Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Caroline Coombes

Bloodstains on the Carpet

It wasn’t the bloodstains on the carpet that worried Elspeth. She was still feeling pleased with herself for finding a sunny attic apartment in an old Victorian house on the fringes of Burtons’ St Leonards and she wasn’t going to let a few bloodstains upset her. Except that, strictly speaking, it wasn’t just a few and she couldn’t shift the marks, no matter how hard she scrubbed with stain remover.
Elspeth had been told by the landlord that, in a previous existence, the house had housed a psychiatric unit, followed by a young offenders’ institution, and she assumed that the inmates had probably entertained themselves with knives, or razors, and things had got a bit out of hand. Even if the worst had happened, well, she suspected that, in a house that age, people would have passed away on the premises from time to time. She prided herself on being a rationalist and believed there was nothing to fear from the dead, only the living.
No, what really worried her, as she inched her way across the carpet on her hands and knees with bucket and brush, were all the cat’s whiskers embedded in the pile. She loved cats and couldn’t bear to think that one had been confined to this room or, worse still, had found its way into the house and become imprisoned. The landlord had obviously thought her a crank when she asked him about the whiskers and had firmly stated that pets were not allowed.
A few days later, with her furniture installed and numerous mats hiding the stains, Elspeth looked forward to her first night in the apartment. The sound of the sea, rhythmically rushing up the beach a few metres away, had a most soothing effect, ‘almost like purring’, she thought, as she settled to sleep.
Some time later, she was woken by the purring noise, now considerably louder in volume. In the moonlight, streaming in at the window, she watched the most enormous ginger cat she’d ever seen, as it lolloped towards her, over the carpet. In its right paw it was clutching what appeared to be a cut-throat razor.
Convinced by now that it was a dream, Elspeth settled back to enjoy it, until the cat, gathering itself, sprung with a thump onto her chest. Her last thought, before she descended into that eternal night, was ‘That’s the last time I donate to the Cats’ Protection League’.
The landlord was not best pleased when he discovered Elspeth’s body a few days later. If he hadn’t been swearing and cussing so loudly, he would have heard the sound of ghostly growling coming from a corner of the room.

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