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October 2010 Volume 12 , Issue 10 submit to us!
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Here-After
by Logan Keys -- Contributing Author [Email This Story]

I'd only had to run about ten miles before I smelled it. The rich plume of death. A white house with a picket fence and a little bird house in the yard. Excited that I'd be the first to find the prize, I smashed the tiny feeder, and then broke a window for entrance. Hopping over the sill into the kitchen, I crouched in anticipation.

Silence met my ears as I stood in the quaint little nook, but I felt her near, and alone. I hobbled up the stairs pulling the pictures off of the wall as I went. A man and a woman; old black and whites in front of this same house. He was long gone; his smells mixed easily with the mildew beneath the foundation, as old scents often did.

No pictures of children. No pictures of dogs, or cats, nothing other than Ma and Pa Kettle through the years.

I smelled something else as I walked down the hall: fear.

Moving into the bedroom, I found her lying on the master bathroom floor. Humans can only see us when they are right next to death, and she was nearly expired. She'd laid there for at least a day, no way to call for help. I could hear her heart's beat, labored, tired, it wouldn't matter now if help did come, she was too far gone.

Eyes rolled back in her head, she moaned softly. I gave her a sharp kick to wake her. She jerked, and her eyes focused on me. With a smile, I let a hiss gurgle through my teeth. I told her that nobody was coming. I told her that she was alone and that I was gonna eat her soul.

She moaned again, her mouth working but no words came out. Half of her face was able to reflect emotions while half was vacant, as if it were a depiction of death on one side and life on the other.

I climbed up onto her chest, my toenails gripping her skin through her clothes, and put my face close enough to feel her breath. Sure that she was packed and ready to leave, I arched my head back and gave a screeching call into the air to let the him know I'd found what he was looking for.

We waited for a time, she and I, the chest beneath my feet falling and rising with each breath. But the gasps were getting further and further apart. Her eyes closed again and I barked playfully at her like a dog, but she stayed asleep this time.

The house began to quake as steps fell on the stairs with pounding anger. The black demon had arrived.

I scurried backwards into the bathtub to hide as he came in. He ignored me and crouched down over her. He hadn't made anymore sounds but her eyes snapped wide. He smiled into them like I had, only he placed a hand over her heart. As if he'd found ambrosia for the wicked, he exhaled a sigh of contentment. They sat like that for a long moment, and then the demon jerked in surprise. Her mouth worked and she tried to speak as he bent down to listen. One side of her face smiled up at him quite serenely after she had gotten him to understand whatever it was she'd been saying, and then she spat at him. The demon reared back and shook his head savagely, looking as shocked as I felt. I waited for him to retaliate, to rip her body in half, but instead he began to laugh.

He laughed and laughed that wheezing croak of a laugh until her soul slipped quietly away. I wanted to jump in the air and try and touch it as it passed over my place in the bath tub.

The demon watched until the last wisp was gone, and then he turned and left. I waited to make sure he was gone before I walked over to her body. I could no longer make her feel, but I stomped on her face anyway. It failed to move at all, being that I couldn't actually change things that mattered, so it stayed in death's sleep ignoring my assault. The bird feeder, the window and pictures would all be back together the way they had been when I'd arrived. It was the adolescence of demon hood, being unable to actually change things. I told her that she shouldn't have spit at the black demon, and that this is what she deserved to die alone on the bathroom floor.

I left that place wondering why the demon had laughed and what it was that she had said. After she'd spit on him, he should have torn her to shreds, black demons could do stuff like that, I'd seen it just last weekend.

Maybe old ladies without dogs and cats or family were stronger than they looked.

As I walked down the road, I saw a woman come out with her walker to get her mail. As her blue haired head stepped-shuffled-stepped down to the tiny metal box, I pictured a hundred nasty things I could do to her mind...

For now... I kept my distance.

 
 
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Features -- October 2010 -- Beginning Month Issue