Cat, Bell, Book and Candle (Part 5)

Eden and I slept late, waking only when weak sunlight came through the window. Eden stretched and got sleepily out of bed. I tumbled around in the duvet, fighting my way out of it.

Shaking, I jumped out of bed and checked on the potion. It was still warm and the colour was slowly turning to a deep red. Little motos of red drifted around. I sniffed and dappled some of my own magic to see what the potion might be like.

Well, it wasn’t a complete Impersonation potion. So, a shade of Eden’s dad might be produced but it wouldn’t last long. My Little Mistress’s hopes of some time with her dad had slipped away.

There would be time to break it to her later. Nothing could be done today.

Eden came back and started getting dressed. I jumped on her desk and said to her, ‘let’s do some baking today for Halloween. Dad will help us carve the pumpkin later or tomorrow. We should make plans for the day and night too.’

‘Can I go to Pendle Hill this year?’ Eden asked excitedly, become more awake.

I shook my head, ‘Too young child. Perhaps, if you had an adult with you…There’ll be many years to come for you to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve in full.’

‘I wish I could go now! I wish things were different,’ Eden muttered into her hoodie.

‘Don’t we all,’ I answered her, ‘come on. The potion is still cooling. Let’s get breakfast.

The day past slowly as it does on the eve of a special day. We made some halloween shape cookies, planned meals, games and movies. Eden’s dad had booked the night off which was rare because Saturday nights were busy at the pub but he had found someone to cover for him.

When he was awake, he said he would carve the pumpkin tomorrow, he was going in work early this evening as they were busy.

‘Few more hours pay is never to be turned down,’ he said, ‘you can have that frozen meal and some snacks to watch a movie with. Then bed early. Do you hear me, Eden and Macavity? Bed by nine at the latest.’

‘Yes dad. It’s a busy day for witches tomorrow,’ Eden added.

Dad cocked an eyebrow and looked from her to me and back to his daughter again before saying, ‘what have you planned?’ in a low voice.

Eden shrugged, ‘just practising my broomstick flying and spell casting. Oh and Macavity is going to tell me some scary stories.’

‘Is this true, cat?’

‘Yes, sir. With a little potion brewing thrown in. There’s magic in the air and young witches need to learn how to grab it. She will be safe with me,’ I added.

Dad signed and looked at his watch, ‘I’ve to go. Be good. Mrs and Mr Mead will be keeping an eye on you.’

We waved goodbye from the front room and I looked up at the darkening sky. The weather had change it was starting to rain again. Never trust a weather forecast man.

Eden plopped herself in front the TV and I watched the rain falling. The wind swept up and soon it was lashing it down. Some kind of autumn storm had started in the sea and come over further than they had originally predicted.

I pressed my nose to the cold, damp glass. There was no point going out tonight, nobody would be out in this weather. So, tomorrow then, on Halloween, up on Pendle hill I’d have to seek out my friends, if they had even come this year.

‘Let’s check on the potion. It needs some finalising,’ I cut into my Little Mistress thoughts.

She left the TV on and went upstairs. There were a few late ingredients to add and the spell words to be cast. Then the potion had to be placed in the dark to be ‘born’ as the old spell book stated.

‘Do you think it will turn out right?’ Eden asked me after we had placed the cauldron in the back of her wardobe.

‘No, child,’ I replied with a deep sign.

Eden looked at me, a tremble in her bottom lip and her eyes growing wet.

‘We didn’t have the right ingredients, nor the power level needed. We shall get something, I can sense that but it may be only a shadow that will last a short time.’

Eden sunk to the carpet and was silent.

‘Do not despair, child. You are still learning after all. There is nothing to be done now. Let’s go watch a movie or do something else.’

My Little Mistress nodded and we went back to the living room. There were snacks and fizzy drinks we watched Disney movies till it was past nine O’clock and I was nudging Eden to bed.

Later, when the storm had passed and the streets glowed wet, I slipped out and went for a walk. A found witch’s familiars watching from windows and tree branches. I listened to the hum of the vibrations and looked up at the dark shadow of Pendle Hill.

Tomorrow, that hill would sing with voices and flow with black clothes and naked bodies. Fires would burn, Jack O’ Lanterns would grin, the sweet autumn air would thicken and magic would be at its strongest.

I passed a raven tucked into a fir tree, I nodded to him and walked on, around deep puddles and rotting leaves. Lights glowed in the windows, I was drawn to them and to spy on the witches within. They looked no different from humans, just slightly odd in their strange in their clothes.

An old witch smiled at me as I peered in on her from a second floor hotel window. She was waving a wand over her spell book, her imp familiar lost in a chat at her feet.

Wandering far that night, I met friends old and new, witches from the area and witches from other parts of the country and the world. The air thunder with magic and the wind whispered spells and the scent of potions brewing. I talked long into night with familiars, catching up on news and hearing about the lives and travels of others.

It was late morning when I came home. My Little Mistress up and eating a toffee apple before the TV. I went to have my breakfast, left in my bowl for me then I got into my cat bed with a hood top and a fleece lining. It was warm and dry, exhausted I fell to sleep.

An hour or so later, Eden woke me. I yawned and stretched.

‘Macavity. Dad says there’s a sound coming from my wardrobe. Like something is in there…I thought you said the Impersonation Spell wouldn’t work,’ Eden hissed in my ear.

‘I didn’t say that. I said it was doing something…’

‘Will you go see? I’m scared,’ Eden whispered.

‘Don’t ever be scared of your own craft. You wielded the power, not the other way around,’ I responded.

‘Then…come with me to see?’

We went upstairs and found her dad in the wardrobe, looking around. He was dressed in PJ, having not been up for long. I pushed passed his legs and walked in slowly. The bedroom light cast in enough to see by but at the back it was in shadows.

‘I don’t see anything,’ Dad said.

‘It was nothing,’ Eden replied, ‘something falling over…’

The cauldron was still there. I peered inside it and saw at the bottom something moving.

It was a whole right hand!

There were all the fingers and the thumb, the back of the hand was a bit hairy and the wrist was there but the top which should have joined the arm was covered by a lump of skin where the joint bone poked out. It was a large hand and looked like it belong to a man.

I withdrew and sat there. How had this happened? The potion and spell must have been strong enough for this construct but not the rest of the body. My Little Mistress had more power and skill then I realised…Though the energy of Halloween had also aided.

What to do now?

‘Macavity?’ Eden called me.

I twitched my tail, swallowed the lump in my throat and went to tell the truth.

‘What is it?’

I stepped out of the wardrobe and jumped on the desk, ‘There’s something in the cauldron,’ I stated.

Eden rushed inside then let out a scream. She fled back and flung herself at into her dad.

‘What is it?’ he cried.

The disembodied hand, using the tips of the fingers walked into the light. It stopped on the edge of the wardrobe and hesitated. It seemed to be sensing what was around it.

‘Is that thing real? Where did you get it from, Eden! Tell me!’ her dad cried.

He knelt on the floor, holding his daughter by her shoulders.

‘I wanted to help you,’ Eden sobbed, ‘you said you wanted a double. I wanted more time with you. I…’

‘Did it come from someone?’ dad demanded.

Eden shook her head.

‘It was potion born,’ I cut in, ‘I oversaw it. I knew the full spell wouldn’t work and I was expecting, a shadow or ghost of some sort.’

‘That thing looks solid enough to me,’ Dad pointed out.

I nodded, ‘it shouldn’t last long. A few minutes or hours and it will disappear as if it never was.’

The fingers stepped out of the wardrobe and the hand scuttled around the room like a spider. It came to some of Eden’s discarded clothes and processed to put them away.

Dad and Eden sat on the bed, I stayed on the desk and we all watched the hand tidy the bedroom. Somehow it could ‘see’ and knew where to put things.

‘I didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry,’ Eden said after a few moments.

‘Well, it doesn’t seem dangerous,’ dad spoke.

‘It’s doing its job too,’ I pointed out, ‘lending hand with things,’ I hide a chuckle.

‘It creeps me out,’ dad uttered.

The hand had finished tidying and was heading towards the bedroom door, out it went, fingernails gripping the carpet and soon we heard it moving in dad’s room. No doubt tidying.

‘Promise me that next time you do something like this, Eden, you tell me before you do it.’

‘I promise, dad,’ Eden said, ‘does that mean you’re not angry?’

‘Oh, I’m angry and I’ll have to punish you for it-‘

‘Not tonight! Of all night!’ Eden shouted, jumping off the bed, ‘we are going Trick or Treating and I’ve to stay up to look out demons when the veil openings! Please, I will do anything! Give me any punishment you want but not tonight, I beg you please.’

Dad rubbed his head, it looked like he was getting a headache.

I stayed silent. A familiar can only be punished by their mistress or master. I knew letting Eden create the hand had been wrong but I couldn’t have predicted that would happen… I scolded myself and told myself in future to be more careful and firmer with Little Mistress.

‘Promise me something first,’ dad spoke, ‘don’t sneak off to Pendle Hill tonight. I know all the witches are gathering up there. I saw a few last night in the pub, eating and drinking and talking in hushed voices about certain plans. I know you are one of them but you are still my little girl. I don’t want anything to happen.’

‘I promise I won’t go. Macavity has stopped me before,’ Eden spoke.

Dad looked at me and I give a single nod, ‘she is too young for all that goes on up there tonight.’

‘Right…What can we do about the hand, cat?’ dad asked.

I paused and thought, ‘we could lock it in somewhere or something,’ I said, ‘or we can just leave it to tidy up.’

‘I’ll go find something, a cage or a padlock to put on something.’

‘Then can we carve the pumpkin?’ Eden asked.

‘We’ll see,’ he replied.

They left and I went to find the disembodied hand. It had finished tidying dad’s bedroom and was moving on to the bathroom. I sat on the window sill and watched it putting things away, wiping things down and changing the towels.

It was a strange sight because it acted like it was attached to a body and was able to just carry out the instructions from the brain. It knew where to put things and where things were and what to do.

My Little Mistress’s spell had worked extremely well even though it was just an unattached hand and not a whole person.

Dad found a suitcase padlock and decided that would do. However, when he saw how clean his room and the bathroom was, he decided to let the hand do the rest of the house before locking it away.

I joined, him and Eden carving the pumpkin in the kitchen. When the evil grinning face was done and the candle inside ready for lighting, dad placed it in the front window, next to the fake pumpkin.

The hand moved into the kitchen. I watched it tidying the mess made by the pumpkin, washing dishes and then it put the dirty clothes in the washing machine and turned that on too. Next it cleaned my litter box, put food in my bowl and then began stroking me.

The hair rose on my back, I went to hiss but the hand was warm and soft. It rubbed gently at my back then my head and scratched behind my ears. It was just like a normal human hand!

Then the hand left me and went back to do more chores. I eat my food then went into the living room.

‘Let’s have an early tea and then you can go get ready,’ dad was saying, he saw me and asked, ‘where is the hand?’

‘Finishing tidying the kitchen,’ I said.

Eden and her dad went to eat and the hand joined me in the living room. I watched it tidying then the doorbell rang. The hand paused then crawled out of the room and into the hallway.

I chased after it and grabbed it by the thumb as dad came out of the kitchen.

‘Keep that thing out of sight!’ he said going to answer the door.

‘No one will think it’s real,’ I said, having thrown the hand back into the living room, ‘they’ll think it’s a Halloween prop.’

‘Let’s not take the chance,’ dad said.

He opened the door and children’s voices called out ‘Trick or Treat!’

‘Looking scary there, kids!’ dad said then handed out the bowl of sweets.

The children laughed, said ‘thank you’ and left.

Dad stopped by the living room. The hand was plumping the sofa cushions.

‘Keep that thing under control and don’t let it out of your sight, MaCavity.’

‘I can,’ I replied slowly, ‘but when you come back, I’ll be going out for the rest of the night.’

‘I can lock it in the suitcase then,’ he replied.

The hand was still tidying when Eden and her dad went out. Eden was dressed as a bride of Dracula and her dad had put on a Frankenstein monster’s costume. They left, Eden chatting happily about going Trick or Treating whilst her dad carried a fake lantern and looked tidied.

The hand vacuumed, dusted, polished, wiped picture frames and the TV. Soon the house looked as clean as it had never done before and the disembodied hand flopped down beside me on the sofa.

I look it at. I was laying down, legs tucked under me, tail swaying from side to side. I had been watching Tv to distracted me from the pulls of going outside. The evening was clear and dry, clouds blew across the sky and the delicious smell of autumn hugged the air.

Magic tingled through me like electricity. Like the beating a drum and humming of power, the magic called me and Pendle Hill, high above was the centre point for it all. From here, I couldn’t see it but I could smell fire all ready and my ears thought they heard singing.

The hand stayed with me for the rest of the time. One or two of the fingers twitched now and then as if the hand was asleep and dreaming. I dozed whilst the light from the TV and Jack O’ Lantern glowed around the room.

I was asleep when they arrived back home. The key in the lock woke me. I raised my head and looked towards the living room door. Eden entered, out of breath, cold but full of energy still.

‘I got so much!’ she gasped and put her Trick or Treat bag on the coffee table. Some sweets spilled out of the overflowing bag.

I sniffed and smelt the night clinging to her; it was fire scented, damp, leaf rotten and sweet underlined.

Dad came in and looked at the hand.

‘It’s been fine,’ I told him.

I got off the sofa and went to Eden. I rubbed against her a few times then we headed butted and I went out.

The night welcomed me, parting around me as I walked quickly. I broke into a run at the end of the street and headed out of the village and towards Pendle Hill.

I passed children and adults going from door to door, flicking Jack O’ Lanterns in windows and decorations on doorsteps. I spotted a handful of witches and familiars making their way along.

A stopped to walk every now and again and catch my breath. If Little Mistress was with me we would be flying on her broom as was traditional. By myself though, I had to use my own four paws.

I looked to the sky and saw with my powers that a few witches were flying passed undercover spells. Their capes and hats stood out most against the dark clouds. I spotted a cat on the end of one broomstick and a few birds and bats about.

Looking to the hill, I saw it a blaze with light. I still had so much longer to go. Well…there was another way. I cast a simple flying spell then an invisible spell and within seconds I was flying low along the path. It was so much easier and less tiring.

Soon, I arrived and cast off the spells. The hill top was packed with bodies, animals and demons. I made my way through the dancing and singing to find a spot by the large fire.

Soaking in the atmosphere, I breathed deeply of Halloween night. My whiskers tingled with all the magic and my ears ached with all the voices.

‘Macavity,’ someone called me and a large black cat came to my side.

I nodded and greeted an old friend.

‘What have you been doing this festival day?’ he asked.

I smiled, flashing my fangs and told him about the disembodied hand my Little Mistress had created.

The End

***

This story is fictional but I did use some real references which I have linked below. This story was inspired by watching the musical Cats whilst in lock down. I’ve seen this musical countless times on screen and at the theatre. It’s one of my favourite musicals and I love the poem book; Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as well. 

Macavity began speaking to me during the musical and I knew straight away I had to write his story as told by him. As with all the times my characters start talking to me, I have no idea where the story will end up but I always enjoy the journey. I hope you have too. 

Hayley.   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Possum%27s_Book_of_Practical_Cats

http://www.pendlewitches.co.uk/

https://www.visitlancashire.com/explore/pendle-hill