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.”
“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.