Thirteen Days

Human folklore is a fascinating thing. Their concepts are mostly misguided and few are based in fact, but it's easy to play along with those silly superstitions. That is why I obtain and sustain a 13 day feeding cycle. Don't get me wrong, though. Our kind can feed on a human for a couple minutes or a couple hours or a couple years. There isn't really a set amount of time to feed, but the majority of us select a consistent time period.

For me, if it's too quick, the soul hasn't absorbed the terror and misery to the proper extent for it to be more than a fleeting nibble at hunger. It's a waste of a potentially more nourishing meal. Too long and it becomes a bore to nag on the same tired soul, chipping away gradually at it. It is a guaranteed source, but it's not like humans are in short supply. Not like they used to be. There was a time where sickness dwindled populations and we were predators of the dying. Ug... don't want to think of those dim and hungry centuries. Back then, you had to catch a soul before it left or prey on the same soul for like... ever. By the end of years of torment, there was nothing left on the prey to grasp at as a final reward. That last burst of energy makes it all worth while and if one doesn't get that, its a general disappointment. Not too long, not too short, 13 days is perfect.

Day One

My prey came to me. That's one of the perks of this over-populated, day-in-age. Not complaining in the least. It had stumbled upon the remnants of last meal. Funny though. The prey, my previous and future, had not been acquainted, but it had such strong... urg... emotions for the other. Never will I understand those fickle things that turn them soft for strangers. Did seeing a stranger's death really link the two into a strong, caring bond? Well, my previous prey was dead so the bond was one sided, but my inquiry remains.

It hurried to dial for emergency help, but it was too late for the mangled body. It was so messy sometimes. The blood and twisted bones made a collage of gore. Couldn't it have chosen a less showy end? Ah, well, not my problem. The problem was for the cleaning crews. I love how other things can clean up my mess.

But my new prey, oh, it's soul was drool inducing. It was young, hopeful, and was aspiring to something great. Emphasis on the word was. I could taste the sweet essence already within me. It's angst over the event gave me a glimpse into the full meal later on. My last soul was already fading and I was hungry again for a better one.

I marked it on it's scalp that branded it as mine. Mine was large with black wing embellishments and carried my scent as well. It didn't feel it or smell it and it wouldn't know it was there. Sharing a human is to the advantage of no one. When it happened, one would have to go through the proper channels and become involved in the formal complexities. Does anyone consider the paperwork in Hell? No. They don't, but that's the purpose of marks. It saves time and hand cramps from filling out forms.

My next meal was so traumatized and so depressed by what it had witnessed that is had to go to it's home. It couldn't possibly go on. Urg, emotions. It cancelled it's appointments and returned to it's cave. Perhaps it wasn't emotions towards the stranger, but it was emotions regarding the reminder of it's mortality. It shouldn't be depressed yet. My effects wouldn't take hold until tomorrow.

I couldn't expend energy to care any further. Not enough.

It sought comfort in a few hours with a companion. I wished for the companion to return in thirteen days from then. It looked like an equally, if not more, tasty morsel.

It slept early that night with the claim that it only needed rest to recover. It had no idea what was coming.

Day Two

It was pathetic and weak, even it it's sleep. It had this this miniature, stuffed replica of an animal tucked under its arm. It held it tightly in it's grip and murmur drowsy words. So defenseless. So vulnerable. I pressed my hand upon it's forehead and deciphered it's fears. I commanded it's subconscious to drown in dreams of vivid terror. I held both sides of it's head and didn't let it wake or vocalize. I removed its source of comfort, the artificial creature, and tossed it under the bed. The long night reworded me with filling waves of energy.

When I let go, it instantly sat up, weary and exhausted. It was nearly midday, but it was as if it had never laid down. It patted around the bed and panicked when it's comfort item wasn't where it was supposed to be. It perspired near it's eyes and flung pillows and blankets in frustration. It was quite a show. It did find the fuzzy thing and I wasn't terribly fond of the fact that it reduced the stress.

It seemed that today was the last in the week cycle: Sunday. Fortunately, my prey wasn't spiritual. Not that it would dissuade me or make me desire it any less, but believers are pests. If one of those damned priests suspects a possession, they stick around until they are convinced the being is gone. Again, a quaint notion. Nothing more. The presence of another human slows the process and I must retract. I never remove the claim and I return when the priest thinks I have been vanquished. How can they possibly expect that they, only a few decades old with limited knowledge, could kill a being that had been hunting them for hundreds of human generations with words and holy items. What kind of logic is that! Certain humans know we exist and they know of our power and that is the best they can do? Well, I can't say I would want them to figure out how to kill our kind. Not sure we can die, but that is beside the point.

It watched movies and stayed in it's night clothing. It convinced itself that it was still just shaken up. The keys went mysteriously missing when it wanted to buy ice cream and chocolate. It surrendered and stayed put, fuming, but unsuspected.

Day Three

It's keys miraculously reappeared to let it go to work. It was a bore of a day. I would fade in and out of presence, often returning to give it bursts of misery. It was a subtle reminder of it's sadness.

It went home. I made it think thoughts. I made it think thoughts it didn't want to be thinking. Temptations it had carefully smothered with tedious control. To me, it was easy. Just a couple hints did it.

I am under so much stress. I mean... a drink wouldn't hurt. No, not anyone. It wouldn't hurt a single person to buy some Drambuie. No, I haven't touched a glass in years and I'm not going to start. It's not going to stop with just one... But then again, I've been good. AND a drink is boing by oneself and I could stop after one. A buzz... yeah, that's all I want. I can do it. No problem. ONE drink, ONE tiny buzz for ONE night. I'll buy the bottle and dump the rest down the drain. That's a great plan. Yeah..."

Lured out by a flimsy promise, it went out to a long forgotten liquor shop and purchased a bottle of fermented whatever.

Day Four

A night of binge drinking later, I was smugly satisfied with myself. My prey would always give into its vices, no matter its resolve. It wasn't the same vice all the time. Its vice might be drugs, cigarettes, certain people, shopping, or any sort of unhealthy addiction. They could never quite give up on something they had had a strong attachment to. Once, a meal had an obsession with building muscle. It was grotesque, even by my standards. I sped up the eating cycle by a couple days so that I didn't have to look at it anymore. Exercise is to be a healthy, but as the human phrase goes, "you can have too much of a good thing". Or was it, "You can never have too much of a good thing?" I digress.

Its face was pale and its eyes were red, sunken in, and worn. It gurgled down cup after cup of caffeinated drink between visits to pray to the porcelain God. It gagged and retched, but rarely expelled. It groggily did what it could to eat and keep its stomach contents in its stomach, but to no avail.

The tasty friend came by again. It was a good chance, in witnessing interaction, to gauge its mental state. I already knew, but actions speak louder than thoughts. It couldn't be too grand with several days without sleep and growing despair.

"Hey, just checking in on you. You look terrible."

"Thanks..."

"Oh not that you don't usually look amazing-I mean, not amazing-um. I should just shut up." I sensed attraction, but I couldn't care less. The awkwardness was tangible and I merely observed the obvious.

"Maybe. This thing... I don't know. It's too much. She was a girl. A little scared girl. A teenager with a life ahead of her. Did you see the news story on her?"

"No, I haven't."

"Huh, I guess I've been living in front of the T.V. since it all happened. She was a senior in high school and ranked seventh in her class. I saw a picture-with her friends. She looked so happy." Its voice cracked. "What could make a happy girl throw herself off her balcony?" Me. I did it and I was proud of it. It brought a smirk to my face.

"I did read in the paper that she had been acting erratic the days before her suicide, according to her mom. She didn't go to school and locked herself away in her room. The mom said that she thinks she did it because she saw her friend overdose." I leave quite a noticeable trail of destruction, if I do say so myself. When a few of us get together, the path left is a paved road.

"It is such a shame. A tragedy." It stared down and visualized the scene of my past prey repetitively.

"Yeah, but you can't skip out on work. Really, you can't. I know you are upset, but you didn't call in and Sharon was livid."

"Sorry. I didn't set my alarm." It was too out of it to mind.

"You have to take this seriously. She might be okay with it if you called in, but you look like you've been up for a while." It paused and sniffed the air. "What is that smell? Is that... alcohol?"

"So what if it is," it defended? "None of your business."

"It is my business. Believe it or not, I care if you relapse. How much did you drink?"

"It wasn't that much! Like three... or four... aarg, I can't remember." It scratched its head. It was five and a half, by the way. By the half-way point of the last glass, it couldn't hold its glass and it made a great big wet mess. It slept on the floor in that manner.

The friend stormed into the food preparation center and found the bottle in a puddle of sticky, foul liquid. A tumble fractured it, but didn't shatter. "I can't take this." It held it up and escorted it to garbage compartment. "I've got to get back to work. I came here on my break and its ending right about now."

"Fine! Judge me and leave, just like that. Leave when it gets to be too hard to handle me! I don't want to see you!" Startled, the friend turned, but couldn't get out a word. "GO! LEAVE NOW YOU ROYAL BASTARD!"

The severe outburst left it speechless and it scurried out the door. My prey didn't quite know what it had done, and blissfully slept where it sat.

Day Five

The alarm for it to wake chimed. It annoyed me. It seems it annoyed my prey too as it threw the offending object nearly through the wall. Not bad.

It received a telemarketing call not long after the clock incident. It threatened the human on the other line with a series of creative standards, even by my standards. I love when things go according to plan. It can be monotonous to do the same actions for centuries, but I have a hard time tiring of the misery in these pitiful beings. They are so pitiful they amuse me.

The friend made another appearance and left with a new blackening bruise. That surprised me. The violence towards material objects was very typical, but the equal levels towards other humans isn't. Some are inherently weaker and react harsher to the onslaught. My last prey never once lashed out at anyone its entire thirteen day period. With the physical interaction far surpassing the current meal's amount, I noted it took integrity. I wasn't willing to admit too much, but it impressed me. A little.

Day Six

A call from work and it quit its day job, spouting detailed vulgarity. Amazing how Hell on earth can turn a secretary into my brethren.

That friend was damned devoted to my doomed prey and visited again. Seriously, why worry? The companion wasn't influenced one way or the other if my meal died. Which is was, of course. Why should it care? I assumed, as any rational being would, that it wouldn't after the physical discomfort from the physical discomfort from the fifth day.

It didn't eat or drink anything. Well, that was a lie. I intervened to make it sip at some water from time to time. It wouldn't make it the full cycle if it dehydrated itself to death. Then, its misery and my time would be wasted. I had shamed myself once by letting prey die and the soul passed on before I got the chance to snag it. That was the one and only time I let that happen.

Day Seven

To establish a human-style analogy of my hunting, it would involve a carnivore and a little, helpless creature. For the sake of this explanation, it is a tiger and a rabbit. The tiger has it's claws halfway plunged inside the dying creature, but the shock prevents the agony from setting in immediately. Day seven is the first day the rabbit is aware that it has a sharp object in its liver. It doesn't know what is happening and it doesn't know what's doing it, but it begins to panic.

I let it worry its little heart out, but I couldn't let it leave its seclusion this far in the process. Coinciding with the tiger metaphor, it was fine for the prey to try to run and wear itself out, however, too far and it could seek help. I can't have that.

It paced around, shifting between phases of confusion, "Why are you acting like this? This isn't you." They say never to trust anyone who speaks in the third person, but what about second person. Hm, food for thought. "Why the hell were you so rude to her? She was only here because I've been acting strange. You should hope she will forgive you. That was terrible how you treated her, damn it... Call her." It reached for its communicated device, but that object mysteriously went missing. Amazing how possessions kinda just go... poof. "Crap, I've been misplacing my crap." Oh poo, it was back to first person. It searched with great fever, the intensity frantically increasing by the minute. It tore apart its couch and started crying. "This isn't me. I'm having a stress attack over a stupid phone! If it isn't me, then who am I?" It laughed awkwardly to fill its own silence. It was out of place. "What's wrong with me?" A lot, prey. There was positively everything wrong with it.

Day 8

"That is it! I has been over a week and I cannot be in this apartment one more second," it assured itself with such strong resolve and determination. "I'm going for a walk, at least," it announced it itself, alerting it of its obvious intentions.

Oh, no you aren't, human.

It dressed out of stale and stiff night garments into casual wear. I allowed it, but that doesn't mean I made it easy for it. The drawers opened, though, with rough reluctance and the clothes all managed to fall off the hanger, all around the same time.

At the door, things had progressed unacceptably far. Shoes were on and I was done messing around. Too many chances given and it was time for intervention.

I raked my claws over its shoulder lightly to get its attention. Lapping at its fright, I was spurred for more. I dug them into its shoulder blade and pulled it inhumanly fast onto its couch. Inhuman is my specialty. I didn't need to hold it for long. Didn't need to. Shock kept it still. It breathed haggardly and waited for its brain to catch up. It's fear was so tangy and spicy. Yummy.

It rose and took another advance and this time, I teased it. I let it race for the handle and twist, but I slammed the door, locked it, and dragged the human to the couch again.

It ran over and over and over again. A human said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over an expecting different results. It seems that my meal hasn't, but perhaps I had already brought it to insanity.

Thoroughly terrified, it now crawled to the door, where I dramatically dragged it by its ankles. It matched the intended cliché and grabbed the floor. I believe this would be a form of a childhood game. A large child keeps an object precious to the smaller child away from it. I think it's called, "keep-away," or something like that.

I bored of this game and ended it with my prey's last attempt. I carried it into it's bed chambers, sealing the door and there it stayed.

Day Nine

I was born without a language. I was brought into the world full size and with a vague understanding of my life mission. All of out kind's objective is to kill. No further instruction needed. With that instinctual tutorial on how to exist, we lack linguistic skills. It is like a butterfly that leaves its its young to fend for itself, yes? Over the centuries, one acquires languages, and a fair few at that. My first was a dialect of Greek, now known as Ancient Greek. I suppose that makes me ancient. It annoys me when human professors translate incorrectly and misunderstand history. It is reasons such as that that don't make me feel bad about killing their species. Well, I don't have a conscience. Anyway, I was fond of complex picture texts of Asia, but for now, I shall speak english. I may tickle my fancy and muddle around North Korea or maybe China, next. While I'm at it, I'll create havoc in Europe along the way.

I took the opportunity to become distracted in trivial affairs because my prey, too, was distracted. It was murmuring and hurriedly peering about the room. From this point on, it couldn't leave the confines of the room under any circumstances.

"It's going to get me!" Yes, I am. "I can't let it! I have to fight back. The best defense is the best offense, right?" I guess. "I must defend!" It wouldn't do anything. "How could it get to me? How did it find me?" It looked around, its gaze, lazy and its body listless unless it was otherwise motivated. "You fiend, you have betrayed me!" It pointed and poked. "You alarm clock! You have been sending out waves, telling them where I am! It was you!" The object was already broken from four days ago and it couldn't do much else to it. "The betrayer in my own home! Wait. I can use this as my shield. I shall remove the transmitter and put it over my head!"

Day Ten

Bloody, crimson streaks lined the walls. Tiny shards of nail embedded themselves in the streaks. Such beautiful interior design, I must say. It scratched and beat the walls until the nails were worn down to nothing and the bones in the hands were broken. The paint chipped shards were shoved under the soft nail bed.

"I don't want to die! Please," it sobbed. "I want to live." Too bad, so sad, try again in the next life. There is probably reincarnation. I had two souls, a century apart. Although they were different, they died and tasted identical.

It hid on its bed, the image of wasting away. It flinched at every sound sound from slabs of setting wood, fearing that it would bring it's demise. Like that was what was going to kill it.

Day Eleven

The end was nearing and it only needed a final push. For this, my perfect memories came in handy. It's a simple trick I cannot say I invented. I happened to pick it ages ago. Humans called it schizophrenia. A few had the intense mental illness, but in most situations it's just us. It isn't noticed on short term meals and humans aren't given the possibility to diagnose it.

I had practiced visual hallucinations, but I hadn't mastered it. There was something off that greatly annoyed me. A conjured spider would have an extra arm or a reflection in a mirror would defy gravity and drip upwards instead of down. If I was going to hunt and bring my prey to the brink of insanity, I was going to do it properly.

Auditory hallucinations were my weapon of choice. It required little imagination for I utilized the cries of past prey to terrorize the current. I often would play the same record repeatedly and I would think of it less and less. I added to the sound track of voices when I coaxed out a wretched response that pleased me. I saved the alarm nonsense from day nine in my archives.

I hit the switch and let it run its course.

"Help me."

"How could this be happening to me?" Screams.

"I can't take it!"

The wispy tones faded out to make my prey think it was its imagination. It returned and continued.

"Who's there?"

"Get me out of here!"

The next one was in a foreign tongue, but the emotion was clearly conveyed.

"Let me go!"

"Go away!"

"There's no way out!"

"Make it stop. I don't care if I die."

"Kill me."

"God, save my soul!"

It wriggled in and out of wrinkled blankets, leaving torn and frayed edges. Its head throbbed and its stomach churned in on itself. No matter how long it screamed and moaned, it still heard the words.

Day Twelve

"I'm not getting out of this, am I," it whimpered?

Day Thirteen

The day had come and the meal absorbed into me. It was ready for death and now welcomed it. Without a soul, the empty form would have to end its existence. Transformed into a shell, the self-destruct button had been activated. It cannot live without a master conscience. It would use the closest method of suicide.

This part was always so drab and melodramatic, but I stayed. I wasn't in a rush to be anywhere fast, satisfied with the remnants of my prey struggling inside me. Realizing its damnation, it wanted to return, but my years proved its efforts futile. I observed with indifference as clumsy hands fumbled with strong cord.

Humans have adopted the notion that when one of their kind ends its mortality, that God shall send it to Hell. Little did my prey know that they had been sent to there thirteen days before they thought so.

A cord tensed and the last breathe drawn, I heard the horrendous screams in the doorway of my next soul.