Short Story: Pneuma Kleptis pt.8

Pneuma Kleptis pt8

by Lee Hulme

Catch up: Pt.1     Pt.2     Pt.3     Pt.4     Pt.5     Pt.6     Pt.7

Sam awoke to find Jas’s head on her shoulder, sleeping peacefully. After a moment of careful consideration, Sam stayed where she was, not wanting to wake Jas or end the moment of closeness. She allowed her mind to drift back into a doze, the extra rest welcome.

Jas’s sleep was not as peaceful as it seemed. She ran across a field in the dark, tripping over lumps of soil, twisting her ankle and running through the pain. She heard no sounds from behind her, but still she knew she was being chased. Her breath tore through her lungs as she kept running, hoping for something ahead to give her safety.

She glanced back for a moment, still seeing nothing in the darkness, but in that moment she ran into something solid, and rebounded to the floor, where she scurried backwards as she looked up to see what she had run into.

It was a figure, one which would have been tall even were she on her feet, cowled in a dark robe, face hidden beneath a heavy hood. As she watched, frozen on the ground, it reached towards her, the hand which slipped from the sleeve bony and pale.

“Fuck no,” she told it and flipped to her knees, pushing herself up and starting to run back the other way.

The ground slipped frm beneath her feet and she landed, chest down, on the floor.

“Nope,” she said again, and tried to rise.

The grass became hands and gripped her tightly, holding her in place.

A voice came from behind her, raspy and full of air, “Be still, child, I offer no harm to you. Yet. You will help me, and I will return to my slumber until the next time I am forced into your world to feed. I have no choice, and neither do you.”

“Always have a choice, asshole,” Jas gasped through gritted teeth as she tried to pull herself free.

She awoke with a flail that headbutted Sam and spun her onto her back, heart racing, breathing ragged.

“Ow! Fuck, ow!” Sam rubbed her chin, “Bad dream?”

Jas nodded as she slowly calmed herself down, rubbing the top of her head, “Yeah. Maybe. Dream or something. I butted you? Sorry. Wait – how did I butt your chin?”

“You were sleeping on my shoulder. More than a dream?”

Jas rolled over and propped herself up on one arm, “Sorry, I’m not usually cuddly when I sleep. I’ll tell you both about it.”

Sam smirked, “Well you were pretty cute and cuddly just now. Til the assault, anyway.”

“With you as a pillow, I suppose I couldn’t resist,” she smirked back, reaching out to touch Sam’s chin. “Didn’t hurt too much did it?”

Sam took the hand in hers, “Nah, I’ve done worse to myself in my sleep, no biggie.”

“Good. Think Ty can spare us a minute longer?” she asked, bringng Sam’s hand to her lips.

“I reckon so,” Sam touched Jas’s cheek and gently pulled her face in close enough to kiss.

***

In the living room, Ty paced. The walls were thin enough to hear Sam and Jas’s voices, but they hadn’t yet emerged and he was becoming impatient.

After a few minutes the door opened, and the women exited, hands entwined.

Ty was not too preoccupied to notice that, and he stopped pacing long enough to give them both a smile, “Jas always had good taste – in men and women,” he nodded at Sam. “At least that’s something I can rely to stay the same.”

Sam grinned, “Better than your taste, then?”

Ty tilted his head from side to side, “I don’t really have any taste in anyone, but if I did you can b pretty sure Jas’s would still be better. I gotta tell you something though,” he grimaced, his moment of calm broken.

Jas stepped forwards and put her hands on his shoulders, stopping him from jittering, “What happened? And why didn’t you wake us when it did?”

“You needed the sleep, and nobody was in danger,” Ty shook his head and related the events of the evening.

Once done, Jas told them both of her dream.

“Well I feel left out,” Sam said when they both finished.

It wasn’t a good joke, but it allowed the three of them to laugh, slightly relaxing the tension that ran through them all like a cord.

“So it would seem,” Jas continued, “That our creature, whatever it is, has a time limit on completing the feeding. We’ve been enough of a problem that it now risks running out of time, so it wishes to blackmail you into helping. I assume it went for me in the hopes that I would be able to help it persuade you, which means it knows how close we are, and does not think Sam would be able to offer the same level of persuasion.”

“So it doesn’t know everything,” Ty nodded at Sam.

Jas nodded absently, “Which leads me to form a hypothetis. This creature feeds on the minds of those connected to old families, something about a powerful ancestry keeps it alive more than just any random mind would. It also sees you and I as close, but cannot discern that Sam could have the same persuasive effect on you, which suggests that it can only see – or feel, or sense, or whatever it is that it does – through familial connection. Whether that be blood, or DNA, or something outside the realm of our purely human senses, this is both a strength and a weakness.”

“Good theory, but even if it’s true, how does it help?” Ty ran his hands over his head in frustration.

“It means that, of the three of us, I’m the one that can blindside it,” Sam suggested. “If I’m being discounted, at least to a point, because I’m not part of your lineage, then I’m the one that can surprise it while it focuses on trying to force you to do what it wants using Jas as leverage.”

Ty nodded slowly, “As much as any of this shit makes sense, that sorta does.”

“So we require a plan, of some form,” Jas settled back into the sofa, one arm dangling over Sam’s legs as she joined her, “Wherein you and I, Ty, keep the creature busy, while Sam attempts to trap or kill it.”

“Your dream, Jas,” Sam mused, “And what it said to you when it had you, Ty. Is it me, or does it sound a touch reluctant at times, like it’s forced to do this to survive but it doesn’t really want to? If so, that’s weakness number two.”

“If it ain’t fighting at full force cos some of it wants to die, that works in our favour,” Ty agreed.

“But we can’t count on that,” Jas shook her head, “Unless we can find out for sure, we can’t use it.”

Sam sighed, “Well first we need to figure out where the thing is, and probably soon would be good.”

Ty stoo and stretched, almost touching the ceiling, “Road trip, then? I vote we stop at a supermarket for food on the way.”

“Seconded,” agreed Sam.

“I’ll drive,” Jas stood. “Let’s hope we can find it before it gets impatient.”

***

The creature sat alone in the brick farmhouse it currently called home. It would need a new place before succumbing to hibernation again, but that was unimportant for now. Time was short and it needed to persuade the humans to find food. With every passing moment it felt the urge to hunt, to feed.

Yet, a strange lethargy lay across it, weighing it down. The weight of years, perhaps, but more. The possibility of failing to feed, which meant when the time came, it would fall into dormancy and starve before it could wake again.

It had been many, long centuries. Many sleeps. Many awakenings, each more painful than the last as its physical form, forced to keep going so long past its time, continued to move.

It must feed.

But.

What if.

This time.

It didn’t?

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