The moon was slightly above the horizon on a crisp Halloween night. Jeanette, Horace and Martin were gathered around the table in the old man's kitchen, glasses of champagne held high in a toast.
"To us" stated Martin, "I thought that the funeral would never end."
"Well, he was a rich old man, even if he was a mean bugger." Martin knocked back the wine and poured himself another. "I still can't believe how he treated us. Right to the end, we were more his servants than his children. He'd say jump, we'd say how high? The only ones he ever loved was Mom and that damned cat."
Nightshade sat on a chair in the corner of the room, her tail wrapped around her, her unblinking gaze burning fiercely, a low growl deep in her throat.
"Get a load of that cat" Jeanette snarled. "The way she's looking at us, you'd think she knows everything."
"Shut up, Jeanette." snapped Horace, "Even if she did know, how would she tell anyone? She can't talk and I don't know anyone who speaks cat!!!"
Nightshade stood up, hair standing on end, hissing. She then leaped and ran from the room into the parlour, stopping under the painting of the old man. She looked at it intensely, her tail twitching.
"We really should get rid of that cat." whispered Martin "Imagine, the old man left a million dollars for her care. But we have to be careful. If she dies of natural causes, the cash comes back to us. If it looks suspicious, all of that lovely money, including ours, goes to that wretched school of his."
Jeanette stood, smiling. "Well, I'm off to my Halloween party. I've got this really hot vampiress costume I can't wait to try out on my boyfriend."
Martin smirked, having seen the costume. "I have work to do on the computer. I'm going to turn more of the old man's assets into spendable cash."
Horace stretched, yawning. "I'm just going to relax in the den, enjoying some Jim Beane and planning just how I can use my new funds to the best advantage. Should make for really sweet dreams."
Later that night, as the clock struck 12, Horace stumbled his way out of the den. His vision blurred so much, he didn't see the cat standing in front of him. Nightshade didn't move from her post at the head of the stairs. Horace tripped on the cat,who dug her claws into his leg. He frantically attempted to catch himself but fell over the banister, impaling himself on the coatrack in the hall below.
"What's all this racket?" yelled Martin. "You could wake the dead with the noise you're making." He came out of his room then stood staring at his brother down below, Nightshade on the landing.
Martin frantically called 911, then went down the stairs to check his brother. He was still barely alive. "The cat," he whispered, "the cat did this." He closed his eyes and died.
Martin called Jeanette on her cell phone. "You have to get home right away!!!!" he gasped, "Horace is dead!!!!!"
"Is this some kind of a sick joke, Martin? I know it's Halloween, but really!!!"
"No joke, that damn cat killed him! Come home now!!!"
Martin hung up the phone, shaking badly, spilling the champagne as he tried to pour himself a glass. He glanced over at Nightshade, who was delicately cleaning her claws.
"You stupid cat, I'll get you for this." screeched Martin. He pulled a carving knife from the block and began to stalk Nightshade. The cat ran, keeping just out of reach, as if daring him to catch her. They went from room to room, with Nightshade finally making a break for the cat door, dashing outside.
"Oh no you don't, you are not getting away from me alive!!!!" Bursting through the door with the knife raised, he advanced toward Nightshade, who stood her ground. A car engine was heard, tires squealing loudly as Jeanette came roaring into the driveway. Nightshade raced into the path of the car. Martin was blinded to everything but the cat and followed her. Jeanette hit the breaks and cranked the wheel as hard as she could but it was too late. With a loud grinding of breaks and shriek of metal splitting, Jeanette hit her brother and plowed into the old oak tree at the side of the driveway. Nightshade sauntered over to the driver's side door and looked at Jeanette's body laying half in and half out of the door. She sniffed quickly, then turned and ran back through the door.
The neighbors stood watching as the bodies were loaded into the ambulance. They whispered to each other, saying how sad that the children had not long outlived their father.
Nightshade was once again below the old man's portrait. "Good work." said the old man to the cat. "I knew I could count on you to avenge me. Even though I realized too late that they had poisoned my whiskey, I wasn't going to let them get away with it. My school for disabled children will reap the benefits of their greed and you will be well taken care of for the rest of your life by them." Nightshade purred and groomed herself, very pleased with the final turn of events.
Once Upon A Haunting.
The cat stood still in the pale moonlight
Communing with the spirit
That haunted the framed picture,
Planning revenge with it.
Evil children, not deserving
The riches he worked so hard for.
The only thing that stood in their way
Was the cat and her paws four.
Revenge was quick, the outcome sure.
Greed, their final fate sealed.
A gruesome end, to settle a score.
The blood pooled, black and congealed.
Let this be a warning to those who think
Death is the end of all.
It may be just a matter of time
Before revenge's axe does fall.