Someone put a knife in my back yesterday and now I’m pissed. I had a list a mile long. Human mist to feed on, fear and loathing to relish in, and death to ponder. Now, none of these things will get done. And worst of all? There’s a knife in my backside that I can’t get out.
What was yesterday? Yeah, now I remember – Monday. Mondays are a busy day for me. I relish the ooze that slithers in the ethereal stratum. Especially at first light. Humans hate Mondays. They drag from their beds with a luscious aura of dread. That aura, the mist, it’s candy for me and I freely move from house to house, room to room, bed to bed, inhaling the raw bliss.
I remember most of yesterday with clarity, but toward the fifth or sixth house I felt a tickle. Or was it a niggle? Something was making the hair on my back ripple with static. I should have looked in the dark corners more closely, but this particular Monday was exceptional. My gorging distracted me. A floorboard creaked and a whisper of what I now know to be a blade being unsheathed.
The enchantment embedded in the blade was the crowning blow. The moment it pierced my flesh was the moment my ability to feed stopped. The abrupt cessation ripped through me with pain exploding along every nerve. I felt a raw surge of fire just before I blacked out.
I woke up just a bit ago with my face planted in a pile of dirty clothes. Normally I would have delighted in the sweet perfume that filth exuded, but not today. It was more like the vulgarity I usually felt with joy, happiness, or birth. All pleasures I felt yesterday were gone. I feel empty. Hollow.
Greta Gimmward’s name was all over this. She has been chasing me since…well, I’m not sure when. The first time we met humans they were barely scratching for survival. The fruits of their fear were less sweet than they are today. They existed back then without much regard for life or death.
We have competed for the same human feeding grounds, and I beat her to them nearly every time. At every village and hobble where humans gathered, I was there feeding from the initial mist of fear that poured off the humans as they rise to face each day. It’s what we survive on. Greta Grimmward was always a step behind me. Always just a little too late, a little too distracted.
She warned me many times that she would catch up to me. “You’ll find the knife in your back one day. You’ll see.” I always waved her off like a speck of dust on my shirt sleeve. Then yesterday happened. I think I’m more mad at myself for letting my guard down rather than the fact that Greta managed to get an enchanted knife in my back.
Rubbing against the door frame proved futile in my attempt to remove the knife. It seemed to vanish whenever I tried to rub it off. Any attempts to reach to that one spot that was, for all humanoid shaped creatures, impossible to reach. A scratch in the center of the back. Insanely impossible to reach.
“Why, hello Horatio. Having some trouble?” I leaned against the door frame watching Horatio scramble to reach the blade I put in him. For the first time in a millennial, I am happy. What the heck, it felt good to drive it in to him. What a jerk he’d been all these years. I just wanted him back, but he tripped over himself on a daily basis.
Out of habit, I grabbed my hair and untied and retied the band that held it back. “How does it feel Harry? Do you recognize it?”
It was sad to see him like this. He had fallen so far. He taught me all I know about being a Chaser. But now he had fallen to the lowest level of bottom feeder whom drew too much of the mist from the humans leaving little for them to survive. His addiction pushed him further and further into the dark places where feeders end up. The deeper he went the further he fell from the tribe and it was time for him to find his way back. My job was to see he came back in the fold and yesterday I finally caught up to him.
He turned on me, “Don’t call me Harry! You know how I feel about that.” Horatio went back to grabbing at his back trying, in vain, to get the knife out. “Am I supposed to know something about the knife? What I do know is that it is in my back and it does hurt.” He continued to twist and turn in his futile attenpt to remove the knife. “Let me tell you what else I know about you Greta Grimmward. You’re jealous. You just want what you can’t have. You’ve been a step behind me trying to steal my mist. Every time you’re too slow, and you can’t stand that I’m there first.”
“You need to focus. Stop thrashing around and tell me about the knife.” I moved closer to Horatio. “It was yours at one time. Have you forgotten? You spoke the first enchantment, and brought the first feeder home to the tribe.”
Horatio froze. Something seemed to wash over him and I hoped it was recognition. He was the first chaser for the tribe, but after a thousand years of huffing the fumes from the humans he forgot his place. He lost his way. Addiction replaced responsibility.
Lunging at me he roared, “No! I won’t go back! I won’t do it!” He turned on his heel and slid through the window. The human stirred. Thank the Tribe he didn’t break the pane in his rush to leave. I followed him knowing he wouldn’t get far. The addict never did. Once the knife finished it’s job, and chemicals were out of his system we could work to bring him back. It took time, but I hoped he would recover. Maybe it would work this time. Maybe.
This story first appeared on my other blog as a two part series. Today I combined the two into a single story for easier reading. This story, like all the contents of ArbitraryDustBunnies is protected by copyright laws. Enjoy this post that is brought to you by the letters H (and G) along with the A to Z Challenge.