It never rains but it pours

Patches’ mind flew into a mighty circle, but with great concentration he tamped it down. He shifted the gripped appendage and felt for Mr. Johnson’s pulse, rather futilely as it soon became clear. No, no, that was definitely death. “If I may just ask, Mr. Johnson, what type of undead might you be?”

The dear departed started shaking more, “What do you mean, undead?”

The cat sighed, “You have no pulse.”

“I just remember that it hurt…pain…they were so angry.”

Patches pulled free a hand and patted Mr. Johnson gingerly on the shoulder, “Are you feeling any thirst for blood? An insatiable hunger perhaps? Desire for vengeance? Inhuman anger? Wise words from the beyond might be helpful…” He watched the dead man very carefully, ready to leap back should he show an unfortunate appetite for brains or some such.

“I…I don’t know. I don’t feel hungry,” Patches sighed in relief, “Perhaps a bit thirsty.”

Patches slapped himself upside the head mentally. This was the worst mistake he’d ever made in deciding to take the job, but it had seemed so simple. He took a breath, “Thirsty for…?”

Mr. Johnson calmed a little and cocked his head to the side, “A nice sherry wouldn’t go amiss.”

Patches perked up, “Well, if you’ll just wait here, I’m sure I could rustle something up.”

Mr. Johnson gripped him tighter, “No, you must help me and you are in grave danger!”

“Grave? That’s an…interesting choice in word.”

His former employer pulled him closer to the window, “Can’t you see it?”

The cat peered out, “Yes it is very…dark?”

“No, you fool! Look! How can you not see it?!?”

“Well, it might perchance be that I merely have the eyes of the living.”

The funny smelling man paused, “Ah. I am dead you said?” The burglar nodded. “Well, that might have something to do with it. So you don’t see…” His fingers waved vaguely about, “Them?”

“Could you possibly describe these ‘them’ to me?”

“They’re very…well…I suppose…rather like…” The dead man grappled for the proper vocabulary, then perked up. “Ah! I know! Have you ever seen those rather Victorian paintings of flower fairies?”

“Yes, of course,” Patches smiled, flower fairies were something he could deal with.

“Well, rather like that only with fangs dripping blood and gray cast to their features,” Mr. Johnson peered back out the window, “And some seem to be wearing necklaces that are composed of fingers and ears.” His brown eyes crinkled up as he beamed at the cat, proud of having found the words.

“Ah, yes, that’s very,” Patches trailed off as he blinked at the window. Those fairies might be a rather different kettle of fish. He thought madly, his mind scrambling for a way out as the helpful dead man before him waited patiently for a response. “Mr. Johnson, if I could inquire, do you know who killed you? Was it these rather bloody fairies?”

“Oh, no, I thought it was my son but that was an illusion. No, it was five strange and angry men,” He paused, “I am not feeling as frantic as I was. That’s strange.”

“Pardon?”

“Well, I was feeling quite frenzied and as if I must speak with you and now I feel calm.”

The cat started cursing, very creatively.

“Is something wrong?”

“You fool! They put a compulsion on you after death! Did those blasted fairies follow you here?”

“Oh, no, they’ve been following me for days.”

Patches paused, “Oh. Ah. And you could see them?”

“Of course, they’re rather noticeable!”

Oh dear, that meant things were more complicated than the magical cat had begun to think. He started to run quite thoroughly through his mental lexicon of profanity.

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Aulde Acquaintance

Mind awash with the previous hours’ malaise, Patches could feel himself slipping. It was certainly the first time he had ever gone this long without sleep,  and right now, nothing else mattered more. It was easier to focus on his own needs in this moment, even as he gingerly crossed and dismantled the several invisible security lines; nay, especially because of this detail in particular. Even in such a sleepless state, he could easily have done this with his eyes closed. He was in his element; this was how his clients found themselves wrapped about his sharp, voracious claws.

Leaping effortlessly to the Egypt room, he gazed with a brief admiration at the five items he was to procure. They seemed particularly fragile and pristine somehow; the golden light shone radiantly upon each individual glass cube encasing in an otherwise frozen, silent darkness. The entire scene felt decidedly dream-like in nature as he tried in vain to recall how he let himself get caught up in this predicament. Never had he left himself so vulnerable to manipulation, and yet…

“Now remember, honey-lips,” he heard the transmitter whispering into his ear, shocking him swiftly back into reality with a baited breath, “you grab what you came for within two minutes, no more, and no less, and perhaps I shall make it worth your while.”

It was more than any gentleman feline could endure. He would need to move fast.

The glass cubicles were no more than Patches had previously handled; he was used to moving past hard-to-reach locales. What was really on his mind wasn’t the stone sculptures but how he would get out of this predicament. There were goons surrounding every door to ensure his steadfast obedience, all equipped with magical abilities he dared not predict. They stared purposefully forward into the cold winter air, their controlled gaze a giveaway of the type of reward they would faithfully receive. Their Mistress shan’t ever be disappointed.

The one stroke of good luck was the removal of the collar earlier that day; it would have been much too risky dealing with the invisible yet present reality of moving about a high-security building such as this one. “And trust me,” Patches wisely assured her as dusk fell, his ego fleetingly stroked as he watched the cool, unfettered expression, “You need me because of the way I work. And the sooner you understand this, the better: I work under no restraints.”

Smiling to himself now, he knew what he had to do. Get the artifacts, naturally, because he wouldn’t dare leave this mess without at least a token ransom. The rest was simple, really: all he would need to do is find a different exit, but where? And how would he simultaneously manage to retrieve the money?

The statues were removed with ease, and a clean-cut circle of thick glass was all that remained. Placing them gently into his bag, he promptly surveyed his options. He was disguised in all black as a proper cat-burglar might, and thus remained beneath the radar no matter what the dozens of cameras may reveal. But he would still need to cover his tracks so that he would not be followed. It was a tricky operation, but…

And that’s when it happened. A warm breath beside his neck caused him to spin in sudden alarm to reveal a worn and blood-caked face, staring desperately into his eyes with cold sweat. “Help me,” came the muted words, trembling hands grappling his paws with painful ferocity.

It was Mr. Johnson, back from the dead.