Kitty Carstairs Is Dead
They say that ghosts can allow you to experience what they felt as they died. Feel the very moment they left, be it from gangrene, TB, a tragic accident or even murder. Kitty Carstairs just wasn’t that sort of ghost. Come to think of it, she’d never really been that sort of person. This time she couldn’t stay in the shadows. She had to warn him.
Detective Sergeant Milo stood in the middle of the dusky-pink carpeted living room, a half-light filtering through the drawn curtains. Long gone was the yellow incident tape, the triangular number markers, and the men in white disposable jumpsuits. It had been over a year since he had investigated the murder of Kitty Carstairs. They had never been able to solve the case.
The terrible history this house now held, meant it had never sold. The For Sale sign in the garden leant at a jaunty angle and ivy had started to grow up the post, anchoring it into the overgrown grass.
The estate agent had given him the keys; Ruth would never have allowed it. She didn’t want to dwell in the past. The agent had been curious. Had they re-opened the case? Milo had not replied in the affirmative or the negative. ‘On-going enquiries,’ he’d muttered. He couldn’t explain why, out of all the unsolved cases he’d encountered in his thirty-year policing career, this one was the one that had got to him.
Was it because Kitty was so young? Twenty-one was no age to die. Was it the beauty he’d found in Kitty’s mother, Ruth? Kitty’s father had left when she was very young and Ruth had been on her own for a long time, devoting her life to Kitty. Against his better judgement he and Ruth Carstairs had become good friends.
Ruth had been upset when, on completing her fashion degree, Kitty had announced she was moving to London. Far away from the remote north-eastern village she had grown up in and where Ruth still lived in the family home. This evening Ruth had called Milo and invited him to dinner. It had been six months since they closed the case and he saw no harm in it. Perhaps it was this guilt that brought him back here? Ruth trusted him; he’d grown to care for her, yet this case hung over them, a spectre of the past.
Ruth didn’t blame him of course; in fact she had been very understanding when he’d stood on the doorstep that cold December day telling her they were closing the case. She was living in a rented flat in town, whilst she tried to sell the house. She had grieved for her daughter, of course, but not in the way Milo had expected. It was the stalwart nature of her grief that first attracted Milo to Ruth. He never had been comfortable around overly emotional women.
Now standing in the house where Kitty had died he could feel the past. Blood had an unforgettable sharp metallic smell to it. He shook his head to try and rid himself of the memory. His Inspector had written it up as burglary gone wrong; a passing vagrant perhaps. Kitty was known for her caring nature and a gullible streak. Had they knocked at the door, gained entrance on a pretence? When Ruth had found Kitty, she’d arrived home late from work. The house had been ransacked, all the jewellery gone. None of it worth much. It seemed such a waste. The brutality of it had been shocking.
Milo looked up at the swirling Artex ceiling. A sharp pain under his ribs to the left made him wince. He flexed his back and stretched thinking it must be indigestion. He and Ruth had enjoyed a very nice three-course meal at the local Italian. The acidic taste of coffee mixed with creamy tiramisu, was still in his mouth. A second pain in the centre of his torso brought him back to reality. He held his hand to his chest. Now a dull ache crept into his jaw and a third searing pain spread through the left side of his ribs.
Taking his mobile from his pocket he went to dial for an ambulance. He knew from experience you couldn’t take chances. His father had died of a heart attack and his father before him. Panic set in as he tried to focus on the keypad unable to see the numbers clearly. His face felt wet, and the pain in his jaw spread to his temples. He dropped the phone as he doubled over.
Lying in a foetal position on the floor, Milo let out a low guttural sound. This couldn’t be the end. It would destroy Ruth. Kitty had died in this very room and now he was about to. Another wave of sharp pain ripped through his body.
It took all of Kitty’s strength to pick up the phone Milo had dropped. She scrolled through the numbers until she found the name she was looking for. He had to know. She had to tell him. It was the only way.
Milo felt cold. The pain had gone but the warmth ebbed from his body. Was this it? Was this where he was supposed to see the light? The room slowly came back into focus. He became aware of the bright blue light of his phone on the floor. Mustering some strength he rolled onto all fours and looked down at the phone. The name read Ruth Carstairs. He swore he’d dialled 999 but maybe he’d rung the one person he cared about more than himself? He picked up the phone the pain in his sides now completely gone. There was another line of text below Ruth’s name, it read.
He dropped the phone. The pain returning to his jaw. His mother had told him the past catches up with everyone. ‘The spirits are watching,’ she’d said. Now he knew she was right.
Enjoyed this story? More of D S Nelson’s work can be found here.
If you’ve written a story for the twelve story challenge then I’d love to read it, so make sure you add your link to your story, in the comments below and thanks for joining in!
Photo via 123rf.com
ALL CHARACTERS AND EVENTS IN THIS PUBLICATION ARE FICTITIOUS AND ANY RESEMBLANCE TO REAL PERSONS, ORGANISATION, PLACE, EVENT OR THING LIVING OR DEAD, IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL AND COMPLETELY UNINTENTIONAL.