I don’t want to worry you doctor, but I don’t think the tablets you gave me worked? You see I’m still coughing, and I keep wheezing, and I feel odd…
Thank you for examining me. So you can hear the wheeze? Oh, more like a purr? How odd.
Now look doctor, I don’t understand. What do you mean, feline blood? No my family keep cats, they aren’t actually cats!
But it doesn’t make sense, I am not licking my cat! How can it be? A Furball? That’s what I’m coughing up?….. That’s Mad! And why have my pupils suddenly gone from round to slits? Oh doctor, am I turning into a Werecat!? Is that your diagnosis?
Moira had noticed her cat kept staring up in a corner of the room. She could not see anything herself but she knew cats had better senses. Keener eyesight, a more acute sense of smell, hearing that was so much more able to notice small sounds.
Each night the cat would curl up to sleep, but then become alert, aware, interested in something. It would watch the ceiling for a few minutes, then close its eyes again and relax.
Moira started checking the time of each encounter with what was going on. Ten past eleven until seventeen minutes past. A precise time every night? Very strange.
Moira suspected that someone or something was playing games? She had friends that could do tricks, they had pranked her before, could it be them? But when she contacted them they denied any involvement.
It was on the eleventh day that she finally saw something. A drip of red running down the wall, slightly hidden by a picture. Could it be mould? Some old houses had problems with fungi? She decided to ring a builder if there was anymore problems the next night.
She sat down to watch TV the next evening. At precisely eleven ten pm the cat stretched and looked up. Then it did something new, it hissed! Moira looked up too, just as a disembodied foot pierced down through the ceiling. Slightly transparent, it paddled the air, not touching anything, floating, then simply vanished. The cat settled down. Moira didn’t!
The cats stare at me, what do I mean to them? What do they want? Unblinking, looking silently. The sight is unnerving. And so many cats, all together. Like a jury sitting at a trial. No tails twitch, no ears turn. The concentrated look is infinitely worrying. Like some form of hive mind…. Do cats do that? I thought you couldn’t herd cats, but these ones? They know what they want, and I feel like a mouse in their glaring cats eyes….. Inscrutable…
Someone had taken off the plaster and replaced the bricks, you could see it, new mortar holding them in place. The house had been bought at auction, half refurbished, needing plasterboard and plaster. It wouldn’t take much to tidy it up ready for the rental market.
But Sam was nosey, she liked riddles, and as the wallwas double thickness and she wanted to fit an extra window, well why not put a lintle in and add the bathroom window here?
She decided to get her brother to help. They would support the top of the hole with a metal beam and then knock out the hole afterwards. They managed to get the beam in but it was late so they stopped.
Early next morning she went to the house. Picking up a sledge hammer she hit the wall where the new bricks were a couple of times, there was a crack and half a brick fell out. She could see, what? Plastic behind it. Someone had wrapped a package up and stuffed it into the gap between the layers of bricks. She hit the wall again, the bricks shattered and fell to the floor. She reached in…. A bag full of ten and twenty pound notes! What were they doing there. They were new style notes, the ones that look like plastic not paper.
Should she keep them? Should she hand them in? The phrase ‘finders keepers’ came into her mind…. Should she?
Looking out from the hotel over the Channel she worried about her son. Where was he? Anxiety weighed like a heavy stone on her heart. What if she never saw him again?
The dinghy had not been seen since sunset, when it had been out on the sandbar fishing for mackerel, but no one had called the lifeboat and they were not that overdue. Still, a mother can have a sense about these things. She knew in her bones… Something was wrong.
A shadow fell across her as the sun started to set again. She turned her head to look. She heard his voice…
I saw the twins again today, she said. They are getting older, but they still look the same. Craggy, serious, hard.
Yes, I know, he said, they were never cute, but they certainly have character.
I think I will ask them if I can draw their portraits she said. It would be interesting to chat with them and find out a bit about them.
So three weeks later she say down with a pen and paper and started to draw Kim and Jen. She started slowly, trying to find their differences and their similarities. Chatting with them she found they finished each others sentences. Kim was a Chemist, Jen was a Jeweler. Both had problems with their lives. The world couldn’t get its head around identical sisters. Well, not exactly that, she could see what they meant.
Wooden puppets! Who knew they could be alive and walking round the world. Pinnochio had a lot to answer for!
The trees sat in a thin mist rising up from the pools. Moss making the paths slippery. Branches and twigs had broken off in the winds of the night before.
What walked out of that wood was not alive. It had risen during the darkness, disturbed by the roots of the trees. It looked out through the mist and watched for anyone passing close by. It waited without thought. Without intelligence, but with quiet patience. Darkness had started to fall again when it heard the sound of steps. Steady and strong. The steps of a man walking home through the wood. Taking a shortcut. As the moon brightened the pathway a figure lurched in front of him. And then they both sank down into the pool. Together forever.
A cold wind blew across the lake, finding gaps in my coat and blowing my hair around. The branches and fronds of the willow trees streamed like ribbons on a kite, lifting and waving. The ducks ruffled up their feathers against the cold. We had walked out of sunshine into shade and the temperature had dropped noticeably.
The man and his dog walked towards us. It was muzzled with a band of leather round it’s mouth, but it still pulled the man along. It was a big dog. A hound of some sort. It was difficult to see in the gloom. As we came level with them the dog jumped up. It’s paws landing on my shoulders. I was knocked over by its weight. I sat down hard in a puddle. The weight of the dog pushing against me.
The man looked alarmed. Shocked. He tugged the dog away. All he said was ‘sorry’ and walked off! I sat there freezing and wet….. What a day!
Who shall I speak to? Will they listen to me? So many questions to ask.
She stood in front of the microphone and wished she had written the thoughts down. She had known she would have to speak at the funeral, but had shied away from her obligation. The death of her friend had been a shock. He was only 60 when he passed away. She remembered an old boss of hers telling her off. They don’t pass away or pass on, they die said the woman.
No, she would say pass on. She would say sadly missed. She would say that his passing had left a hole in many lives. She had not seen much of him recently. Things had been bleak, people were not going out as much as they had. A cough could be enough to panic friends into staying away.
The funeral was only sparsely attended. The few people that were there were well separated. Women wore veils over dark coloured masks, the men wore cravats and masks. Good old fashion design getting involved in the workings of life and death. Things had to be chic.
So many questions to ask and then try and answer. She would struggle for words. But she would manage it.
‘Nah’ he said, ‘it’s not going to snow on Christmas day!’
His daughter looked upset, but her mum said ‘Dad is always right about the weather.’
She went upstairs to bed, it was Christmas Eve and she was 7. She believed her Dad but really truly wished for the snow to come. She wanted to get up and see if Santa had been yet, but it was only ten o’clock and Santa didn’t arrive till midnight. The stairs light was on and she tried to stare at it to keep awake. But she couldn’t keep her eyes open…
Suddenly she woke. The stairs light was off and she didn’t know the time, but there was a strange silence outside except for.. A scrabbling sound on the roof. A slithering sound, a tap and a rattle. What was it? And the sky was a funny orange colour. She had never seen it like that before? Soft noises tickled her ears again. She had a chimney in her room but the hole where there used to be a fire was boarded up. But she could hear something..
She looked out of the window, moving the net curtain to one side. The sky was still orangey grey and what looked like feathers were floating down… Was it? Snow? She put on her slippers and silently went downstairs. She saw it was five o’clock in the morning. Still dark and far too early for her parents to be up. Instead of looking in the lounge to find out if she had presents she walked through the kitchen and stepped out of the back door. Snow! Yes!
Suddenly a trickle of snow fell from the roof above her. Then a little avalanche. She heard scrabbling again so she looked up…. Just as the reindeer and sleigh leapt up from the roof and flew into the sky!