Night fell. Hungry and thirsty, the kittens kept running.

Runty, head held high, led the way. For some reason, he thought of June and hoped she wasn't missing him too much. Meanwhile, Stolly imagined licking Mama Mao's kind face and snuggling up to her.

catsoup ch13 v02There was a rustle from behind a lychee tree. Lily, a golden Labrador emerged. "Hello, I thought you'd never arrive," she barked.

Runty raised his hackles and hissed.

"Don't be afraid," woofed Lily. "I've been sent by the restaurant's guard dogs."

Were dogs cats' friends sometimes? Lily's muzzle looked soft and she was wagging her tail.

"Proof," said Runty. "I want proof."

The kittens peered through a hole in the high wall that surrounded the restaurant. There was a disgusting smell, the sound of noisy humans, and two dogs straining against their chains.

The kittens brushed against Lily's hairy legs to show their thanks.

A rat scuttled down the side of the restaurant, as if to say, "This way." At the back, smoke poured out of a ventilator and a grease-stained window was partially open.

Could Stolly leap that high? His heart sunk.

"Like me," said Runty, and leapt.

The moment he landed, a chorus of cats mewed, "Help! Help!"

"You can do it," barked Lily.

Stolly backed up. Ran towards the window, faster and faster. His front paws landed on the sill. His back legs kicked wildly for purchase.

"Mew, meow, MIAOW," the cats cried.

What a terrible sight! Cages piled to the ceiling. Inside, cats clawing and mewing. A whoosh of flames. The roar of gas. Cissy the Cook's wok sizzling. Carver Jo with his bloody apron pouring boiling water into a large tureen.

"Look!" mewed Runty. "She's up there."

"My boys," cried Mama Mao, her nose pressed against the mesh.

"Mama!" cried the kittens.



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