GORY SCENES APPEAR IN THIS JOURNAL. IT MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS.
This is being submitted by blue jellie, for Warrior Cats Online, as a contest entry. Anything that is italisized and underlined in this entry is something Flashpaw cannot remember.
"My history? Oh, no. I've revisited this topic too many times. It's really very sensitive." The dark smoky she-cat in front of you tilts her head cautiously, gray eyes warning. "I honestly would've thought that you would have heard it by now. But if I have to, I will." She clears her throat, swiping her tail delicately across the worn surface below her paws. "Branchpaw was so nice, so humble, so funny... he never deserved what he got, and yet that never stopped it from happening..."
..::;::..Flashpaw's Point of View..::;::..
"I swear, Branchpaw, you're going to feel my wrath," I growled playfully, leaping for my opponent, who was a tom around my size. I hit him square on the shoulders, sending the two of us careening towards a bramble thicket, claws sheathed but in the tussle for a lifetime. I dug my hind paws in to the ground, and once I had a firm hold, I leaped out of the way. Branchpaw wasn't so lucky. He flew into the thicket, spitting and yowling. One of our mentors, I'm not sure who exactly, either Servalwing or Hollyshadow, called for the mock battle to end. I sent my best friend a withering look as I stepped into line with the mentors. He was just as defiant, keeping his head high and his ears pricked, eyes slitted against the relentless sun filtering through the pine branches.
"I won," he whispered as he stood next to me.
"In your dreams," I muttered, cuffing him over his ear to lower it from its gloating stance.
"Alright," Hollyshadow began. "What did we do wrong there?"
"Nothing!" Branchpaw cackled, grinning broadly. His mentor sighed, rolling her eyes.
"How about Flashpaw gives it a go?"
I gulped. All eyes were on me. I retreated into my mind, thinking and calculating like I did 24/7. Branchpaw brought out a more playful, energetic side of me. We were complete opposites- Yin and Yang. I needed him just as much as he needed me. Glancing back at him for mental support, our taunting forgotten, he winked at me. This helped me finish my thoughts faster as I turned back to the impatient Hollyshadow and the cat of few words- also known as my mentor, Servalwing. The answer I would give would be completely false, only propaganda in my eyes, and the only one who would really know of it was Branchpaw, since he knew my feelings on everything, the nosy tomcat. But I kept my breathing level, my eyes steady, and a proud and confident figure. "I shouldn't have gone for him head-on when there were obstacles in our path. It was reckless and I would've gotten hurt as well."
Satisfied, Hollyshadow nodded, and I relaxed my posture. My real thoughts? We shouldn't be learning the moves taught for centuries. Any elder could tell you what ShadowClan's weakest area was and what they practiced the least, because they'd seen our moves hundreds of thousands of times! If anything, we should be focusing on the weakest area on a fox or badger leg. The way most battles are won. The weaknesses of the other four Clans. The general place to aim on any cat's frame, and the rules of no-kill, etc. Not only would it take a lot less time, it would be harder for the enemy Clans to guess where you'd move next. It doesn't matter how senior of a warrior you are- heck, as a seasoned warrior, you're even more vulnerable by the place you aim to hit most- the battle moves seen for years that are still used are easy to guess, and backfire very easily.
But who did I think I was? A reserved, shy, strategic, know-it-all apprentice who shies away from problems and has others do things for her. The most reliant a person can get. I had no right to be questioning the leader's decisions, no matter how idiotic they seemed to me. I'm not exactly in that position of power.
A few hours later, training was over. The mentors had gone ahead to report about our progress and chat a little bit, so I was left alone with Branchpaw.
"I hate battle training!" I blurted, for once not thinking about my words before I said them. This was odd for me, as I would never do that unless I had strong feelings about the topic, so Branchpaw looked at me weirdly, cocking his head slightly as though studying me from a different angle.
"Mmhmm," he responded, a concerned look on his maw. "It's not hard to notice."
"That's only because you've known me for so long. How I tick, what I think, how I feel... you know everything about me, just as I know everything about you. I'm actually pretty good at making those fake answers, huh?"
"I guess you're right." His lip quirked upwards into a slight grin. His expression turned to one of dark embarrassment. "So... there's, ah, something I want to tell you." He cleared his throat, looking anxious, which was uncommon of the bold tom.
"What is it?" I asked worriedly, taking a small step forward to comfort him.
"I like you. A lot, Flashpaw."
"I would hope so!" I chuckled, hoping he wasn't saying what I thought he was.
"What I'm saying is, you're constantly on my mind. When you smile, I get chills. And I always want to be with you, no matter where I am.”
My jaws parted in astonishment and my eyes widened. A strange choking sound came out of my open maw. We were so young. Barely apprentices. And my best friend was... what? In love with me? Unprepared for this, my mind was blank. Should I tell him we’re too young? But then he’ll think I don’t like him back. Do I like him back? It would be best to not say anything unless he presses me. Yes, that would be-
A rustling in the bushes beside us startled me out of my thoughts, both of us sinking into silence. The shaking of the leaves continued. Branchpaw stepped in front of me, much to my annoyance, though it wasn't the time to argue. I sniffed the air, parting my jaws slightly. Without a word, Branchpaw leapt into the bush, snarling and clawing. My feet seemed frozen. I couldn’t move. Fear overtook my senses and my breathing quickened. Darkness threatened my vision. I was having an asthma attack. Gasping, I struggled for air, heaving and spluttering as Branchpaw yowled and screeched. When it went silent, and all you could hear was my ragged breathing, I stepped forward tentatively. Surprisingly enough, my legs took my weight, and I walked forward slowly, not regaining my breath but also not stopping. Pushing through the branches, I opened my eyes to the most ghastly sight I’ve ever seen.
No words can describe how mangled, broken, and torn apart Branchpaw was. His legs were at awkward angles. One was torn off raggedly. Both ears were shredded and spewing blood. His tail was broken and twisted. Gashes, deep and long, littered his flank, chest, and head. One eye was swollen shut and blinded from multiple slashes. His paws were bloody, but his claws had no trace of fur, as though he hadn’t gotten a single blow in return to the murderer. The sun seemed too bright as I looked at him, mangled and torn apart, all splayed out on the blood-soaked ground in front of me. Clumps of fur were everywhere, and I collapsed onto a pile of his fur, unable to move. Rigid shock made my legs stiff, and utter horror made darkness threaten the edges of my vision. Gathering hope that he may still have some life, even though I knew it was stupid, I dragged myself over to his body, kneeling at his muzzle. Confusion littered his glazed, one-eyes gaze as he choked, “Run.” Then his chin thumped the ground once more as the life drained from his body.
I guess I screamed. Soon enough Servalwing and Hollyshadow appeared with a few other warriors, and they soothed me and gave me herbs and told me that it was okay. I didn’t speak for two days. Not to anyone. Not even myself. Because it wasn’t okay. The only friend I’d ever had was dead. Gone. Murdered in cold blood. I could never be complete, ever again. And so, I sunk into a deep depression. I would only talk when necessary, saying few words and keeping to myself.
”And that’s my history.” Flashpaw shifted her paws anxiously. “Now look, you’ve made me anxious.” Almost looking like she was debating something, she cleared her throat and said, “This is, supposedly, a side effect of my P.T.S.D., but... I can’t remember anything in this one spot. There’s just blackness. I know something should go between a certain event and Branchpaw’s murder, but I... I don’t know what.” A haunted look clouds the smoky apprentice’s gaze as she looks into the distance.
And not another word is said.