Plan A, Plan B, Plan C

This story was originally written for azaleaknight. Thank you to FairestCat for the editing.

Chloe had a mouse problem. An unusual one.

At first she thought her cabinets were just insecure. So, a few DIY videos later, they were more secure than Fort Knox.

The next morning after laying down the final bit of mouse-shielding, she still woke up to her new boxes of cereal gnawed through on the bottom, cereal spilled. The crime scene was as horrifying as it was inexplicable. How had they gotten in?

It didn’t stop there.

Something wreaked havoc on her bread while it was still in the maker. Chewed and hollowed out, no trail of evidence.

She put her replacement cereal in the fridge. She opened it 5 hours later to see cereal scattered like so much confetti.

Peanut butter? Don’t even ask.

It was cold, albeit very odd, comfort that none of these incidents had involved any mouse poop to clean up.

At night her silverware clinked in their drawer. She could hear little feet above her in the ceiling.

She set traps, and the traps were sprung, the bait scattered. But still no mice were caught.

Her next solution seemed foolproof.

A humane trap filled with peanut butter and water. A sure catch.

Chloe set the trap beside the fridge and avoided the kitchen all day. A watched trap never caught any mice! But that evening she couldn’t resist any longer (and could use a sandwich besides) and poked her head in and bingo! She could hear it rattling. She’d caught one of the damn mice!

Then… a small see-through mouse walked out of the blank side of the trap, looked her dead in the eyes, and scurried off into a solid wall to disappear.

“Goddamn,” muttered Chloe. “I’ve got ghost mice.”

***

New plan. Get ghost cat. Match the predator to the prey.

Well, truthfully this was plan number three. Plan number 2 had been tiny ghost traps which turned out to be fictional. But if ghost mice were real, so thereto followed ghost cats.

Obviously she couldn’t DIY this one, as that was illegal and horrible. So she had to find one.

She haunted, as it were, the local urban legends board. Between the man who insisted he and Mothman were very happy together and the girl who wouldn’t stop spending time under the bridge where there had been a thriving group of less-than-homed people in the 30s, Chloe wasn’t sure if she was going to find anything that wasn’t distressing.

But Chloe wasn’t a quitter (and neither were her undead mice) so she crawled through post after post. It wasn’t very rewarding. She was also developing a serious fear of sewer alligators.

Then she found a post, buried so far back it must have been made when the board was new.. One post. User Bastet2005.

It was just a ghost story. About an empty lot where her little sister would play with a cat that Bastet2005 couldn’t see..

Bastet2005 wasn’t much of a storyteller, but Chloe saw possibilities in the recounting.

She wrote down the address in the post.

***

She groaned when she got to the old lot, a fifteen minute drive away. It was under construction. Sometime between the post and now some developer had seen the empty space and gotten inspired.

If there’d been a ghost cat there once… well, they stayed near their graves, didn’t they? This didn’t bode well if the phantom cat had been ground under the wheel of a bulldozer or dumped somewhere else with the rest of the dirt.

Should she go home?

Well, it was late at night. The construction workers were gone. Was it worth the risk to look anyway?

She weighed her options. On the one hand, she’d almost certainly be arrested if she was caught trespassing. On the other, she had lost another loaf of bread that morning. And now the mice had moved onto her socks.

She flipped her hood up over her hair and squirmed through a hole in the safety fence.

Carefully, carefully, she picked her way through the construction. It wouldn’t do to to take a pole to the head or tumble into an open basement. And then get arrested if she survived.

“Meer.”

A little noise. The plaintive cry sounded as if it came from a long, dark tunnel.

She turned.

Standing by some newly disturbed dirt was a pretty, thin, little cat that glowed faintly in the darkness. In life it had been stripey.

She crouched down beside it to try and pet the cat. She didn’t succeed, the cat was nothing more than vapours, but the cat did its best to accommodate her. An ethereal purr filled the lot in the silence of the night. There was no collar on the ghost, but Chloe had the feeling that once it had loved and been loved by humans.

In the dark dirt something white stood out in the reflection of the streetlights. Bones. Cat bones? As if to answer her unspoken question, the cat did a little prancing feline dance on top of the partially uncovered skeleton.

“Hey, sweetie,” she said softly, “do you want me to bring you somewhere safe?”

The cat purred louder and tried to rub against her shins, passing right through.

Chloe carefully gathered up the earthly remains of the cat, buried until construction began, making sure to leave no bones behind. The cat stayed by her side, mewling and pawing at the dirt until Chloe picked up the last bone, a rib. Then slowly the cat faded.

“I hope this works, baby, otherwise I’m sorry for exorcising you,” whispered Chloe.

Then she escaped, miraculously uncaught, back through the fence.

With the magic of the world wide web, she referenced how to properly assemble a cat skeleton. Using a shoebox as a makeshift coffin, she arranged the bones of what would hopefully be her new pet.

“I’m going to call you Moonbeam,” she said, writing the name on top of the box.

Then she solemnly buried it in her back garden, where the sunflowers grew.

She hadn’t seen the ghost cat since the lot, but she felt good about this anyway.

***

The next morning during breakfast she heard a rustling in her cabinets and sighed. The mice were still around.

Then she heard a distant yet near ‘mrowl!’ and a spectral mouse shot out of the door of the cabinet door, pursued by a see-through cat, tail at hunting attention.

She went back to eating breakfast.

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