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The Figure Under a Blanket

by Littlewit Philips 28 days ago in Humor / Short Story / Horror · updated 8 days ago

Bick and Co., a mystery-hunting gang, set on the trail of a ghost that has drowned a child.

The Figure Under a Blanket
Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash

When I heard that the lake was haunted, I didn't expect the ghost to look like a figure with a blanket over its head.

We'd gotten the tip back in Kentucky, and loaded up into the van. Of course we had Donna, our resident mechanic and the team's muscle. Then there was Larry, the science nerd who could make a bomb out of anything. Jean Paul and Marie, the trained exorcist and resident skeptic respectively. And of course, where would we be without Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, aka Bick, the tuxedo cat who learned how to talk after one of Jean Paul's exorcisms went wrong.

Side-note: we're pretty sure that Bick isn't technically haunted, but it is possible that he's demon-possessed. So far Bick has been kinda helpful, but we figure it pays to keep an eye on him.

Who am I?

Felicia. I consider myself something of a generalist, but maybe that's just me trying to find my place in the team. When Donna is fixing something, I hand her tools. When Larry is making a bomb, I make sure he's wearing protective gear. Jean Paul taught me the basics of exorcisms, but I would never trust myself to attempt anything without his presence, and I help Marie when she needs an extra pair of hands to calibrate her devices.

Mostly, I function as Bick's handler.

Bick licked the back of his paw as we arrived at the lake. "You know this is a waste of time, don't you?"

"What do you mean?" Marie asked. She said it without looking at him. I think her resident-skeptic status would be too endangered by admitting that our cat could talk, so she never really looked at Bick when he was talking. That wasn't a huge problem. Sometimes Bick went for weeks without talking. After all, he was still a cat, and learning how to talk hadn't exactly given him a dog-like desire to please.

"The ghost is unlikely to appear now that it dragged that child underwater." Bick sounded disinterested. "It has its quarry."

Donna and Larry looked at each other.

"I suppose it's always fun to have a road-trip..." Bick stretched as he stood up, then leapt onto the back of the rear-bench seat. "...and it was about time to get out of the house. But we are too late."

"We should head down to the lake straight-away," Jean Paul said. "We move with vigor! Perhaps it is not too late."

Bick yawned.

"Felicia, grab Bick," Donna said. Functionally, she's the team leader, although we all know that Bick would love to replace her. "The rest of you gather up your equipment."

They piled out of the car while Bick and I evaluated each other. "Your not going to claw me, are you?"

"Well, I just don't know."

I narrowed my eyes. "Bick..."

"What? I'm a cat."

I picked him up. He scratched me. I yowled, and I could have sworn that the little bastard smiled.

By Jaunathan Gagnon on Unsplash

By the time everyone had gathered their equipment and waddled on down to the shore, the sun had already set. Jean Paul had his eyes closed and was murmuring something under his breath. Larry was looking for some sort of anchor building.

Okay, you're probably wondering why our team has a demolition's expert, but it's actually pretty straightforward. There's a really simple way to release a ghost from a haunted house. Sure, there might not be much in the way of a "house" left when Larry is done, but that ghost won't bother anyone again.

On the drive in, Donna asked around town about the kid who disappeared. Apparently, him and his family were from out of town, so no one knew much, but the story was that he'd wandered off. The town assumed that he'd drowned, but no one had found a body yet.

"A pity," Bick editorialised. "The body will be all gooey by the time they find it."

"Bick..." I warned.

"What? It's true, isn't it?"

Standing on the shore, Larry seemed frustrated. "There isn't a building in sight."

"There's that dock," Marie pointed out. "Whatever phenomena we might encounter would likely be connected to the dock."

She said it with enough confidence that I didn't wonder why she felt so certain that the dock would be involved.

"I suppose I... I dunno." Larry waved his hands dismissively. "Blowing up the dock just wouldn't be the same."

"Wait... listen." Jean Paul held up his hands, his eyes still half-closed.

Sure enough, a sad song played across the water. Okay, song might be too strong a word. It sounded more like a morose wail, the sort of thing that might qualify as music in some opera that is way too fancy for anyone in our gang to understand except Jean Paul.

"Well." Bick sounded as blunt as ever. "Shit."

And there it was. Hovering along the edge of the water, looking like a blanket thrown over a figure with some eye-holes cut out, there was the ghost.

"It's a hoax," Marie said.

"Don't be so quick to judge," Jean Paul said. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

We all rolled our eyes. Honestly, Jean Paul quoting Shakespeare--and particularly that line of Shakespeare--was getting pretty old.

"We need to investigate," Donna said. "Felicia. Go check it out."


And of course, it would be me. That's the problem with being the generalist. Say we found out that something did need to be demolished, but we'd already lost Larry to the ghost. Or say that Marie was right, and it was a hoax, and she was the only one able to prove it--except that the hoaxer had already drowned her. Everyone else was irreplaceable. All I did was hold the team cat.

"Check it out," Donna said.

Clutching Bick tight, I headed down the lake's shore. "You don't seriously think you're taking me with you, do you?"

"I am."

"I will scratch you."

"You'd scratch me anyways."

Bick sighed. "Fair point," he said, then dug his claws into my arm.

By Mel Gardner on Unsplash

By the time we reached the spot where the ghost had been, it was gone. That said, there was evidence of its presence. A blood-stained, water-logged ball cap. The bones of two fingers--small fingers. One shoe with the laces still tied.

"Shit," I said. "We've got something here!"

"Don't touch it!" Jean Paul insisted. "It might be cursed."

Seeing that the coast was clear--and the night was only getting darker--the rest of the gang hurried over to join us. Jean Paul insisted that it really was cursed, and Marie averted her eyes from our talking cat while insisting that there was no such thing as curses. Larry just continued to look frustrated, stomping along and waving his arms too much. There was nothing to blow up.

And then, hovering over the lake like a second moon, a glistening white figured appeared over the water.

"Do you know what it looks like?" Donna said. "One of the ghosts from that video game. I'm blanking on the name. The one who drives a go-kart. Larry, what game is that?"

Larry was too frustrated to talk video-games. "How are we supposed to get out there?"

"Perhaps we shouldn't go out there," Jean Paul said. "That is an entity of... unspeakable evil."

We all looked at each other. Even Bick raised an eyebrow, and he might have been an actual entity of unspeakable evil. "It's a person with a blanket over their head," Marie said.

"No..." Jean Paul said. "Not even remotely."

"Get your eyes checked out," Marie said. "I'm pretty sure I can see the tag on the sheet from here."

That's when the wailing song began again. I hadn't noticed it stop--it must have faded away like mist clearing from the surface of the lake. But it was back, and louder than ever.

"You think that is a... a... a hoax?" Jean Paul said.

Marie raised an eyebrow. "It's obviously using a sound-system."


"Them. Whatever. You get my point, there's nothing--"

The ghost shrieked, louder than any noise I had heard before, and it shot across the surface of the lake towards us. I staggered backwards, losing my grip on Bick in the process. Bick landed among the debris we'd found, and instantly his body froze up like one of those fainting sheep.

"We gotta go!" I shouted, and the rest of us did retreat back. Only Bick remained in place, eyes glowing like lanterns in his skull.

The ghost was coming closer, moving faster than should have been possible. Horrible, claw-like hands extended from under the white sheet.

"Bick!" I shouted.

The ghost snatched Bick by the scruff on the back of his head. "This soul..." the blanket-figure said, "is mine."

Just as quickly, the blanket-figure shot away, cutting right through the surface of the dark lake.

By Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

"We have to go after him," I said.

The rest of the gang looked breathless.

I could still see the glowing dot under the surface of the water. It looked like one of those deep sea fish. You know, an angler-fish? The ones with the lights on their heads. The little dot of illumination under the dark waves looked like that, and I tried not to think about how Anglerfish use their lights to drawn in prey.


"We... we lost him," Donna said.

No one said anything.

The water was getting darker. "He's down there."

"That entity is a particularly powerful evil," Jean Paul said. "You felt its presence. We all did."

"But Bick is one of us."

"Bick is gone," Donna said.

"No. No."


"No." I stomped over to Larry. "Give me the bomb. And the detonator."


"Give it."

He handed them over.

"Are these water-proofed?"

"Obviously. I knew it was going to be a lake mission."

"Donna, get the van ready. Jean Paul, pray for me. Marie, get ready to perform CPR. Okay? I'm going to go get our damned, demon-possessed cat."

I dove into the surface of the water, struggling to keep my eyes open.

A bit more context here (and I promise this is the last time): Once, when Donna was taking up Krav Maga, I was enlisted as her sparring partner. There's a bit of shrapnel embedded in my collar bone from one of Larry's attempts at building a bomb. Jean Paul tried casting a spell to summon a tome of ancient wisdom but it actually just knocked me into a comma for three days, and in Marie's attempts to prove that ghosts don't exist, I have been struck by lightning three times. After that, I guess it's just a bit hard to really freak me out, so maybe that's my thing. I'm the person who can grab a bomb and dive into a ghost-haunted lake, chasing an entity of unspeakable evil as well as the blanket-monster that kidnapped it.

Bick might be an entity of unspeakable evil, but he's our entity of unspeakable evil.

"Foolish child!" the blanket creature wailed. It's voice came through as clearly as if we weren't underwater after all. "You would descend to these depths for this abomination?"

I would have said, "Hell yeah," but I cannot breathe underwater. My eyes stung, but the blanket-creature's illumination allowed me to know that it was close. I could also feel Bick kicking under the water.

Trying to shout Here! I tossed the bomb away. Something struggled over to me. Wet and writhing and digging its cat-sized claws into my arm for purchase. I kicked away, struggling towards the surface as something else grabbed my hand. There was no time to knock it free, so I just swam as hard as I could.

"What kind of joke is this?" the blanket creature asked. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you just tossed me--"

A pipe bomb.

My fingers found the detonator.

By Rachel Cook on Unsplash

I came to at dawn.

Turns out the thing that clutched my hand wasn't the blanket ghost. It was the missing kid, who had somehow survived under the water in the ghost's lair. He had no memories of the incident, which was probably for the best.

Bick refused to talk to anyone until he finally dried, and the rest of the gang told me about how they pulled me out of the water and drove away while the ghost wailed and thrashed. Whatever underwater lair it had built was undoubtedly gone, and good riddance.

After returning the kid to his family, the rest of us watched the sun rise over a ghost-free lake.

"I suppose I owe you my thanks," Bick said. "What do you want in return for...?" He was still a cat, and he would never specify the direness of the situation that I'd saved him from.

"Stop clawing me."

He took a deep breath. "That... is a big ask. What if I stop clawing you for a week?"

Bick and Co. return in "Cat Among the Macaws."

HumorShort StoryHorror

Littlewit Philips

Short stories, movie reviews, and media essays.

The primary task of life is outgrowing the bio you have already written.

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Littlewit Philips
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