A lightning bolt struck the air at midnight during a hurricane in Florida, as a mother panther swam through her flooded den with her 5-month-old kitten in her mouth. She carried her kitten and swarmed toward her favorite tree; she climbed up quickly with her kitten to the treetop and rested there, waiting for the hurricane to pass. It was a mistake. A lightning bolt struck the tree. Yowling, the mother and the kitten jumped off the tree. The kitten landed on a floating log and instinctively clung to it but mother fell in the water. She swam desperately towards the log which her kitten was on. But it was too late; huge floods formed under the kitten and log. The kitten held on as the log rose above the water and fell on the mother, pushing her underwater. She surfaced quickly but the log hit her on the chest and knocked the breath out of her. Stunned, she sunk back into the water. Horrified, the kitten called out for his mother but his mother never surface. He meowed in sadness and hung on to the log floating in the water as thunder roared in the distance. The water carried the log and the kitten down the hill near a huge boulder that was not covered by the water. The kitten quickly jumped onto it and scrambled to the end of the boulder, waiting there helplessly in the hurricane.
Sarah Jefferson woke up to the sunlight and stared out of the window, looking down at the flooded area. She was glad that her house and the farm were built on the top of a huge hill that sloped steeply. Quickly she got out of bed and dressed in jeans and a striped red t-shirt. She dashed out of her room, and went downstairs to the dining room, where her 14-year-old brother Andy and her parents were already there eating their breakfast. She sat with them and ate her breakfast too.
“Good morning.” Said everyone at the same time.
“Morning.” Sarah murmured and poured herself some cereal, finishing her food quickly. She rushed to the barn and fed the animals including Midnight, her black stallion. She saddled Midnight and zoomed through the forest. The floodwaters had already receded, but left a mess behind. Suddenly she heard a faint yowling “Mewwww!” Midnight pricked his ears. Curiously, Sarah steered Midnight toward the sound, and had him walk toward the mewing noise which was getting louder after every step they took. Sarah gasped. There stood a soaked panther kitten with its eyes still opened. When it saw Sarah and Midnight it hissed and lashed out with its claws. Sarah and her family loved animals and always took in injured or abandoned wild animals. Sarah got off Midnight and walked toward the panther. Cautiously, she got out a fish and chips bag. She opened the bag and tossed some fish at the kitten. It sniffed at the fish and then gobbled it. “So this kitten is weaned already. Good; that means it requires less care,” Sarah thought. Sarah got on her horse and had Midnight walk very slowly. Sarah dropped some fish behind her so the kitten followed behind; soon, they came back to the barn.
Sarah’s parents let Sarah kept the panther and they had decided to name him Cody. Sarah and Andy constantly let him go in the forest and he always came back with a prey, from a wood rat to a deer. It was hard to imagine that Cody was tame except that he was gentle toward humans and the barn animals. Sometimes he slept in the barn and made friends with Daisy the cow. He would usually sleep in Sarah’s room, and Sarah would put her head on his back. When Sarah and Andy had to go to school, Cody either spent time with the neighborhood children, who were very fond of him, Daisy, or Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson. When he was fully grown and too big to stay in the house and the barn, they let him sleep in the forest. Still he came few times a day to visit. However, one day he never came back and no matter how far the Jefferson’s and the neighbors looked, they never found him. So they assumed he had gone and found his own territory and a mate. But the story is not over yet.
One day Sarah was riding Midnight in the forest. She just turned 18 years old and even Midnight was quite old but still hardy. Sarah had moved out of the house with Midnight and lived 20 miles away. She was taking Midnight near the huge river about 25 miles from her house. There was a bridge that connected to a huge island from the side of the river and as Midnight crossed the bridge, he suddenly slipped and fell in the water. The current in the river was dangerously fast and was leading right toward a huge rock in the river, where an alligator named King happened to be basking. He heard Midnight’s whinny when he fell in the water. Now coming toward him was a horse and a young woman who desperately hung onto the reins. Almost immediately he slunk in the water and swam toward them, the current couldn’t hold him back a bit. His meal was very close and he planted his feet under the mud so the current would not push him away and he opened his huge jaws, showing wicked teeth, waiting. A nearby panther, hidden in the trees on the island watched them. How come that girl and horse looked so familiar? Then it struck him; he knew them! They were Sarah and Midnight! But how was he going to save them before King, who was going to devour them! Screaming he leaped out of the island on King. Meanwhile, Sarah was thinking that there was no way she could get out of the current. People nearby were watching helplessly as the current pushed them closer and closer to that huge alligator. Sarah closed her eyes and held onto Midnight, who was too tired to struggle anymore. Suddenly Sarah heard a scream that came from the island, and as she opened her eyes a panther flew through the air and landed on the alligator’s back, clawing and biting until the alligator turned around and bit him in the leg. Sarah and Midnight by now had reached them. Cody quickly leaped out and pushed them away from the battle and then leaped back on King as Sarah and Midnight climbed on the rock King was basking on. “I can’t look; Midnight, who will win?” Sarah covered her eyes with her hands. “Roooooaaaaar!!!” The panther had won the battle as the body of King floated away in the water. “Cody, is that you?!” Sarah asked happily. Cody purred and swam toward them and jumped on Sarah licking her face and then nudging Midnight on the back. Midnight licked him, too. “Cody! I thought I’d never see you again!” And she gave Cody a hug. “Thank you thank you I love you!!! I knew you were special when I found you as a kitten.” They spent some time together; then, they swam back toward shore and went home.
Soon the whole story of the rescue and the relationship of Sarah and Cody were known to all. And for the rest of their life Cody and Sarah visited children’s hospitals to encourage and entertain little patients. Cody lived to 20 years, when he died his funeral was attended by hundreds of people. Then, Cody went to heaven and remained peacefully.