At about 4am the first thunderclap hit. It was heavy enough to rattle all the doors and windows, as well as the nerves of everyone sleeping in the house at the time. It was followed immediately by a blinding flash and second clap, this time not only shaking the building but setting off a car alarm down the street. Senses heightened, I began to hear another sound beneath the thunder, a soft mewing, anxious animal cries for help. I sprang from my bed, grabbed my torch and went in search of the source of the sound.
Three days ago, we had discovered that one of the many neighbourhood strays had misguidedly decided that under the stairs between our two semi joined houses was the best place to have her litter. She must have realised her mistake yesterday, after being repeatedly disturbed by the many inhabitants of The Guch, and she moved all her kittens bar one, to some unknown location. The last kitten remained under the stairs crying all day until I could no longer handle his distress and was convinced, that maternal instinct had failed and that she had left him behind. So I crawled down under the stairs and scooped the little tyke up in one hand. I spent an hour making sure he was warm, clean and fed, then plopped him in a box in hopes that his mother would come to her senses. She must have, because an hour later he was gone, and I was left thinking that would be the last of it. I was wrong.
So, I found myself at 4am, once more crawling down under the stairs in order to locate the litter. They were not there. I shone my torch in vain searching for the little ones, straining my ears for some indication of direction. CQ had come out to help at this stage, but we didn't have much luck. Eventually I climbed up the stairs to the balcony and shone my torch over the edge to the bushes below. I still could not see a thing, but the mewing increased. I had found them.
The space where the kittens were is technically on next doors property, and fenced off, so I rushed out to the front of the house, pulled on my shoes and slid open the front door.
I was greeted by an Adonis, a tall handsome figure, striding in our front gate through the torrential rain, in the manner of Willoughby or some other misappropriated Austen hero. I was taken aback slightly by the stranger's presence and appearance. He spoke, "I was looking for the kittens, I'm a friend of Ink's". Gorgeous and trying to save kittens, my knight in shining armour.
There was no way in from the front of the house. We went back up to the second floor balcony, not seeing any other option the White Knight, leaps straight over the rail and scales the side of the house. Once on the ground, he calls back up advising he can see our quarry, no sign of the mother, requesting a basket and rope to pull them back up in. I run, remembering a bucket at the bottom of the stairs, being unable to unfasten the clothes line from it's tether, I grab a nearby broadband cable, perhaps not the safest option but it will have to do, and send the bucket down. CQ and I take turns raising the almost drowned little souls, as the White Knight passes them up. I pluck each one in turn from the bucket and pull it close to my chest, body heat to help, as I dry off their tiny bodies with a towel, in an attempt to reduce them from being completely saturated to merely wet, and placing them gently in the cardboard box. Once I have all four in the box I make my way down to the warmth of the kitchen. I scour the house for other towels.
The White Knight, CQ and I spent the next 3 hours, hoping and watching, as our four feline rescuees, begin to revive and respond, with constant rubbing their fur stops plastering itself to their teeny bodies and fluff up, they cease shivering, start eating, and with half a purr finally fall asleep. We sit in silence watching them breathe.
Knowing that we couldn't keep them we discussed what to do, once again the White Knight saved the day, he has a friend of a friend who would love to look after them and find them good homes, so we bundled up the babies in a cardboard box full of paper towel and toilet paper in preparation for the three hour train journey. After changing into dry clothes, cradling the box in his arms the White Knight strode out into the dawning day.