Short Story: Pneuma Kleptis pt.5

Pneuma Kleptis pt.5

by Lee Hulme

Read pt 1
Read pt 2
Read pt 3
Read pt.4

Ty opened his eyes to see a hooded figure pacing the room. Head pounding, that was all he could take in before a groan escaped his lips and the figure turned to him, hood sliding back slightly.

The face under the hood was pale and hairless, their eyes a soft, gold-flecked brown in the iris, surrounded by bloodshot red. Their teeth were straight and white as they offered something that was half-smile, half-grimace. When they spoke, their voice was lyrical, lightly accented, and hypnotic. Ty’s headache faded on the first syllable.

“I warned you to stop,” they sighed.

“You really thought that crap would work?” Ty asked.

They sighed again, “I hoped it would. Once upon a time, it would have. I suppose I’ve spent too little time around people, the last few generations. You’ve changed faster than I expected.”

Ty frowned, “What?”

“I have lived for millennia. I have seen the pendulum of the world switch and change. I have seen the birthing pains and the final breaths of more cultures than you can imagine. The things I’ve seen. The horror, and the beauty, you could never comprehend.” They sighed and hunkered down, robe flowing to the floor around them. “I am old, and I am tired, but I am compelled to steal the life force of others in order to live, long past the time I should be dust. Long and long.”

“Got it. You’re nuts,” Ty said, standing. “Which way’s the door?”

They stood and pointed, a pale hand slipping from beneath the robe.

“Great,” Ty started towards the door and then stopped, “I’m coming back with others. You’re sick. You need help. And whatever you’re doing to those people,you need to reverse.”

They nodded and drew the hood back over their face, “I will await the three of you.”

As Ty reached the door he heard a shrill whistle from behind, and turned to see his phone flying at his head. He caught it deftly and exited, looking around.

The land was empty. No crops. No grass. Not even any weeds. The ground was just bare as far as Ty could see, broken up only by the occasional remnants of collapsed stone.

Behind him, the building was a pale cream stone, held up by crumbling Doric columns. Vines draped the building, long dead and seemingly fossilised, hiding what might once have been Hellenic frescoes or mosaics.

Turning away, Ty thumbed the power button on his phone and waited for it to turn on. Seeing no signal, he kept it in his hand, picked a direction, and began walking.

The landscape stayed the same. If he hadn’t stepped over or around dead fences and rubble once in a while he might have wondered f he was moving at all. After what felt like hours, his feet loudly counting each new step, Ty spotted a shimmer disturbing the air just ahead. Walking into it felt momentarily like walking into jelly, soft and suffocating, but just as he was on the verge of panic, he stepped out the other side onto a road, lined with overgrowing trees,woven around a long wooden fence.

As his phone picked up signal and began to vibrate, he looked back.

The endless landscape was gone, replaced by an identical line of fence-backed trees. But when Ty reached out a hand, the viscous substance was still there, pushing back against him.

As he walked down the road,looking for an end, Ty quickly flipped through the messages and voicemails clogging his phone, filing away for later everything that wasn’t Sam or Jas. As the sound of traffic grew steadily louder, he called the last number to call his – Jas’s mobile.

“Listen, fucker, let him go or I swear-”

“Woah, Jas! Jas, it’s me! It’s Ty!” he interrupted.

“Ty?” came back Jas’s hopeful voice, “Ty?!”

Then came Sam in the background,”Ty! Thank fuck! What happened to you, man?!”

“Not super sure but I’ll tell you all when I figure out where the hell I am and how the hell to get to you. Gimme a sec…”Ty taped at his phone for a few minutes. “Fuck. Alright I can’t pronounce any of these places so I guess I’m in Wales. I can google up a taxi to the nearest station, take me maybe 4 hours and a bunch of money to get to you.”

“Do you need any money? I can transfer some, just say how much.”

“I got it for now cuz, thanks, might hit you for food money before payday though.”

“Anytime, Ty. Look, just keep texting so we know you’re still there, call if you need anything, and tell us when you’re close so we can come and collect you from the station.”

“You da boss, boss. I’ll see you guys soon.”

As Ty hung up, Jas and Sam both slumped back into the sofa, relieved and exhausted in equal measure.

“He sounded ok at least, still himself.”

Jas nodded, “He did. I wonder why. I’m glad, but…I wonder why.”

“Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.”

“Why don’t you get some sleep, Sam? Now we know he’s safe?”

“You didn’t sleep either,” Sam argued, but the mention of sleep had set off a powerful urge to yawn and fall over sideways.

“One of us needs to be awake to reply to him – just get a couple of hours, I’ll wake you and we can switch, does that sound reasonable?”

Sam nodded.

“Good. Go take my bed, so you don’t get disturbed.”

“Alright, but promise to wake me in two hours.”

Jas nodded dismissively, already engrossed again in the stacks of notes and research, searching for a way to put the pieces together.

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