A short story about what might happen if the Christmas Ghosts visited Charlie
It was Christmas Eve. Charlie settled into his teddy bear fleece blanket. He had smugly batted Socks away an hour ago, ensuring that he had the whole blanket to himself. His thoughts turned to dinner time earlier that evening. Now his humans had bought those microchip feeder bowls, it was much harder to steal food from Socks. He never stopped trying to think of ways to steal her food!
In mid-thought, he suddenly saw the spirit of an old litter-mate appear in front of him. “It’s me, tiny Sim”. He laughed at him and chuckled “Charlie, you never change. You’re exactly the same as you ever were, you selfish mule. You’re going to be visited by three ghosts tonight. Make sure you listen to them and you will have a life-changing Christmas”.
Charlie rolled over and started to snore, pretending he couldn’t see the spirit any more. He had remembered the time he’d eaten all of his brother’s dinner and left him to starve, so didn’t feel comfortable looking into his eyes any more. The most painful part of the memory was that he had left one last crumb in the bowl before his owners had kicked them out. That uneaten crumb would haunt him for the rest of his life.
A few hours went by and Charlie suddenly found himself wide awake outside in the freezing cold. He turned to find a large fat black cat he did not recognise, staring at him.
“Where am I?!” he growled.
The other cat looked at him wisely. “We’re re-living your childhood, Charlie. It is Charlie now isn’t it, or would you like me to call you one of the other names you’ve been known as over the years?”.
Charlie glared at him. “And who, might I ask, are you?”
The cat looked at him and sighed. “Charlie, I am the ghost of Cat-mas past. I am here to show you the effects of your behaviour on others. It is then up to you what you choose to do.” He then looked shiftily in one direction. “However, you just need to know that Socks, your room-mate has nothing to do with all this”.
Charlie watched the scene in front of him. There he was as a kitten, playing with three other kittens. Or at least he was playing. The other kittens looked absolutely terrified, trying to hide from him whenever they could and crying when he did get hold of them. He also noticed that he was a lot bigger than all the other kittens. His youngest litter-mate looked like he hadn’t eaten in days. “Can you see how all your brothers and sisters were frightened of you? They were so scared they never wanted to play with you. Tiny Sim perished due to lack of food”.
Charlie paid no attention and decided now was a good time to wash his private parts in response. The ghost of Cat-mas past swished his tail and they found themselves several years later in Charlie’s second home. “Clay! Socks!”. He heard a name he hadn’t been called in years. A pregnant Socks came running up to the food bowls, only to be shoved away by Charlie, munching greedily on all the food left out. Socks only ate what she could steal while Charlie wasn’t looking.
“Unbelievable”, said the Ghost.
“Quite!” said Charlie. “She’s a little thief”. The ghost rolled his eyes and swished his tail again. Charlie found himself back on the blanket. What a terrible dream he had had! Now for some undisturbed napping.
“I am the ghost of cat-mas present” trilled another cat ghost. She was a very small tabby and could easily be mistaken for a kitten. “Let’s go, I have plenty of other less than pawsome characters to see tonight”.
“Five more minutes” moaned Charlie but the cat ghost had already swished her tail. They were in the house Charlie had been living in the past year. He loved his new home. Everything was perfect. He lived life exactly how he wanted and ruled his kingdom with an iron paw.
Suddenly, Socks came skidding past them, chased by an over-enthusiastic lion of a tabby cat, Charlie himself. He saw the fear in Socks’s eyes as she ran from him. She actively avoided him round the house and would leave the room if he entered. She was also terrified to play with toys near him.
“Poor little Socks” said the little tabby ghost. “You are a real pain to live with, you know.”
Charlie shook it off. “You mean I’m the coolest, most fun cat to live with ever”.
The tabby swished her tail again and they were at the vets. Charlie looked affronted! “Please, anywhere but here!!” He then saw himself in a carrier, being placed on to the examination table. His owner was weeping something indeterminable to the vet about Charlie stealing meat with onions in. While Charlie was admitted for the night, his owner raced home, devastated, hardly sleeping until she could pick him up.
The little tabby ghost looked at him. “Stop putting your owner through that. It’s unnecessary and inconvenient. Also, by the way, you’re far too placid at the vet. When they stuck that thermometer up your back-side you hardly blinked. It’s much funnier if you hiss and bite someone. I managed to get a vet to thump the nurse restraining me once, it was hilarious.” She suddenly stopped. “Anyway, I have gone off message. Be nicer to Socks and stop stressing your owner out”.
She swished her tail and Charlie was back on the blanket. How very strange he thought. Must have been a bit too much catnip in those presents I was sniffing earlier. He was just drifting off to sleep when he felt a sharp prod in his side.
“What?!” he cried.
“You’re dribbling. It’s disgusting” said a very grumpy-looking tortoiseshell. “I am the ghost of Cat-mas future. I’ve come to show you what will happen if you continue in your selfish ways”.
“Oh can’t it wait until tomorrow?” said Charlie.
The tortie swished her tail and they were back in the lounge. Socks and his owners were playing together. He had never seen Socks looking so relaxed and care-free. He wanted to join in!
“Where am I?” he asked.
“You passed over to the cat heavens” said the tortie. “Not that they were best-pleased to have you there. Tiny Sim had just got up to his target weight”.
Charlie turned back to the scene in horror. He noticed the neighbour’s tabby running around in joy outside, safe in the knowledge that Charlie would never beat him up again.
“This is awful. Make it stop”.
“You can choose your future, Charlie”, replied the Tortie.
“OK, OK. I promise to treat Socks much better. We can share the blanket and I’ll stop stealing her food at any opportunity. I’ll also be a bit more gentle when we play and give her a wash every so often. Just please, please don’t make me bestow any of my new Cat-mas kindness on that tabby. He never shares his garden with me, he comes into my garden to bury things and most importantly, he was the one that started it.”
The tortoiseshell thought about it. “Good idea”, she said. “Go get him, tiger”.
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