hadn't been talking out but he lay beneath the pile of wood, breathing slowly but otherwise unmoving. In the window above him, I saw Splint staring at me with a look of total disbelief.

I woke up the next afternoon in a cat carrier, inside a moving vehicle. At first I thought I was back in the van of the people with leather gloves, but then I realized that this cat carrier had my scent all over it. I looked through the slits in the carrier and found myself looking at David. Then it came to me that I was in the family car, being taken home.

"Hey mom! Dad! Araan's awake!"

"Oh that's good," Susan mumbled, her attention involved in an issue of the National Enquirer.

"From what I heard from the police, that cat's a regular hero," John mentioned from behind the wheel. "The Gazette might even want to do a story. I wonder if I can use this to mention the company?"

I sighed happily. It was good to be home. Except, something was missing. The presence of a certain canine was noticeably absent. As if reading my thoughts, David told me,

"The vet won't let us take Spencer back just yet. They say he needs a few days to recover. That Rottweiler in the alley did a lot of damage. But you got him good Araan! You're amazing."

I purred at the admiration, but I knew that when Spencer got back, he'd have some questions to answer.

A few days later I was sitting on the couch in the living room when the front door opened and I heard the clicking of canine paws on the hallway floor.

"David! Guess who's back!" I heard John call out.

"Spencer!" I heard over the thunder of running footsteps on the stairs. "Oh my god, Spencer! You're all right!"

I heard Spencer bark happily, followed by John telling David to take Spencer, he had work to do. I wasn't surprised in the least. David led Spencer into the living room. His fur hadn't completely grown back yet, and he had a slight limp in his front left paw, but other then that he seemed fine. David sat down on the floor and laughed as Spencer started to lick his face and neck.

"Hello Spencer," I said quietly.

"Araan! Man, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really glad to see you! Wow, Splint told me you really got Ben, that's awesome!"

"Yeah, about that… what were Splint and his team doing so far into down town?"

Spencer gave me a shocked look. "Didn't you know? Araan, Ben and his team dragged us all the way back to the North Side."

I blinked in surprise. "Back… you mean back here? But how? Who is Ben, and Spencer, be honest this time."

Spencer sighed and lay down next to David. "Well, Ben is a bit of a mob boss. His gang spreads across this whole neighbourhood and parts of down town, where apparently he was fighting a war with some other dogs. I worked for him, doing odd jobs here and there. Until… until he started to abuse Sarah. See, I had always loved her, still do in fact. And I couldn't stand to see him treat her that way. I used to meet her in back alleys, try and comfort her. Pretty soon one thing lead to another and then, well," Spencer coughed. "You know.

"Then Sarah left Ben and went into hiding. I continued seeing her, but we had to be careful. That's why Splint and Jared were so worried; they knew Ben was after me. Guess it was just a matter of time eh?"

"I guess. But Spencer… why didn't you tell me?"

"To be honest, I was worried about you. I knew you had practically no street sense, and I guess I was just trying to do whatever I could to make sure you didn't get involved."

"You cared that much about me?"

Spencer nodded. "You may treat me like crap, and it hurts but Araan, you're still family."

He was right, and I began to wonder just how sane I really was before this whole thing, acting like I was king of the world. This trip had opened my eyes, not just about Montreal but also about Spencer, who he really was and just how intelligent he truly is. From that day onward I saw that dog in a whole new light. Our adventure brought us closer together, brought all three of us closer together.

Now all we need to do is wait for John or Susan to go missing.