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Angela C Nichols

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Creeping Dread
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9 Lives
By Angela C Nichols
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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I wrote this for a web-magazine; the story editor wanted a group of us to each try our hands at a Halloween style story.


9 Lives
By Angela Nichols
            I had a decision to make.
            My name was Missy; in my last life. You see, I am a witch’s familiar. My form is that of a domestic cat.
Life #1
            I awoke from the accident dazed. I remembered being on the operating table, but now I was curled up in my best friend Brenda’s arms.
            “I couldn’t let you die Paula.”
             I tried to speak but all I heard was mewing.
            “I can hear your thoughts, Paula. You are my familiar now.”
            You mean like black magic and witches? I thought.
            “Oh, all of that stuff they teach in school isn’t completely accurate.” She smiled brightly. “I’ve wanted to tell you for so long!”
            Apparently my best friend came from a long line of witches. I looked in a mirror as she carried me upstairs to her room. I was now a calico.
            So what happened to me? She looked at me for a long moment.
            “Now, don’t freak out on me…are you sure you’re ready to find out?”
            Yes. I nervously licked my shoulder.
            “You were shot; by Eric.” She began to tear up. “When it looked like you weren’t going to make it, I couldn’t just…”
            Eric? My boyfriend Eric. I sunk down on the bed and almost started yowling. She started to pet me.
“Oh, Paula…”
Life #2
Not long after her 25th birthday I broke my leg. I was 25 too, but had spent 10 of those years as a cat. My feline body was starting to give out on me. When she brought me home from the hospital we had a talk.
“You know, Paula, you may not have long in that body.”
I shuddered. I’m your familiar; doesn’t that mean I have some magic?
“Actually you do. I can help you transition to your 2nd life.”
You mean the whole 9 lives thing is true ?
“Well, at least for familiars.”
What’s involved?
“You have to take care of any unfinished business.”
“What do you remember?”
Pictures flooded my mind. Good times at first; our first date, our first kiss. First argument. First time he hit me. First time I caught him with the heroin. The pain of the gunshot. He shot me because I said I wouldn’t be there when he got back. He didn’t even call 911.
“There, there, Paula. The hard part is over. Now you just have to decide if he is going to live or not.”
My eyes widened and my ears went flat as she brought out a cage with a rat in it. Its fur was a color I had never seen on a rat and as I looked in its eyes I noticed they were like Eric’s. He looked terrified.
I stood up and moved closer, sniffing. He squeaked. He was so much less intimidating, it calmed me.
I’ll bet you think you’re just having a bad trip, huh Eric?
I looked up at her.
Will he stay a rat?
“That’s my girl.”
I must have died in my sleep that night because I went to sleep a calico and woke up a sleek Siamese.
Life #3
“I guess I should call you something different now; it’ll look less weird.”
I hopped into her lap. It was tricky because I was small again.
Ok…how about Yum Yum? Like the cat in The Cat Who series?
Later that week I found myself sneaking out of the house and falling for a ginger tabby tom. I ended up having 3 kittens.
“Well, we have to do something about these kittens…unfinished business.”
I know. When they’re old enough you can adopt them out.
Are you ok? Brenda was glad the thought link didn’t go both ways. Then I would have known she killed that tom so there wouldn’t be any ‘unfinished business.’
“Just tired. I’m trying more difficult spells. It takes a lot of energy.”
The kittens were given good homes so a few years later when I was 13 I went to sleep and woke up as a tabby.
Life #4
Brenda really looked up to her mother growing up, and as she got older she began to enjoy the power her mother was teaching her to control. Her mother was the source of all of her knowledge; she had an extensive collection of books on witchcraft and loved to take Brenda on ‘antique shopping’ trips to find items meant to enhance the powers. What Brenda never understood was that the more powerful and dangerous the spells you attempted the more attention you received from the Underworld. When her mother passed on it was just the push the Underworld needed.
A strange man showed up at the funeral. He had dark hair and eyes and what you could call a dark manner about him. I don’t know how else to describe it, you just feel it when you are near the person.
“My condolences” he said to Brenda.
“Thank you. I just can’t believe she’s gone.”
“Not entirely. She still has you to carry on her work.” At this point Brenda’s eyes glazed over.
“Well, there is that. How did you know my mother and her work?”
“You could say I was her consultant.”
Brenda thought for a moment. “Yes. You could help me…um?”
“My name is Damian.”
Shortly after that she started getting more involved with her spells. Some of the ingredients smelled terrible. We discussed this and she was kind enough to put in a cat door. I didn’t go out of the yard much, though. I even got a bad case of fleas that caused me to be so anemic I was too weak to fight off a stray cat that attacked me one night. Brenda rushed me to the vet, but I was pretty torn up. She was very apologetic the next morning when I woke up a Maine Coon.
Life #5
Damian gave me the creeps, big time. I began to spend most of my time outside.
I found I was a good hunter and developed a taste for mouse. One night I was chasing one and felt someone watching me. It turned out to be a black and white tom. No, I was fixed at this point, (something Brenda started doing as soon as possible) but we began hanging out.
Of course, we WERE living like alley cats; tipping trash cans, raiding picnics, etc. The long hair didn’t help either. Brenda was barely out of the basement these days. She and Damian began arguing a lot. What I didn’t realize at first was that they were arguing about me.
We could just kill her, you know.”
“Damian, there’s no way to be sure she’d come back as a black cat any faster that way.”
“So then we get another cat.”
“It would take longer to bond with a new cat, and you know it. Paula and I grew up together. The bond is the strongest we are going to find.”
“Maybe you just don’t want this enough.”
She fell to her knees. “No, Damian, don’t leave me. I do want to be with you and join your coven.”
“There she is now.”
I walked into the kitchen to see Damian smiling and Brenda, again with glazed over eyes, coming at me with a kitchen knife. I ran blindly terrified out of the house and ended up getting hit by a car.
Life #6
This time I woke up a Persian. This life wasn’t long at all.
For one thing, Persians are notorious for breathing problems due to their breeding. Then the tom didn’t recognize me so I had to try to fend for myself; I didn’t try very hard. I was also the equivalent of 3 months old again and didn’t ever want to go back to Brenda’s. I ended up getting very sick. I gave up. When I could feel the end coming I went looking for a place to die where they couldn’t find me. As fate would have it, I ended up outside the apartment building of a kind stranger. He tried to nurse me back to health, but was too late.
When he took me in to the vet’s to be put down, they were there to collect my body. I don’t know how they knew where, or when, to find me.
Life #7
When I didn’t come back as a black cat for this life Damien broke my neck.
Life #8
So there I was jet black and aware of Damien’s cruelty. I heard Brenda calling me as I ran out the door.
I ended up with the kind stranger. He didn’t know I was the same cat, of course.
It turns out his name was James. We hit it off right away. Maybe he could sense my former humanity as I listened to him because he began to talk to me like a girlfriend, telling me his thoughts and dreams. He called me Missy.
After about a year things took a nasty turn. They came after me.
Apparently I was old enough for their biggest spell yet. A final sacrifice to join a coven; no ‘unfinished business.’
There was a fight, but Damian hit James with some kind of spell that threw him back into a wall, hard. I clawed and bit as hard as I could. I thought I had lost James as they carried me back to their house, but he came after me. They had cut me badly for the spell, but what I do remember is seeing her bloody and broken on the floor.
“I interrupted whatever they were attempting, Missy. The guy got mad and killed the girl. You’ll be ok now. Just hang in there.”
By this time I was wrapped up, in his car, on the way to the vet’s. I also wanted very badly to sleep. The last thing I remember thinking was ‘no unfinished business.’
Life #9
I don’t know if I was just dreaming, but I was drawn to a bright light.
Wait! I have one more left!
“Yes, you do” said a feminine voice. “I have been watching you since you became a cat. You didn’t have a long human life or a very good chance at nine happy, long cat lives. I have decided to let you choose: how will you spend your last life?”
“That is one name I am known by.”
I don’t know what to say. I am… honored. How is James?
“He is grieving Missy. I approve of his nature.”
He won’t recognize me…
“You choose to be human?”
I want to be there for him like he was for me.
“It is granted.”
I found myself at his door, as a human. My heart racing I rang the doorbell.
“Can I help you?”
“Hi.” I was trying to think of something to say, but he was staring at my eyes.
“I’m sorry, miss…but have we met?”
That was all the push I needed.
 “Missy. My name was Missy.”
Of course his jaw dropped.
“Please, let me explain…”
He took a long moment to think about it; then held open the door.

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