The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
“…I did what Phil asked. I tried to pull the soul from the body. But the man – Victor- he was ready. He stole my body. He ate part of my soul.”
“Ate your soul?” They huddled in the corner of the Fletcher family’s garage, the dead man sitting on the floor, his shroud coated with filth. Greg sat on the front bumper of his mother’s car, he was shaking with disbelief. “How could he do that? How could anyone?”
“The soul is like anything else, if can be manipulated and absorbed. Parts of me are missing. Victor did it to make himself stronger. The missing places hurt. I need to get back to Phil, to the storage place on Central Avenue.”
At first Greg had thought there was a madman in his garage, or that this was all some kind of bizarre prank. But this stranger had known about their D&D campaign, about the way Greg’s mind had been invaded and about the revenge that had been taken on the most popular students of Blessed Heart. The voice had sounded like it was coming from the bottom of a well but he had spoken just like Tristam “You can’t devour someone’s soul. God-”
“God doesn’t enter into this. This is real Greg!”
“How are you doing this? How is any of this possible?”
A wizened arm patted a sunken chest, a chest that only drew breath when it needed to speak, “I’m stuck in here. Somehow I found the strength to make the body move, to get away. I thought I heard voices…”
“It was strange stuff, something about my inheritance is turned to strangers and my house to aliens…”
Greg leaned forward, “Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens?”
“Yes.” The dead eyes looked up.
“That’s from the bible Tristam, from Lamentations.”
“The voice sounded like my Mom sometimes, but not always.”
“Tristam, your mother is dead.”
The wrinkled face pulled into a grimace of disbelief, “What?”
“She was murdered yesterday.”
“You did it. Your fingerprints were everywhere.”
The body screamed and pounded its fists. Greg watched and wondered to himself how much longer he had before his parents got home.
How could I ever explain this?
And more importantly, what am I going to do about this?
It took Greg a moment more to consider and then he turned to go.
“Don’t leave me.” The shape in the corner crawled.
“I’ll be right back.” Greg retreated into his house and went through his father’s dresser, grabbing a pair of baggy sweatpants and a bulky sweater. Then Greg went to his own room and got on his sneakers and jacket. He paused in the kitchen to get one last thing and then he went back to the garage.
The dead man was on his knees, his bony hands clutched to his skull. “Tristam.” Greg threw the sweatpants to him, “Put these on. We’ll get further if you aren’t dressed like a... if you’re dressed normally.”
“What are we going to do?”
Greg held up the keys to his mother’s Camry, “Road trip.”