Willow was hosting a Halloween party for a few friends, including Lilly who brought along Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever. Strings of mini pumpkin lights and carved jack-o-lanterns adorned the Hatchers’ dimly lit basement. A card table and folding chairs had been set up with a crystal ball set in its center. Willow was dressed in a long, flowy dress, hoop earrings and beautiful jeweled turban.
The party was to start with a séance. The guests seated themselves around the table and Willow made them close their eyes. Blossom and Riley crouched in a corner, watching as she waved her hands over the crystal ball. “Squiggle, jiggle, wormy wiggle,” she said in a ghostly voice. “Spirits of the past, move among us.”
The basement was silent but outside the October wind swirled about, causing tree limbs to brush against the house. Blossom’s fur ruffled as the wind called, “Ooooooooooooo.”
A small voice answered from the shadows above. “Willowwwwwwwwww! Is that you?”
Willow’s friends opened their eyes, looking up and around.
“It’s a trick,” said one.
Another friend didn’t sound so sure. “Willow, let’s not do this.”
Lilly got the giggles but then stopped short. “I think I felt something touch my leg.”
Riley eyed the shadows on the walls made long by all the twinkle lights. His back arched. His ears pricked.
“Willowwwwwwwwwww, I’m here,” said the voice again. “Look. Can’t you seeeeeee me?”
The lights flickered, making Riley shoot from the floor, howling like his tail had been pulled. The girls screamed, chairs scraped and they stampeded to the stairway, thundering up the steps. Even Willow freaked out, screaming like she’d seen a skeleton.
Riley had wedged himself into a bookshelf, tail wrapped over his face.
“It’s OK, Riley.” Blossom had watched Willow plan this all out. “That was Mr. H calling from the clothes chute.”
“I thought it was a ghost!” Riley slinked out, fur standing straight up.
With the girls upstairs, Blossom hopped up into one of the chairs. Normally she hated the basement with all its shadows and hiding places. But tonight with all the orangey glowing pumpkins it felt safe.
“Riley,” said Blossom. “Let’s have a séance!”
“I don’t know,” Riley said. “Isn’t a séance to summon the dead? Who do we know?”
Blossom didn’t know but she wanted to put her paws on the crystal ball and chant like a fortune teller. Standing on hind legs, front paws on the table, she called down to Riley. “Come on, it’s just for fun! Please?”
“What if we conjure up something scary?” Riley jumped up.
“All Willow conjured up was Mr. H.” Riley was not going to party poop on her spirit summoning. “Now close your eyes, Riley, and I’ll begin.” Blossom mustered up her fortune teller voice. “Oodle, poodle, tuna noodle. Calling all spirits from Tulip Drive.”
They sat in silence but for the wind whistling in the night. “Ooooooooooooo!” Dead leaves skittered about in the window wells.
And then a tiny voice from above called, “Blossommmmmmmmm! Is that you?”
Blossom’s eyes popped open as did Riley’s. Her eyes scanned the rafters.
“That doesn’t sound like Mr. H, if you know what I mean.” Riley’s eyes gleamed like white gumballs.
“Blossommmmmm!” the voice called again.
Who could it be? Blossom ticked off names of dead ones in her brain, which totaled only one. “Grandma? Is that you, Grandma Catalina?”
Blossom turned to Riley. “Grandma Catalina was my favorite. Grandma was so tiny that at death they buried her in a shoebox, but Mama said she lived each of her nine lives like a tiger!”
“How come your Grandma never visits you when you’re stuck down here on one of your time-outs?” Riley said.
Blossom gave Riley the stink-eye, returning her attention to the crystal ball. “Grandma?”
“Yes, Blossom. This is your Grandma Catalina,” the voice said. “Blossom, I’ll let you in on a little secret.”
Blossom’s paws gripped the crystal ball. She scanned the ceiling, hoping to see Grandma’s ghost floating overhead. “What, Grandma?”
“Blossom,” said Grandma, or Grandma’s spirit, Grandma-spirit, whatever. “You were always my favorite.”
Blossom felt a glow spread from ears to toes. She turned to Riley, “I knew it!” she whispered. “I always knew I was Grandma’s favorite.”
Riley opened his mouth but then shut it again.
“Blossom can you do me a favor?” the grandma-spirit went on.
“Yes, Grandma!” Blossom cried. “I’ll do anything for you!”
“Listen closely, Blossom,” said Grandma’s spirit. “I’ve been dead for sooooooo long, you know I never get to eat anything in my shoebox. I’d really like a piece of Swiss cheese. There’s a nice wedge of Swiss on Willow’s party table. Bring that to me!”
“Whoa!” said Riley. “Willow might not like that, Blossom, if you know what I mean.”
“Who asked you?” Grandma’s spirit voice turned nasty.
Blossom could only shrug. Maybe Grandma was cranky from all those years cooped up in a shoebox. “I’ll be right back,” Blossom called. “Don’t go anywhere.” With that she scrambled upstairs, Riley on her heels.
The wedge of cheese, surrounded by crackers, sat on a wooden tray on the table. The girls were busy playing a Princess Patty Melt board game.
Blossom crept into a chair and snaked her front leg along the table. Curling her paw around the cheese, she shuffled it to the floor where it thudded softly and rolled over once.
“Sorry, Willow,” Blossom said under her breath. “But this is for Grandma who hasn’t eaten in centuries.” Then clutching the wedge in her jaws, she flew downstairs, jumped into the chair, and placed the cheese on the table next to the crystal ball. Riley hopped into an adjacent chair.
“Here’s the cheese, Grandma,” Blossom said, paws once again on the crystal ball.
“Bless you, Blossom,” said Grandma’s spirit. “Now there’s just one more thing you need to do for me.”
“Yes, Grandma?” Blossom was all ears.
“Blossom, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there,” Grandma’s spirit called. “You need to be one tough biscuit!”
“OK, Grandma,” said Blossom. “I will. I promise.”
“Show me how tough you can be.”
Blossom blinked. “How?”
“Show me how hard you can squeeze Riley’s nose.”
“What?” Blossom looked at Riley, his eyes were slit like a snake’s.
“Go on, do it for Grandma!”
Blossom put her paw over Riley’s nose and squeezed as best she could.
“Ow!” Riley jumped back, pawing at his nose and glaring at Blossom. “You didn’t have to squeeze so hard.”
“Now Riley,” commanded Grandma. “Do the same for Blossom. You need to be tough too.”
“Huh?” Blossom grumbled at the crystal ball.
Riley squeezed Blossom’s nose, twisting it at the same time.
“Riley! I didn’t squeeze your nose that hard!” Blossom meowed.
“Now both of you skedaddle upstairs!” roared Grandma. “You must escape. I hear a kennel full of spirits rolling in down here!”
Suddenly the lights went out, leaving the basement black except for the lit jack-o-lanterns with their sharp teeth. Upstairs, the girls screamed. Blossom and Riley flew up the steps as if snapping lobsters were on their tails.
In the living room, Mrs. H was going around with an automatic lighter, clicking light into any candles they had.
“Calm down,” Mr. H was trying to settle the noisy girls. “The power just went out.”
And then like magic, the power flicked back on.
“The power went off and on and on Halloween,” Blossom cried. “Do you think those spirits turned it off and Grandma made them turn it back on?” Blossom’s fur felt all tingly. “Riley, I’m going to go ask Grandma. After all, I was her favorite grand kitten!” Blossom scampered off before Riley could object.
Halfway down the stairs leading into the basement Blossom and Riley stopped in their tracks. There on the card table with the crystal ball and Swiss cheese was a mouse. The mouse was on his back, rolling around on the table, laughing in high pitched squeaks. At one point he laughed so hard he gave himself the hiccups. Finally his grating hiccup-squeaks turned to sighs. He got up and took a bite of cheese.
Blossom wasn’t positive, but it almost sounded like the mouse said, “Stupid cats,” in between munches.
Blossom and Riley stared at each other. Riley’s mug hung open so wide Blossom could count most of his incisors. Blossom felt like her head had been run over by a Dyson upright.
“We’ve been bamboozled by a mouse,” said Riley.
“Grandma would roll over in her shoebox if she knew how stupid I’ve been,” Blossom said. “I stole Willow’s party cheese and treated you like a bug butt.” She waited for Riley to disagree but he didn’t.
They watched as the mouse, back turned to them, nibbled away at the cheese, gobbling it up as if the night’s high jinks had never occurred.
Blossom and Riley side-eyed each other. Riley was the first to speak. “Hey Blossom, care for some cheese with your mouse?”
“That would be awesome,” said Blossom as they prepared to pounce.