Photo by Zach Guinta
With my legs pounding the asphalt and my mind desperately screaming, “Faster! Faster! Time is running out!” I flew through the front door with seconds to spare.
Across the front room, up the stairs, bursting into my room and leaping the distance to my bed as the alarm started calling out to my sleeping body. Time seemed to slow as I inched closer to myself. I could see the sun peeking up over the horizon as I crashed on the bed, scrambling to my body.
With outstretched arms, I drew myself in.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
Slamming a fist upon the clock silenced its horrible call.
With a sigh, I lay back down on the bed. That had been far too close for comfort.
The next couple of nights were spent close to home, never straying past my bedroom door. Imprisoned by my fear of being torn apart from myself.
I passed the time with reading books, and speeding through the classics with a gale-force wind. The weeks passed with the same routine in hand. Never straying, never taking a chance.
“Why do you waste your time so? What could you possibly learn from a book?”
That sexless voice was in my ear and clear as a bell.
Searching with alert eyes and expecting to see some imposing force in my room, nothing was to be seen. I grabbed the baseball bat that leaned against the wall behind my door. I hadn’t swung this chunk of wood in years and yet the weight felt right at home.
Darting eyes roaming the room as I creep closer to my sleeping body, “Who are you?”
“That has been the question for years. Who am I indeed?”
“Have you come for me?”
A dark chuckle accents the response, “Not I, but another. She searches with a ravenous hunger for you.”
“She. Who is she? What does she want from me?”
“She wants what all those who have lost their bodies want.”
Fear took my heart in a cold grip, “My body?”
Laughter erupted in the room from the voice, “Yes.” I couldn’t see the face behind the voice but I could hear the amusement in its voice, “This is a first for you.”
“Relationships never go well if that’s what you mean.”
Laughter once again barked out from the voice, “There will be no relationship with her, she seeks to control your body, nothing more. I’ve been watching her with great interest, as her appetite is insatiable. I expect her to find you soon.”
“Why is she doing this? Why me?”
“Why you indeed? Has she not forewarned you that death would soon follow my voice? You have heard my voice and now you will be lost forever.”
Silence pervaded the room.
What could I do? How could I stop her?
I stood on watch throughout the night. The sporadic wind rustling the trees outside always caught my attention. I would not be caught off guard.
The moon chased its course throughout the night casting its eerie glow upon the room. I didn’t dare turn on the lights for fear of waking myself while separated.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The clock exploded into a million pieces as the bat followed through its swinging motions.
I had been so caught up with staying vigilant in my protective watch that time had slipped away. As I stood there in the middle of the room, my body stood up in the bed and its eyes looked right at me. A dull hollowness was haunting those eyes. I could see the emptiness inside and felt like I was losing the connection between my body and soul.
Before me it started to fade from sight and the next thing I knew I was awake holding a baseball bat in the middle of my room. Broken pieces of plastic littering the room spoke volumes of the disparity of my mind. This was real.
“She will find you.” A mere whisper of a breath.
The days passed without my leaving the room except to eat and relieve myself. The curtains drawn closed and taped shut. No one in the house seemed to notice nor care about my strange behavior.
What was strange about trying to stay alive?
More days and sleepless nights passed as the calendar recounted of the times spent in countless dread.
I developed panic attacks and anxiety issues over the course of the days. The thought of an unspeakable evil hunting you down did nothing to improve my position.
The calendar showed a full moon tonight, proving that another month had come and gone without any sign of the woman the voice spoke of. I wanted nothing more than to have an evening of rest and relaxation. Standing guard both physically and mentally had certainly taken its toll on me.
As my disheveled head hit the pillow, a voice spoke to me. “There you are.”
Wide-eyed and out of bed, I grabbed my familiar friend and took a stance.
A breath on my neck bespoke of another in my room, “You have to sleep sometime, love.” That was when a feminine voice as beautiful and entrancing as ever I heard started her lullaby.
The Sirens in Greek mythology must have taught this voice all the secrets. It felt like lying under a weighted blanket, I felt my physical body failing me. In my mind I was still standing, but the approaching floor told me otherwise.
Sitting on the floor with the bat across my lap, I fought with everything I had to stay awake. The lullaby took on a slower and softer tone. This proved to be my undoing.
My head dipped hard to my chest jarring me awake. Shaking my head furiously to fight it off, the female redoubled her efforts to win me from my body. I would not allow it.
I forced myself to my feet. I had never fallen asleep standing, and thought maybe this would give me an edge. It mattered not as my chin soon found its way to my chest as its final resting place.
There I was standing beside myself looking across the room at the woman from the booth. She reached up and removed the sunglasses she was wearing, revealing a set of soulless eyes.
Chills ran up my back.
The wolf had cornered the sheep and was about to feed.
“You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this moment.” I heard her speak, but her lips remained motionless.
“Better get used to it then because I’m not going down without a fight.” I thought the words and found that she heard them as well.
“As they all say. I grow tired of this woman’s body. Not being able to see, having to use an alternative means to search out a new body tires me. I wish to have yours for a time. I would put it to far better use.”
I took a step in front of my physical body, “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
“Get out of the way love,” as she took a step towards me, “you can’t stop me.” I reached back and took the bat from myself and readied it.
“Fool! Do not think a simple club can stop me.” With that she charged.
I never had a high batting average but this swing would have sent it out of the park.
What was left standing before me stole my breath away.
A poor, miserable form of a woman with a scar blinding one eye clothed in rags stood over the body she once controlled. I then realized the gravity of the situation, she needed a body to exist and I had just taken hers away.
She was driven by fear and fear alone as she cried out with a bloodcurdling scream and dropping to her knees she wept as she cradled the head of the lifeless body.
“What have you done?!” Clawing and holding the body close to her, tears continuing to wet her cheeks.
I stood between her and my own body imaging what could happen if she were able to succeed in the same.
After the body faded from sight, a familiar voice filled the air, “Well, well, well. What have we here? Two souls and one body. I shall be most entertained this night.”
The woman’s head snapped to the side as she spat out, “Leave me, you tortuous being! Be gone!”
The voice was like a never healing scab, “All in due time, Esmeralda. All in due time.”
She clawed at her hair removing chunks and tearing her already ragged clothing, “Leave me! I can bear your voice no more!” She wept all the more as she rocked back and forth as she inched away towards the corner.
I tried to console her tormented soul, “Esmeralda, don’t let this voice embitter and torture you.”
Her good eye glanced up acknowledging me and determination filled her voice, “I will no longer endanger another soul. I shall end it all tonight.” She crawled towards me in a painfully slow pace.
She spoke as she closed the distance, “Listen to me boy. I’ve been too long without my true body. I’ve tried to replace it and escape the death that comes with the voice. I will tell you how to rid yourself of it forever.”
The third voice was quick to interject, “Do not listen to her, she is demented. Just look at her. You can tell by her presence that she is mad with grief. She has lost yet another body.”
She was at my feet clawing and pulling herself up my leg, “Yes, I am mad. Mad that I did not make this decision sooner.” She was eye-level with me now staring deeply into me with her good eye while the blind eye trailed behind. “I was blinded in a formal life. I then became embittered with myself as the voice began to torture me over the years. I was a dreamer like yourself once. I loved the feeling of the freedom it allowed me. But, I enjoyed the freedom too much.”
With an iron grip on each side of my head she continued, “I began traveling the world and found that my body would follow as it awoke. Little did I know that it was short lived. I ran too far one day, farther than I had ever ran before. I wanted to see the world and everything in it. My body could not find me when it woke.”
“I lost myself that night!” The intensity burned into me as her eye never deterred an inch, “The voice came to me that sad night. It said it had compassion and sorrow for me. I believed the lie it whispered to me. It told me how to take another dreamer’s body as my own while they were separated. But what it did not tell me was that the dreamer would die without their body.”
Her forehead came to rest on my shoulder, “I’ve lost count of the dreamers I’ve claimed.”
The voice tried to smooth the edges, “Do not believe her. She is a thieving murderer and will get her own in due time.”
This only added to the misery and grief that was crying on my shoulder.
Tilting my head towards the woman, I whispered, “How do we stop it?”
The voice had a venomous tone to it, “You can not stop me, boy. I have been around and will always be around.”
The woman pulled her head back and looked at me with blood-shot eyes, “One dreamer; one soul. If a soul is without a body, it will die at sunrise.”
Stealing a glance towards my clock proved useless, I had obliterated it earlier. With the curtains pulled tight and taped, I had no concept of time.
She looked me in the eye as she said, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done. You will have rest this evening as I take my tortured soul and this venomous voice before the judgment and accept my fate.” With that she shoved me back into my body as I heard the voice cry out in despair.
I stood in the middle of the room alone. Racing to the curtains, I ripped them open revealing a sunrise filled with vibrant oranges and pinks. It crept over the horizon bringing a peace to my soul.
From that day on, I never separated from my body again. When I did, I simply rolled over and went back to sleep.
The years passed and I learned how to sleep again. Eventually, I was able to get a good night’s sleep again. Those were the most peaceful hours of rest I ever had.