“Come on, kitty, come for a cuddle,” Kane hoped he didn’t sound as helpless as he felt.
“Can you see him?” Adele called over his shoulder.
“He seems to be stuck behind the bookcase,” Kane said, “Come on, Kitler, come on.”
“I’ve never liked cats,” Adele said, trying to get a look. “But when my aunt died, well, I couldn’t let him go to a shelter. I mean, my aunt loved the evil creature.”
Kane stared helplessly at the ghost of the cat. The ghost stared back. Kane recognised the expression of bland assurance, the hint of secret wisdom and knowledge, and the pause of waiting for a thought to turn up between the furry ears. “Come on, Kitler, there’s a good kitty.”
“He was supposed to be called Sam, but after he terrorised next door’s rottweiler and dropped a live rat in front of the vicar, we thought Kitler was more appropriate.” Adele said. “He was a bit of a character.”
Kane reached out and tickled Kitler under his ghostly chin. The cat snuggled down onto the cuddle and edged forward. “He sounds a little difficult.” He could hear the phantasmal purr echoing.
“Do you know, the first week he was here, he chased a postman down the path,” Adele said with a hint of pride. “We had to collect all our post in the end, and we were blacklisted by Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
“Who’s a good kitty?” Kane said, as the spirit of the cat edged closer.
“I didn’t expect to miss him when he went, but I do,” Adele sighed. “I wonder if that held him back from crossing the Rainbow Bridge?”
“I think he was still happy here,” Kane said, watching the shade of Kitler push blissfully against his tickling fingers.
“I suppose so,” Adele said. “I mean, next door’s Alsatian still runs away from the post where Kitler used to sit. But he makes such a noise at night, racing around and knocking things over. It’s like he never left.”
Kane looked at the smug spirit in front of him. That’s why the ghost hadn’t moved on. He was having too much fun terrorising the household to want to see what happened next. “He is a strong character.” Any minute now, Kane thought. Any minute now the purr will turn to a hiss. I wonder if he can still scratch?
“But I’m not getting any sleep, and it’s unnerving having a ghost in the house.” Adele said. “So can you do something?”
“I’ve only really done people,” Kane said, pulling his hand back quickly as the cuddle turned instantly into an attack. Kitler glared at him. “I’m not sure how to get a ghost cat safely over.”
“Could you bribe him with ghost treats?” Adele asked. “He used to do anything for Dreamies.”
Kane stood up. “To be honest, I really don’t know what to do.” He looked around. “Aunt Brenda, do you have any ideas?”
The ghost of his foster mother tickled Kitler behind the ears. “What a sweetie. I wish I could take him home with me.”
“I’ll take it from here, my good woman!” A disembodied voice rang out before a spectral figure shimmered into view.
“Aunt Charlotte,” Adele whispered, holding on to the back of the chair.
“You can see her?” Kane asked.
“People always said I had a presence,” Aunt Charlotte said smugly. “And now I’ve come for my Sam before he gets exorcised or some such nonsense.” She grabbed Kitler firmly around the middle and hoisted him, unprotesting and stunned, into her arms. “He’s coming home with his mummy.” She turned to Adele. “You did your best for mummy’s little kitty. You should get that painting I left you valued, the one that you put in the spare bedroom.” She sniffed. “If you appreciated art, you would already know about it. The certificate of authenticity is tucked behind the frame at the back.”
Adele and Kane watched the ghost of Aunt Charlotte with her malevolent companion fade from view.
“Have they definitely gone?” Adele asked. “I mean, both of them?”
Kane smiled reassuringly. “I’m pretty sure that they won’t come back either.” He watched Adele sag with relief.
Auntie Brenda nodded in approval. “You’re going to find it very quiet around here now,” she said. “Perhaps you should get another cat.”
Kane decided that was one message he was not going to pass on.