The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.
You can purchase this story in the 2018 Winners Anthology, Secret Keepers here.
“Socks’ Rebellion” by Ellie Ubancic, Roosevelt Middle School
Honorable Mention, Middle School Level, 2018
Roosevelt Middle School
Let me make it clear that I’m not entirely sure what his plan would have even been if the escape had succeeded. Freedom probably would’ve caused more harm than good anyways, but he wanted it. Almost every creature in the West Hamsville Animal Rescue wanted it, but Socks more than any of them longed to taste freedom. And catnip. But mainly freedom.
Socks was a small brown cat with white paws (thus the name given to him by his evil wardens) and a variety of intimidating scars that almost made up for his cuteness. Ever since he’d arrived, he vowed that those pathetic humans would rue the day they’d captured him. The only way he’d stayed sane all these years was his fixed obsession on revenge. And he wasn’t alone, either—he’d rallied a close group of feline followers who would do anything for his cause. The shelter didn’t stand a single chance.
Soon, the day he’d been waiting for finally fell. The annual adoption event! It’d be the perfect time to escape in the chaos. All they needed was a distraction…
Sometime later, Socks stood perched on a tall scratching post as he waited for his unsuspecting victims to arrive. He surveyed the scene with cold yellow eyes and they soon fell upon their target. A green-eyed Persian was edging around the corner of the fenced-off enclosure, dragging their weapon of demise: a squeaky toy.
I know, a squeaky toy doesn’t seem powerful in the traditional sense. But when used in the right context, it can lead a band of revolutionary cats to victory. Besides, it was the only thing in the entire enclosure that made a single peep, and they needed to be loud. Guests started streaming through the doors into the crowded room, obnoxious children tugging on the fence occasionally. Fluffy dropped the distraction of choice at Sock’s feet.
“This better work,” he added. “I had to sneak into the dog kennels to get that.”
The cats had a secret exit; their prison cells had the poor design flaw of removable tops, which were easy enough to break out of. But the risk was much too high. If the humans discovered their trick, they’d change the cages and then hopes of escape would plummet. It was a tactic only used for vital missions.
“It’ll work,” Socks promised. And if it didn’t, he’d fight tooth and claw to get out anyways. This was his final day of imprisonment. Finally, the owner of the shelter stood to deliver her yearly “Please adopt these wonderful animals because pet stores suck” speech. The time had come. The moment he’d been anticipating for so long.
“First of all, I’d like to thank every one of you for coming here,” she began. But before she could continue, the loudest, longest sSSSQUEEEEEEEEEE that had ever emanated from that dumb toy echoed through the silent room. The speaker laughed awkwardly.
“As you can see, our animals love to play and thrive here in—” sQUEEEEEEEE. She cleared her throa,t but didn’t get far in her speech before—sQUEEEEEEE. sQUEEEE. sQUEE sQUEE sQUEE sQUEE sQUEEEEEE.
Two security guards nearby quietly hurried over to their cage and one reached in to gently lift the intrusion away from the cats, but their stubborn leader refused to let go of it. As it was lifted, he felt his back paws leave the ground and hissed with angry energy. Before the second guard could pull him off, Socks darted up the arm of the first and out of the cage.
In a heartbeat, he was waging war with the latch holding the gate shut. And not too long after that, a stream of his multicolored supporters were weaving through the legs of the shocked audience, dodging security, and clawing a few choice authorities.
They were free.
Socks and his band of rebels enjoyed seven hours and forty-two minutes of freedom-filled bliss. They rampaged through the streets, stole food when they wanted it, and basked in the cool, refreshing night air underneath the stars. But it didn’t last. Slowly (but surely) the group got smaller and smaller until Socks turned around to laugh at Kibble’s joke to find she was gone. He couldn’t find Snowball. Or Sassy. Or Bella or Max or Kitty or Pumpkin or Princess or Duchess or Fluffy or Sprinkles. They were all nowhere. All eleven of them had vanished—and he heard a truck skid to a halt behind him.
Two days later, he sat in the same cage he always sat in. Clawed at the same foolish high school volunteers who each had convinced themselves that they were probably cat whisperers, and they each, in turn, were the magical chosen ones destined to win this cat’s heart.
They were wrong.
At least he got to see the satisfaction of the many injuries he’d given the idiotic pair of animal control officers that thought they could take him that night. They’d underestimated his power and delusionally expected to get off easy.
They were also wrong.
And the visitors who came to see the defeated monster and laugh at his downfall?
They were wrong, too.
Everyone was wrong and they had no idea how wrong they were. Socks cackled softly. Did you really think he’d allow himself to be taken that easily? No. They’d snuck some… “supplies” in from their many adventures and they had a plan B.
“Hey, Kibbles?” he called out, when he was sure there weren’t any humans nearby. “How’s progress on the bomb going?”
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