“The Time has been catching us off guard,” she said to me and I, still reeling from the wind and the parties, only laughed at her notion and called her mind a good hangover waiting to happen.
She did not like my comments (typical) and shunned me for the first two days of our assignment. This probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if we weren’t supposed to be wife and husband in this little life moment. On Friday, I got sick of her little games and in a dark corner in a dark moment after breakfast (which consisted of coffee or tea (decaffeinated), corn flakes (dry), and milk (cold).) I confronted her about the so-called importance of our assignment.
As she angrily argued back at me her wings rustled under her silly white dress. She hated me.
I laughed at that and reminded her small mind that she wasn’t capable of hate. Her and her little angels and their white hair and white eyes and white gleaming teeth never hate- Even those easy to. She then said it may not be hate but it was the closest she had felt to it. I had to laugh at her honesty, even though just the sound of her voice annoyed me.
She then stated that she was very sure she hated the sound of my laughter (it is a dark loud, booming laugh that echoes with screams of those inside) and then went and compared it to angry bells banging against the side of her ears. All the noises of lost times.
We had two days and she was going to use them. “For what?” I asked comically (I already knew the answer).
“To spread a little happiness,” she said….
…So Hope spent her days sprinkling the hollows of the Retirement Community with her magical daydreams, moonbeams and silly wishes of joy. I, I being of knowledge and reality and logic pure, wallowed in the dark corners talking with the spiders under my robes.
I hate these assignments almost as much as I hate the pasty glow of Hope’s bright hair. She is too much of the stars… Dancing and singing in the darkness around.
But we are married in this little charade and look to the people as real (if you can call people aged like a prune and the mentality of a child real) people. But I’m not here to cheer them. I’m here to do my job- which seems as fake and transparent as the light behind Hope’s eyes (the light sings of heaven and choirs and everything that beams still forth). Bright light that only emphasizes the pounding in my hollow skull.
All this trouble for one worthless soul. I played chess with the PREY (Well, the body contaminated with it). Little, little worthless man. As he sat across from me intent on the game- Little man to get such pleasure from a game that does nothing more than steal little time of little breaths and little sights and little days of forsaken.
I played only to study him.
I knew his soul would not be an easy one to capture (especially when you don’t care) and it’s smart, wise and intelligent to know the PREY inside and out and around.
He took pleasure in taking my bishop. He held it up mockingly.
I forced a smile and said slowly, “I never had need for bishops.” I bit down on my Cuban cigar and thought of his prostate, which sits in the archives in the halls of my fallen, dark lords. It’s a greater achievement and one I would like to show him someday.
Hope ran up behind me (she must have been reading my thoughts again). She kissed me on the check. It burned. I could feel it burning my bony face leaving a glowing red stain. I had to fight back at showing my dark annoyance.
I could hear her wings rustle with the bitter taste of my bone against her mouth. I got pleasure from that. Her feathery wings. The angels and her always laugh at my black scales and wings of dark coal. The kiss only burned.
“You’re pretty good at that game, Mr. Uphaus,” she said to the PREY.
He smiled his toothless grin. “You can’t live ninety years and not learn something.”
I laughed at his joke and put him in checkmate. Hope slapped me on the back of my head and smiled as if she was teasing. I hate these assignments almost as much as….
….wearing these black heavy robes. They feel like the weight of God on my bony shoulders. All this for a little show for a little man. Hope glowed in her white at my pain. Moments like this demand intoxication.
We left our duplex home in the Retirement Community.
It was night and the sky was polluted with the bright dots and the moon full. I snarled at the heavenly aspect of it. Haunting MY Time, teasing and reminding of its end.
“Shortcut,” she said pointing. I followed her finger as it pointed across a wheat field to the other side of the community.
I sighed and floated with her above the cornfield as the bottom of our robes teased the husks of corn and the leaves of the green. An image that would look magical to mortals, but only would give me a headache in my empty head.
We stopped at the other end and floated down.
Hope raised her hand and looked away. “I sense sadness.”
I sighed. Typical. It was not even worth telling her how little I cared. “So what are you going to do?” I asked in my booming voice that echoes with the voices of pain.
“I’ll be back,” She said and floated away into another house. She does this at every assignment. Like it’s her job to go beyond the assignment spreading hollow warmth.
I, on the other hand, stayed true to my form and seeped,
seeped in through the walls of Mr. Uphaus’s home. I flowed in my blackness to the prey. He was sleeping. It should be easy. So, so easy. Not even worth the time and the trouble of time or time in our trouble or trouble of seeing the time.
I let his remaining minutes move around me and flow into his brains- hinting of tastes of eternity preparing for him. I released with my fingertips (so bony) into his eyes, his ears, his lips. Giving him a darkness, a shadow, the pain of solitude of nothingness score.
These moments of preparing pain give me all the real pleasure I achieve in my eternity.
I ache in my hollow bones and the webs that seep around them. I ache in my head and the eternity of my nothing eyes. I hold my scythe like a sword and share my pain with my PREY.
Hope would never let me do this if she was here. She would stand with her waiting warm arms held wide to hold the soul like a mother with her young. And then she would leave me and take the soul up and up and up and….
But she wasn’t here. She is so easily distracted. I always keep my eye on the PREY.
I slowly moved in brandishing my weapon of choice.
I stood over him and watched him squirm in his sleep.
DO I DARE?
We did have a schedule to keep… and I must….
Was it my fault she was late?
No, of course not. I reached into his frame letting my bony hands wander for the soul.
I could feel it’s timely beat beneath my fingers. And I pulled it out. His body shook on its release. It was beating bright blue. It was scared of me. I smiled my own toothless smile at it.
It looked so inviting in my hand.
My head raced to the days of old. I used to eat souls like grapes- Wars, and plagues and the darkness of torture chambers is where I kept my bed.
Now I’m playing with the old and the lost Hope.
SO WHY NOT?
I deserved it. I’ve worked so hard and put up with so much. So, so, so much.
I opened my bony mouth. The cobwebs in it broke upon the opening and I I I I begin to ram it in…. It was blinking so fast now. Good….
I turned suddenly at the shout. It was Hope. I dropped the PREY in surprise.
You idiot!” Hope screamed and jumped to recover the blue light. It scampered through the wall and was gone.
“We must move,” Hope shouted and chased it through the wall. I sighed, grabbed my scythe and followed.
As I stepped out into the twilight, I could see Hope chasing our PREY through the field. A white glow chasing a blue glow.
“You better help,” she called after me, “If we don’t bring him in you know what will happen.”
It will begin in my feet and scream up my bones like a heat burning it. Hotter than the kiss of Hope. Hotter that the flames of Hell. I live in levels of pain.
I flowed into the field…
…. and caught up with Hope. She wouldn’t look me in the eyes- so typical. She was disgusted by me and yet she knew. She knew the night.
The night is my time.
Night is when I sleep in scary corners and hide under the bed of young and lonely. I feel strengthened in the cold night air. I am as the night.
If it wasn’t for this stupid assignment, I would be myself. Living without Hope.
“Look at how my light streaks the night,” she said sending a beam up in the air that ignited the stars. “Night is not darkness, it’s just absent of light.”
I hate her. I hate how she can read my thoughts. I snarled and began to crawl on the ground like an animal sniffing for the soul. My cloak caressed me like a new dark skin. I felt my newly formed paws grip the ground and my claws dig in. I brandished my new fangs up at Hope.
Hope ignored me and floated high into the air. She unfolded her wings far and draped the field in her glow. It gleamed out of her wings, the tips of her hair, her eyes, her pores. I growled like an angry panther as the light fell dead near me.
“What are you trying to do?” I asked. “Give me a headache?”
“I’m trying to draw him out,” She said in her angelic voice that sung of choirs. She began to spin in circle as her light sprinkled over the field like a light rain.
I turned away. This was just to show off. Angels and their games.
I stretched my legs and took off across the field. Sniffing for my PREY. If it was near I would know it’s baking warmth.
Hope was spinning faster. “It’s gone,” she said. I could hear the regret in her voice. It was the first I heard it there and it gave me little pleasure. Well, not as much as I thought it would.
Nothing. Nothing really matters. Anywhere. Anyhow. Nothing is all it is.
Only avoidance of pain. My pain.
“It’s here, “ I stopped and licked the dirt off my paws. “We just have to find it.” I said. My skin of black sprinkled against the night while my red eyes flared. I could taste blood on my lips and it tasted good.
“Look then,” Hope ordered.
I roared and obeyed screaming across the field like a shadow in the night. Wait…
I could smell him.
He was near.
My fangs glistened as I moved in. I could see the PREY through the brush. I stretched up. In a second….
In a little second. It will all be over…
“Stop!” Hope shouted. She flew down and covered over the soul like a blanket of light.
I stretched back up and loosened my cloak. I leaned against my scythe casually and traced my tongue in my mouth where my fangs had been. “You never let me have fun.”
“It’s not fun, it’s sick,” She grimaced to even consider it. “You were going to eat him.”
“I would chew him first,” I said and smiled through my cobweb mouth.
“You are such a barbarian…”
I pointed at her with my bony finger outstretched. “Don’t judge me. He that created you in all your glory, created me as well in mine.”
She got up to respond some typical witty angel response, but stopped when she noticed Mr. Uphaus was gone.
I laughed at her.
He had entered the Earth like a worm worming through the dirt, searching for an escape from Hope and me.
What do we do?” she asked.
“We wait,” I said slowly and leaned heavily against my scythe for…
….dawn was approaching and I could feel it in my strength as it began to slip back away from me to Hope. All the weight of my cloak. All the weight of a God of mortals returning to nest.
Hope reached higher in the air and unfolded her wings. “I can sense him now.”
She flew up like a bird (a white eagle with gold eyes) and flew to the side of the field.
I followed slowly feeling the pain in every step. The ground was dirty and muddy under me and stained my cloak a browny hue.
It was a tree.
A tree in the days of Autumn that was still bright green. Green among the lost, breathing life in a preparing time of death in nature. A tree reborn in itself, defying the rules of time and our Lord’s.
“He is in there,” Hope said.
I stopped and leaned against my scythe again. I looked at Hope and wondered at her. Why didn’t she just reach in and get him? Why didn’t she just take him?
She looked at me. “He doesn’t want to come.” I could see in her eyes a glow once bright now almost transparent. The sun sparkled over her head, but only made her look more real. She looked almost mortal, with skin blotches covered by too much cheap makeup. Pasty.
“He wants nothing to do with us,” she said slowly. “He wants…” She paused and looked at the tree. “He wants to stay there.”
I looked at the tree. Every year it is reborn and breathes of life. Part of the Earth and the sky.
“So what?” I asked looking at her coldly.
“We leave him,” she sighed. “He wants nothing to do with Heaven. He wants to stay. So I will let him.” She bowed her head and stepped back. “Goodbye, Mr. Uphaus.”
The tree reacted, it’s boughs reached forward and out, so high and so wide. It bathed in the light of the new sun rising over the distant hills and valleys and streams…
…I, on the other hand, calculated in how little time, I would return with the flames (I tend every day in the darkness so near) and burn that tree.
Hope read my thoughts again and laughed at me.
I looked at her and glared at her weakness in her white gown.
It was then that Hope felt it necessary to push me into the blackest mud puddle ever created by our Lord. And as I slithered and squirmed like a snake in its slime she laughed in her high squeaky way.
I really needed a drink.
My latest novel Permanent Spring Showers was just published by 5 Prince Books. You can find out more about my novel as well as my other books (including A Jane Austen Daydream and My Problem With Doors) and grab a copy via my author page on Amazon.com here.