Once upon a time, there lived a cat on the edge of the woods, round the corner of the massive Dead-tree. She would forage for mice, run around dumpsters with her other cat-friends and take long strolls around sun-rise before hitting her cat-litter bed. Cat was always careful to not step inside the woods. She had been inside the woods but just once ever. No one knows what happened to her in there. She never talks about it.
One fine day, while she was foraging for mice as usual, she fell down a long, dirty, prickly hole (which was actually just the hollow trunk of massive Dead-tree) and landed with a mighty thud, right in the middle of the woods. “Ouch!” groaned Cat. She was bruised. She was scratched. She was in pain. She slowly dusted herself and looked around. She realised, she had entered the darkest part of the woods. “Dehart”, they called it, always in whispers. Cat was brave, but somehow, actually standing in Dehart, she felt, from this side, it really did look rather eerie and dark.
“Hello!”, called out Cat, hoping desperately that no one answers her back. No one finds her there. And eats her up.
“Uh… Hi!”, came a voice from somewhere.
Cat turned, completely startled.
“Hi!”, said the voice again. “Are you lost?”. Cat looked carefully and found that the one that was talking to her was a tiny little squirrel-like being, all furry and red. “Hi! I am Weasel.”
“Oh hello there!” exhaled Cat with relief. “You spooked me. He he! I am Cat. Hi!”.
“You look rather worse for wear. What have you been up to?” queried Weasel.
“Tch! Oh dear! You see, I was trying to find a couple of nice fat mice for my lunch, as I always do, and suddenly, out of nowhere… well… there was this Dead, disgusting (if I might add) Tree; and I fell right through it!”. Cat looked miserable and hurt.
Weasel looked on kindly at Cat and said, “Come with me. I know just the thing. You can stay with me for the night and tomorrow, after day break, I shall show you the way out of the woods. It’s never safe to be in Dehart for too long.
Cat was very happy to have found the nice Weasel and set out with him. They kept walking for a long time (hours, felt Cat). To while the time, Cat kept talking to Weasel, her new friend, “I have no idea how I did that? I feel so foolish actually. I have been stuck in trees before you see. I know I am very careful. Oh! I have been stuck in maggot-trees, flea-trees. And once, a crow-tree. Yikes!” Cat shuddered for a moment. And then carried on, “But I have never been inside a Dead-tree of course. I wonder if the woods council is doing anything about trees that do not serve the purpose of making the woods look nice. I mean imagine… Maggots! And Fleas! And who are you kidding with, with a cawing Crow? Give me a break!”.
Weasel kept turning now this way, now another and kept walking. Cat had this strange feeling that she was passing the same group of trees that she had already walked past, over and over. “Is this the right way Weasel?”, she almost asked when realization dawned; she was back, in Dehart.
Suddenly, she heard a growling behind her. Cat turned to see a big hairy Wolf, eyeing her with hungry jaws wide open, drool dripping slowly down the lolling tongue.
Weasel squeaked, “Erm… I just thought, you might, want to have this one, for dinner.”, pointing at Cat, “And erm… could you, your Wolf-ness, please, erm… now allow me the pass to the Water-Pond for the next month?” Wolf gave a tiny nod to Weasel, picked Cat up in his right paw and smashed her against a boulder. Cat felt her bones shatter. She screamed, “Why? I thought you were my friend. How could you ever do this to me?” And as Cat felt Wolf’s teeth entering her still pulsing neck, she heard, “Well you see Cat, I eat Fleas. I like Maggots. And I live in the Dead-tree.”