#AtoZChallenge Visitors from Beyond – Kidnapped by the Kasha

Demonic eyes
According to Wikipedia, the Kasha is a Japanese yokai that steals the corpses of those who have died as a result of accumulating evil deeds. According to a site dedicated to yokai, they are a type of monster cat and live among humans disguised as ordinary house cats or strays.

Think of that next time you pet your cat!

Karen juggled three heavy shopping bags as she settled on a shortcut between two buildings as a faster route home. She cursed under her breath as she looked up at the darkening sky. The weather man hadn’t said anything about the possibility of rain in the forecast but it would be just her luck to get caught in a downpour while she was forced to carry groceries home on foot.

The car would have been fixed by now if it weren’t for the fact that her sister had fallen ill. Having no one else to turn to, she’d ended up on Karen’s doorstep and although she hadn’t seen her sister in years, she didn’t have the heart to turn her away. What little extra money Karen had was currently being poured into an endless stream of medical costs for a woman who she felt she barely knew.

“How do I get myself into these situations?” Karen mumbled as she hurried along the cobbled path, glancing warily at the sky as she moved. One of the bags threatened to topple but she managed to get it back under control. She should have turned Kiera away. If the roles had been reversed, she had no doubt Kiera would have done exactly that for her.

The first thick drops of rain began hitting the top of her head and splashing the brown paper bags in her arms. She groaned and broke into a run. She was so close to home. Couldn’t the rain hold out just another five minutes?

Karen tripped and stumbled, sending one of the bags to the ground scattering its contents. Apples rolled down the alleyway. She put down the other bags as she tried to gather her groceries together although it was a hopeless cause because the bag had torn down the center and the other two were already overly packed. Rain poured harder.

Something small and black stepped out from behind a garbage bin. Its green eyes glowed in the dim light.

“What are you doing out in the rain?” Karen said as she stooped down to pet the cat. It was so thin she could feel its bones as she stroked the wet, matted fur. “You must be a stray.”

The cat meowed and Karen looked back at her bags.

“I think I might have something for you,” she said. She dug through one of the bags searching for the deli cheese and opened it to give a couple of slices to the cat. It ate the offered food gratefully and rubbed against her legs and she stood up to gather what she could and make it the rest of the way home. She shouldn’t have been surprised when she reached her house and turned around to find the cat waiting expectantly.

“You followed me home? Oh no, Kitty, you can’t live here. My sister isn’t much of a cat person.”

The cat meowed but didn’t budge. Thankfully the rain had eased up a bit but Karen’s clothes had already soaked through and her groceries were in a dreadful state. She unlocked the door and sighed as the cat bolted past her legs and rushed into the house.

“Well, it is my house,” she mumbled under her breath, “If Kiera doesn’t like it, she can go somewhere else.”

“Is that you, sister?” Kiera called out.

“Yes, I am back.”

“You were gone so long,” Kiera whined.

“I could barely manage the groceries as it was and then it started to rain.”

“I’m so hungry,” Kiera complained, ignoring the fact that Karen would have much preferred to change out of wet clothes and maybe soak in a hot bath before being forced to play nurse again.

“I’ll make you a sandwich,” Karen said with a sigh.

In the kitchen, she found the cat on the window sill licking its fur. It looked up at her as she walked in the room and jumped down, meowing.

“You’re going to have be quieter than that if you expect to live here without that sister of mine making a fuss about it. Hush. I will give you some milk and tuna.”

Karen gave the cat its meal before putting together a sandwich for Kiera. The cat paused from eating to follow her as she took the plate to her sister’s bedroom.

“Oh no, Kitty. You stay here.”

Karen pushed open the door and made sure it closed behind her before the cat could sneak into Kiera’s room. She helped prop up her sister and offered her the tray of food.

“Who were you talking to?” Kiera asked.

“No one.”

“Don’t lie to me, sister. I may be sick but I am not stupid and you were never a very good liar. Remember when we were kids?”

“Barely.”

“It does seem quite a long while ago, doesn’t it?”

“So many years I’d convinced myself you were merely a figment of my imagination.”

“You choose now to be cruel?”

“I have taken you in, haven’t I? Very few would in my position.”

Kiera made a sound but chose not to comment. Perhaps in her frail state, she finally saw her own actions for what they were? Karen didn’t want to ruminate on the reasons for too long. It would mean drudging up a lot of emotions she’d long buried. Instead, she went over to the window to allow some air into the room.

“Karen, when I’ve passed, you will see to it that I have a proper burial, won’t you?”

“Of course,” Karen said feeling the heat rise to her face. Kiera was right, she’d never been a very good liar. It wasn’t bitterness for the past that kept her from granting Kiera’s last wishes, but rather her dwindling savings account that would hinder how much she could do.

When she turned back to her sister, her eyes had closed. Her chest rose and fell in ragged breaths. Karen was not a doctor but she knew her sister’s condition was getting worse at a rapid rate. She considered calling a friend to help transport her sister to the hospital but she knew Kiera would refuse. They’d already had that argument.

Her sister’s health continued to deteriorate over the course of the night while the cat paced outside the bedroom. A couple of times, Karen tried to shoo it outside as she frantically called for help but the cat refused to move. The doctor, who was kind enough to make a house visit in the middle of the night, told Karen there was nothing left to do for her and she would likely not make it through the night.

Karen sat her sister’s bedside, rocking back and forth in the old rocking chair she’d inherited from their mother and tried to come to terms with the end. Before long, her eyes had grown heavy and she’d drifted into sleep, dreaming of the time when they were children, before adulthood stool their innocence and Kiera stole the man who should have been her husband. At some point, the cat managed to creep into the room and rested in Karen’s lap as she gently petted it. Karen considered scooping him up and throwing him out but he offered comfort she was reluctant to give up.

When Karen opened her eyes to sunshine and birds singing in the trees outside, at first she’d forgotten why she’d fallen asleep in the rocking chair in her guest room. Then it came to her and she bolted upright, guilty that she’d fallen asleep instead of staying at her sister’s side to her last breath. She stopped short when she realized the bed was empty.

“Kiera?”

Frantically, she searched through the house, moving from room to room looking for her sister. There was no sign of her anywhere. And there was no sign of the cat who had occupied the room with her.

Dumbfounded, she tried to come up with an explanation for the strange turn of events but nothing made sense or explained the trail of blood from the bedroom out the front door. Her sister had simply vanished.

**

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. 🙂 Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!

Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.

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21 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge Visitors from Beyond – Kidnapped by the Kasha

  1. A J says:

    😦 I live with many cats and after reading this I have to research how I can identify if any of my cats are kasha in disguised…

    • Stephanie Ingram says:

      Hee Hee I am betting you are safe! Being quite a cat lover, it’s hard for me to look at a cat, even a skinny stray, and think he’s going to steal me away and eat me. But then again… you never know. 😉 Is there truth in fiction?

  2. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Oh dear, now Karen is going to end up feeling guilty for the rest of her life. If Kiera was as mean as that to her sister then she probably deserves to be stolen by a kasha anyways.

  3. nicolegrabner says:

    Cats are interesting creatures. I’ve never seen another pet who can be loving and devious. 🙂 When I lived in Japan I don’t remember hearing the tale of the Kasha, but it doesn’t sound too far off. I’d love to understand what Kiera did to her sister Karen, that she died the way she did and was taken by the Kasha.

    • Stephanie Ingram says:

      I love cats really. I had one for almost 18 years and I still miss her. She was never devious. A little aloof at times, but not even that so much. She loved being the center of attention when I had company! Yes, I would certainly delve into the backstory a bit if I developed this one. 🙂

  4. Don McNevin says:

    Great story Stephanie, liked how you left it opened ended for the reader to imagine what happened. I read this with my Gracie staring at me. Now I am not sure if is looking at me liking me or sizing me up for a BBQ.

  5. Rian Durant says:

    I adore cats and it is a fascinating legend. I’d say if someone’s been mean, they totally deserve ending up as a cat food. At least to make themselves useful once in their life…

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