It wasn’t until then that I realized I must be past the six hour mark. I felt the influence of her memories and will over my own.
She didn’t want me to hurt them. Her body remembers her soul as being far purer than mine and is trying to transform mine to match hers. This usually begins about six hours after the initial transfer and is complete after twelve.
And it could not have started at a worse time.
Her muscles tense and seize as I attempt to thrust the stake into the side of the first silhouette. The resistance slows my movements down almost to a halt.
I couldn’t overcome her.
The tip of the stake hardly touches the mass. A hand shoots out and grabs it, tearing the weapon from my fingers. I try to back away but her ankle makes escaping difficult.
Hands wrap around me in seconds, incapacitating my already limited movements.
Hot breath near my ear as a low voice whispers amusedly “Thought you could beat us did you?”
The amusement was clearly fake, something he’d been working on since the last time. It was much more convincing and sinister than the first time she’d heard it.
His arms wrapped around her torso, locking her in a frozen, helpless position. Her body went limp, unable to resist as a sense of hopelessness spread through her.
It was heavy, weighing her down as he dragged her body up the stairs. I was forced to fight against both him and Louisa but the most I managed was a few weak kicks and a half-hearted twist.
He carried me back into the main room and sat me down next to the staircase. I shivered as my back touched the cold wood.
His two companions had joined him but they kept their distance. He stood right in front of me and stared at me for a long, strange moment. The mixture of emotions in his eyes was hard to read but I thought I detected a hint of sadness buried beneath everything else.
“Is everything ready to go?” he asked his companions without taking his eyes off me.
“Yes sir.” said the skinnier one. This was the first time I really saw him with my own eyes and nobody could call him eye candy. He had broad shoulders that stood disproportional against a narrow waist and short, stout legs. His arms were obnoxiously beefy from years of steroid abuse. His pock-marked face was complimented by beady black eyes and fat brown lips split in the middle by a scar. His hair was short and almost dripping in grease.
The other one strongly resembled Louisa’s dad; tall and rectangular with an oval face and a receding gray hairline. Stubble covered his oval chin, reaching out to his large elephantine ears.
He spoke next. “Where are we going to…” he looked at me and stopped.
“Not here right boss?” The other piped up.
“Of course no dumbass.” The leader snapped, turning towards him for a brief second. Then, with a forced, malicious grin he turned to me and continued “I know the perfect place, far away from anyone that could hear you.”
I shivered but didn’t say anything.
Louisa struggled to keep back her tears. They sprang into the corners of my eyes and I knew with a sense of resignation that she was growing even stronger.
We must be nearing the seven hour mark.
I had to work faster.
I forced my mind to focus on my peripheral vision so that I could scan the room without them noticing. I saw the illuminated squares that I could only assume to be windows on my right. The front door stood a dozen feet away on my left.
And the stairs sat patiently behind my aching back.
Three possible escape routes.
Reduced to two as one of the henchmen shifted towards the door as if he had read my thoughts somehow.
The two possibilities ran through my mind, fueled by Louisa’s rekindled desperation. For once we were on the same side. She was against fighting and injured the attackers (probably linked to her strong belief in karma) but held no qualms against escaping.
My first thought lingered on the windows, which surely led to a backyard. If I could get out there, I would be as close to civilization as I could be. I could alert the neighbors if I screamed. That way, if I couldn’t escape, at least there was a chance somebody could contact the police. At least I’d have a chance of being rescued.
But that hardly seemed possible. The panes were most certainly thick and would be hard, if not impossible, to break in such a weakened state. And who knows how hard they might be to open? The lock could be rust of the crevices could be painted over.
I could waste precious seconds trying to push the first pane up and ultimately be taken away by one of the men before I get so much as a breath of fresh outside air.
No, the windows were far too risky.
The only chance I had left lay up a flight of stairs.
I waited for one heartbeat. Then two. None of the three men in front of me moved. The leader was still studying me but his eyes had acquired a faraway glaze. The other two were useless puppets waiting for something to pull them into action.
If I was going to do something, I had to move now before it was too late.
Subtly I shifted my weight onto her bad side so that I could shoot out the good leg, quickly shift my weight back over and stand with as much speed as the high dose of adrenaline would offer me.
Then, before the shock could register on their faces, I pivoted around, grabbed the banister and swung myself to the front of the stairs.
The wood protested loudly despite her paltry weight. Arrows of pain shot through her leg and I ignored it adamantly. Nothing would slow me down now.
Surprised cries followed me as I hit the second floor landing a few seconds later. I heard the pounding of their large feet following me. Louisa began imagining the large, beefy hands reaching for her back, surely only centimeters away from the soiled fabric of her shirt.
She spun us around the corner and scrambled down the hallway, nearly losing her balance on the uneven boards. Piles of dust scattered as she sprinted, leaning against the wall and awkwardly stumbling every few steps.
Louisa chose the second room on the right side, ignoring the series of closets and cupboards on the left. There was one larger room but the door was closed.
She slammed her shoulders into the door, only seconds after entering, forcing it shut and leaning her weight into it to keep it from being opened again. Her hands shook so badly I had to take over to lock the door.
And not a moment too soon. The doorknob jiggled violently only a millisecond after the click.
Voices began shouting from the other side but she ignored them, tuning them out to the point where I could not hear them over her resistance. The pounding on the door soon became secondary to her heartbeat.
The room we stood in was almost completely bare. Evidence of furniture was present in patterns and shapes left on the dusty floor. Certain spots were darker and cleaner than the rest, having been protected from sun damage and dirt by whatever stood over it. Deep scratches were etched into the floorboard where something heavy had been dragged around.
Two windows stood on the side opposite of the door. The glass was streaked and dirty but unfortunately intact. Empty curtain rods above them, rusted.
She understood as well as I that there was only one thing left to do. There was only one chance to escape from this prison.
As we approached the windows, I noted the pinkish tinge the sky had adopted as darkness began creeping in from behind this house. I remembered the sun being high noon when I awoke yet now it was setting.
At least seven hours had passed. I only had five hours left to complete my job and be pulled out of her body before it completely overpowered me.
The process is one commonly referred to as “soul corruption.” It happens when the revived corpse recognizes the presence of a soul and assume that soul as its own, rewriting the memories of the dead person into the new vessel. If he doesn’t pull me out in time, I will cease to exist.
I shuuden at the thought of my eternal death.
I must hurry.
Her hands press against the smooth, cool glass. I see her reflection for the first time and feel her repulsion towards it. Truly the sight is not a pleasant one.
Bruises create patterns on her almost gray skin. Her lips are stained crimson with that same blood dried unevenly around the edges. Her left eye droops terribly and the skin around it is nearly black.
She shudders and averts her gaze downwards, focusing her attention on the windowsill instead. The first thing she tries to do was dig her nonexistent fingernails into the space beneath it to try and force the window open.
Knowing instantly that this wouldn’t work, I pressed the palms of her hands against the glass panes, squatted slightly, and pushed upward with the base of her palms. It took a long moment and a low, strained grunt before the window gave way and pushed upward.
The noise it made was enough to awaken half the country.
So much for discretion.
I knew as the pounding and shouting stopped that I had very little time to execute the rest of the plan. I had to somehow escape and hide before they could exit the house and catch me.
The impossibility of the plan astounded me greatly. It watered as tears in her eyes.
I had lifted one knee onto the windowsill and was leaning forward when I saw it.
With renewed vigor I pushed my other foot off the ground and gripped the top of the windowsill. Twisted. Butt hanging perilously in the open air; only my hands and feet remained in the room. All my weight rested on her good ankle.
With swift, deft movements I switched my grip from the upper inside windowsill to the outside. Then I reached up and grabbed the edge of the roof.
Pushing with my legs and using my arms to pull, I slowly lifted her body up towards the roof. Her good ankle supported us easily, easily working as a lever to push us upward to the roof.
Within seconds my waist was pressed against the edge of the roof. I pulled one arm up and rested it on the crumbling orange shingles. The jagged edges dug into my weak flesh. I gritted my teeth against the pain.
The rest of my strength disappeared as I finally lifted her legs up and over the edge, rolling myself a couple feet up the roof to stay out of sight.
A loud creak told me they’d opened the door.
Tucking my arms in as best I could, I rolled upwards despite gravity’s best attempts to pull me back down. The shingles dug into my flesh and a few loose ones threatened to fall but somehow everything held.
Their voices followed me to the peak of the roof, threatening my survival.
Leader: Where is she?
Henchman 1: I don’t see her.
Henchman 2: She couldn’t have gotten far. I’ll check the backyard.
Henchman 1: I don’t see any movement in the trees and there’s no one behind the bushes.
Henchman 2: She’s not hiding back there either boss. What do we do?
Leader: Shit. She must have gotten to the main road and been picked up by a car.
His voice had taken a slight vibrato, betraying his fear.
I had just scrambled over the peak of the roof when the slap of footsteps echoed around me.
Leader: Anthony hit the right, Bill go left. Stop any cars you see. Find her.
I rolled down the roof a few more feet to ensure I was truly out of sight.
A multitude of slams. The cacophonous rumble of car engines. The squeal of tires disappearing into the distance.
And with that they were gone. I was alone and safe.
The euphoria of this realization was felt by both of us.
Yet it was short-lived.
I should have been withdrawn right then and there and her body should have returned to being a lifeless corpse. The kidnappers would be caught so my mission should be over.
Only it isn’t. Because I suppose they won’t be.
There is still something I need to do.
I have to lure the police over to rescue me like in the original plan. And for that Louisa needs to stay alive a little longer.
I wait a moment, ensuring that I was truly alone now. Hearing no other sounds, I force her physically exhausted body to sit up.
Below me sits the backyard. Dried yellow grass occupied the small rectangular space. The tallest weeds attempted to climb the unwashed brick wall farthest from me.
Just beyond the sunkissed barrier sat the neighbor’s quaint beige house.
Two small windows faced me but the blinds were drawn on the first one and the room beyond the second appeared vacant.
Any hopes of someone glancing out their window and noticing me quickly deflated.
I had to think of another plan.
There had to be some way to draw public attention to myself.
Above the windows something bright and metallic captured my attention. The neighbor’s satellite dish reflected the sun’s rays straight through my weak eyes.
And gave me an idea.
Three feet diagonally up and to my left stood an identical satellite dish. From here I could see that the edge were thoroughly caked in dark brown rust.
This gave me hope.
I crawled up to it, grabbed the edges of the circular disk with one hand on each side, and pulled, shifting my weight back as far as I dared. The satellite dish groaned and bent towards me. For an agonizing moment it seemed to pause at a slight angle.
Then, with little warning, it snapped away in my hands and I fell back, hitting my head on the roof and dislodging a few shingles.
The metal plate was heavy and covered in thick patches of rust but enough of it had escaped battering from the weather to be useful.
Feeling the small amount of time that remained ticking away, I struggled against her to angle the satellite dish so that the sun reflected off of it and onto the dry grass closest to the back wall of the house.
Her arms ached and she wanted nothing more than to sit down. I feared she may have become sentient enough to be aware of me and the time limit before I would disappear forever.
I forced her to continue holding it up though I could feel myself losing control. Her memories and fears became more prominent and real than my own. When I tried to recall the faces of my parents I saw hers instead. My thoughts followed her line of logic, her desires. Mine were growing smaller and insignificant.
A thin ribbon of pale grey smoke streamed up towards me. I watched it dissipate in the air above my head. Instinctively our head turned around to check for signs of anyone else coming to see it.
I could only pray that, as it grew stronger, the firefighters would be notified before the kidnappers do and rescue me.
I watch the growing flames inch towards the house. The red and orange entity licks the wall, hesitant at first then, as though it likes the taste of plaster, begins to consume it. The plaster darkens and crumbles to the ground.
I hug my knees closer to her chest, hoping that I’ll be safe up here. She whimpers at the thought of burning to death when she had finally found freedom once again. Her heart pounds a mile a minute in her sore, bruised chest.
A nearly inaudible beeping tells me the fire alarm activated. The firefighters must be on their way over here now. They’ve been alerted and will soon arrive and rescue us.
Her ears strain to search for the melodious wail of sirens but she is quickly disappointed.
Instead dread fills her as she hears the rumble of an engine nearly lost in the popping and roaring of the fire. Her breath stops in her throat, as trapped as she is.
Gravel. For a brief second she thought she heard the crunch of tires on gravel.
But all was silent.
She crawled up the roof and peeked over the edge.
Time ticked by. I wondered if this would be enough to escape her body. She wondered if she would ever see her family again.
Finally the sirens materialized in the distance, faint and fragile, nearly swallowed by the wind, but definitely there. Help was on the way. She was finally going to be saved.
Yet I remained.
As tears of relief sprouted in the corners of her eyes, I knew something was wrong. There was still a possibility that the kidnappers wouldn’t be caught.
Of course. The firefighters might not find or be able to identify her corpse until long after the kidnappers would have left the area. To ensure their capture and the end of my mission, I’d have to literally drop her into their arms.
With fading strength I made her crawl back over the peak of the roof. Deep inside in a place she couldn’t consciously reach, she protested the action, longing to stay safely hidden out of sight.
She needed to be seen as soon as the firefighters arrive. She needed to be rescued instantly if I want even just a chance of being pulled out in time.
And thankfully, at least this time, my will was strong enough to overpower her.
Or perhaps the word I should have used was “unfortunately.”
Only seconds after I had pulled her body over the top and roller down a few feet, the screech of tires ran up the driveway,
I didn’t have time to think, let alone react. A strangled cry escaped her parched throat.
The leader got out of his car and walked towards the house.
He looked straight up at us and said, “Thought you were pretty clever, didn’t you? Sending us on a wild goose chase.” He shielded his eyes from the sun. “But it’s too late for you Louisa. You’re never going back. My little girl never returned so why should a bitch like you?”
And with that he disappeared, heading into the burning house.
The sirens had come closer. Her eyes scanned the horizon as she pulled herself backwards up the roof. I no longer had the energy to control her.
I could only watch from somewhere far away as the following events unfolded:
The fire truck finally arrived, cutting through the lawn to avoid the car parked in the driveway. At the same time the leader emerged from the house, unscathed.
A few of the firefighters rushed to help him but he pushed them away. He walked straight into the middle of the driveway, standing in front of his car.
One of the firefighters took notice of Louisa, pointing and shouting for a ladder. Most of the others were busy unrolling the hose and turning on the water to douse the flames.
The leader turned around to face the house. Something gleamed in his hand.
The firefighters leaned the ladder against the edge of the roof.
Leader raised a jet black pistol, aimed at Louisa.
Louisa rolled downwards.
He pulled the trigger.
A firefighter tackled him.
The bullet lodged itself into the shingles on inches away from the top of Louisa’s head.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
The top of the firefighters head poked up over the edge of the roof. Sunlight bounced off the yellow and white helmet.
And suddenly I knew this was my final mission. I was never meant to return. Louisa’s life was so similar to my own that by giving her a new life and bringing closure to her family, I was concluding my own.
The firefighter took my hand.
I let him lead me away into the darkness of eternal slumber.
[Author’s Note: As I said in my last post, I won’t be posting anything for the next three weeks. I’ll see you guys with a new story when I return to America! 😀 Happy Holidays everyone!]