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Tom Koperwas

Wraith Wind

 

Rath sat on the throne in his Absorption Chamber high atop the towering Black Citadel, his bloated, *wraith-like body soaking up the waves of fear and pain radiating from the enslaved masses labouring far below in the planet’s mines and energy wells. Smiling grimly, he gazed out the hooded window at the planet’s shattered surface and the violet flames flickering in the pits, where multitudes of tiny figures driven by bullwhip and lash were hard at work extracting red-hot minerals and glowing blocks of energized black matter. 

Rath ruled a slave-world and a far-flung planetary system of untold wealth from his throne in the Citadel. Still, the grim ruler was dissatisfied. Sliding open the Citadel roof, he peered upward at the vast, bright, nebulous cloud hanging over his hellish planet. The incandescent light of innumerable hot suns glowed up there; bright orbs with populated worlds, all of them ripe for the picking. Those shiny worlds bathed in light were the prizes Rath desired. His scientists had recently discovered a rift in the sky, a tiny interstice in the interdimensional fabric — a wormhole to those higher planetary systems. One world in particular, a bluish one covered in white swirls, fascinated him.  

Rath concentrated, focusing his mind and will on the vast reservoir of energy stored in the Absorption Chamber. Drawing deeply on its reserves, he filled his ghost-like body with its untold power. Supercharged with the demonic vitality, he stretched his body up to the open roof, then out the Citadel toward the wormhole in the sky. As his body stretched, it thinned and attenuated, dramatically altering in appearance. One moment, his body resembled a snake with the face of a man, then a twisting, writhing cable with revolving eyes, and finally a pencil-thin wire, his facial features faintly etched on its surface. Up, up he went, until he reached the lip of the tiny wormhole. Slipping into the miniscule orifice, he pushed through the unstable layers of interdimensional fabric.

 

Squeezing through the barrier, he emerged on the other side. 

Smiling with relief, he breathed deep the sweet night air of the bluish world. 

A predatory impulse drew Rath down to a small farmhouse standing in a sea of corn. To the east, summer storm clouds were gathering on the ragged horizon. Wrapping his wiry body around a damp haycock, he began to swell and change. Soon, a hideous, ghostly child lay atop the haycock, an incredibly long organic wire attached to it like an umbilical cord pulsing with demonic energy. The child grew rapidly to the size of a small dog. Then, unexpectedly, the frenetic pace of growth slowed and came to a sudden halt.

“Is it possible,” thought Rath anxiously, “that my arduous journey has depleted the energy reservoir in the Absorption Chamber? Now I must find sustenance in the new world if I am to grow whole. Only then can I detach myself from the cord and begin my new life here.”

The ghoulish child turned its monstrous face toward the farmhouse.

“Fear is food, my daily bread,” he thought. “Instinct tells me that a vulnerable creature capable of abject fear lives inside that abode.”

Rath’s ghostly body floated off the haycock and drifted through the air to the side of the farmhouse.

Pressing his vaporous head through the exterior wall, Rath peered at a nine-year-old girl dressed in a plain black skirt sitting on a chair facing the entrance door. Miriam was a petite child with large, defiant eyes, long black hair, high symmetrical cheekbones, and a tiny mouth that always appeared to be pouting.

“Where is Capri?” she fumed aloud. “That so-called babysitter always leaves me alone after Mom and Dad leave. I bet she’s out in the barn with one of the neighbourhood boys!”

“My first victim in the new world,” chuckled Rath to himself. “I have just a little energy left with which to terrify her. My appearance alone should suffice.”

Rath’s distended face flowed into the house, expanding till its hideous visage enveloped the girl.

Rath paused and stared. She didn’t cry! The girl didn’t even whimper. Failing to terrify the girl with his original form, Rath changed into an enormous centipede that raced across the floor toward her feet. No response! The girl only yawned. Seething with anger, the wraith-like being turned into a multi-headed cat as tall as the ceiling, slashing menacingly at the girl’s face with its long claws.   

“She has eyes, but she does not see,” thought Rath, reverting abruptly to his child-like form. “The girl is blind! That must have been the vulnerability I sensed in her!”

“If she can't see me, then surely she can hear me!” shouted Rath.

Opening his mouth as wide as a door, the wraith blasted the girl with a cacophony of deafening sounds: horrific screams, screeches, squawks, squeals, and caterwauls. Miriam leapt to her feet and covered her ears with the palms of her hands. 

“Nice try!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. “You farm boys scared me before. But it won’t work again. I’m too old now to believe in monsters and ghosts!”  

Miriam squeezed her hands firmly against her ears and thought about the accident. It was raining hard the day her father's car slid off the road and into a wall. She remembered coming to in the hospital and screaming because she couldn't see a thing. The doctors told her that a foreign object had entered the part of her brain needed for sight. Miriam's struggling parents were too poor to afford the risky operation to remove the object, so Miriam was told she'd have to wait.

But Miriam didn’t have to wait long for the neighbourhood boys to start bedeviling her, surrounding the house at night whenever her parents were out trying to earn a living, banging on the windows and howling like monsters. At first she screamed with terror, crying nightly. Then one night she heard them laughing after she started to cry. One of them even called her a loser. After that, she swore no one would ever make her cry again. 

Miriam’s thoughts flashed back to the present. Taking her hands off her ears, she stood tall and pouted defiantly.

“The girl doesn’t believe in me!” roared an exasperated Rath, gnashing his long teeth. “My last chance is to make physical contact,” he thought grimly. “It's time to do or die.”

Rath began to spin until he generated a wind in the house, lifting Miriam off the floor.

“You put a board on the floor that I stepped on when I got off the chair,” cried Miriam. “And now you’re lifting me up. That won’t scare me, you wicked boys!”

“She still doesn’t believe in me!” screamed Rath.

Overwhelmed with frustration, the wraith tipped his head back and howled like a banshee. Then he began to spin faster and faster until he created a powerful vortex. Off went the roof, and up went Miriam, soaring out of the house. Flying through the air, she came down with a thud on the wind-toppled haycock. Miriam lay still for a minute, then sat up and shook her head. Grinning with disbelief, she jumped to her feet, whooping and hollering in the falling rain. 

“What is it?” yelled Capri, running out of the barn, her tousle-haired boyfriend Bridges in tow.

“I can see! I can see!” shouted Miriam.

Capri and Bridges froze in their tracks and stared with disbelief at the girl and the battered house leaning awkwardly behind her, with a huge hole in its roof. “It was a twister,” muttered Capri, looking up at the dark clouds swirling ominously overhead. “It blew the roof off and sucked Miriam right out of the house.”

“And the fall must have dislodged the object in her head and restored her sight,” said Bridges.

The two teens smiled and took hold of Miriam's hands, then walked back to the house, leaving behind the rain-soaked cornfield where the scattered roof shingles and broken roof beams lay.

All of a sudden, a brilliant flash of lightning lit up the debris, and the diaphanous body of the demon child lying amongst it, its hand reaching desperately toward the sky and the distant wormhole. No one could hear the ghost-child's silent howl of despair. No one could see its hollowed out eyes filled with rage. No one could imagine its alien thoughts, bubbling over with an insatiable hatred, and an aching desire for revenge.


 

*A Wraith is a creature that is ususally, but not always created by and feeding off of the negative emotions, such as fear, anger, and jealousy... is capable of physical harm, and can throw objects, inflict scratches, bruises, and can even choke... is typically attracted to children and teens. 

(Wikipedia: A Shaman's View)


 

Thomas Koperwas is a retired teacher living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada who writes short stories of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in: Anotherealm; Jakob’s Horror Box; Literally Stories; The Literary Hatchet; Literary Veganism; Bombfire; Pulp Modern Flash; Savage Planets; Dark Fire Fiction; The Sirens Call; Yellow Mama Webzine; 96th of October; Underside Stories; Blood Moon Rising Magazine; Corner Bar Magazine; Free Bundle Magazine; The Chamber Magazine; Suburban Witchcraft Magazine. Bienvenue à la Danse, Thomas.

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