Chapter Ten

Dank

The soul standing beside me watched anxiously as the little boy standing over the soul’s former body cried loudly. I didn’t like situations like this. I needed a transporter immediately. However, I wasn’t going to leave until someone heard the boy’s cries and came running to check on him.

“Wake up Grandpa, come on wake up,” the boy chanted, shaking the empty body lying in the field. Dirty tears streamed down the kid’s face. Although he wanted to believe his grandfather was only sleeping he knew the truth. The sobs wracking his body were an indicator he’d already accepted the fact his grandpa had passed on.

I peered over at the soul whose face was tense with frustration. He didn’t like seeing the boy upset.

“He’ll be alright. You’ve had several years with him to make an impression on his life,” I told the soul and his eyes lifted to meet mine. Some peace drifted over him.

“Sorry I’m late, Dankmar,” Kitely apologized as she appeared to the right of the soul.

I nodded but didn’t say anymore. The transporter took the soul and left. But I waited. Leaving the boy out here alone with his dead grandfather wasn’t something I was comfortable with. Not that he would come to harm. His soul wasn’t marked to leave the earth. His life would be a long one. But leaving him to grieve alone was wrong. I watched him grab handfuls of the old man’s shirt and burry his face into the fabric. His sobs were growing quieter now. Acceptance always came easier to the young.

“COLBY!” A shrill female voice called out and I lifted my eyes to see a young woman with short red hair come running over the hill. The fear was etched on her face, her large brown eyes bright with anxiety from the cries of her child. She was worried about her son and didn’t realize yet her father was gone. I peered down at the boy once more as he lifted his head and called out to his mother. My work here was done. So I left them.

The house smelled of ammonia and vapor rub. It was a familiar smell. All the houses of the elderly I visited smelled the same. The old lady, tucked firmly into her bed under several homemade quilts that were a mixture of brightly colored patterns that I had no doubt she’d made herself, stared up at me through cloudy eyes. She’d lived a long one. This had been a good life for her. One hundred and five years on this earth was a gift very few were given. Only the best, most honored souls were given these lives.

“Well, it’s about time you got here,” she whispered in a weak voice.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. She’d been waiting on me. The oldest one always were. They knew when it was time. These were the easiest souls to take.

“I’m here on time, cher, you’re just an impatient one,” I teased her with the endearment her husband had used when he’d been alive. I remembered him murmuring, “I’ll see you in the hereafter my cher,” to her before he left his body. She’d smiled through her tears. That had been almost fifty years ago.

“Ah, you heard him,” she smiled and the wrinkles in her face crinkled even more.

“I did.”

“Well, let’s get on with it, shall we, I’m ready to see my man,” she whispered and a series of coughs wracked her small frail body. I reached for her soft cold hand and she gave me one small squeeze before I drew her soul out.

* * *

Gee was sitting in the purple chair that had once been where I spent my nights as I walked into Pagan’s room. Shifting my gaze to the bed I realized it was empty. I glared at Gee, “Where is she?”

“Snippy, snippy Dankmar. Do you have low blood sugar too?” she drawled. What the hell did she mean by low blood sugar?

“Where is she Gee?”

Gee sighed loudly and stretched her legs out in front of her. For once she wasn’t wearing the tall black army boots she was so fond of. Her feet were bare and her toenails were a hideous shade of bright green.

“She’s in the bathroom, jeez.”

I turned to stalk out of the room when Gee stopped me, “Um, Dankmar, I don’t think she’ll appreciate you barging in on her while she showers.”

She was right of course. I wasn’t thinking. It had been almost twenty-four hours since I’d seen her and I was growing more and more frustrated by the minute. Leif was completely off my radar and I was still at a standstill on how to deal with him. I’d thought after I disposed of Kendra he’d show up but I’d gotten no response.

“You missed an awfully fun day,” Gee’s sing-song voice wasn’t something that I found comfort in. It meant she was about to say something that was bound to piss me off.

“What did I miss?

“Well, let’s see, I found out Pagan has low blood sugar and becomes a complete b--witch if she doesn’t eat a candy bar during a stressful moment. And I found out that Miranda does, in fact, love gossip and, quite possibly, Pagan more than she loves the tall lanky boy she hangs all over,” Gee paused and then grimaced when she heard my angry snarl. I wasn’t in the mood for games. “Oh, and Leif has returned from visiting his grandparents up North. The entire school was abuzz with excitement.”

He’d returned to school. My disposing of Kendra hadn’t sent him to me; it had sent him back into Pagan’s world. I hadn’t expected that.

“Is Pagan okay?”

Gee stood up and threw an amused smile my way before heading for the door, “Yes, of course. I was on her like, um... I believe that old woman last week we took after she’d burnt down her house cooking said ‘like white on rice’,” Gee laughed. “That was one funny old lady. I hope I get to transport her soul again the next time around.” Then Gee left the room.

The pale pink dress hanging on the outside of Pagan’s closet door caught my attention. The soft fabric appeared almost precious enough to touch Pagan’s skin. I walked over to it and picked up the dainty hem and rubbed the silky texture between my fingers.

“Do you like it?” Pagan asked before wrapping her arms around my waist.

“I love it. When will you wear it?” I inquired turning around in her arms to gaze down at her and soak in her features.

“Well,” she bit the inside of her lip nervously then glanced around me to look at her dress. “I saw it at the store and I just... liked it. I guess I need somewhere to wear it...” she trailed off staring up at me hopefully. Was she asking me to take her somewhere nice? Our last few weeks had been anything but fun for her. We’d been dealing with Leif and his crap. Other than the concert that ended horribly I hadn’t taken her anywhere.

The door creaked and I lifted my eyes to see Gee stick her head back inside. “It’s called Valentine’s Day, you moron,” she announced. “If you’re going to date a human, Dankmar, you need to remember their holidays.” Gee gave me an exasperated look before closing the door once more.

Valentine’s Day. I’d forgotten about that holiday. Holidays usually meant more work for me. Depressed people tended to end things on special occasions and party goers drank too much and then got behind the wheels of vehicles. But Valentine’s Day wasn’t too bad as far as suicides and car wrecks were concerned.

“I’m sorry, Pagan. I’m not very good at this, apparently. Can you forgive me for not thinking about the fact I need to do more than just show up in your bedroom or go with you to school? I’m a piss poor boyfriend aren’t I?”

“Ignore Gee. She just likes to give you a hard time. Honestly, I didn’t buy this in hopes you’d take me somewhere for Valentine’s Day. I just saw it and I remembered that you wanted me to wear pale pink once, for the Homecoming Dance. I thought I’d get it and maybe when we had time I could wear it somewhere with you.”

I kissed the top of her head. Leif was interfering in our lives and I didn’t like it. My mind was focused so much on him and Pagan’s soul; I’d neglected her. “Valentine’s we have a date and I definitely want you to wear that dress.”

Pagan

Dank was gone again today. He’d stayed the night with me or at least he’d been there when I feel asleep. Last night he’d played my song. I’d missed hearing him sing it.

There had been more words added this time as if he’d perfected it. The desperate sound in his voice had made me glad I was lying in my bed watching him. I was pretty sure I’d have become a puddle on the floor if I’d tried to stand up. His dark hair had fallen into his eyes as he looked down at the guitar in his hands and strummed the beginning of the song. I’d recognized it immediately. The words drifted through my head all morning as I hummed the hauntingly sweet melody.

“You weren’t meant for the ice. You weren’t made for the pain.

The world that lives inside of me brought only shame.

You were meant for castles and living in the sun.

The cold running through me should have made you run.

Yet you stay holding onto me

Yet you stay reaching out a hand that I pushed away

Yet you stay when I know it’s not right for you

Yet you stay

Yet you stay

I can’t feel the warmth. I need to feel the ice.

I want to hold it all in until I can’t feel the knife.

So I push you away and I scream out your name

I know I can’t need you yet you give in anyway

Yet you stay holding onto me

Yet you stay reaching out a hand that I pushed away

Yet you stay when I know it’s not right for you

Yet you stay

Yet you stay

I can’t feel the warmth. I need to feel the ice.

I want to hold it all in until I can’t feel the knife.

So I push you away and I scream out your name

And I know I can’t need you yet you give in anyway

Yet you stay holding onto me

Yet you stay reaching out a hand that I pushed away

Yet you stay when I know it’s not right for you

Yet you stay

Yet you stay

Oh, the dark will always be my cloak and you are the threat to unveil my pain.

So leave, leave and erase my memories

I need to face the life that was meant for me.

Don’t stay and ruin all my plans

You can’t have my soul, oh, I’m not a man

The empty vessel I dwell in is not meant to feel the heat you bring

So I push you away and I push you away

Yet you stay

Ooooooh

Yet you stay

Yet you stay

Yet you stay”

“What has you looking all dreamy standing over here all alone?” Miranda asked, startling me out of my thoughts by slapping a hand against the closed locker beside mine. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face.

“Dank,” I replied.

Miranda raised her eyebrows and fanned herself with one hand, “Girl, I don’t blame you, that boy can wear a pair of jeans like nobody’s business.”

I laughed and shook my head. Miranda truly appreciated men. She loved Wyatt but that didn’t stop her from checking out the rest of the male population.

“Speaking of hotness, here comes your last drool-worthy boyfriend,” Miranda whispered.

Not what I wanted to hear or deal with right now. Peering over my shoulder I watched as Leif spoke to those who passed him until he’d managed to work his way to me. It was so easy to pretend he was normal. Closing my locker door I turned around to face him.

“Leif,” I muttered. It was the best I could do.

He apparently found this response amusing because his grin only grew bigger. “Pagan, it’s good to see you too.”

Haha. Wasn’t he a riot?

“What do you need?” I asked a little too brusquely because Miranda elbowed me hard.

“Well, I was wondering about the tutoring. I mean, now that I’m back I need to keep up my grade and you know I can’t do it without your help.”

Whatever. There was no way a voodoo spirit was dyslexic. Did he think I was an idiot?

“Ah, well, when you left I filled your spot. But I’m sure there are other tutors available if you feel you really need one.” I’d tried my best to get my point across without Miranda picking up on anything.

“But you were so helpful. I doubt anyone else will be able to help me the way you did.” He was enjoying this. The gleam in his eyes said he was thoroughly enjoying every minute. I wanted to push him away and head to class but that would only cause drama and attention I didn’t want. So instead I pulled my book bag up higher on my shoulder and stepped around him without another word. I heard Miranda apologizing for my behavior which was just ridiculous but she didn’t know that.

“What’s wrong with you? I mean, I know he broke up with you but you have Dank now. Why hold a grudge?” Miranda asked after she caught up with me.

I opened my mouth to respond when the ringing of her cell phone interrupted me.

Miranda rummaged through her bag in a hurry to find it before a teacher heard it.

“You know you should turn that thing off at school. You’re going to get it confiscated again,” I chided her.

She pulled it out of her bag and flashed me an annoyed glance before answering.

“Hello.”

“Why? What’s going on at the field?”

Miranda grabbed my arm to stop me. Her face looked puzzled. “We need to go down to the field. Not sure why but that was Krissy Lots and she said I needed to get down to the football field immediately then she hung up. There were sirens in the background.”

“Sirens?” My interest had just gone from curiosity to alarm.

“You two need to come with me, now,” Gee appeared in front of me and I really hoped I just hadn’t noticed her walking up. Appearing out of nowhere would freak people out.

“We have to go to the football field,” I explained, as Miranda ignored her and pushed past the other students

“I know you do,” Gee replied without one ounce of her normally snarky attitude. Instead, she sounded worried. That could only mean... ohgod.

I didn’t stand there and wait for an explanation. Instead, I took off after Miranda and we reached the door leading down to the football field at the same time. We ran the entire way toward a field that was now swarming with people and two ambulances. There was only one person we both knew that went to the field every morning to run. Wyatt.

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