The Benningtons were a fine and wealthy couple but an emptiness filled their home. Try as they may, they didn't have any children. They longed for the sound of a child's laughter to fill the rooms but the doctors had determined Mrs. Bennington was sterile. She sat with her grandmother, weeping over a cup of tea. "It's so unfair!" she lamented.
"Things have ways of working themselves out," her grandmother admonished, patting her hand. "Don't fret--the stress won't help matters. Relax and finish your tea."
Mrs. Bennington knew her grandmother to be uncannily wise. She dried her tears and dutifully sipped her tea. "What's in it?" she asked.
"A special blend of my own concoction. It will help you dear."
Many weeks later, Mrs. Bennington felt terribly ill. Food refused to stay in her stomach and she wondered if the strange tea was the culprit despite how long ago she'd had it. She immediately felt guilty for the thought. Deciding she must have some sort of flu she went to see the doctor.
"Well Mrs. Bennington, there is nothing physically wrong with you," the doctor announced.
"What do you mean? I've barely been able to eat! Certainly that isn't normal."
"Perfectly normal, under the circumstances," he responded calmly.
"And what circumstances do you refer to?" she asked. The doctor grinned broadly.
"You're pregnant, Mrs. Bennington."
She was ecstatic. "I thought it was impossible!" she said to her grandmother over tea the following week. The elderly woman smiled.
"Didn't I tell you things have a way of working themselves out?" she replied with a wink.
Thunder rumbled and lightning forked the sky above the hospital the night Mrs. Bennington went into labor. Many hours later baby Gwenevire was born. Miles away in her own home, Mrs. Bennington's grandmother smiled as she took her last breath.
Mrs. Bennington was heartbroken that her grandmother never got to meet her daughter but Gwenevire kept her preoccupied and soothed her sorrow. The years flew by and on Gwenevire's seventh birthday, her mother gave her a very special present.
"This belonged to your great-grandmother," Mrs. Bennington smiled as she handed her daughter a brightly-wrapped box topped with a curling bow. Gwenevire carefully unwrapped it and peered inside. A silk kitten gazed up at her with eyes made of emerald.
"My grandmother, your great-grandmother, was very fond of this. She gave it to me before you were born and asked that I give it to you for your seventh birthday. She was such a wonderful woman, Gwen. Take good care of it."
"I will, mommy," the little girl vowed, cradling her new treasure. From that day forward Gwenevire took the silk kitten wherever she went and each night her mother tucked it into bed with her.
One morning Gwenevire woke up and the kitten wasn't in its usual place on her pillow. She pulled the covers back to see if she had somehow pushed it down. It wasn't there. She looked over the sides of her bed and beneath it. Nothing. She was about to call for her mother but then she noticed the kitten on her windowsill, gazing back at her.
"What are you doing over there, Kitty?" she asked. Of course the stuffed kitten remained silent. She shrugged. Perhaps her mother had checked on her in the night and finding the kitten on the floor had stowed it safely on the windowsill. Gwenevire hugged the kitten to her chest and went downstairs for breakfast.
Later that day she was having a tea party beneath the willow tree in the front yard. "Oh! I forgot the sugar!" she exclaimed. "Excuse me, Kitty. I'll be right back." She ran to the house with her little sugar bowl and asked her mother to fill it. When she returned the silk kitten was no longer on the picnic blanket she'd spread beneath the tree. Puzzled, Gwenevire walked around the tree but her treasured toy was nowhere on the ground.
"Meow," she heard from overhead. She looked up and there sat the silk kitten in the crook of a branch, looking down at her. She reached up and took the kitten out of the tree.
"How strange," she murmured. "I could swear I heard you meow. But certainly that isn't possible. How did you get in the tree, Kitty?" The toy didn't respond and Gwenevire shook her head. "Silly. I must be imagining things," she decided and went back to her tea party.
Summer lapsed into autumn and more and more often Gwenevire would find her beloved kitten in places she hadn't left it. Try as she might, she could never catch the kitten moving. Over time it became a funny game to her. She would place the kitten somewhere in a room and turn her back for a few moments. Whenever she turned around the kitten would be in an entirely different location.
She spent much of her time playing this game with her kitten and was delighted one day in October when she turned around and the kitten was nowhere in the room. "Meow." The call came from the dining room. Gwenevire raced through the door and her kitten was sitting on the table. She giggled and spent the afternoon playing this way, chasing her silk kitten throughout the house.
"Meow." The next call came from the upstairs hall. Gwenevire followed the sound and found her kitten outside the attic door.
"Do you want to go up there, Kitty?" Of course there was no response. Gwenevire picked up her kitten, opened the door and went curiously up the steps. A number of old trunks were stored there containing all sorts of family mementos. She set her kitten down on the floor and began pawing through the boxes.
"Meow." The sound came from off to her right. Gwenevire turned and saw the silk kitten sitting atop a trunk set beneath the window. She went over to inspect it. Ancient leather straps held it closed and she gently worked them loose and lifted the lid. Inside she found a black velvet robe, a leather bound book and a carved stick.
"They were once mine," the voice came from behind her and she whirled around, startled. The silk kitten sat behind her. "Do not be frightened," it spoke into her mind. "I am your great-grandmother. You never met me because I died the day you were born. It's how it always is. Our family has used the silk kitten for generations to pass our knowledge on to the next in line. You hold in your hands our family's spell book. I will be your mentor and teach you all there is to know. And when the time comes you will carry on the tradition with your own great-granddaughter."
Gwenevire studied the strange symbols and words inside the book, tracing them with her finger. She smiled with excitement and stashed her new treasures safely back in the trunk. Then she went downstairs to get a snack from the kitchen.
"Halloween is coming up soon," her mother said as she poured milk into a glass for her. "What would you like to be this year?" Gwenevire smiled innocently at her mother.
"I'm going to be a witch."
YOU ARE READING
Witches, Ghosts and Other Haunts Vol. 2Horror
The second installment of thirteen macabre short stories to chill your blood. Haunted toys, possession, phantoms and diabolical creatures await to feast upon your imagination and consume your soul. Read on...if you dare!