Reading Time: 3 minutes

On a cool October evening in 2026, the coastal town of Westbeach buzzed with an unspoken unease. At the heart of the town’s chatter was the local library, a grand, ivy-clad building that seemed to hoard secrets in its shadowy alcoves. Max, a ginger cat with piercing green eyes, sat outside the library’s glass doors. His gaze was fixed intently on the sign taped to the window: “Please do not let in the cat.”

The library patrons of Westbeach whispered about Max, how he’d sit for hours, staring at the shelves through the glass as if he could read the spines of the books from afar. But Max wasn’t just any cat. He was the vessel for the restless soul of Leland Bishop, a prolific author whose love for literature outlived his mortal coil. Leland had one unfulfilled desire: to return to his favorite haunt, the Westbeach library, and bask in the world of words forever.

Each night, as the library’s lights dimmed, Max would make his move. Shadows danced around him, and an eerie chill settled over the grounds as he approached the doors. But no matter the tactic – silent paws against the door, a gentle tap of the window, or a hopeful leap at the handle – he found himself repelled by an invisible force. It was as if the library itself was warding off his spectral energy.

Max’s “owner,” a librarian named Clara, knew nothing of his possession. To her, Max was just her sweet, peculiar pet who loved books a bit too much. Clara often wondered about his strange behavior, especially his fixation on the library. Her curiosity piqued, she began to investigate the history of the library and its patrons, hoping to uncover the reason behind Max’s obsession.

In her research, Clara stumbled upon old records and articles about Leland Bishop. She learned that he was a celebrated author who frequented the Westbeach library and had a deep connection with its collection. The more she read about Leland, the more she saw similarities between him and Max. It was as if Max’s peculiarities were echoes of Leland’s habits and preferences.

One stormy night, with the wind howling like the lost souls of Westbeach, Max felt the supernatural energies surge. The barrier at the library’s entrance wavered. With a determined glint in his eyes, he leaped – not with the grace of a cat, but with the desperation of a spirit long denied. The door creaked open, just a fraction, but enough. Max slipped through the gap.

The library was silent, save for the sound of rain tapping against the windows like Morse code from the heavens. Max prowled the aisles, each step an echo of Leland Bishop’s forgotten legacy. The specter within him reveled in the scent of aged paper and ink, the quiet hum of a place reverent to the minds of yesteryears.

As Max wandered through the library, Clara, who had stayed late to finish cataloging, noticed the cat’s presence. She followed him, her heart pounding with a mix of fear and fascination. She watched as Max made his way to the horror section and leaped onto a reading table, knocking over a sign that read “Recommended Reads for Halloween.” Among the titles, his gaze fixed on a familiar spine – “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe. It was a tale morbidly dear to Leland’s heart, an inspiration from another lifetime.

Clara watched in awe as Max settled down beside the book. The supernatural aura around him flickered with contentment. Clara’s mind raced with the realization of what she had uncovered. She whispered, “Leland Bishop,” and felt a shiver run down her spine as Max looked at her, his green eyes glowing with recognition.

The patrons, returning the next morning, found Max curled up beside the book, a smile seeming to play on his feline features. Clara decided to keep Max’s secret, understanding the significance of his presence. Whispers of a ghostly presence in the Westbeach library began to circulate, but they were met with laughter. After all, who would believe that a cat could haunt a library?

And so, Max, or rather, Leland Bishop, finally got his wish. He spent his days lounging in the horror section, occasionally knocking books off shelves, much to the bewilderment of the staff. Clara, now his silent accomplice, ensured “The Black Cat” would always find its way to the display table each Halloween, with a ginger cat always nearby, guarding the legacy of an author who refused to be forgotten in the seaside town of Westbeach.

© Eric Montgomery, 02-February-2024

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