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Soul eater

April 12, 2012

The dream begins with a woman wielding a dagger and trying to protect herself from a man with a long sword. He is pushing her backward up a wide stairway with short risers, leading to a beautifully appointed living room at the top of the stairs. The room boasts large windows covering most of the wall opposite the stairs. Artificial light shines through them from a row of lights standing beside a driveway outside. On both sides of the stairs are large marble planters containing forests in miniature. They are breathtaking.

I am standing where two hallways converge, watching the drama unfolding before me. To my left a hallway leads to other parts of the building. The right hallway leads to an outside door. Both hallways are lined with many doors. Behind me is another living area that is dark and mysterious. I see the silhouette of a man standing in front of the windows opposite. It is difficult to see him because the windows are bathed only slightly in outside light. He doesn’t move. I don’t know where we are or how we came to be here. The place is unfamiliar and possesses a dark energy. It feels dangerous.

I become aware that I am holding a very large and heavy sword, and that I seem to have some purpose here. I follow the fighting woman and man into the living area in front of me, where I am surprised to discover bleachers full of spectators on either side of the room.

The woman is fighting for her life and losing. The man’s sword sings through the air before stopping suddenly with a sickening thud. The man steps back and expertly guides the tip of his sword through the tender flesh of the woman’s abdomen, left to right, leaving an incision from hip to hip. She crumples after an astonished gasp, and people from the bleachers wheel a gurney to her side and place her upon it. Her blood saturates a white lace sheet that is covering the gurney.

Forgetting the spectators and the gurney for a moment I furiously advance on the man, surprising him. He had been concentrating so completely on killing the woman that he had not been aware of my presence. It seems that I should know this man. Rage is emanating from every part of me, and it doesn’t seem possible that I could feel this much emotion for a stranger. He faces me and before he can recover himself to attack me, I place the tip of my sword into the hollow below his shoulder created by his left clavicle, and then using both hands and all of my weight I thrust the sword straight downward and behind his ribs, slicing his heart. The act takes all of my energy and most reserves that I didn’t know I possessed. Falling to the floor, the man lies in a rapidly growing puddle of his own blood and dies.

During the man’s last tortured gasps the spectators and their bleachers fade away. I go to the woman, who is still alive, and reach for a nearby rotary style land line telephone that is sitting on a small table near the windows. Dialing ‘0,’ I am connected to an emergency operator who assures me that an ambulance is on its way to the place I now inhabit. She calls it something Center, but I can’t make out the first word. The operator’s tone seems annoyed as she tells me that it could take some time for the ambulance to arrive at such a remote location.

Shaking, I replace the telephone receiver in its cradle and turn to find a man leaning over the woman on the gurney. He is holding her hand and crying. The crying man and the woman on the gurney seem important to me. I care for them, but do not know why or who they are.

The crying man tells me that we must hurry to prepare the dead man for the ambulance to take away, for it’s unlikely that we could have two ambulances sent to this far flung place. While talking, the crying man uses the dead man’s sword to cut the carpet wide around his body and the horrifying stain of his blood. I help the crying man to roll the dead man into the large carpet piece until we can no longer see his face or his blood in the carpet. My sword remains where I put it, deeply embedded behind the dead man’s ribs.

As we wait for the ambulance the silhouette moves in the room opposite, coming toward the hallway crossing. I move out to meet him and for the first time can see who he is. He tells me that he always knew it would come to this; he would be around for my downfall and would take my soul with glee. A close relative, he had watched and waited for this time. He said he had been playing different scenarios in his head for decades.

Here is my fall. I have killed, and he, a soul eater, has come to take me away from everything I have ever loved. It makes sense that he is a soul eater. He could never have been anything good. I am resigned. I never could beat him and it was only distance—emotional and physical—that has saved me from him for many years.

He moves closer to seize me as we hear a loud clearing of someone’s throat. In the hallway leading to the outside door, I am stunned to see my dad standing there as if he has somehow forgotten he is dead and that standing there isn’t the most natural thing in the world. He hasn’t forgotten. He is emotional. He says he misses the family.

Dad addresses the silhouette man, telling him that where any of us can be found, the man is not welcome. I begin to feel a bit of hope. The silhouette man can no more defy my father than I can. Dad is the patriarch still, and the silhouette will never be able to take that place.

While listening to my father I see the ambulance pull up outside of the windows. The attendants care for the woman and remove the dead man. As he is leaving to join the woman in the ambulance, the crying man tells me that everything is okay. He tells me to believe it.

I will try.

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