The distinctive pops of long bones snapping quickly drew Maggie down from the master bedroom partition. As if taking flight, she jumped onto the couch and then bounced up to the open window leading out onto the ledge. I slowed her pace somewhat as she teetered her way along the ledge while peering down at a shadowy mass on the sidewalk below. When we were directly above where the sound had come from, the light from the entryway fell upon the face of a young woman staring blankly up towards us.
It was clear that she had jumped from the roof of the building. Her neck and legs were broken and jutted out at awkward angles. Within seconds of our arrival, I could sense the vaporization of her soul as it left her completely still body. I tried to force Maggie to run back into the loft, but since the whole thing happened so fast it was more of an afterthought. The young women’s soul was sucked up into Maggie’s lungs almost instantly. And, that is how we came upon Sarah, Maggie’s second soul.
I was quite taken aback by the night’s events. It had been so nice having Maggie all to myself. I wasn’t at all pleased that she had received another soul, especially as I hadn’t had any control over the matter. In fact, this was something that I had gone out of my way to prevent by keeping Maggie out of reach from the other souls still residing in the old tabby across the street.
In those first few minutes, Maggie didn’t take well to the new soul, which was partly a reflection on me as I had been treating her with kid gloves. It was all I could do to keep her from falling off the window ledge. Guiding Maggie with very strong force, I slowly led her back across the ledge, through the window, and into the safety of the apartment.
Once back inside, I let Maggie and the new soul get accustomed to each other. Undoubtedly, Sarah was unsure of what had happened to her. It can be very disorienting to suddenly find yourself trapped within a cat after having jumped off the roof of a six-story building with the intent of killing yourself. The despair that leads someone to try to end their life can be heightened by the discovery that despite one’s desires some sort of life remains.
Pain of the body ceases when the body is no longer alive; however, the corollary of this doesn’t hold true. Pain of the mind doesn’t stop when the mind is separated from the body. I was unfortunate to have encountered this unkind fact time and again during the course of my residence in the afterlife.
The effect of Sarah’s pain and fear on Maggie was intense. At first, Maggie interpreted the feeling as having something stuck to her fur. This led her to shake herself violently. When this action brought no relief, she ran to the nearest piece of furniture, one of the dining chairs, and rubbed her body against the chair’s legs in a continued attempt to dislodge the sensation. With her surprising strength easily pushing the chair across the room and rendering it useless, Maggie then headed toward the master bedroom, where she scraped her neck and face repeatedly against the doorframe in a final attempt to rid herself of this “presence.” Unsuccessful, Maggie stopped and let out a harrowing cry.
Upon hearing my internal voice, both Maggie and Sarah calmed as if needing a leader to command them.
Maggie immediately felt relieved as if suddenly hearing from a long-lost friend she didn’t even realize she desperately missed.
“Let’s lay down on the bed.”
Maggie obeyed and jumped up on the bed. After she had laid down in the center of the bed, I immediately put her in a trance-like half-sleep.
Souls sharing a cat don’t need to converse with one another in the usual sense. Each soul’s life experience is readily available for the perusal of the other souls within the same cat. As such, there really is no need for souls sharing a cat to ask each other questions. There is also no way to hide information about one’s past from roommate souls either. It may take some time, but a simple search of all the memories residing within their cat is all that is required to find out everything about one another.
Given Sarah’s undoubted unfamiliarity with the concept of souls being able to continue their existence by possessing cats, I felt the need to inform her directly of the very basics about what had happened to her. When a newbie soul is taken up into a cat, it is a matter of habit for one of the older souls to educate him or her as to what we have collectively learned about our existence in the afterlife. This is usually the one and only conversation that will ever take place between souls. My conversation with Sarah proceeded as follows.
“How do you know my name?” she replied.
“In time, I will come to learn everything about you.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Max. Like you, I am a soul possessing Maggie, our cat.”
“You’re a soul?” she asked.
“Yes, my dear. We both are.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We are both dead, Sarah.”
“This is what happens when you die?”
“No, not usually,” I replied. “When most people die, their souls cease to exist too.”
“Why didn’t that happen to us?”
“That is more difficult to explain, but in short, our souls were taken up by a cat,” I informed her.
“We are in a cat?”
“Yes. Cats are one way in which souls can remain intact and continue in perpetuity. We are free to move about between other cats too. But, I want to warn you that should a cat die, all of the souls residing within it will die too if another cat is not in the immediate vicinity. I only mention this now because Maggie only has three legs.”
“What?” Sarah asked incredulously.
“You are able to find out how Maggie came to be this way without having to ask me. You just have access to her life story through her memories. What you will learn soon enough though is that Maggie is somewhat of a reckless cat. Given your circumstances, I take it that this might not bother you.”
I quickly continued, “And, should you so desire, I can show you how to leave Maggie, whether it be into another cat or...”
“What circumstances are you talking about?” Sarah cut me off.
“Well, many people who attempt suicide do not wish to remain in this world in any state of being.”
“Max, I didn’t jump off the building to try to kill myself. I was pushed.”