Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Of Death and the Dead Men, 4.

“You’re not answering my questions,” said Danny Clark, as the woman who he had just met pulled him through the darkened corridors of the morgue. His agitation throbbed like a second pulse in his gut and head. When it grew to such a deafening roar that he couldn’t ignore it he realised that the death grip of rage that ran through him was the only sound in his body—there was no head pulse, that feeling of one’s heart against one’s temples when the abject rage of life becomes too much; no rumble of attention and wanting in his stomach… the only sound left in him was anger. “I’m not going anywhere until you answer me!”

The woman—her face creased and aged like a mother whose child had just thrown a tantrum in the middle of some public place—was wrenched back in her movements, and looked back at where her hand, and Danny, had come to a stop. “Okay, fine. Do you know what a psychopomp is?”

Danny hadn’t heard the term before. It scratched at the back of his head like a scab, but he couldn’t figure out why. “No, I don’t think so…”

“It’s a spirit guide. When someone had unfinished business on this plane of existence, a psychopomp helps them restore order to their soul. Your soul, by the way, is a mess. What do you remember?” She leaned in close, and her breath smelt of nothing. There was a void from within her now without, and he moved away at her question. “Well?”

Danny looked down at himself, and then back up to the woman. He hadn’t remembered he was a priest before she had shown him his uniform, and then the memories came back in drips and drabs. His mind was a mess, a storm that obscured the facts and made focusing difficult. He was running on instinct, acting how he thought he should act, not knowing if it was the way he would act. Was this him?

“Not much,” he admitted, “and you… I don’t even know who you are.”

The woman smiled, and the creases were ironed out from her face, and she was young again. “Well, I’m your psychopomp. I am the spirit guide that will let you find peace.”

“Do you have a name?”

The woman arched an eyebrow, and considered the question. She looked as if she’d never been asked before, or didn’t know, but then, after a moment of her eyes drifting from one side of the room to another, she settled down, and nodded. “Call me Z. Yup. Let’s go find who killed you, yes?”

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