UNION [Writing Warm-Up #6, Final]
by T.A. Saunders
After five hundred and twenty years, I have returned. The last I saw this world, Europe was seeking trade routes to China, to trade silk, and Martin Luther sought to change the very foundations of your Christian religion. I saw Shakespeare rise, and Constantinople fall. It is truly a pity that the fine Muslim swordsman gutted the host I was using on that day, else I might have seen more of this world, slowly sinking into the mire of corruption.
Oh, but my have things changed, and for the better I might add! As I soak the anguish, the rage and the despair from this host, I can also see his memories, his drugged delusions and I can see the hope he clung to till just now. There it goes! Out like a candle that’s burned down to its last, struggling to stay lit. Just a puddle of melted wax, and a charred bit of wick; that’s what’s left of his soul. Yes, Aaron was his name.
Going through his memories reads like a bad novel. All sadness, weeping and failure to live up to expectations. It’s this weakness I sup upon…well, all my kind do, really. Aaron wanted to be an astronaut as a boy. Loved his science, but struggled a bit with math. Grades. Yes, each ‘C’ was a lash from a father’s belt, between swigs of whiskey. He sought his mother’s eyes, but she always looked away, always said, “You should’ve done better. You need to obey your father.” Enablers are the best thing ever! Their passive role in torment, whether adult or child, is gasoline to the flame. Make it worse, make it so they break people like Aaron.
But he was spared a few lashes, wasn’t he? Spared because daddy was driving drunk and killed him and his mother both. That’s how he ended up with his grandfather. What that man lacked in the ability to inflict physical abuse, he certainly made up for in mental abuse. Honestly, if you’re going to abuse somebody, mental abuse is the best. No physical scars and you can claim the person is completely nuts. Another twelve years of being told he was a failure, being told he couldn’t go play with his friends and being forced to live like it was the 1950’s cracked what normality Aaron had. Fertile soil for the thing that lets me inside.
These early memories are the best. I can feel their deep, lingering pain like it was yesterday. Aaron still replays them in his head, sometimes even argues aloud, to himself. Says all the things he wanted to say then, to the dark, long after saying anything would have any meaning. So much easier to talk to the dark, when you want to say something, isn’t it? You don’t think anybody’s listening, but things do hear you. Things like me. Other things. Worse things.
All Aaron wanted was to be understood, to be accepted for who he was. But he wasn’t. Not at home, and not at school, where other children picked on him, pestered him and did what daddy wasn’t around to do anymore. Lashes of the belt were replaced with pummeling fists, hitting and smacking him for not conforming, not being as the rest of the herd was. Normal, normal, normal. Humans and their normal. Little prepubescent primates swinging their little arms, howling at whatever’s not like them and breaking it. It’s almost like having little, snot-dribbling minions really. Goblins that do my bidding, without me ever having to ask. Whatever resistance Aaron had to falling into the cool embrace of my shadow was destroyed by the monkey-goblins. Thank you monkey-goblins!
He never fought back once. Not one single time did he raise a hand to the monkey-goblin children, who beat their chests, howled at how different Aaron was, then beat him for not conforming. Not being a monkey-goblin. Aaron became something worse than a monkey-gobln. He became a dumpster for whatever chemical would make him forget, whatever he could drink to make him look cool to the monkey-goblins, or at least to other dumpsters like him. Misery does love company. Never forget that.
By the time everybody abandoned Aaron, he was a full dumpster. Full of anger, full of regret, full of dreams, visions and disjointed, impossible thoughts that could never be. The cracked glass of Aaron could never be a true, focused lense for anything real, anything that would be worth actually doing. Dealing meth, and smoking away half the product became more engaging than being an astronaut, or a physicist.
But even as drugs and misery sloshed and mingled inside broken Aaron, he never did quite become evil, did he? Angry at himself, weak-willed and tormented, but he never turned it on others. He always kept his torment to himself, let it harm himself, before he would let it harm others. Had this gentle side, hidden amongst the walls of pain and the gobs of drug-induced stupid. It’s why he felt so bad when he ran that poor beagle over with his grandfather’s Buick. The poor thing howled pitifully for a full half hour, after he sped away. Do old people always drive dog-killing Buicks?
But that will change, now that I’m driving Aaron. What remains of his struggling soul, I will consume, and add to myself. It’s an honor! I have devoured souls of Egyptian thieves, Roman harlots and British mass murderers. Aaron’s distinction will be in fine company to the other souls I’ve consumed, and made a part of me. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to enjoy killing people. It’ll give a power that drugs could never give him. It will feed him in a way that no approval could ever nourish him. He’ll feel strength when he clasps somebody’s throat, and squeezes. When life escapes in a gasp, from open lips that ask the unvoiced question of, “Why?”
“The why is power, Miss Chaise Michaels. Thank you for bringing me Aaron. Thank you for also bringing me your neck to squeeze. Aaron appreciates it, for all the suffering you’ve put him through.”
Now, to find a damned beagle, and convert it into a Hound of Hell.