America's Lady of Supernatural Thrillers

“Raven's Cove, a great mystery by Mary Ann Poll. Avoid it when winds are gusting to hurricane speed outside. No extra creepiness needed.”
~Bonnye Matthews
Step aside Stephen King, Alaska’s Mary Ann Poll is here to spin new tales of the super-natural and the ungodly, as her heroes and heroines take on the forces of evil on 'The Last Frontier.' ~Jeff Babcock

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Merlin’s Gift



As the writer of supernatural thrillers, I’ve always been interested in the other side of the veil.

Recently, I branched out from writing and started a podcast called Real Ghost Chatter. This podcast includes interviewing people who have had real life encounters. There have been some great stories told during my interviews.

What I didn’t expect was to be reminded of my own supernatural encounters while listening to my guests. One story follows.

When my husband and I were first married my neighbor came by. A small, black kitten appeared on her deck. She thought it was ill. We had cats so she naturally came to us for help.

I went to her house and saw this small, black puff ball. It cried up at me. Well, that did it. I scooped the kitten up and took it home.

We already had two cats, Socrates and Pele. A third kitten was a bit overwhelming. So, my idea was to take the kitten to the vet, ensure he was healthy and find him a home.

A friend from work said she would take him. I was thrilled My husband, on the other hand, was not. You see, he had fallen in love with this little black bundle who enjoyed walking his arms like a tightrope when John held them neck level. Long story short, we kept the kitten and named him Merlin.

Merlin was a wonderful, joyous addition to our household. The other two cats accepted him as if he’d always been a part of the crew.

Merlin lived up to his name. If something got lost, or misplaced, the first place to look was in a floor vent or behind some furniture. Merlin loved to make things disappear.

He and Pelé bonded. They slept together and played together. Socrates, the oldest and biggest of the three, was a true monarch. He loved the others but didn’t interact much with them. He ruled the roost.

These three cats were sources of comfort, amusement and joy for many, many years. All of them lived to ripe old ages.

Merlin, being the youngest, was the last to pass away.

I still remember the day he left the earth as if it were yesterday. It was an early summer morning in Alaska. The sun was shining. I was shocked from a deep sleep by a howl and immediately knew it wasn’t a normal “cat yowling for attention” sound. This cry sent a knife into my heart.

I went to the living room to see our sweet, black cat turning circles in obvious distress. I didn’t need to decide what I was going to do. I threw on my clothes, brushed my hair and teeth, grabbed my kitty and went the Pet ER.

They ascertained he was having strokes. My heart broke even more. The vet suggested it was time to put this sweet 19-year-old cat to sleep. I had to agree. To keep him on this earth, would have caused him more pain than he deserved. It was a heart-rending decision.

I do not know how to explain my feelings as I left the vet that morning without the kitten who had come into our lives 19 years before. Grief beyond words, guilt for having to make the decision to put him down, and sadness topped the emotional mountain.

To double my sadness, my husband was in Anchor Point. I knew I would have to break the news to him later in the day. He was bonded to this cat. My heart broke for him, too.

I looked at the time. It was still too early to call, so I decided to try for some extra sleep.

As I lay in bed, the morning sun streaming into the bedroom, I closed my eyes. I felt a presence. More, I felt a small, warm body curl up on my pillow above my head. (Over the years, I frequently awoke with Merlin curled up above my head. He added enough warmth and pressure to comfort but not be uncomfortable.)

It felt like he came back one last time to tell me he was happy and whole again.

Did I imagine this? Maybe. If I did, it was a true gift from God. I felt peace amid the sadness. And I could smile at the gift this small, black cat, who I’d never wanted to keep, had been for all those years.

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