The Plant Problem, Part 4: Blackthorn

Hey, everyone! I know you must be wondering what happened to Jeniah, Starflight, Isabella and Jacques, so I’m giving you the opportunity to find out! This is the final installment of The Plant Problem, so I hope you enjoy it. This is not the last of Jeniah’s adventures, however–just the end of this one. There are many more to come!

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Quick recap of parts 1, 2, and 3…

Jeniah, his sister Starflight, and his parents Isabella and Jacques are a happy family of cats living in the forest. They live together, hunting and training for self-defense. They could never imagine that something as threatening as cannibal plants could threaten their existence–yet that is exactly what happens. Strange plants have spread across the forest, blossoming in the rays of darkness and receding at dawn. When dormant, they’re harmless, but no one would want to find themselves out in the open when night falls, and the plants are awake.

Jeniah, Starflight, Jacques, and Isabella hatch a brilliant plan to get rid of them once and for all when they begin to threaten their general lifestyle. However, things backfire when a firestorm starts in the heat of the sun–the killer plants had been soaking up all of the water. Racing against this force of nature has become their primary focus, but no one has EVER escaped a firestorm and lived to tell the tale.

Previously…

After some time, the air began to get warmer, and an acrid smell filled the space. “Smoke!” Starflight warned.

It was too late to run. Flames raced up the flammable trees, surrounding them and cutting off any escape. They were trapped.

“What are we going to do?!” Starflight meowed desperately, fear lighting her eyes.

“I don’t know!” Isabella wailed just as despairingly. “Jacques?”

He sighed. “Nothing here.”

Jeniah didn’t answer. The fire roaring in his ears, he struggled to think of a plan. Surely there should be someway to get around the fire without being burned to death.

He looked up, and again the sheer hopelessness of their situation crashed down on him. There was nothing they could possibly do to survive.

This was the end.

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At the end of Part 3 (Firestorm), the family of cats are trapped by the firestorm. Will they all survive? It’s unlikely, but anything is possible in this world….

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A burning tree crashed down just a paw-length away from Jeniah’s nose, singing his whiskers. He looked up and was awarded with a drop of water on the tip of his nose. The storm had broken, although it wasn’t enough to protect them from the threat.

Another tree toppled, filling the clearing with the smell of burnt pine needles. Watching the raindrops simmer on the slowly dying fire on the tree sparked an idea in Jeniah’s mind.

“I know how to get out!” Jeniah meowed fervently. “We could use the trees.”

“How?” Starflight asked desperately. “They’re all on fire, and we’ll be long dead before they’re extinguished!”

“No, look,” Jeniah prompted softly. “The rain has accumulated just enough to put out the fire on the fallen trees. The wind from the tree’s motion already weakened the fire a little, leaving it vulnerable to the rain. If we could move it, the damp wood would provide protection from the fire for a few moments–long enough for us to cross into safety.”

“Good plan,” Jacques murmured, “but one problem. How could we possible move the tree?”

“Leave that to me,” Isabella meowed triumphantly. “I know all of the best strategies for moving large things; I had to take care of my siblings when our parents died, and it often involved moving heavy things to make warm dens.”

The first fallen tree had stopped burning, and Isabella chose that one. Sinking her claws into the damp bark, which had become soft in such short time, she began to tug it towards the ring of fire encircling them. The others ran to help, and they quickly managed to form a temporary tree-bridge.

“Hurry. We only have a few moments,” Jeniah meowed. “We have to get across before it dries and catches fire again.”

Jeniah watched as the others crossed, refusing to go until they were all safe. Only when he stepped onto the trunk of the tree did he realize how hot it was.

He raced across without caring where to place his paws. He took a flying leap off of the edge just as the entire tree caught fire. The fierce tongues flared up behind his tail, and Jeniah turned back. They all watched as it engulfed the clearing, burning everything that was left to a crisp.

The trek through the rain was long and arduous, but they decided on one thing–they’d go back to their old den and see what they could do.

They arrived at the clearing where they were early in the morning that day. The clearing in which it was located was scarred beyond recognition, but the den was still intact.

“What luck!” Jacques exclaimed joyously. “The firestorm didn’t even touch it! This saves us a whole lot of work, but we have more to do.”

“At least we’re alive,” Isabella purred.

“Look,” Starflight meowed suddenly, staring intently at a bush of blue berries.

“Don’t eat that,” Jacques meowed quickly. “That’s blackthorn. It’s poisonous to us, but only if you ingest it.”

“I’ve learned my lesson,” Starflight meowed teasingly.

“We sure have,” Jeniah chimed in, and they padded into the den together, a happy family once more.

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