Arizona summers were the worst, Claudia thought as she struggled out of the driver’s side of her older Nissan Sentra. The summers were dry and hot, but inside the car, Claudia stuck to the leather seats. When she chose leather in the first place, she hadn’t been thinking about the summer or would have gotten cloth. Oh well, no help for it now. Claudia needed to get her ass in gear as the Tucson shelter was ready to close, and she wanted to adopt her new fur baby first.
The idea to take a kitten was a surprise to Claudia as she didn’t think she was a pet person, let alone a cat person, but once the idea took root in her brain two weeks ago, she hadn’t been able to get the idea out of her head. So, five minutes before close and looking at a new baby. Did she know how to shop or what?
Quickly, she walked through the shelter’s entrance, so she was inside when they closed, giving her a few more precious minutes to walk the cages looking for her perfect pet. Claudia had a vague idea of what she wanted. She was hoping to find a solid black female kitten that would be a companion through life’s daily adventures. Claudia was tired of being alone.
Granted, she did have a boyfriend—sort of. Bradley Benson popped in, and out of her life, it seemed when it was convenient for him. He was handsome, which Claudia suspected he used to his advantage. With his Chocolate colored hair and piercing Jade green eyes, it was hard to resist giving him his way, especially when he smiled that smile revealing his cute little dimples.
Yes, Brad had dimples that were adorable when he smiled, and Claudia knew she was a pushover when it came to erecting boundaries. Which was why getting this kitten was so important. She was defying his wishes. Brad had expressly told her “no pets,” but he hardly came around anymore. He was always working or taking business trips, which left Claudia alone most of the time, so here she was going against Brad’s wishes and choosing a kitten.
The kennels looked well maintained, the floors clean as were the cages. Claudia slowly walked down the rows of cages filled with cats and kittens looking for a loving home, but she didn’t see any that grabbed her attention. A young girl came into the room when Claudia was about to give up hope. Her name tag said her name was Sheila, and Sheila announced that they were locking up the kennel.
“If you want to come back tomorrow, we are open from 9 am to 5 pm, but we need to close up, Ma’am.”
Claudia responded apologetically. “I’m sorry to keep you from closing. I was hoping to find a companion as my boyfriend, Brad is out of town for a week, and it gets lonely when he’s away.”
“No worries, Ma’am, I understand. My dad is in the military, so he’s gone a lot too, and I have Tinkerbell to keep me company.”
Trying not to laugh at the choice of names, “Tinkerbell?” Claudia summoned the image of a tiny fluffy ball of fur that could fit a name like Tinkerbell.
Sheila chuckled, “Yeah, I know. Tinkerbell is a munchkin kitten, and they are very tiny, so she is like a little Tinkerbell.”
“Oh, Munchkin’s are adorable, and yes, they do fit the name,” Claudia smiled, “I apologize again for keeping you, I’ll leave and come back tomorrow.”
She said those words while heading to the exit, but before she reached it, a tiny mew grabbed her attention, and she looked at the cage where the noise seemed to come from and froze. There she was—her kitten. Inside the pen staring back at Claudia, was a gorgeous long-haired black kitten with gold eyes.
What was intriguing was that the little darling wasn’t solid black; on her chest was a white spot shaped like that of the Egyptian Ankh.
“Uh, Sheila? I know you are in a rush to leave, but can I please adopt this one?” pointing to the kitten staring at her.
It was the fastest adoption ever. Thirty minutes and three hundred dollars later, the precious baby was in the car with Claudia sleeping in the brand-new carrier she had purchased.
When she arrived home, she picked up the carrier, and gingerly carried it inside, set it on the floor in the living room near the couch, opened the metal hinges, and waited. Hesitantly, the little girl poked her furry head out and looked around her with great interest. She ventured out more until she was entirely out of the cage, sniffing and investigating everything as she did.
Conversationally, Claudia started talking to her. “Well, little girl, now we have to come up with a name for you.” The kitten cocked her head to the side like she also wanted to hear what her name was going to be.
Thinking about the white spot that looked like an Ankh, she thought Bastet after the Egyptian goddess of cats. Speaking to the expectant kitten, she asked, “what do you think about Bastet?”
Eerily, the kitten suddenly turned her head and locked her golden gaze on to Claudia’s startled hazel one. It was as if Bastet knew what Claudia was saying. That was impossible.
Right? Yet, the steady look from the kitten suggested otherwise, and Claudia felt a chill slither down her spine. Then she shook the idea away. Bastet was just a healthy normal kitten, nothing supernatural about her at all.
“Well, Bastet, welcome to your new home.”
The days flew by as Claudia got to know and love her personality. Bastet was curious and playful and filled Claudia’s days with fun and laughter at the little one’s antics. Just ten days later, though, Brad came home, bringing dark clouds and rain that matched the Arizona weather perfectly.
“I told you no pets,” was his welcome home statement. Brad walked in the door without a smile or cherry welcome, just his immediate displeasure about Bastet.
Not in the mood to put up with his churlishness, she responded, “well, hello to you too. Did you have a good trip?”
He waved away her flippant response, “I meant it, Claudia. No pets. You are going to have to take that thing back to where you got it from.”
Claudia glanced over at Bastet, who was unusually quiet, watching their argument. The kitten was strangely still. She looked back at Brad, “No. I am not taking Bastet back. You travel a lot and are rarely home. She keeps me from being lonely and is a great company.”
They were arguing in the living room, and Brad turned toward the hallway and started walking towards the stairs leading to the bedroom.
“I’m not discussing this anymore, that animal goes back tomorrow – end of the story.”
Bastet had moved to sit in front of the hallway mirror, watching Brad walk away.
Claudia had opened her mouth to continue the fight when a bolt of lightning came through the living room window – a brilliant white flash slammed into Brad, flinging him across the hall into the kitchen.
Claudia screamed and ran over to where he lay still. Pulling out her cell phone, she shakily dialed 9-1-1, and near hysteria told the emergency number what happened. Afterward, turning Brad onto his back saw the red mark where the bolt entered. Surprised to see there were no burns, just the red mark on his chest and a matching one on his back. Claudia opened his mouth and started mouth-to-mouth then moved to his chest. It seemed like an eternity before the EMT’s arrived, but Claudia knew it had only been minutes. They gently pushed her away and continued the life-saving methods she had started, but they told her Brad was dead, and more than likely, he had died instantly.
Stunned and unable to move, Claudia sat on the floor frozen after the EMT’s left, taking Brad’s body. Bastet had crawled onto her lap like she was trying to comfort Claudia, and she cuddled the small shape close to her tentatively petting the furry head.
Raising Bastet’s head so she could look into the golden eyes staring intently back, Claudia whispered. “You are just a normal cat…right?”
When the lightning had streaked across the living room to strike Brad, it lit up the Hallway briefly. The brilliant light just for an instant revealed a woman standing behind Bastet in the mirror. A raven-haired woman dressed in ancient Egyptian clothing staring at Claudia with glowing golden eyes.
Verona loves to write dark poetry, horror and speculative fiction short stories. She also loves to weave her love for the paranormal and supernatural into her stories. Verona has a BA in English and a Masters in Creative Writing. She is a proud member of the Horror Writer's Association (HWA) and Horror Author's Guild (HAG).