by Nick Bridwell

writing as Count Aloysius Darkheart, PhD

There once was a black cat. No, wait, I’m going to get it all wrong. There once was a dead black cat. This dead black cat kept pretty much to himself and so most nobody would ever notice he was dead…or alive for that matter. He liked being alone and besides that, anyone that startled him and got close quickly turned the other way when they smelled him. You can shake away the metaphysical sense of death, but getting the smell out is a real pain in the neck.

Like a lot of monsters that go bump-in-the-night, Deadcat (that’s what we’ll call him) felt pretty safe roaming about on Halloween. He presumed that If the mortals of earth could stomach people dressed like the Kardashians and Kanye and Donald Trump, then seeing/smelling a deceased feline would be pretty much a piece of cake.

Deadcat had the same mission as most everyone on Halloween: mischief. And he was pretty good at it. On the way out of his crawl space/home, he stopped by the bank and applied for a high-interest loan in the name of his last owner, Wendy Peppermill. That would get her good for leaving the door open and letting him get hit by a school bus. Then, he pounced over to the drive-in and crawled in the back of a few cars to interrupt couples cuddling and snuggling with his awful stench. To top it all off, he decided to sneak into the nursing home and do the crosswords for the next morning’s paper. The geezers would be bored stiff in the morning.

On most Halloweens, this would have been enough to keep him entertained. But he just wasn’t feeling like a bona fide terror any more. He’d been walking dead for ten years now. He’d seen the coming and going of a Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off and the loss of Dublin Dr. Pepper. He’d even wept his little blood tears when Letterman retired. And in all that time, he’d never been half as depressed as he was on this lonely Halloween.

Was it time? He’d met a phantom Schnauzer once who had proclaimed that it was possible to scare someone to death, but he’d yet to try it himself. He turned around and looked at the nursing home he had only just left behind. It seemed like an easy target. Yes! He’d go back in there and kill an old folk dead.

He smelled for death through the hallways, but his nose had been stopped up for years and he didn’t find anything. Finally, he stopped at one room and peered inside. There, sitting in a rocking chair and talking to nobody, he found his victim. The name tag and little picture outside of her room identified her as Eunice Livebottom. What a stupid name, Deadcat thought.

He went into the room and looked up at the woman. She was whispering something so low that not a soul could hear her. He leapt then, up onto her lap and gave a dead purr, which sounds like a garbage disposal running empty.

“Pretty kitty,” Eunice said. “Such a pretty kitty.”

She pet him and didn’t seem to mind his matted fur, caked with blood and dirt.

“CRRREAWWWWW,” Deadcat screeched, but the woman only kept petting him.

“Are you out of your mind, woman?” Deadcat asked. “I’m dead!”

The woman only kept petting him so gently and in such a caring way that Deadcat fell limp and relaxed.

“Yes, yes,” Eunice said, “isn’t it quiet.”

It took a while for Deadcat to realize she was dead, too. She’d probably been dead for years. And she had been sitting there for just as long, doing nothing. She seemed just as lonely as he did.

“Hey, old lady,” Deadcat said, “you want to get out of here?”

“Oh, Heavens yes,” Dead Eunice said. “It’s been so long since I’ve had a field trip.”

“Good,” Deadcat said. “I know just the place.”

“Where are we going?” Dead Eunice asked.

“I like to sneak under beds and make noises until people wake up and then I jump out at them,” Deadcat said.

“That sounds like fun,” Dead Eunice said. “Can we start at a house with little children? I love children. I’ll jump out and hug them.”

“You bet,” Deadcat said, and he hopped down and lead the way to a particular house he couldn’t wait to visit. It would be the first of many.

Dead Eunice followed close behind and what an eerie pair they made dodging little Supermans and Katniss Everdeens. And every time they split a pair of trick-or-treaters, they giggled at the children pinching their noses closed at the smell of them.

“What’s your name, little cat?” Dead Eunice asked.

“You know, I can’t remember,” said Deadcat.

“Have you ever scared someone to death?” Dead Eunice asked.

“No,” Deadcat said. “But it’s a good a night as any.”

So if on this Halloween, you are told that there are no monsters beneath your bed, you are probably right. It’s just a dead old lady who wants to give you a hug. Or maybe a cranky cat.