Sight of Soul
By Zachary Stvan
“Hey, it’s the weird one again!”
“Is that a stick? Why does it have a stick?”
“It’s not a stick! Mortals call it a drum. I think. They use it to shape sound. Like chants.”
“Aw, that’s so cute. I wonder if they can summon demons with their chants.”
“We should eat it.”
I sighed, trying to tune out the growing number of voices, and sat down on the cold, empty bench. Did the city planners know they built the park and the bus stop right over an ancient cult burial ground? Bet they didn’t. They probably weren’t cursed to hear voices wherever they went.
A large, shadowed figure floated into view from my left. It was all black and cloaked in darkness that sometimes stretched out a tendril this way and that. It had skeletal hands and an impossibly large human skull filled with sharper-than-average teeth. One of its eye sockets was damaged.
“Should definitely eat it,” it said in a chilled, rasping voice.
Another figure joined the first, identical save the fact both eye sockets were intact. “Nah. The living never taste good. Too much meat. Not enough soul.”
“I like meat,” said One-Eye.
“You’re always miserable when you eat some. You can’t digest it. You whine and complain for decades about it weighing you down.”
One-Eye took offense to that, and the two began to argue, bringing up things the other refused to accept. It was like listening to Mom and Dad before Mom split.
I sighed again and scooted down the bench. Another shadow figure was already there, looking at the guitar case across my knees instead of me.
“Can we get it to play its chants?” it asked another figure, who had come out from the park and was gazing into a puddle in the middle of the street. The slight fog of the night made its shape stand out.
“Yes, but they don’t react to possession well; they get all awkward and stare at walls and trees. Some scream nonsense, too,” said the one in the street. “It’s almost like it’s bad for them or something.”
“You can’t possess some of them, either,” said a third, who appeared from the top of the bus stop, its skull hanging upside down, looking at the one next to me. “Some have protection. Something about that one the Old Ones talk about.”
The figure next to me hissed. “Disgusssting.”
One-Eye butted in, appearing right in front of me. “Does that mean I can’t eat it?”
“Didn’t your She just give reason why you shouldn’t?”
My headache came back as that started a new argument and round of questions regarding my status as possessable or not possessable. I groaned, letting my head hit the wall just behind the bench. “Can you all please just shut up.”
A funny thing happened then.
As one, they went silent. Then they turned, their too-large skulls and teeth focused entirely on me. If I had still been a kid, I would have found the sight horrifying. I had, when stuff like this started happening to me. Now I found it annoying.
“It hears us,” said one.
“It sees us,” said another.
“Now I must eat it.”
The bus pulled up at that moment, and I stood, guitar in hand, slipping between the shadow figures as they continued marveling that I saw and heard them. I climbed aboard and sat down.
The shadow figures approached my window, now numbering in the dozens. “Come back! Play us your chants, weird one!”
“Speak to us! We are so alone.”
One-Eye floated to the front. “Let me eat you! You must have more soul than the others!”
I rolled my eyes as the bus driver took off. Then I sighed yet again and pulled up my hoodie, blocking out the bus’s overhead light.
That’s another bus stop I need to avoid from now on.
About the Author:
Zachary Stvan is a self-taught writer from Central New York, where he has lived most of his life. Like many writers aspiring and professional, he maintains an extensive backlog of creative works ranging from flash fiction to uncompleted novels – most of which will remain unfinished.
Long a fan of science fiction and fantasy, the majority of his work falls into the latter two categories, but he has also written Western, Horror, Cyberpunk and Steampunk, and Mystery.
If you are looking to interact or follow Zachary Stvan, you can find him on Twitter as @ZacharyStvan
This is his first publication in Etherea Magazine – along with being the first piece of his work to be professionally published.