If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed

College was eccentric enough that Taryn passed by the stranger eating cereal in her apartment without a second thought. She also barely registered that there was an open book floating in front of the stranger’s face, pages turning by themselves.

All Taryn cared about was getting out of her rain-drenched clothes and praising every God if her textbooks had stayed dry. They were rentals, and she couldn’t afford to buy them at the end of the semester if they were too damaged to return.

Holding her breath, she dumped them onto her twin-sized bed in the apartment’s one bedroom past the kitchenette. She shared it with her roommate, who was doing her rounds for her residency. The two years it would be before Taryn started her own residency seemed way too far away.

Roommate’s gone, a part of her brain chimed in, so who the hell was that out there.

No longer caring about books or cold and wet clothes, Taryn rushed into the kitchenette, slipping on the linoleum. She bit back a swear as she prepared a spell, the rings on her left middle finger and right pinky hot against her skin.

“Angie wasn’t kidding about pre-med being full of zombies,” the stranger chuckled before slurping milk from the bowl.

Swallowing the spell, Taryn straightened. She ignored the already-fading pain in her backside and ankle—she must have twisted it in the fall—and she focused on her rings growing cool again. She couldn’t afford the energy waste. Spells required time of prepping jewelry and other physical objects to hold power for when she needed it, but with classwork, she didn’t have much time to even pay attention to the phase of the moon these days.

Luckily, it looked like the cereal thief hadn’t noticed any slips or altering of energy, and a smug smile cut across her round face when she caught Taryn eyeing the floating book. She must have done it for show, rather than entertainment, while she waited for someone to return. She shifted in the two-seat couch but didn’t get up, and the book slammed shut and lowered onto the old trunk being used as a coffee table.

It was Taryn’s ethics textbook, and she finally recognized the stranger.

Continue reading “If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed”

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There is no Soul in his eyes. They’re dark, blank, flat, Void.

They don’t see me. They see atoms making up a form of paling colors; they meet blue eyes half-veiled by dark hair; they pull at my own Soul, knowing they have none of their own and knowing only Absence, only Wanting, only Needing.

We scream in the Void, let our tears fall into it, but it still seeks, still thirsts, still needs all that makes Souls, Souls. It knows as his eyes know. It knows its own Absence but cannot find its own essence to diminish its Emptiness.

His Soul might be waiting in Limbo or Heaven or Summerland or right next to me but unable to interact, to pull me away before the eyes he once had finish pulling out my own Soul wisp by wisp.

All I know is that he, as the Gods know Him, is gone, leaving only him, this body, this husk, that only Wants and Needs and Feeds on Souls to fill its Void.

All I know is I long to follow –

But instead tear my eyes away and run.

The (Ir)Replaceable Girl

“There.” The mechanic sighed. “Please be more careful.”

The wrinkles around the mechanic’s eyes deepened.

The girl looked down at the floor. “Yes, Mother.”

The mechanic didn’t like the girl calling her ‘master’ or ‘maker’ or ‘miss’ or ‘ma’am.’ The formal ‘Mother’ felt more compromise than truth.

“I know I make a lot of rules,” the mother said as she tipped the girl’s head up so their eyes met, “but it’s because I care. I don’t want you getting hurt or – Lord forbid – lose you.”

“Because I’m your one and only,” the girl stated. It was an easy-enough line of logic to follow.

Eyes shining more, the mechanic slowly shook her head. “Even if I had many, I would feel a piece of me die if something were to happen to you. Go play, now. I need to finish making dinner.”

The mechanic left, and the girl stared out the door, which had been left open to let clean air move through the quaint home. She could hear the mechanic moving around in the kitchen, pots being moved and drawers and cabinets opening and closing.

The girl blinks and raises her arm to look at where the mechanic had welded the wound shut using tape that absorbed the oil she leaked.

She could not follow the mechanic’s logic.

If there were many others, why should her being lost matter? To the point of the mechanic feeling like a piece of herself had died?

She was only an object. An expensive one, yes, which meant as she continued to be updated and gather new information and skills, she was to use these to earn back her keep. Yet she seemed to have earned the mechanic’s love when she’d yet to do anything to earn it.

Standing, the girl did as ordered and went back outside.

When she reached the porch, she looked at her arm again, trying to see the flesh and blood and soul the mechanic saw but saw only metal and oil.

In the middle of shelving, the phone rings. The store’s small, I’m the only one here today, and the storm has kept customers at bay, giving me time to get things in order for them to fuck everything up again.

Yawning, I take my time getting to the phone. Hopefully they give up, and when the ringing stops, I pause and groan when it starts ringing again.

I’m already planning how long to sit in silence while I “check the back” for something we don’t sell as I pick up and say, “Taylor’s Tailors, Fabric, and More, how may I help you?”

The automated voice on the other end is easily recognizable before it even gets out the first syllable.

At least it’s not a customer.

Halfway through the automated voice’s let-me-sell-you-shit-you-don’t-need spiel, I’m about to hang up when static breaks through the voice.

Weird, and I bring the phone back to my ear as a new voice – a woman’s – calls out, “Hello? Hello?!” in a panicked voice.

“Ma’am?” True emotion slips into my voice now, adrenaline spiking through my veins as I dig out my cellphone from my apron pocket in case I need to call the police.

There’s this pounding in my head. Something bad is happening somethingbadsomethingbadsomethingbadsomethingbad

“Ma’am!” I call when there’s nothing but static on the other end. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

The static stops suddenly as lightning flashes outside. The lights go out without even a flicker of warning, and the woman’s voice comes back:

“Do you believe in God?”

My heart falls through my stomach from the war of relief and fury I feel.

“No.” My tone’s too forceful, but I don’t give a shit.

I’ve been dealing with evangelicals in this dead-end town since birth, even almost died when our old preacher convinced my mom to rely on faith healing before my dad finally took me to a hospital. I don’t need this, especially when there’s a breaker box I need to go find.

The woman’s voice is all around me now, the dead phone falling from my hand:

“Too bad. ‘Cause I quit, and you’re next.”