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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2029693-Disembodied
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2029693
An entity with no physical form seeks a new host.
Peering down at the body of the old woman I’d inhabited for the last three decades, I caressed the side of her face.  There was no family to claim her.  Sheila Gritts had died alone.  In two days, she would be buried in a public grave set aside for those who had no family to grieve for them.  I would mourn her.

I approached her thirty years ago at St. Agatha’s Hospital.  Sheila was there to visit her dying father, David Isaac Gritts.  The hurtful old man had tormented and terrified her for her entire life.  Even on his deathbed, his cruelty was so engrained that instead of sitting by her father’s bed, she was huddled in the corner of a janitorial closet down the hall from his room trying to reign in her frustration and pain.  I approached the small room and slid under the door, pooling in front of the mop bucket she was using as a shield. Although she was rife with emotion, it was her fear that called me to her.  I promised to end her terror, to allow her to be brave. If she would let me in, I would give her the courage to use the words she’d always wanted to say.

With overwhelming trepidation, she’d agreed.  As soon as I joined with her, I could feel the rage under her fear.  It was small, but had the same power as a spark creating a forest fire.  Pulling in the endorphins that were fueling her flight reflex, I pushed her adrenaline to breathe life on the ember of her anger.  Standing tall, she pushed back her shoulders and stormed out of the closet.

When we reached her father’s room, the door had just touched closed when her venomous words began -- laser precise, as she confronted him about his abuse.  He had mentally and verbally assaulted her every day of her life.  She was never good enough, she was dumb, she was ugly, clumsy, worthless, helpless, stupid, and pathetic and if she was all of those things in his eyes, why on earth was she waiting on him hand and foot.  Why not let her go so she could have a life?  She’d wasted a lifetime on him and now at sixty-three, she was finally going to take it back.  Turning at the doorway, she hung her head as tears streamed down her face.  She wanted him to call her back, to apologize, to say he’d never meant the cruel words he’d said to her, or just to say he loved her. 

“You’ll change your mind,” he growled out, “but don’t think I’ll take your weak ass back after this…you ungrateful whore.”

I hinted mentally that we could go back and finish him off, pinching his oxygen tube or putting an air bubble in his IV. She simply shook her head no.  Straightening up, she wiped the tears off her face. 

“I love you, Papa,” Sheila Gritts whispered, walking out of the room.

Without speaking, we walked the long sterile white corridors to the exit.  She felt numb – emotionless, but I didn’t try to pry and find out what she was thinking.  I figured she would tell me if I was meant to know. We exited the hospital and before us the green grass and trees glowed as the setting sun illuminated them from behind.  A breeze blew her salt and pepper hair out of her face and a bird sang a pleasant song somewhere to the right of us. A feeling of complete contentment surged through us the moment the sun caressed our face.

“Goodbye,” she whispered. And then the part of this body that was Sheila Gritts, was no more.

She didn’t have to go, we could have shared, but like so many others she’d been ready to quit a long time ago and I’d given her closure and a safe way out. I’ve never been able to fathom what happens when the human spirit leaves -- whether it goes to heaven, ascends to the greater consciousness, or just dissipates. For Sheila Gritts, one moment she was there, the next gone. 

A week later, David Gritts, her father died. There had been an unfiled will in the wall safe.  I found it while cleaning out his office. The horrible man had left everything to a church he never even attended. Even in death, he was a malicious human being.  Needless to say, I burned his last testament of hate in the fireplace.  So without anything or anyone to contest her inheritance, Sheila got it all.

I assumed Sheila Gritts’ life.  Her memories were filed in her brain, like a biological library waiting to be accessed. Her neighbors knew her as the kind, crazy cat lady who lived with her jackass father in their run down, cluttered house.  Externally, everything looked normal until what they knew changed.

Her cats hated me on sight.  In general domesticated felines hate the Disembodied.  Something about our essences inhabiting the bodies of their caregivers causes them to freak out.  All eight of them were gone within the week.  Their smell was harder to get rid of.

It didn’t take the neighbors long to realize Sheila Gritts had changed.  No longer hiding in the house or offering the neighbor brats cookies, they caught on pretty quickly, especially when I threatened to shoot the mini-terrorists with a shotgun for strewing toilet paper on the trees in the front yard. 

When I arrived, the house had been filled with clutter from both Sheila and her father.  I could feel no emotional connections to the clutter around me.  Not one of her memories contained a love for any of the things inside the house. I emptied most of the contents out onto the curb and ignored the neighbors picking through the detritus of the Gritts’ life. 

For thirty years, I lived as Sheila Gritts.

I’d grown attached to her form, but humans are finite and eventually there was nothing I could do to extend her corporeal existence.  Her body looked small and frail.  Her pale skin appeared translucent and silver wiry hair, incandescent in the barely lit room.  She had been an excellent host, so unassuming, so innocuous.  Her death had been inevitable, all things die eventually, but I would miss using her form. I would miss her.  Even though her spirit had left thirty years ago, her mental and muscle memories made this form her.

I allowed the ventilation system of the morgue to inhale my essence and release me into the night.  Without a physical form, I feel neither heat nor cold and the drizzle of rain was merely ambience not a hindrance.  Sounds pulsed through the air drawing my attention and releasing it as I determined a direction to go.  Expanding my awareness, I heard the cry of fear.  It felt sharp and tangy, and a wave of hunger ran through me. 

When bodiless, my species feed on emotions.  Some of us never acquire a corporeal form, preferring emotional food over the benefits of having a body. They have given birth to the legends of succubae, incubus, fairies and boogeymen.  Humans are volatile enough without forcing fear, lust or wonder from them.  I much preferring the fruits of their curiosity and exploration.  Traveling in the direction of my new quarry, I felt the rush of the hunt.

The buildings were large obelisks of glass and steel interspersed with smaller brick and mortar structures in random spats of human whim.  Neon glared above while people milled under the eaves. Hunger, passion, greed, desire and need all bombarded my senses. I momentarily lost the scent of my prey.  Cursing the affectivity of the fleshed, I rose above the city moving away from their overpowering distraction.

Above the chaos, I sought the pungent emotion that had called me toward the city.  The beacon of dread lie to the east of me, stronger now than before.  I rode the air currents toward my prey.

Descending into the foggy drizzle, I saw a slight girl sitting inside a bus stall waiting for a ride. Drenched and shivering, she huddled on the end of a bench watching the road in front of her.  Her fear was tangible, thickening the air with an acrid tang that tickled my senses. She reminded me of a bunny cowering in the grass knowing that the fox was just on the over side of the knoll. 

I coiled myself into the space behind her and whispered, “Why are you playing in the rain little rabbit?”

Her ears couldn’t hear me, but that primitive part of her brain that ruled over fight and flight knew I was there.  She sat up taller and looked up and down the street.  Drops of heavier rain hit the roof of the shelter in quick staccato beats causing her to sit up straighter. Her heartbeat sped up and her breath came in short quick bursts. 

“I..i…is anyone th..th..there?” she stammered, looking side-side, waiting for a monster to pop out of the shadows.

The empty street returned nothing.  She turned around to look behind her and I caught a glimpse of wide terrified eyes, showing whites all around dark pupils.  A car sped down the road and she turned back around jumping as it drove through a puddle.  A wave of water splashed over the sidewalk barely missing her.

She clutched her hands to her chest as she watched the vehicle drive off.  Shaking her head a little, she laughed, the sound crackling into the night like breaking glass.  Taking a few deep breaths she whispered, “Stop being silly.”

Watching her as she tried to pull herself together, I admired her reserve of inner strength. I could only guess what would have pushed someone this young into a night like this.  I reached out and stroked her aura, drinking in her terror.  As I absorbed her emotions, I nudged at her inner defenses.

“Let me in,” I whispered.

A shiver ran through her and she pulled her coat around her tighter.  She shook her head no even though there was no way she could have heard me.

“What are you afraid of little rabbit?”

As if summoned by my question, a man walked into the pool of light down the street. He carried a large black umbrella and his long strides quickly brought him closer to the bus stop.  I could feel the corruption in his aura and knew instantly he was the object of her fear.

“Jessica? Jessica! Why did you run away?  Your Mom and I have been worried sick!” He rushed forward, dropping his umbrella on the sidewalk.  “Jesse honey…” he reached for her and she backed away squeaking as she almost fell off the bench in her rush to get away from him.

“Don’t!” she whispered emphatically as she stood up and moved to the corner of the shelter inadvertently placing her being inside of my essence. Silent tears started running down her face and her lip quivered. 

I thought she had been terrified before, now her timorousness rippled off of her in thick constant waves.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, with so much of her attention focused on her object of her fear I latched onto her subconscious and rode my way into my new home.  Now that I was in, I could see it all.

“I will protect you,” I whispered into her mind.  “I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.” 

Constrained by our new symbiosis, I empowered her as much as I was able.  If I we had been joined by years instead of seconds, I could have caused her a surge in adrenaline that would have enabled her to punch her fist through his head. I did what I could. Damping down her endorphins and boosting her self-confidence, her fear ebbed and she straightened up, looking at the man who’d entered the bus stop.

“I h-heard you, Steve,” she stammered.  Anger replacing fear. 

“What?” he asked stepping forward.  “I don’t understand.”

“I heard you!” she yelled.  “In the kitchen with your buddy, Shawn!”

“Shawn is over a lot, what do you think you heard honey?  Come on, let’s go home.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you!  You…you and Shawn…you were talking about me and…” she shut her mouth tight and shook her head.

“We were just joking honey, it was nothing.”

“You were talking about me!  I am not nothing.”

“No, no you’re not.”  Steve looked down at his hands.  “You are just becoming such a pretty young woman, and we were complimenting you.”

“Complimenting? Joey Minsk got kicked out of school for talking about a girl’s boobs.  You and Shawn were talking about what you would like to do to me.  You were talking about fucking me!”  She spat out.

“Honey?” he said stepping closer.

Jessica started to shake, doubt creeping into her mind on whether it had been smart to confront her mother’s boyfriend.  I laughed and took over.  This wasn’t the first predator of innocence that I had confronted.

“Don’t honey me, you pervert.  You are a sick, sick man Steve, thinking a fourteen year old is a piece of …what was that you called me?  Oh yeah, hot meat!”  We took a step forward.  “I’m going to tell my Mom.  What do you think she is going to say?” 

“She won’t believe you,” he said, but there was doubt on his face and in his voice, and he took a half step back.

We stepped toward him.  I could tell his confidence was shaken, he was sweating and rubbing his hands against his legs.  He smelled of beer, sweat and some cheap cologne that I have no doubt he used to hide the rancid musk of desire.

“Steve, I want you out of our house, pack up your crap and leave.”

“That is for your mother to say.”

“What do you think she is going to say when I tell her?  How about the neighbors?  Missy is only two years younger than I am, do you think she is a piece of “hot meat” too?”

He moved to slap us, but we grabbed his wrist.  Jessica wasn’t very strong, but you don’t need to be if you know what you are doing.  Squeezing the pressure points in his wrist as hard as we could, his eyes opened wide and he jerked his hand out of our grasp.

“Next time, I break it.” We sneered at him, relishing the fear he was emanating. “What kind of man slaps a girl for wanting to tell the truth?” 

“Jessica?  What is going on here, you’ve always been such a good girl.”  He backed away from us.

“A good girl?  You mean meek, docile, quiet, and obedient?”  We stepped toward him. “You happened to me.  You objectified me, you made me afraid to be in my own home, you caused me to feel that being on the streets would be safer than under the roof of my mother.”  We jabbed him in the chest sharply.  “You!”

As if he suddenly remembered that he was a foot taller and at least fifty pounds heavier, Steve stepped forward towering over us.  Snarling, he tried to make a grab for our arms.

Ducking, we swept his feet out from under him causing him to fall backward.  His head hit the edge of the bench causing his neck to snap backward.  Teeth clenched he snarled up at us.

I could feel Jessica’s amazement.  She hadn’t known that she could defend herself.  She had begun the journey toward seeing herself as a victim.  Seeing Steve on the ground empowered her, giving her hope.

“You are going to leave my mother’s house,” we said.

“What no ultimatums? No threats?”  Steve spit out glaring at us.

“Threats?  Steve I am going to tell my mom, the neighbors and the police about you and Shawn.  When they dig into the two of you, what do you think they are going to find?  I am giving you a chance to run like the coward you are, instead of embarrassing my mother by having you arrested at her house like the dirty pedophile you are.”

Anger flashed across his face.  He surged up to rush us.  Dodging to the side, we pushed him forward ramming his head into the metal pole of the bus stop shelter.  He stumbled back and we pushed him forward ramming him into the pole again.  His eyes rolled back and he slumped down on the wet ground. Turning from the bus stop, we ran toward home.

“Who are you?” whispered Jessica inside our head.  “What are you?’

I contemplated what to tell her?  I hadn’t shared a space in the last three forms.  Would Jessica try to push me out?  Go to priest and have me exorcised?  I could lie to her, tell her I was her guardian angel come to help her in her time of need.  Would she understand about the formless about those of us who depend upon others to have a corporeal form in this world?

“I am one of the Disembodied,” I said, speaking directly to her mind. 

“Disembodied? Like a demon or an angel?” she asked.  If she’s been speaking out loud, her voice would have trembled.

“No…more like a spirit.”

“A ghost? Are you a man or a woman?”

“No,” I replied, trying to keep her from seeing how humorous I found the questions. “I never had a corporeal form, I’m not gendered.  We are beings of energy that feed on emotion when we are not connected to a host. My siblings and I just are.”

“Whatever you are,” she started and then stopped.  I felt her hesitation.  “Thank you. I couldn’t have stood up to him without you.”

We continued down the street until we came to a small craftsman-style house. 

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Jessica said.  “This will break my mother’s heart.  She was so lonely before Steve came around.  Now…she is going to think I am making it up.  I should-“

“Go in there and tell her what happened.” I paused as I tried to exude calmness to her. “She might think you are lying, she might be upset, but if you don’t give her the benefit of the doubt, if you don’t trust her, then you are taking away her ability to take care of you. And worse, you’re letting Steve and Shawn win.”  I drank down her fear and anxiety.  “I will help you stay calm, you’ll feel me here with you, but you need to do this.”

Jessica took a deep breath and as we walked toward the front door.  For a moment I thought that her fear had won as she turned away and looked down the street.  Before she could bolt the door opened and an older version of Jessica opened up the door. 

“Jessie?” she said as she reached out and grabbed our shoulder. “Jessica oh my god I was so worried.” She pulled away and looked at our face.  “Honey what’s wrong?  Did something happen?”

Taking a deep breath, we let her lead us into the house.  This was Jessica’s story.  I would give her strength to enable her to rise above her fear.  But she would have to tell it. Floating back to her subconscious I let my new host carry us inside.

word count: 3235
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