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Kevin Allen

© Copyright 1998 by Kevin Allen

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It would be tonight that Thunder would get his chance to play the game. It was his turn to chase that little speedy thing that buzzed from one end of the playground to the other when being chased. But he was fast too. And it would take him no time at all to have that thing in his grip.

He pounced down the stairs gaily, playing out how the game would go. He could see it as he hopped from step to step. It would be glorious. Down the stairs and through the window went Thunder. Then quickly down the tree he went. Then using his fleet-footed speed, sped away, displaying to himself how he would chase the little thing.

Thunder began thinking back to all the others he remembers that have chased the thing. How hard it looked, how so many never did catch it. But oh, how proud they looked when they did catch the little speedster. How they played on until it was time to leave their playing place. He would be as good as the greatest of them. Even Cannonball, the greatest chaser, would take note tonight. And even Silvia, the shiny-haired female, may fall for him by the end of the night. Yes, tonight he would shine.

As he turned the corner into the playing place, he could hear the voices of so many, waiting impatiently for his arrival.

"Thunder!" He heard a soft voice say as he entered. It was Silvia. She'd come to watch him. That is a plus!

"Will you stay the night through?" He asked shyly.

"I would not miss this for anything!" She rubbed her soft head against his. "Good luck!"

He entered the battlefield, voices all around. Green eyes shone at him from seemingly everywhere. His head spun, and he felt something moving in his stomach. Then from among the crowd, a voice. One he recognized immediately. Felix.

"T'night is your night to be recognized a champion," he bellowed in his usual raspy voice. " Settle for nothing less than that. Let the game begin!"

Silence! Now comes the waiting. Would it disappoint? No! Not tonight of all nights.

"Come on! Come on!" whispered Thunder to himself, eyes focused in the dark. Then for one brief instant he allowed himself to look away. Something bolts under his person. It was the little thing. Then it was time. Off went Thunder, giving chase.

"You won't get away from me!" shouted Thunder, as he tried to keep pace with this thing. It was harder than he had thought. Why fight so hard to escape? It did not matter, by the end he would be Thunder's trophy. "At last--I have you--Oof!" Thunder crashed into one of those loud metal things. But he could not stop. He dared not stop, not now. Not till he had that thing caught.

"This time I!"- Nope! Again it took a sharp cut and sped away. The voices around the combatants grew, but neither of them had heard a thing. On and on they went, chasing and escaping. Until at long last, as if by instinct, Thunder leapt into the air, landing directly on top of it.

He was excited, but he dared not let go. He did not want to have to chase it again. "I have you now!" shouted Thunder who now became aware of the crowd.

Shiny green eyes bounced around in the dark. And he could hear voices shouting his name over and over.

"Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! "

He had done it! He had caught the little thing, this one would be his to do with as he chose. He felt something under his feet. The thing was struggling, but not to escape. Thunder's weight was too great for this thing. It struggled for breathe.

"Finish the game, Thunder!" The voice of Felix came to him.

He knew how the game was to end, he would have to eat this thing. Thunder, looking down, saw his prey, helpless. He moved his head closer and closer, then he stopped. It had little eyes, so dark. A nose almost like Thunder's own, but so, so much smaller. And a tiny mouth. He forced himself to open his mouth, but he froze. He could not finish the game, he could not bring himself to eat this thing.

"Forgive me, Felix, Lord of the game. But I cannot." He said.

He lifted his foot from the creature. It bowed in gratitude and ran back into its doorway.

Cannonball came to the floor to face him. "Why?"

" I could not bring myself to do it," replied Thunder. His head hung, ashamed of his cowardice. "I am sorry!" "Do not be!" said Cannonball. "Tonight you have won a great battle and learned a most important lesson. All creation is life. Let that be your trophy!"

And with those words Cannonball disappeared into the darkness.

"See you at the next game!" shouted Felix. Then he too was gone.

As Thunder neared his home, the night began to play again in his mind. Silvia had warmed to him after the game was over.

Cannonball had told him he had a trophy. By not killing he had finished the game. But best of all he had gained the affection that he sought from Silvia.

Up the tree he went happily, to the window. As he hopped through it he saw that big warm thing moving toward him.

"Thunder, there you are! Gramma's been looking all over for you!" it said.

He pounced into the waiting arms where he'd always felt so warm and safe. And as it slid the window down, Thunder looked out into the dark. Dreaming of tomorrow, hoping that light would come. He began to dream as they walked up the stairs toward the sleeping place. Of tomorrow. "Prrrrrr," and tomorrows yet to come. And Silvia!

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