UNITED STATES—“I’ll be damned, you really do understand.” She took the leash from her mouth. “Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to walk to my car, and when the coast is clear, I’ll motion for you to come.”

She nodded. Laurel walked to her car, and opened the door. She looked around, saw it was clear, and waved to Samantha. She leaped across the walkway, ran to the car and jumped in.

Laurel lived a small house on the outskirts of town. The neighborhood was zoned for horses and other farm animals. Her back yard was half an acre, completely fenced in. Samantha was much happier there. The moment she walked into the house, she found her chair, and from that day on, that was her chair. When Laurel would go to work, she would leave the TV on for her. When she was home, she’d talk to Samantha like a person. Within a month, she had total command of the English language. Winter was in full swing. Laurel knew she was ready to give birth any day now, so she took some sick-time she had accumulated.

Mike Potts went to Laurel’s office with another court order, and the police. They knocked several times, but there was no answer. He had wanted the police to break the door down, but they informed him that couldn’t be done without a warrant.

That night, Laurel helped deliver six cubs, four males, and two females. In the days that followed, the cubs became very close to Laurel. They would romp around the room, jump on Laurel’s lap, and play with her. They loved her long nails. She would spend hours scratching one, then another. She also became much closer to Samantha, who trusted Laurel implicitly.

Mike Potts returned with the court order, but this time the police had a warrant. Mike had talked a judge into signing it, stating that the animal was being neglected. After not receiving an answer, the police forced the door open. They searched the premises, but no animals were found. Even the police didn’t like Potts.

“Sorry, Mr. Potts, no neglected animals here.” He tried to look inside, but one of the officers stepped in front of him.

“I can’t let you enter the premises.” “Well then, she must have taken it home with her.” “That’s another ball of wax. Now you’re talking about a private residence.” “Well surely there’s…”

The officer cut him off. “It takes more than your word to get a warrant for a private residence. There’s nothing more we can do.”

Samantha was lying on the couch with her head in Laurel’s lap. Laurel was talking to her, while she scratched her neck.

“In a couple of weeks, I’m going to take you, and the kiddies, back to your home.” Shail started thinking about Link, she really missed him. She thought of how proud he’d be when he found out he was to be a father. She closed her eyes, and fell asleep.”

The next morning, Laurel was up bright and early. Samantha pushed open the door to her room. Laurel saw her in the mirror.

“Samantha, how would you like to see your home today?” Her ears perked up, and she ran towards her, stopping just short of knocking her down. She rolled on her back, and grabbed her leg. She was always very careful of her claws whenever she played with Laurel.

Mike Potts was parked on a hill overlooking the valley. He had been watching Laurel’s house through binoculars. He watched while she picked up all of the cubs, and brought them into her house. Then he saw Laurel get into her car with the beast. He put down the binoculars, and smiled.

It was a thirty-minute drive on the highway. Coming down the last hill, Samantha looked in horror. Not only had her hill been cleared, but also the next two hills had been stripped and layered. There was only one more hill lift before the lake. Laurel stopped by the lake and parked. Samantha stuck her head out the window, and called out. The majestic call of a mountain lion can only be described as a whispered roar. A moment later her ears went up, and she put her paw on the dash. Laurel saw the direction she was looking.

“Over there?” Samantha nodded. Shail had recognized Link’s voice, and knew he was in trouble. Laurel drove to a remote area on the north shore of the lake. Parked on a trail that led up into the hills was a bobtail truck with enclosed cages. On the side of the truck, it read. U. S. Forestry Service – Animal Recovery. Two uniformed men were leaning against the front bumper, smoking cigarettes. Laurel parked the car just out of their sight.

“Samantha, do you remember the clasp on the cage at my office?” She nodded. “Those cages have the same kind of lock. Can you open them?”

She nodded again. Laurel opened her door. “Listen, Samantha, your forest is gone, but I know a place you can go. It’s a federal animal reserve. You’ll be protected from people there.”

Samantha rubbed her head against Laurel’s cheek, and jumped out. Shail crept up to the back of the truck. It was the same latch that was on her cage. She had no trouble opening it. Link jumped down and said,

“Lok is in the next cage.” She opened it, and Lok jumped down. They looked around for a place to run, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. Shail said, “Follow me, there is an up-right that will help us.”

She began to walk away, when Lok yelled. “Stop!”

She turned around. “Shail, you know our creed. Up-rights cannot be trusted.” “Take a look around you, Lok. We have no choice.” Link said. “Shail is right, lets go.”

At the end of the trail Lok slowed down, and watched Shail run up to the up-right. The up-right knelt down and greeted her. Lok saw a genuine affection between them. It went against everything he knew, but realizing there were no other options, he cautiously approached the up-right. Link was close behind.

Laurel watched the two mountain lions approach, and noticed one that was closer had gray in his whiskers. She extended her arm, and held out her hand. Slowly, the cat walked up to her and smelled her hand, then jumped back, and took a quick look around.

Link could see that Lok didn’t have much trust, so he walked around him, and right up to her. She made some senseless noise, and ran her strange paw over his head. Link could see that this up-right had no fear, and decided Shail’s judgment was good. She looked at Shail and made more senseless sounds. He was amazed to see that Shail could actually understand her. Shail turned to the cats.

“You are going to have to trust this up-right, we do not have much time. Get into the machine.”

Link nudged Shail and jumped in. Against his better judgment, Lok joined them. Laurel had never seen Samantha so excited before.

“Samantha, I’m going to pick up your babies now, and take you to the place I told you about.” She relayed the message to the other cats. Link shot up. “You mean I am a father?” “Yes, dear, you are the proud father of two girls, and four boys.” Link sat back down with a new pride. Lok said.

“Well, it appears that congratulations are in order.” Link raised his head high. “Thank you, Lok.” Laurel pulled up in her driveway, and noticed that the front door was ajar. “This is not good.” They got out of the car and looked all around. The cubs were gone. “Samantha, we’re not safe here anymore. I’m taking us to a friend’s house.” She relayed the message, and they got back in the car.

Harlan Jacob watched Laurel as she pulled into his driveway. Harlan was a veterinarian who has donated much of his time helping Laurel with the numerous variety of animals dropped in her lap.

Written By S.F. Proctor