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The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
Even as his lifeless fingers fumbled at the penthouse door Tristam realized it was already too late. He could feel Victor Kovach’s apocalypse all around him, the very air seemed to shudder, the building creaked and groaned on its foundations. The dead body he was trapped in was a ruin; torn, bent and tinged with rot. Tristam knew if he didn’t escape from it soon he might go mad. He thought of Greg two landings beneath him. Tristam had to wonder what he might have done under different circumstances. How hard would it have been to switch places with Greg?
No. I’m not like that. I’m not a monster.
The penthouse door came open with a shove. He saw his sister bound her face contorted in pain, and grief. She was fading away, a line drawing of a girl superimposed over a nightmare. Tristam saw his father on his knees, helpless and defeated watching the Monarchs’ wake wash over the sky.
And standing in the center of it all was his body, animated and occupied.
They all looked up. Pamela’s eyes registered nothing, Gawain recoiled in disgust and Victor’s expression was one of annoyance- like a man interrupted at a meal.
“What is this?” He said, then a look of worry filled his features, “How can this be?”
Tristam had spent the last hour rehearsing the incantation, it came easily to him. He advanced on his body.
“You cannot- ” Victor said, “I consumed you. You do not exist.”
Blue fire sparked from dead hands, Tristam watched it twist and burn with detached relief. This was the last bit of knowledge snatched from Phil’s dying thoughts – Spirit Fire- the art of consuming your own soul to gain power.
How much can I burn? How much more can I spare?
“So, oblivion was not to your liking then?” Victor began an incantation of his own, “Perhaps you’d like to try Hell.”
Using the spirit fire Tristam launched himself from the corpse that had held him prisoner. For a moment he was blinded to anything but the delight of freedom. Then he was moving, homing in on his body, his true living body.
Victor’s defenses gave way easily. Tristam burst back into his flesh. He could feel his body erupting into seizures as two souls struggled for control of a single mind. Victor recoiled and pushed back, determined to hold on.
A moment later he realized his error as Tristam grasped hold and used his momentum to drag them both free of the twitching body.
Tristam moved further out and deeper in, dragging Victor after him.