The Nine Lives of Xen Chapter 5: Xen and the art of homicidal maintenance

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Killing a person is easier than you would think. Once you’ve made the decision to kill someone, the hard part is over. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s almost like second nature now. Although, I don’t quite look at what I do as killing as much as expediting the natural order of things.

I’ve also realized that I’m very particular about who I take life from. I’ve had these parameters up for so long I hardly realized they were there until I had to change them all.

As a personal preference, I tended to prey on people that had six months to a year left to live. And that was a guaranteed six months, no miraculous cure in sight. But I never tried to exchange a life force from one person to another. I wanted to find someone near  death to try out my experiment. I had no idea if the amount of time affected the “weight” I would carry, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Although I keep referring to it as an experiment, there was nothing scientific about it at all. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to tell if it worked or not, not by sight anyway. I just had a feeling I would know.

So I set out to find a short-timer when I stumbled across Mrs. Evans. I walked past her in the recreation room and noticed a promising vacant stare that those near death tend to adopt. I made sure no one was looking and jumped into her lap. (Thump. Thump. Thump.) She had two weeks left, at most.

That night I made my way into her room. (doors in places like this are rarely closed).  A bit of luck had it that Mrs. Evans was assigned a single with no roommate to complicate matters. She was fast asleep by the time I arrived. Once again using caution, I jumped up on her bed and lightly walked over until I was sitting on her chest. With my paw I gently applied pressure to her chin until her mouth opened. I could stare down into the back of her throat.

I didn’t have to wait long. I soon saw a slight translucent trail snake its way up past the place where her tonsils would have been.  (There was once a movie playing in the rec room about some divers that encounter an alien life force made of water; that is what life force looks like.)

I opened my mouth and inhaled the strand until it had completely exited Mrs. Evans.  Thankfully, she had not been hooked up to any kind of life-monitoring devices, so there was no loud noise alerting her demise.

I strolled over to M’s room. There was certainly a sensation in my mouth as I concentrated on keeping Mrs. Evans essence separate from my own. I quickened my pace for fear of losing my hold on the two stolen weeks.

Cautiously but quickly I slipped into M’s room and took the same position on M. as I had Mrs. Evans. I didn’t know what to do at this point, so I simply opened my mouth.  I was amazed to see the strand of essence leave my mouth, not as the translucent mass, but as a slivery mist that slid its way over to M and seeped into her open mouth and nostrils. 

As the wispy tail of the essence escaped me, a life flashed before my eyes:

I was running down the beach, not in a straight line, but curving with the tide to avoid splashing. A dog was close behind, but I didn’t feel like I was being chased. I fell down and turned over in the sand, just in time to be covered in Golden Retriever kisses…

Walking down the beach with a box in my hands, I felt like I’d been crying. I opened the box and dumped the ashes onto the sand…

Then I was walking down the aisle of a church. So many eyes on me—some crying, most smiling—the man I was going to marry looked at me from the end of the aisle. He was both smiling and crying. I knew we would be together for as long as we lived…

Walking down the aisle of a church, so many eyes were on me—some smiling, most crying. The man I married was in a box at the end of the aisle. I liked to think he was smiling…

So many people coming and going: My house was a cacophony of sympathy. I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered who the old woman was looking back at me…

My inability to take care of myself landed me in this home. I stayed away from mirrors; I was tired all the time. Life wasn’t always this depressing; I tried to hold on to those good memories. I had pleasant dreams and felt happy. I also felt pressure on my chest…

My vision was so intense and unexpected that I tumbled off the bed. I scampered quickly under the bed as a nurse came in to investigate the noise.

I recognized the face from the vision: Mrs. Evans. Her life had flashed before my eyes. I heard of people claiming to see their entire lives laid out before them during near-death experiences. Now, I knew those visions, those memories, were directly tied to their life forces. Mrs. Evans had been tied to me for a short time, but losing her essence was still a form of “dying,” so I saw her memories.

If I kept thinking about it, I was going to freak out.

As soon as the nurse was satisfied with the noise situation, I made my way back up to M. I don’t know if it was my imagination, but there seemed to be some color in her cheek that hadn’t been there before. Maybe I was projecting. Maybe I just wanted it to work so bad I made myself see whatever I wanted. But something in me knew it had worked. This meant I could extend her life and, who knows, maybe even cure her. We could be together forever. 

Such a prospect made me dizzy with excitement. I almost fell off the bed again. I found my bearings and hopped down as silently as I could. I thought how I needed to be careful, as to not be seen spending too much time around M. I wouldn’t want to raise any suspicions. Besides, I had some planning to do. Having proved my little theory meant one thing was certain: A lot of people in Greendale Pines were going to die.

Anthony David Lawson is the author of “Novel,” as well as a local playwright, director and actor. He will write a piece of prose presented in parts every other week in encore throughout 2015, entitled “The Nine Lives of Xen.”

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