Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Haunted Sanitarium

It was a pleasant day at the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium, and Dr Bellen was eating his lunch outside. It was sunny, so he was enjoying the shade under a large umbrella, at a table on the terrace next the dining hall. There were clouds, large and white; they might turn grey toward evening, and rain in the night, but the mid-day was bright and warm. The sounds were of brds in the garden, and the near by brook, and the sandwiches and salad the dining room prepared were refreshing.

Then Dr Bellen saw three cats approaching him across the lawn from the administration building. They looked purposeful. Dr Bellen sighed.

“Hello, Neville. Fancy meeting you during my lunch-break,” the human greeted with a smile.

“I’m sorry to trouble you, Doctor, but I have a petition,” said the big grey cat in his low, muttering voice.

“A petition? I am surprised.”

“We felt we should accompany Neville, since it seems like official business,” said Renn, Dr Bellen’s able assistant, who had indeed accompanied the petitioner, walking on his right side, while the new assistant’s assistant, Imogen, walked on his left.

“Official business. Look, Doctor…” Imogen pointed to the scroll-like paper that Neville held.

“It’s a petition,” repeated Neville; “signed by more than 138 of the residents.” He handed the human the paper.

“One hundred and thirty-eight,” repeated Dr Bellen, examining the sheet. “It looks like there are no more than eleven paw prints on here, and they seem identical.” He raised an eyebrow as he regarded one of Neville’s forepaws.

“They grew tired of signing it,” mumbled Neville.

“I see.” Dr Bellen took a drink of his tea. “What does the petition ask?”

“The residents want a physical trainer!” said Renn breathlessly.

“A trainer for their physical well-being,” elaborated Imogen, indicating the petition again. She made a gesture as if she were lifting weights.

“Not a physical trainer,” Neville corrected, with a little exasperation. He may have explained this before. “An exerciser. Someone who gets rid of ghosts.”

“Ghosts!” exclaimed Renn, a little alarmed.

“An exorcist?” asked Dr Bellen. This petition was at least a little more interesting than previous examples. “Why would the sanitarium need an exorcist?”

“To get rid of the ghost,” answered Neville. His tone suggested that he thought the response to have been obvious.

“There’s a ghost in the sanitarium?” Renn glanced rather nervously about, as if expecting to see the phantom watching him on this bright and warm summer day. Imogen too looked around, though she was rather more defiant in her attitude.

“We’ve all seen it, Dr Bellen,” asserted Neville. “It’s rather a blur, as befits a spirit from the other dimensions, and is an orange colour. It wails in the night.”

“Orange? Wails in the—” The human sat back in his chair. “Are you talking about Brazil? The new resident?”

“The new resident is a ghost?” Renn could not believe it.

“The sanitarium provides for ghosts?” Imogen asked. “He didn’t die at the sanitarium, did he, Doctor? Was he crushed by a toppling armoire? There was never any danger from toppling armoires in my previous home…”

“Brazil did not die here,” insisted Dr Bellen with a smile. “He is, in fact, not dead at all.”

“Then why is he a blur?” demanded Neville.

“And why does he wail?” Renn wanted to know. “In the night!”

“Brazil is new here. He is a resident, just like you Neville, flesh and blood. He is just very shy, and frightened, as well. Coming to the sanitarium is a big change for him. He feels safer hiding for the moment. That’s why you don’t see him much. But he is taking steps forward, and is showing himself more and more. He feels more secure at night. That’s why he visits the exercise room—“ Dr Bellen hurriedly cut off Renn “—exercise, not exorcist…exercise room at night. He talks to himself to build up his courage and to help himself exercise.”

“He’s like Gef,” said Renn, suddenly, and brightly.

“Who?” Neville peered at him sidelong.

“Gef! He was a talking mongoose who lived in the walls of a cottage in Scotland!” Renn recalled hearing the story as a kitten.

“Isle of Man,” Imogen said.

“What?” Renn questioned.

“He lived on the Isle of Man,” the black cat stated quietly.

“Talking mongoose…” Neville regarded his two escorts. “I think you both need a physical trainer…”

The human held up his hand and, with a less lecturing tone than before, added: “Brazil is just scared. Remember, each of you was also scared when you came here. Not long ago, Imogen, you were hiding in a corner of the library.”

“I was reading…” Imogen stated flatly.

“And Renn, do you recall being afraid of the construction crew repairing one of the roofs?”

“I thought they were psychopathic vivisectionists…” the able assistant commented quietly.

“And Neville… Well, you weren’t really scared much at all…”

“Thank you,” mumbled the grey cat.

“But you just have to have a little sympathy for a new resident. He may take a while to settle in, but that’s why he is here. That’s the purpose of the sanitarium: to make cats feel good, whether physically or emotionally.”

“He’s not a ghost?” Renn wanted to make sure.

“We don’t need a physical trainer?” asked Imogen.

“No, he’s not, and no, we don’t…” Dr Bellen replied firmly.

Neville nodded, apparently satisfied. He slipped the petition into the depths of his dense fur.

“I will keep this for later…”

“Now, isn’t it past time for your own lunches?” the human inquired. “Renn, I’ll bet even you are feeling a bit peckish…”

“I am a little,” admitted Renn, purring a little with embarrassment.

The three cats turned and walked away, heading toward the dining hall. The cook was trying out some new recipes, and Imogen in particular didn’t mind some of the novel fare. Dr Bellen relaxed again in his chair, and tasted his tea, which wasn’t too cool to drink.

The haunted sanitarium… Dr Bellen chuckled; that would make a good story at Christmastide, told beside a comforting fire, sitting with friends. Maybe Brazil will be the one to tell it by then…


  1. Love the Gef reference. He's a favorite of mine. :)

    I'm glad to hear Brazil is still taking steps forward, even if they may be baby steps.

  2. What a cute story! I love reading about the Cosy Sanatorium and Dr. Bellen. It's great to hear that Brazil is slowly but surely becoming acclimated to the Cosy Apartment and his roommates.

  3. This was such fun to read just now. I can't wait for Brazil's version of all that has happened so far. Perhaps Christmastide will be the time. I will make every effort to be here to see and hear the story.

    1. Oh, yes, Brazil's pov would be quite a read, I suspect!

  4. What an uplift. Glad all 4 cats are doing their best and keeping the Doctor on his toes.

  5. Thank you for the enjoyable tale, reading it was a perk in my otherwise aggravating/frustrating work day. :-)

  6. Bravo!
    An excellent post.
    Exercise, exorcist...psychopathic vivisectionists...;-)

  7. That was a fun story. I am glad Brazil is making progress albeit slow.

  8. But they really coulda been psychopathic vivisectionists . . .

  9. What a fun story, with a hint of reality to it. I can so easily see the residents of the Cosy apartment coming to you with their concerns. Your imagination is very entertaining.

  10. I came back to read it again. I love their petitions to Dr Bellen. Any of their requests and demands are always genuine and well thought out. The Assistant's Assistant lent fell measure to the others- with her contribution. I imagine that Renn was peckish! Likely so was Neville! Imogen goes along with the boys for now.

  11. That was a cozy read for me after a long hard day at the nursing home...they all are but some are more so.
    Sorry I've been lax in I just read through all the unvisited posts to get 'updated'.

    We here, do hope that once Brazil gets feeling more secure, his socialization will progress more quickly. butt then, if time is needed we know he has lots and so do you.

  12. HaHa! Brilliant...! Another story for my pussy~cat
    folder..! :O).