Who or what is she?

The woman's eyes did not move from the book. Her chin worked steadily up and down as she munched on the biscuit.  My biscuit, thought Angelica, as her hands clenched in anger at her sides.  There'll be none left in a minute, and then I won't have any for tomorrow and have to get some more in.  The woman took another bite, and a crumb dropped onto her bosom, rolled down and landed on the open book, where she flicked it onto the floor. My floor. Angelica dug her short fingernails into her palms.   Most of her fear had dissipated, chased away by sheer outrage.

''Right! That's enough.'' she shouted. ''I don't know who you are but you can just get out! You can't go coming into people's houses without so much of a ''by your leave'' and eat all their biscuits and sit in their chair and use their lav.''  The woman did not even flinch.

Angelica had no idea what to do.  She bent forward slightly, peering at the woman, who was now taking the very last biscuit out of the packet. Is she deaf? Is she mad? She might have escaped from the old people's home up the road?   Be one of those old dears with that Oldtimer's Syndrome or whatever they call it, that's what it is.   But how, in the name of all that's holy, did she get into my house?   She's obviously not a burglar. Unless she only does biscuits...

She made a decision.   She would have to call the police.   She went to the kitchen, where she kept her hardly used phone.   It was really just for emergencies.  Things like this.

''But... I wonder if she IS a ghost.'' said Angelica, out loud.   The woman was not reacting to her so she might as well act as if she were alone. ''No, that's just a load of old rubbish.''

But she wasn't sure and she walked back into the sitting room. Better make sure she's solid and that, before I call them.  I'll look a bit silly if they turn up and can't see her.   The woman sat in the same position as before, and Angelica noticed with a stab of irritation that the empty biscuit packet was now screwed up and lying on the carpet next to the chair.

''Ghost or not, you're a lazy old cow.'' 

She stood next to the armchair and reached out with her index finger towards the woman's beige-cardiganed arm, half expecting her finger to meet no resistance and carry on through.   It didn't.  The woman was solid, all right, as real as she was.   She withdrew her finger.  She didn't like to touch people – had done so very little during her life and the end of her finger now felt... tainted, unclean, somehow.

However, she suddenly had the urge to get a reaction out of this strange creature.   Feeling bold, having touched her once, she pushed her finger forwards again, this time pressing harder, giving the woman a real poke in the arm.   Then a harder one. Absolutely no reaction. The woman just carried on reading her book.   She even turned the page between the first and second poke.

Maybe she ought to phone for an ambulance rather than the police?   Surely this woman was unwell.   Angelica was no medical expert but - not reacting to any stimuli? That wasn't normal.   Well, there was nothing else for it – she'd have to call someone.   She couldn't let this stranger stay here, and she obviously wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.   She went back into the kitchen, lifted the telephone receiver and dialled 999.

The End

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