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Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker

 

Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker

by Sivia and Nick

Published by Sivia and Nick at Shakespir

Copyright 2017 Sivia and Nick

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

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this book remains the copyrighted property of Sivia and Nick, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or noncommercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

The Hallow Heights Chronicles presents:

Who Killed Autumn Moon?:

The Origin of the Soul Sucker

 

written by Sivia and Nick

 

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What are the Hallow Heights Chronicles?

The Hallow Heights Chronicles are a series of stories that capture the paranormal and otherwise unexplained happenings in the town of Hallow Heights. Occurring over various time periods in the town’s history, you’ll recognize some overlapping characters that can effect each other’s tale whether it be a soul sucker from the swamps or a jazzy paranormal investigator aiding a father and his new born baby. This parallel universe contains references to pop culture you’ll recognize to help place the story’s time frame with additional made up movies and songs to benefit the books’ humor. While they are written in no particular order, we hope you enjoy discovering and connecting the clues hidden within each freaky story to one another.

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Hunt

Chapter 2 Daniel Goodmen

Chapter 3 The Kill

Chapter 4 Married with Kids

Chapter 5 The Hunger

Chapter 6 Transformation

Chapter 7 Autumn Moon

Chapter One

The Hunt

 

The soul sucker’s hairy back spiked like daggers, a stark contrast to the young woman’s long velvet freshly shaven legs. Her spirits were high after making love to her boss at their secret rendezvous: Ronny’s Place of Rest, a cheap motel at the edge of town. It housed traveling salesmen, and secret relationships. The place needed a new paint job, and the reviews said not to trust the bedding, but somehow the business continued to thrive. The surrounding woods were a nice touch that added to the spooky setting.

The mistress skipped to her modest sedan while humming an upbeat tune. From a mile away her lover fantasized about their meeting and the way she looked unarmored without clothing. Despite their unconventional relationship, the middle aged man couldn’t resist the way his secretary made him feel; alive and bursting with inspiration. Each encounter refilled his spiritual bottle and brought him back to the young man he once was.

Even though it was the middle of the day, the overcast weather suggested a later setting and an ominous mood. Birds had stopped flying overhead, and despite the eerie tone nothing could pierce the woman’s happy demeanor. The romantic couple had divided after “lunch” and planned to meet separately at the office. Meanwhile, the soul sucker laboriously breathed as it peered from behind its hiding spot. Its long claws scraped the bark; a nervous habit that conveyed its eagerness to feed. The unsettling sound made the woman jump and turn her head abruptly. However, there was nothing concealed between the pines, but the claw marks on the trunk would have said otherwise.

The vivacious vixen wore a short tight red dress that hung off the shoulders. In an instant, the outfit had transformed from a display of her sex appeal to a poor wardrobe choice for battle. A disturbing feeling crept through her spine as she hurried to put the keys into the car. After a few seconds of steadying her nerves, the stressed woman unlocked the door. Before entering, the four flat tires caught her attention. Instead of a small knife wound from a delinquent, or an inconspicuous hole from a shard of glass, there were long thin tears throughout the rubber frames. The mistress clutched her purse and keys to her chest and frantically checked the surrounding parking lot, but again there was nothing. Not a soul.

The beast climbed a tall tree for a better view. It did not smile in pleasure at her discomfort or become excited by her stress. Instead, it only pondered its hunger. Inside it’s swirling black hole of a stomach, the creature consistently ached for the perfect meal. Never fulfilled by any particular prey, the soul sucker dreamed of the day the agony would end. It was the kind of wound that twisted and begged with a mind of its own. This gnawing was endless and controlled the soul sucker’s every waking thought and action. “Maybe this woman was it?” the creature speculated. The pink aura that surrounded her body was opaque in color. The stronger the illumination of pink light, the more hunger the prey satisfied it. The soul sucker obsessed about the prospects of relief and gaped with its massive yellow eyes. Its pupils sat at opposing ends of the iris like a frog. Even if the monster stared right at you, you’d never know it. The woman bent down to examine the destruction on the tires.

“What in the hell?” the woman murmured with confusion. The actions performed against her were as unusual as the markings. She had no enemies, and her lover’s wife was none the wiser. A little embarrassed to be seen wearing such a provocative outfit in the middle of the day, the woman decided not to reenter the motel, but instead walk home and phone a tow truck. The man behind the front desk gawked too much and asked inappropriate questions she’d rather not answer.

The soul sucker followed from a distance along the outer edge of the woods. It was anxious to feed before the palpable pink aura surrounding his prey dissolved. Standing at nine feet tall with black and green scales that covered its legs, the creature’s enormous wide feet took strides three times the size of the woman’s. Only a few houses spaced apart resided between the motel and the main populated part of Hallow Heights. Patience pricked the beast, but an imaginary clock counted down to the lover’s inevitable demise. The woman’s heels clicked at a speed of every half second, and the scene grew quiet with each step that echoed into the cloudy sky.

The only thing smooth about the soul sucker was the small patch of skin that remained around those terrifying yellow eyes and mouth. Fur and boils covered the rest of its hide. The toughest porcupine hairs came from the top of its back and merged with its matted head hair.

Back at the office, the boss had returned and impatiently waited to see his little ray of sunshine strut through the entrance’s French doors. They’d avoid eye contact and smile to themselves savoring the secret they both harbored. His lover would flip her wavy locks and elongate her posture all for his attention, but the minutes passed by and the boss’ next client wouldn’t show until two pm. Alone and worried, the concerned man called his secretary’s home, but no one answered. The young woman was punctual and organized. Her routines were set in stone and gave his life ease. The longer time passed, the more the man pictured all the traits he admired about his special girl.

Back on the desolated road, the woman emanated a deeper hue of pink that made the monster’s eye protrude even further than they already did. The nearest collection of homes were a quarter mile away. In a few yards, she’d see the tops of their roofs and run the rest of the way. Without losing momentum, the soul sucker scooped up a few large stones as it glided along its prey. The woman’s red dress was just out of reach.

The road to the motel had a layer of woods set along each side. While the patch of trees on the left extended for miles, the right hand, the one the soul sucker cruised, was small and used as a short cut to the main strip in town. The soul sucker lifted its arm back and threw the stone strategically across the street. It flew fast past the woman and broke a branch upon landing. The lover stopped and scanned the left grove with a ready stance. Hunched over from its tall stature, the beast’s broad rib cage slowly moved up and down with wet leaves and dead lizards woven throughout its fur. A helicopter seed whirled downwards from a branch above landing directly onto a yellow eye. The creature didn’t flinch or blink. All of its concentration resided within the hunt. With two long thin claws, it peeled the seedling off its iris; eyes still fixated on its subject.

The woman waited for another sound. The soul sucker repeated the winding motion, and another rock created the illusion her stalker was on the other side. Panicked, the unknowing girl ran for the shortcut. The beast was in pursuit. She tore off her heels and left them behind. Dead silent, the terrified victim held in her screams and concentrated her energy on sprinting. The road disappeared from view the further the mistress made her way. No cars roared by, and no birds chirped, just the sounds of leaves and branches crunching beneath two sets of feet. She knew it wasn’t an echo and took the chance of her heart exploding from exertion.

Another branch broke next to the frantic woman, and she zigzagged. Then another alarming noise came from the opposite end. The decisive thinker now wondered if there was more than one predator and heard them closing in. Too much time had passed, and the cleared path wasn’t visible. The lover was uncertain of where to go but realized the footsteps had ceased. She came to a halt and caught her breath. Nothing looked familiar, but she was alleviated to be safe. A small chipmunk scurried into the open and paused to stare. The woman had a celebratory laugh for her survival.

“Hey there little guy,” she cooed and held her bosom thankful for her track experience in high school. The young woman reached out a hand in an attempt to pet the small mammal, but it scurried off.

“Aw man,” she disappointingly whined. She flattened and adjusted the fitted red dress and brushed her fingers through her hair. The moss growing on the north side of trees indicated the way home. Her lover would understand her tardiness, and maybe even hug her in private behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, the woman’s pink aura was at its thickest, and the mistress turned around to see a pair of tennis ball shaped yellow eyes.

Chapter Two

Daniel Goodmen

 

While college was expensive and didn’t leave much pocket money for outings, Daniel Goodmen made due with odd jobs and tutoring. Despite his grueling schedule, Daniel maintained a happy disposition taking solace that he’d give himself a break by age forty. At mid day, students finding their way to their next class, clubs meeting, and visiting future peers crowded the campus. Daniel carried a box full of graded papers weaving through the mob.

A clumsy man bumped into another unsuspecting girl spilling her coffee. Before she could shout Hey, Daniel twirled around the incident without a drop tarnishing his white shirt. The vibrant environment permeated excitement for the weekend while Daniel compartmentalized his to-do list.

“Ok, so I have to revise my economics paper, read the chapter on common marketing mistakes, and prepare for my test on Monday.” He calculated he’d finish by 2 pm Saturday which would leave enough time to compose a lesson plan for Professor Links. Daniel didn’t question the ethics of his employers. Every lazy ploy was another opportunity to enhance his abilities and earn a dollar.

A brief fight broke out as a punch flew in front of Daniel. He dipped beneath the arm bridge and began mentally sorting his opening thesis statement without missing a beat. The young scholar had never attempted to be an athlete but had a natural grace and agility that would have taken him far.

Amongst the chatter, a group of protests chanted in the middle of a circular cement block connecting all of the paths on campus. The words they shouted enticed a few listeners while others walked by. With a small group of six, their conviction rang in every word. Daniel didn’t involve himself in such matters, but stopped and watched when the drama unfolded. He came to a halt when a curly haired blond woman threw a balloon of paint at a teacher trying to take her poster away. With a burst of pink color, Daniel’s gray world brightened. The woman wore a bomber jacket over her green culottes and maroon turtleneck. With great speed, the mysterious protestor disappeared amongst the crowd. The pink professor cursed in frustration.

Daniel chuckled. The disturbance had given him a spark of bliss. After dropping off the graded papers, Daniel collected his $30 bucks and ran off to his next class. Inside biology, the test tubes were bubbling with unknown liquids. While knowledge was valuable in all forms, Daniel could never quite get a handle on the sciences. The terms and stages were a tangled web inside his mind, but thankfully it was only a prerequisite. His lab partner was a dud depending on Daniel’s overachieving nature.

“Nice try Mahoney, I’m not doing the work of two men,” Daniel mocked. His peer stretched back in his chair.

“O, come on Goodmen. This is your thing. You got this.”

“My thing? You’re out of luck if you think flattery will get you anywhere.”

“It’s gotten me this far,” Mahoney presented himself with a spreading arm motion and cheeky smile.

“Stop being lazy and fill out these measurements.” Mahoney sighed and began scribbling data while Daniel haphazardly sorted through slides. The dull atmosphere gave him a rare chance to daydream. Everyone wore their white lab coats and protective glasses while the balding instructor checked each pair’s progress. Daniel knew he would be disappointed by the group’s reportings.

An out of place woman dressed in maroon and green traipsed through the classroom. She pretended to blend in with the scene, but without a lab coat, the woman looked out of place. In the back of the room, stacks of caged frogs sang under a muffled blanket. The teacher had complained several times to the dean that his classroom wasn’t a storage closet, and settled for a cheap substitute for the dilemma.

“I shouldn’t even be doing this,” Mahoney whined, “It’s not like I’m going to use it anyway. Did I tell you my Dad is going to give me the theater?” Daniel was only half listening, engrossed by the amphibians and their visitor.

“He’s giving you the theater?” Daniel feigned enthusiasm. Mahoney readjusted his lab coat anxiously looking down.

“Well, not give per say, but he did say he wants me to run it.”

The young woman lifted the sheet, gently picked up a frog, and rubbed the top of its head. The skittish creature remained surprisingly calm. Daniel watched the odd exchange with interest. After a few pets, the curly blond placed the animal into a duffle bag Daniel had not seen her carry. Then the young woman reached beneath the white blanket and put each frog inside her bag delicately.

The professor had checked seven pairs and was migrating closer to the bandit. Her muted colors and confident demeanor camouflaged her secret ambush. Most of the woman’s face hid beneath curly locks except for a pair of full red painted lips.

“How are we doing here boys?” the professor interrupted. Daniel jumped. “I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to scare you,” he chuckled and patted his chubby tummy, “I feel honored though. You’re always one step ahead of everyone else. Surprising you is near impossible. What were you looking at?”

The professor finished his question with a grin that depleted in seconds when he saw the empty frog cages and the freedom fighter.

“Hey! What are you doing there? That’s school property!” the angry teacher yelled. The woman’s back did not turn to face his shouting. She swiftly picked up speed. The bag wiggled and sunk as it became heavier with each amphibian. The instructor stomped down the aisle when Daniel made a hasty decision to extend his foot. The unfortunate teacher fell on to his bloated belly, and the class burst into laughter from the chaos. The mysterious intruder whipped around, and her hair parted serendipitously and finally revealed her striking blue eyes. In a second, intrigue had turned to devotion for Daniel Goodmen.

The woman’s shocked expression was apologetic. She winced as the professor moaned from hitting the tiled floor.

“I’m sorry,” she expressed remorsefully and made a hasty exit with the singing bag. Daniel chased after the enigmatic woman, but the blue eyed thief had vanished. The young man knew from the professor’s scolding look he would not be getting a good grade on his lab.

Winter passed, and spring brought cool breezes throughout the nights. When classes concluded for the day, numerous parties commenced celebrating the end of their cabin fever. Youth and inexperience gave way to fast drinkers and provisions often ran low. Daniel made quick cash delivering extra booze and snacks to minors. He had one last delivery to complete before starting his academic tasks for the evening.

The trees along the sidewalk waved in the wind. Concealed under Daniel’s button up shirt was a copious amount of corse back hair that embarrassed him in front of female company. Through the thin shirt, the cooling weather relieved his hot backside. He was not looking forward to another uncomfortable summer.

The music became louder as Daniel approached the house. The white paint had yellowed with age, and a few shingles had fallen from the roof to the pavement. Rent was cheap, so no one complained. Without knocking, he entered the home full of character with the box of goodies. A couple romanced one another on the staircase, several girls chatted in the corner, and a drunk young man stumbled to the nearest bathroom. Inside the decrepit building, the action was at its peak. Daniel cut through the energized clusters to the living room. Old fashioned wallpaper decorated the room where a group of students discussed what they considered as intellectual topics.

“No man, Animal Sounds is where it’s at. Colonel Salt’s only existed because of Animal Sounds’ influence.” The man had a poor excuse for a beard and sloppy attire.

“That’s cheap,” the bearded man’s friend argued, “Colonel’s was sophisticated. It used an orchestra in a way others hadn’t and transcended cultures with its Indian influence.” The friend purposefully gesticulated as though he had made his point

“Jason,” the bearded friend pleaded, “The concept of the album was unclear and undefined. Plus they both used orchestras and Animal Sounds did it first.” He took a sip of his beer to heighten the importance of his statement. Daniel stood in the doorway tired of lugging around heavy boxes all day.

“I hate to break up the conversation boys but,” Daniel tapped on the box he carried. Both of the intellectuals ceased their conversation at the site of whiskey.

“Alright alright! Daniel with the liquor,” the bearded man danced over with his beer.

“And Marty with the money,” Daniel playfully hinted.

“I got you I got you,” Marty slightly slurred. Some patrons of Daniel’s small business were difficult to collect from, but Marty was a friend. He slipped a wad of cash into Daniel’s hand and held on.

“You’re going stay for a little while right?” Marty lifted his eyebrows up and down flashing his crooked smile. Daniel tried to break free from the drunk man’s grip while he negotiated.

“I have a lot to get done-”

“You always have something to get done. Come on, just for an hour.” Daniel could tell that despite Marty’s wobbly walk and blurred vision, he was not going to let go until he got what he wanted.

“Fine,” Daniel rolled his eyes, “But only for half an hour.” Marty held the box up and cheered.

A few beers later and Daniel was unusually relaxed. The music swam through his soul, and his body swayed to the beat. Thoughts of academia melted away. However, while his muscles loosened, the amount of people that filled the house made him perspire. His shoulders burned from the claustrophobia. The back screen door was propped open by two people ogling one another. Daniel squeezed through the dewy-eyed couple into what felt like the icy tundra in comparison to the ever expanding party inside. He found relief from another piece of that cool spring’s breeze. While his black hair ruffled in the wind, Daniel closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of nature.

Amongst the leaves that ruffled and the crickets that chirped was a bizarre continuous shush. Curious, Daniel tracked down the noise to the curly blond culprit from earlier spray painting the outside of the house. Alone without her crooning bag of escapee frogs, the beautiful girl bit her tongue as she focused on the task at hand.

“You know that’s illegal right?” The words made the woman jolt and yelp which in turn did the same to Daniel. Once the painter scanned her potential attacker, she gathered herself and continued working.

“I didn’t do it. I’m just fixing it,” the woman reassured without guilt. A mural of an elephant had been given horns and a devil’s tail. Using white spray paint, she matched the siding and cleaned the edges. Daniel quietly admired from a few feet away. After a few minutes, the renovation was a success, but even without devilish features, the job was not over. The woman pulled out a few more colors from her arsenal; baby blue, pink, yellow, orange, and lime green.

“I thought you were just fixing it?” Daniel questioned the artist’s motives. Without facing him, she responded,

“I am. This mural sucked.” Behind the gray elephant, streams of multicolored patterns swirled. Additional dots and lines were added to the animals face and torso. Its psychedelic design made the mammal pop. The woman stepped back and smiled at her efforts. Daniel did as well.

“Are you an artist?” he again attempted to decipher the vision.

“No.” She answered readily and without resistance, but the enigma that shrouded the woman grew.

“I’ve seen you around,” Daniel commented. She turned to meet his eyes with her striking blue oceans.

“I’ve seen you too.” They shared one another’s company in silence while the night’s breeze blew through.

Weeks had passed, and Daniel enjoyed many nights of Cynthia curled up within his arms. Her soft curls tickled his nose, and while every night he planned to fall asleep by midnight, the two inquisitive lovers talked for hours.

“I like that you did that,” Cynthia complimented. Her back pressed against his chest as she combed her fingers through his hair. The stars shined brightest when the two were entangled.

“I’m just worried he’ll fire me,” Daniel confessed as he anxiously tapped his index finger to an imaginary beat.

“Who cares? You have half a dozen other jobs. You’re already a TA for Professor Keenes. She’s not going to drop you.” The rhythm pulsated through the sheets vibrating Cynthia’s head.

“Each opportunity leads to the next. It hurts my resume to have a bump in the road.” Cynthia moved from her little spoon position to face Daniel. Her mesmerizing eyes were perpetual lightning storms above a rocky sea and silenced him with just one look.

“Professor Links is full of shit,” she spoke bluntly, “You gave him a real lesson plan worth teaching.”

“A lesson that exactly contradicts his entire argument.” Cynthia didn’t back down.

“Serves him right for not writing his own work let alone not taking the time to read what you’ve written for him before hand. Daniel, seriously, I admire your hard work and dedication, but some things are more important.” Daniel’s exuberant tapping had increased in speed. Cynthia placed her hand over his, and the finger lied still.

“I love you. You know that right?” Before the electric woman had come into Daniel’s life, he was just a man with a plan. While he was diligent and proficient, each task was another empty square he checked off his list.

“I love you more than anything.” Daniel scooped her into his arms and kissed his girlfriend repeatedly. The warmth and vibrancy that radiated off Cynthia was a continuous explosion, and Daniel couldn’t get enough. He was the happiest he’d ever been, and the love he harbored burst beneath his cage of skin. The happiness was so overwhelming it was excruciating. Nothing had ever made him feel so complete.

Chapter Three

The Kill

 

The pink aura had an indescribable seasoning. Without taste buds, the soul sucker was unable to compare it to other flavors. Instead, it was a sensation. The black hole in its chest filled with the wispy pink hue, and the soul sucker felt its lungs expand, it’s brain synapses fired, and a tranquil mood overtook its body. The mistress, on the other hand, gasped while tears fell down her cheeks. Both horrified and sad beyond comprehension, the victim felt her soul evaporate with each of the beast’s inhales.

The woman’s death was not limited by the pain she felt as she took her last breath, nor the depletion of energy as the blood stopped flowing through her veins. It was the emptiness that was the worst. The deeper the monster drank, the more hollow the lady became. It was the most inscrutable death a person could know.

With its thin cracked lips in the shape of an o, the smokey pink fog transferred from the lover into the soul sucker. It cradled her frozen body in its lanky arms while her limbs slumped to the ground. Sharp teeth would not pierce the woman’s skin, and her blood would not be drained. Forensics would say she died of a heart attack at the tender age of twenty-six. Despite her healthy habits, there would be no other explanation for a heart that just stopped beating.

The woman’s face became pale as the soul sucker overflowed with her essence. It let her empty corpse fall as a rare spark ignited inside its brain. Without the constant hunger, a memory faintly rose to the surface. A woman’s grin floated amongst the very same trees the beast stood beneath, but the sunlight in this memory made the landscape warm with a yellow tint. The leaves had begun to change color with their oranges and reds. The vibrancy within the creature’s head was the antithesis of the mistress’ gray, lifeless body. Her glazed eyes still open.

The fantasy had imprinted on the soul sucker’s vision. There was no telling what reality from its imagination. As clear as day, the soul sucker witnessed a soft hand reach towards a lone deer in the distance. Parallel to its dream, a family of deer nibbled grass several yards away. The disfigured predator straightened its spine as its boils deflated. The fur around its face retracted, and a small hint of distinct features became exposed. The creature extended an arm towards the pack. The feeling of the deer’s soft coat, the animal’s magical poise, the soul sucker appreciated its unique mysticism through the smiling woman that beckoned it forward. The woman danced ahead and tenderly stroked the deer, an exceptional feat the beast cherished.

The crunching that emanated from the soul sucker’s steps put the animals on edge. From the deer’s vantage point, there was nothing around for miles, but still, the sounds grew in volume. The group of timid mammals tightened their necks and waited to see which direction they should depart. Meanwhile, a lovely technicolored world showered the monster. It could not see the fear the animals’ harbored only the happy woman that motioned for it to come closer. She seemed familiar and warmed the beast in a way it had never experienced. The woman was a beacon it worshiped and trusted.

The branches broken cut through the forest like a knife. The deer bent their knees readily. The soul sucker had finally crossed the threshold and ran its fingers through the deer’s pelt. The woman grinned and touched its hand now free of claws and scales. The brute could almost remember the woman’s name, but the frightened deer had had enough of the phantom and scampered away to safer pastures.

In an instant, the monstrosity curled its shoulders, its claws lengthened, and it’s skin inflictions inflated once more. A new patch of gnarly hair burgeoned from its back, its forehead broadened, and the creature’s teeth sharpened and reproduced. With each soul the beast consumed, it evolved and mutated. The smiling woman and yellow setting had vanished, and it had forgotten about another meal. Despite the rotting evidence behind the monster, the hunger returned, and the soul sucker was convinced it had not eaten in years.

Hollow to its core, it crawled through the monotonous rows of timber leaving claw marks every few trees. The scratching had become a comfort to the wild thing. It often felt as intangible as its desired fulfillment. The blemishes on the trees were the only reminder of its existence. It teetered a line between metaphysical worlds with no home to call its own except for the occasional mud pile.

A small stream from the swamp’s river intersected through the forest. Along the edges were pools of soggy dirt. The soul sucker laid in the filth and rolled around until it was covered. Only its yellow eyes bulged from the brown sludge. The soul sucker remained still and took relief in the cool mud it’s horrifying eyes wide open. Whether it be hours, days, or weeks, the calendar dates had no meaning. Without the ability to sleep, blink, or feel exhausted, it just sat and waited. For what, even the soul sucker did not know. Only when it’s appetite would become too much, did it travel. Everything was relative in conjunction to the eternal agony that grated at its belly.

Terrence was a younger version of the cool, calm, collected man he’d become. In his early twenty’s, he was inexperienced and afraid. He held his creole grandmother’s shot gun in one hand and his Irish grandfather’s cross in the other. Freckles scattered his cheeks, and his dark complexion highlighted his light green eyes. In a hurry, Terrence had left the house in a white tank top and tattered jeans, a contradiction to his regular coordinated attire.

The first time the young man had seen the beast, fear paralyzed him. Unable to see the pink aura it sucked, Terrence watched in horror as the soul sucker’s victim went limp and it casually meandered into the forest. Terrence had cursed his nerves and swore he wouldn’t let the monster escape a second time.

The river’s waves were hushed, and the naive hero faced the beast head on.

“You can’t do that you know?” Terrence’s words shook as he confronted the soul sucker. The mud covered creature remained unmoveable ignoring the man. The lack of activity caused the young man to think the beast was planning an attack. He inched closer with the gun cocked none the less.

“She had a life, and you took it. That’s not right.” The words directed at the soul sucker peaked its interest. Expressionless, it turned its yellow eyes in Terrence’s direction. The gunslinger froze. By the terror in his eyes, the creature knew he could see it. The soul sucker was not accustomed to an audience. It slowly stood to its scaly feet towering over the aura-less man.

“Oh my god,” Terrence whispered. Chunks of earth fell from its fur. A few lucky lizards escaped from beneath its undercarriage. As more of the creature’s appearance was revealed, the less the man was able to identify it.

“What are you?” The soul sucker began to leave. Terrence took the shot. The first bullet hit its arm. Black goo oozed from the hole. The beast did not care. Another shot was fired. The second bullet hit its thigh. With a limp, the monster carried forward. Out of bullets, the brave man hit the soul sucker over the head with the barrel end of the shotgun. The beast did not flinch and pushed him on his backside.

It was hungry again and needed to feed.

Chapter Four

Married with Kids

 

The terrible twos were more than a myth; they were legendary. Infamous for their years of mobile chaos without reason or intellect. Jimmy and Harold smeared tomato sauce against the freshly painted wall when Daniel came home from work. Cynthia jumped from behind the couch and sprayed the two troublemakers with a water gun.

“Get away from there,” she yelled a warrior call. The toddlers wobbled away giggling. Their mother had resorted to water punishments to maintain control over her suburban kingdom. Daniel lamented at the site of the dripping chunky red liquid. Cynthia wiped flour from her cheek.

“Hey, you’re home!” She kissed Daniel, and his worries drifted away. Her powerful spirit pumped the blood in his heart and calmed his easily excitable nerves. Six kids later and Daniel Goodmen was busier than ever.

“Charlie punched Darren in the face today,” she updated her husband.

“He’s three!” he exclaimed.

“Well, he threw a tiny sucker punch, and now Darren has a black eye,” Cynthia shrugged motioning to her son sitting in the kitchen with an ice pack. Daniel put down his suitcase and headed to the refrigerator. He pulled out a can of cream soda and handed it to the five-year-old. Darren’s one uncovered eye looked up surprised.

“For me?” he questioned from the wooden stool propped by the sink.

“I think you deserve it,” Daniel winked and kissed his son’s head. “Now where’s your brother?” Darren bitterly pointed to the backyard.

Outside was a broken swing set that had been repaired several times. The children were adventurous and fearless. Despite their age, each one had an acrobatic and mischievous talent. Charlie sat on a crooked swing with tears streaming down his face while Billy rubbed his back. At only four years old, Billy had an emotional maturity that surpassed his peers and elders. Their father stood in the doorway for a moment with his hands on his hips. Charlie lowered his head.

“I think you should go inside Billy,” he suggested. The tiny nurturer hesitated but obeyed the order. Daniel bent down to Charlie’s level. His red face and tired eyes reflected his false anger and guilt.

“I heard what happened.” The tough baby said nothing. “Why did you punch your brother?”

“He said I lost. But I didn’t.” He tripped over his words as he gurgled on extra saliva from exertion.

“Were you boys racing?” Charlie nodded. “And you beat him in a race?” Charlie nodded again. “Well, I’ve seen you run,” Daniel paused, and Charlie looked up, “And you’re very fast. I bet you did beat him, and Darren didn’t like the idea of someone younger being faster. He’s the oldest after all. Probably thinks he should be the fastest too.” The upset child had stopped crying and listened intently. “But that doesn’t mean you can solve your problems with fighting. You can say a lot more without punching.”

“But he said-”

“I know what he said, but I think you can be better. He can too. Maybe you could show him how you did it. And maybe he should learn from his mistakes. Do you understand?” Charlie nodded one last time. Daniel held out another cold cream soda he had hidden in his pocket. The child rejoiced. Daniel grinned and hugged his son tight. Daniel often felt nostalgic for the moments that were happening. He absorbed every second of these precious occasions and reminisced on them several days later.

Love was in abundance in the Goodmen household, and Daniel was ferocious for it. While he savored every smile, every kiss, every sentimental conversation, Daniel was a bottomless pit for love. It never fed him for long.

“Hey, babe?” Cynthia had changed shirts and washed off the baking powder during the father and son’s exchange. “Could you do me one more favor before dinner?” Her phrasing was always respectful yet commanding. A little more drained in appearance and worn from hard work over the years, Cynthia was still the most stunning woman Daniel had ever met. A true goddess he was lucky enough to live with.

“Sure,” he acknowledged warmly, “what do you need?” Billy scratched his head by his mother’s knees searching for Charlie.

“The vines have grown back,” she admitted with angst.

“Again?” Billy ran over to his brother to ask about the verdict of his crime. Charlie shared sips of soda and gossiped in hushed tones.

“Unfortunately,” Cynthia consoled empathically, “Could you cut them down? It’ll only take a few minutes if you catch it now.”

“Anything for you love,” Daniel beamed. After grabbing the sheers from the shed, the nearly middle aged man in business clothes hacked away at the brush that grew along the side of the house. The leaves resembled ivy except for their dark green almost black color. Both Daniel and Cynthia had chopped down the greenery several times, but it always reemerged. Without complaint, he pushed and pulled the sheers’ handles. The sharp reverberation that echoed from the gardening tool was a metronome that counted out a rhythm.

The sun beat down on his head, and sweat poured from every under carriage. A neighbor walking their dog gave a confused and frightened expression at the stark raving lunatic. The outfit and weapon did not match.

“Hi Mrs. Johnson!” he waved attempting to comfort his crotchety old neighbor. The senior citizen said nothing as she and her Pomeranian carried on with suspicious glances. The vines were denser than they seemed. The thick brush almost got the better of him, but Daniel powered his exhausted body with ideas for his family.

“Ok, Harold and Jimmy wanted to go to the park. I think I can do that before my meeting tomorrow,” he pondered as the sharp blades came together. Snip.

“Billy wants to see that new movie with the chocolate factory.” The cutting noise amplified. Snip.

“I think Cynthia could use a good back rub. I could start doing that before putting the kids to bed.” Snip.

He romantically imagined her striking blue eyes without clothes.

“Or maybe after.” Snip.

The brush felt infinite, and Daniel had barely made a dent. Alone without the distraction of people to care for, his intensity heightened. The frustrated gardener gritted his teeth and cut ferociously. The loving thoughts had dissipated, and a bubbling layer of fury boiled over.

“Why.” Snip “Won’t.” Snip. “You.” Snip. “Stop?!” Snip.

The broken, fragmented sentence conveyed his gut reaction despite its lack of logic. Eventually, a hand rested on the man’s shoulder that made him leap.

“Daniel are you ok?” Cynthia inquired tenderly. Daniel had not noticed his increased breathing or profuse perspiring. Five of his children gawked at him from around the corner. Both husband and wife looked upon the ladder of vines still lush with shrubbery despite the pile of black leaves on the ground.

“How about we just leave it?” she suggested. Daniel agreed and threw the tools down. The family trailed behind.

Daniel was as good of a man as his named implied. He forgot to change out of his wet clothes the second he glimpsed his youngest son Parker. The one-year-old shared the same blue pools of his wife. If Daniel could be proud of one accomplishment in his life, it would be that Cynthia’s gorgeous eyes would live on another generation. Daniel patiently waited as Parker picked between two different plastic bowls. One had a picture of a cow at the bottom, and the other had a rocket ship. Parker bit the end of his index finger as he pondered the answer. Even though this decision ate up Daniel’s valuable free time, he felt like he could fly from happiness when Parker finally chose the rocket ship.

“Great choice,” Daniel complimented. He had a feeling Parker would become a brilliant boy. Cynthia chuckled when she saw her husband’s enthusiasm.

“Daniel, he’s not going to become an astronaut just because he picks that bowl every time.” Daniel filled the tiny container with applesauce with a swagger.

“Every time,” he reasoned, “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Six children under the age of six made sit down dinners impossible. The primary goal of the hour was to shove as much food into them as possible with the least amount of mess to clean up afterward. Tonight another battle was won, and the sleepy children went to their rooms with chubby bellies. Daniel and Cynthia did the dishes and began their rounds from room to room.

“I love you. Sleep tight,” the parents sang from one child to the next. Parker was wide awake when Daniel entered.

“What are you still doing up little guy?” Parker clutched his blanket and sucked his pacifier. Charlie was in dreamland while a dazed, sleepy eyed Billy spoke for the mute infant.

“He thinks there’s a monster in the closet.” Parker didn’t respond but continued to stare in fear at the dark box in the wall. Daniel grabbed a flash light and shined it at the space.

“See. Nothing but clothes and board games.” Still a little tense, Parker laid down with eyes less open than before. Daniel rubbed his head and hummed Don’t Worry Baby from the Beach Boys. The melodic tune helped the baby drift to sleep. “I love you,” he whispered and kissed Parker. He was rich with affection, but still, Daniel searched the house for more.

Cynthia was in bed reading the paper. She gripped the edges with a cross face until she saw her husband. She scurried over with a fresh pair of pajamas and started undressing him.

“Look at you. You’re all sticky,” Cynthia lovingly chastised, “You have to take better care of yourself.” He pulled her against his gleaming skin, and she kicked and laughed in protest. “Daniel no!”

He kissed her neck repeatedly.

“But how can I resist?” Cynthia ceased her flailing and planted such a kiss on Daniel that he went limp. Her power was limitless as much as Daniel’s thirst for her warmth. She brushed her hair and sat on the bed watching him change.

“What were you so upset about?” Cynthia scrunched her brow with confusion.

“What do you mean?” Her husband motioned to the newspaper on the bed. Cynthia rolled her eyes.

“Oh, just more bullshit. I’m so exhausted I can’t keep up.”

“Then don’t.” Cynthia’s expression became gravely serious.

“Daniel.” The cloudy storm that brewed over head from her tremendous stern energy made him cower.

“I’m sorry! I just meant give yourself a break sometimes.” Daniel finished buttoning his new flannel PJs. His wife’s demeanor softened.

“Says the man who can’t take one second to get out his sweaty work clothes.” Daniel snuggled into bed pulling her close as he had done every night since they met. They were two puzzle pieces that had finally found their place. He smoothed her wild hair and stared out the window at the moon. The two intimate partners admired its full shape.

“It’s so large tonight. I can barely breathe,” Cynthia described. A resting giant in the sky. Daniel felt his lover’s lungs shorten.

“It’s watching out for us,” he romanticized. However, after his wife had fallen asleep, the moon grew and grew. It took up most of his window’s view. Daniel wondered how something so wonderful could be so terrifying.

Chapter Five

The Hunger

 

A yappy dog repeatedly barked from it’s chained post. Night had fallen, and the fluffy animal was coated in a ball of pink aura that glowed amongst the navy blue landscape. Its fur groomed to perfection. It’s nails filed to a comfortable level, and a toy had been gifted as a reward. The pup’s owner had cooed excessively over their makeover.

“You’re such a good girl, Precious. Aren’t you? Aren’t you?” the puppy’s owner had rhetorically asked. Not only was the animal unable to speak, but the puppy was, in fact, a good girl. So she wagged her tail and snuggled against the woman without a word. Inside her abode, the thirty-two-year-old woman cooked pasta primavera for one. The phone rang once, and the single gal picked it up in between nibbles.

“Hello?” she sang.

“Hello, Sharon?” The perky woman slumped at the voice’s response.

“Oh hi mom.”

“What? You sound disappointed. You don’t want to talk to me?”

“Oh shut up Ma,” Sharon teased as she stirred the noodles, “I just thought you were someone else.” The window’s glass and phone gossip muffled the barking outside.

“Oooh, who?” her mother implored.

“Oh no one special,” Sharon played coy and twiddled her fingers around the chord dreaming of a handsome face.

“Tell me. Tell me,” Sharon’s mother begged.

“Ok well, I was at the groomer’s today. You know that cute guy I told you about? The washer, not the dryer. Well-” Her story trailed off as the incessant barking continued. The nervous tidy pup sensed something in the bushes, but nothing was there. Growls burgeoned from its throat ready to protect its owner at a moments notice despite its seven-pound body weight.

The soul sucker could not resist the prey’s pigmentation. It was not the dream meal it searched for, but the monster would make due with a snack. The beast formed its mouth into an O shape and prepared to suck inward as it reached one long furry arm forward.

The frustrated pup witnessed the branches part with an empty hole in the middle. Slowly a pair of tennis ball sized yellow eyes became visible in thin air without a face or body. Precious whimpered as an immense depression overtook its small frame.

“Yeah, she looks so cute with her little bow,” Sharon praised her baby. The pink hues were almost magenta, and the soul sucker had nearly fully materialized. The tiny animal sunk into her neck wide-eyed.

“Oh no! Mom I got to go. Precious!” she hollered. As the wispy fog was about to lift from the dog, it vanished in a moment. Sharon had stepped in dog poo and furiously called for her canine. “Precious come here this instant.” The soul sucker became unseeable once more, and the petite pup cried running into the house.

Any other predator would become volatile from its failure. The meal that got away, but the soul sucker was unfazed. It gaped without emotion at the woman who reprimanded her dog with a wagging finger.

To outlive a soul sucker’s feeding was an impressive and impossible achievement. The lucky pup no longer enjoyed its relaxing time in the backyard. Without intention, the soul sucker was invisible to the general public in its natural state. Only when it was too late did victims see their killer. The monster was forever a stranger to the outside world without companions or witnesses. It fed inconsistently whether it be every few days or years. The killings were spread throughout several towns. However, its reasoning was not as tactile as it’s hunting. Unaware of its location or what year it was, the soul sucker was a slave to its hunger.

The fall leaves had transformed into snow, then blossoms, then full blooming flowers. To the soul sucker, it was all the same. Unable to feel the weather from its dominating pink day dreams, the creature aimless stumbled upon a feast at the Peach Festival. Teenagers took the opportunity to ask out dates to the dance held in the middle of the celebration. Fake cut out peaches and flowers decorated in glittery golden sparkles hung along rows of white fairy lights. Hot dogs, peach pies, and popcorn were among some of the many treats served at the concession stands. If it had a homey appeal and was delectable, it made an appearance at the Peach Festival.

The party acted as a giant pink lighthouse that enticed the soul sucker. Adults laughed with one another, and kids threw water balloons. The beast’s eyes darted back and forth struggling to choose. A young couple held hands. A father threw his daughter into the air. Two friends whispered secrets. The creature practiced its o-shaped mouth to see if it could suck multiple meals at once.

Sexual tensions were high amongst the youth of Hallow Heights, but that was not the pink aura that exuded from them. It wasn’t how much one person was capable of unlimited, unselfish adoration. Each victim was only as valuable as the love others felt for them. The more an individual or animal was cherished, the more they glowed. Here families and lovers were just as delicious as the other.

A teenage boy blocked the soul sucker’s view from behind the bushes. Crouched down, it observed the lanky boy who wore ripped jeans and baggy stripped shirt from an upward angle. His thick black hair tangled from the wind of a bike ride. The openings of his pants showed patches of dirt that covered his legs. With hands in his pocket, the young boy found a seat at the edge of the Peach Festival to sulk. The soul sucker watched curiously. A rare trait that had almost become none existent for it. The boy’s pink hue was not particularly unique. He wasn’t the dream meal the monster longed for, and yet, the beast was drawn to the teenager sitting on the cement bench. The boy’s demeanor felt familiar with his broad curved shoulders and head hung low. His isolation was something the creature knew well.

Despite the constant abrupt shouting and water balloons thrown, like the soul sucker, the black haired boy did not flinch or take notice. Apart of the landscape, he kicked the ground for a few minutes until someone caught his attention. A blinding pinkish red light nonchalantly walked through the crowd. Both the boy and the beast were mesmerized. Bright hues beamed from their frame shielding the figure’s features. Their presence cast a shadow over the remaining attendants. The longer the teenager gawked, the more intense the shining became. The soul sucker covered its eyes as specs of yellows and rays of oranges burgeoned. This was it. The impossible dream. It was real.

The monster separated the bushes slowly captivated by the living star. Haphazardly snapping a branch, the teenage boy turned around terrified, unaware of the company he kept. His head blocked the living sun creating a halo around his crown. In contrast to the figure, the boy’s face was shrouded in darkness except for his striking blue eyes. The two stared at one another for a whole minute. The soul sucker paralyzed by the image and torn between a feeling it could not identify, and it’s lust to fulfill a life long dream. The boy glared at an empty space he did not trust.

Eventually, the radiating figure passed by, and the boy turned and left suspicious of his surroundings. The soul sucker came to its full nine-foot stature and took large steps through the Peach Festival in the figure’s direction. Only small babies noticed the enormous claw shaped footprints pressed in the grass.

Chapter Six

Transformation

 

“It says half off if you buy three,” Daniel challenged the cashier. The heavy bags underneath his eyes said it all. The prepubescent teenager squirmed behind his register.

“I’m sorry sir. The sale is only for three jars, not three cases.” Daniel’s cart was full of baby food. Parker was a picker eater at age three and ate nothing other than mushy applesauce and carrots. While the food in question resembled something a mother bird would hack up for her nest, Daniel couldn’t deny those striking blue eyes. With a hectic work schedule and large family, Daniel could not remember the last time he had slept. His bed had become a stranger, but the sacrifices were worth it to see his wife and children’s cheerful faces.

The tiresome conversation dragged on, but Daniel stood his ground. He loosened his tie, pushed back his matted black hair, and planted two palms on the counter firmly.

“Listen, I don’t care how you ring it up. I am not leaving here until every third jar in my cart comes up to half off. Do you understand me?” A nervous woman waiting in line behind them changed lanes. Daniel’s stare pierced through the boy’s thin layer of willpower. The deal was honored, and the sluggish man beginning to gray trudged out of the store with his treasure.

The trunk door creaked as it opened, and Daniel commenced loading the cases of baby food. The contents were heavier than he imagined, and the tired father was weaker than he recalled. His arms quivered as he transferred them from cart to car. Multitasking, Daniel mentally went through his checklist while he performed the strenuous activity.

“Baby food for Parker, toilet paper for everyone, crayons for Darren, crackers for Charlie,” he paused trying to recount the remaining items from the list, but without sleep, his brain was as squishy as Parker’s food of choice. He let his body rest on the edge of the car with the trunk door open. Daniel’s weary muscles were stiff, and his skull pounded as a storm moved in over ahead. The dark clouds put pressure in the air from the rain they held. Daniel frowned at the taunting weather signs.

“Rain already,” he begged, “My head’s killing me.” He messaged his cranium and hoped the pain would stop soon. As usual, Daniel put his personal problems aside and again tried to recall the list.

“Ok so crackers for Charlie,” he repeated, “Jimmy and Harold I think needed new bed sheets. Sanderson’s is probably still open for another hour, so I’ll stop by there. Billy needed socks, and what did Cynthia need?” The words were fuzzy. His brain had timed out days ago, yet Daniel ran on nothing but the reward of their joyous cheers upon his return.

Thunder roared from above signaling an ominous happening. As soon as a bolt of lightning struck the horizon, a twenty-six-year-old man whistled as he left the grocery store. He jingled his house keys and skipped in his converses energetically. A happy go lucky man child. Daniel, on the other hand, was overworked to the point that he had forgotten how to perform typical human habits, like eating or blinking. His eyes were often dry and had blurry patches that distorted his vision. He blamed his weak eyes for the pink hue that surrounded the upbeat man. Daniel blinked several times to clarify the situation, but the pink outline remained. The aura twisted and curled in an infinite loop beckoning Daniel. He searched the parking lot for other spectators, but no one reacted. Mothers calmed their fussing babies. Old couples parked their cars crookedly. Everyone went about their day, while the singular odd apparition uprooted Daniel’s very existence. He let his mind go blank. The singing man headed towards the path that cut through the woods behind the store, and Daniel followed blindly abandoning the cart full of baby food.

Cynthia scooped up the twins and instructed Billy to shove on their pants quickly. They were considerably heavier nowadays making motherhood even more challenging.

“I swear you two are too old for this,” Cynthia informed the giggling pair of naked butts. Billy skillfully slipped one leg in after the other avoiding their little karate kicks. After the twin’s behinds were covered, she plopped them down, and they ran off to create more mischief. The mother winked at her helper. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.” Billy grinned and continued coloring in his book with Darren.

The smoke alarm beeped, and a fog blew up the stairs.

“Crap!” Cynthia exclaimed and leaped down the staircase. She was cable of impressive feats when push came to shove. With one mitten she pulled out the blackened roast beef and waved the alarm with the other. A small cough came from the archway. She turned to see Charlie waving smoke away from his face.

“I guess we’re having pancakes tonight,” she decided. Charlie nodded through coughs and poked the charred surface. Cynthia pulled out the buttermilk and flour and started mixing the batter when she felt an odd sensation. The clock was a friendly reminder of the day, but not an absolute guideline for the Goodmen household. They worked from their internal time tickers, and always noticed when a pattern was out of sorts. Cynthia rubbed her cheek. It tingled without the feeling of Daniel’s kiss. She checked the time and wondered what was taking her husband so long. Pancake batter was poured, and circular fluffy baked goods were consumed, but still, an hour passed and Daniel had not come home. Now Cynthia was worried.

The pro-active wife loaded up all six children dressed in their sleepwear into the station wagon and headed for her husband’s usual errand route. There was no evidence of his existence anywhere. Store owner after store owner said they hadn’t seen Daniel. Cynthia hurried her children into the car faster at the end of each interview. The sun would set soon enough, and without her husband located, the darkness would let her mind wander too much. After a few shops, the family finally drove up to the grocery store to find Daniel’s open trunk door half loaded with the cart still parked adjacent. The positioning of the vehicle and shopping cart captured a frozen moment without a struggle. The receipt tangled between boxes flapped from the rapidly evolving winds. The eeriness of Daniel’s absence struck Cynthia to her core. In the back, Parker sat in his car seat sucking his thumb while Billy held his hand. The children were quiet, unlike their normal rowdy behavior.

“Where’s dad?” Darren implored with a wavering voice.

The whistling man was unaware of Daniel’s presence. Deep in the forest, he sang the melody aloud often closing his eyes passionately expressing himself. His muscles were relaxed like jello as he swayed side to side dreamily. A shadow of the man Daniel once was became a one track mind, unlike his multitasking capabilities. The mental list he harbored had fallen by the wayside. His family’s faces were blurry smudges. Even the details of the singing man himself were overcast by the pink hue that called to Daniel. The wispy pink edges danced as the man’s aura expanded then shrink and then enlarged repeating the same cycle over and over again. It hypnotized the father of six.

The happy man hurried his pace as the lightning rapidly struck the ground. The rain had not fallen, but the clouds’ impending eruption was about to burst. Today the journey felt longer than normal. The man had traveled for a few lottery tickets. A fun tradition his girlfriend and him shared every Thursday. However, what good would the papers be wet? What soggy fortune would they bring? Daniel hid behind trees and kept several yards behind. The clouds had turned black and beat the inner lining of his head. Daniel rubbed his temples and ground his teeth, but pushed through the obstacle. The determined hunter wanted nothing more than the pink glow.

The thunder’s loud cracks in the sky masked the second pair of footsteps. The singing man was none the wiser. Daniel measured him up. Six feet four inches. Tall but thin.

“I’m was sure I could take him,” Daniel devised. The phrase made him freeze. A tsunami of memories flooded back. The way Cynthia dipped her hips when she was pleased with herself. Billy’s journal filled with spelling errors and incorrect lettering. Charlie’s perfect ability to hit the same part of the doorframe before he entered a room every time. Darren’s makeshift pirate ship. The twins secretly feeding the neighborhood cats. And Parker’s silent nature with his over intellectual stare. He knew more than he let on. Daniel straightened his rounded shoulders and questioned himself. “What am I doing?” Whatever drove the stalker was lost. Pushing back his sleeve, he peered at his watch and saw the time.

“Oh, Cynthia!” Daniel stressed as he pictured his wife’s worried face, “I have to get home!” Before he could retrace his steps, a lone whistle cut through the air. Up ahead, the harmonious man had bent over to tie his shoelace. The tune drowned out Daniel’s reasoning, and again his head became an empty shell. Dark walls emerged from every angle of the scenery creating a long tunnel. In the center, the radiating pink light whipped around like a wild flame unable to be captured. Magenta burgeoned from the middle. Without the white noise of requests and emotions, Daniel could finally feel the infinite swirling black hole in his heart. He swore it had always existed and that he ignored it until right now. The medicine he subconsciously searched his whole life for was so close he could taste it. Daniel licked his lips and crawled up a tree with incredible speed and stealth. Blood gushed from his weak fingernails as they dug into the tree’s bark.

The unaware victim tied his other loose lace. His whistling stopped when he noticed the leaves shake from above. Clinging to a branch was a wild eyed man wearing business casual. Sap from the trees and dirt from the earth covered his face and arms. Before the alarmed man could yell for help, Daniel leaped from the tree knocking the happy man out cold.

At first, Daniel inhaled intensely through his nostrils unsure of how to consume the magical substance. A few titillating particles tickled his nose, but it wasn’t enough. Without much thought, he drank the air like a straw. The pink aura twirled into a tornado that disappeared into his mouth. After consuming all that the now quiet man had to offer, Daniel laughed aloud with relief. He had never felt better in his life. He had more energy than ever. Every detail of the surrounding landscape appeared sharper. Above anything, his anxious nerves were subdued.

Daniel didn’t look down to acknowledge the dead body that lay at his feet. From the waist up, it was like sunshine and rainbows, but only for a few minutes. A flock of birds flew from the treetops as a horrible cry let out. An awful pain broke through Daniel’s skin. The inexperienced hunter cried and screamed into the desolate forest as sharp coarse hair protruded from his back, and his nails grew an extra two inches in a matter of seconds. When the deformities had ceased their expansion, Daniel breathed heavily from the trauma covered in blood and earth. Before he could concern himself with the additional and unexplainable new bodily features, the empty hole in his gut reminded him of his famine. To Daniel, he needed to cure his hunger before anything else. Most of his skin was still smooth, and his eyes were still brown, but his button up shirt was torn from his new spiky back hair, and his poor posture gave him an unusual walk. Daniel headed deeper into the woods with only one thought on his mind.

Chapter Seven

Autumn Moon

 

Bradley wrapped his arms around Autumn’s petite waist tightly. His hands pushed against her back pressing their chests together. The football star sloppily kissed Autumn. She attempted to improve his technique, but his mouth refused to mirror her more graceful methods. She shoved him away and wiped the excessive saliva off with her forearm.

“Jesus Brad,” she spat with disgust. Brad smirked proudly of his supposed skills.

“I know I know. Pretty great uh?” He waited for a response, but Autumn just rolled her eyes. She peered from behind a stack of various goods sold at the Peach Festival. The two hid their fraternizing behind the merchandise.

“Don’t worry, nobody knows we’re here,” he bragged without evidence to prove his point. Autumn returned his gaze with a glare and prodded a finger against his football jacket.

“They better not. You haven’t told anyone, have you?”

“No,” he chuckled, “I’d ask if you have, but it’s not like you have any friends.” The insult bounced off Autumn’s invisible I-don’t-give-a-fuck shields. She ignored the statement and scouted for a good time to leave their hiding spot. Bradley took the unguarded opportunity to grab her behind. She twirled around fast and kicked his shin hard. The cocky athlete keeled over hugging his leg.

“Nice try asswipe,” she mocked. Finally, the moment presented itself, and Autumn judged the timing was right. “I’ll see you later,” she nonchalantly stated as her secret lover whined, “and stop throwing rocks at my window. I don’t need the whole neighborhood’s attention.” Autumn slithered between a few taste testers at the peach pie competition before returning to a regular stride blending in with the crowd.

To Autumn, the Peach Festival was another mundane gathering without spontaneity or change. Her parents didn’t support the lack of local farmers represented at the event and had refused to take her for years. The first time she attended was a spectacle to behold. Numerous delicious options of food all in one location, silly games, and prizes to be won. Now with time, her wise seventeen-year-old emerald eyes saw the truth. Helpless fish in plastic bags, rigged hoop tosses, and sickening sugar filled treats used as a method of competition between mothers. The false intentions and fixed smiles made her sneer in disgust.

Autumn held her hand to her forehead like a visor. The sun would be setting soon, and she’d welcome the refreshing night air. Tired of being covered in sweat, even her cut off jeans and tank top did not alleviate her discomfort. Back home there was cold lemonade and a stack of her mother’s thesis papers she was excited to comb through. Autumn enjoyed a different perspective on any subject in a town she considered limited. She’d obsess over the student’s reasoning and ponder what brought them to that point in their life to make that argument. Then she’d sit on her roof and admire the stars. Autumn wondered why all her appreciation for the more enlightened things in life was being wasted in the humdrum town of Hallow Heights.

The sounds of laughter and jealous comments faded into the background the further Autumn Moon traveled into the forest away from the celebrations. While there was no definite path back to her house, the journey was familiar. Secrets carved into tree trunks lined the trail written in a mysterious language only Autumn knew how to decipher. Before the curious teenager had created the new alphabet, she had found strange marks dug into the bark. They were long, deep, and too precise for a beer or wolf to make. They served as her inspiration as Autumn added and claimed them as her own. She traced her hands across the indents as she passed them. While Autumn wasn’t religious, it was as if she gave her blessing every time she visited the totems. A little piece of her soul went into each secret she released into the world. It was the small piece of ego she harbored.

The soul sucker had lost control. It blankly followed its victim into the open knocking over boxes of fruit and pushing through groups of people. Without visibility, confusion proceeded. People decided it was one accident after the other without proper explanation. Some visitors blamed one another while the soul sucker advanced unbothered. With evening approaching, the beast stared into its own personal sun. Always out of reach, the monster knew it was the intention of the pink entity. The wispy aura wanted to cause the soul sucker more damage than it already felt. The pink hues taunted the monster the brighter it shined. So the soul sucker picked up its pace without a plan. It ran like a child after the ice cream truck reaching forward aimlessly. A small puff of dust erupted from its unused vocal chords trying to emit a sound.

Autumn distinctly heard the footsteps and crouched to fight. She had seen enough movies to notice the signs. The hairs on the back of her neck rose and her muscles tensed waiting for the right moment. When the intruder was almost upon her, she whirled around and punched the air with all of her strength. Autumn felt the impact of her fist, the greasy fur between her knuckles, and saw a tree shake with leaves that fell, but there no one there. Confused, but adrenaline empowered, Autumn decided to sprint the rest of the way home.

The beast was shaken from its trace as it smacked the tree. Both the tree and the touch of another creature was such an unusual feeling; the monster did not have the ability to express itself. The pink star became smaller and smaller as it rapidly scampered into the distance. The soul sucker got up and crushed the leaves beneath its bare feet. Within a few leaping strides it caught up and grabbed the girl with its long hairy ligaments.

Autumn’s arms were unexplainably immovable. She was tied up without a rope and struggled to breathe with an invisible tightening pressure on her stomach. Her eyes widened as her feet hung in the air. Autumn’s body levitated above the pine needles. She considered the possibility of an evil spirit possessing her, but quickly reminded herself it wasn’t her time. Autumn managed to thrust an elbow backward and plopped to the ground with a thump.

The soul sucker also fell on its backside. It’s porcupine spikes stuck into the earth trapping the creature. Autumn ran as fast as she could from the scene. Being attacked by unseen force was too much for the teenager to wrap her head around. Instead, she decided to abandon that part of the forest until further notice.

Autumn’s parents weren’t home when she arrived. The house smelled of a strange perfumed smoke, and sitting on the countertop were half eaten leftovers. Autumn picked at the meal before grabbing a bag of chips and heading to her bedroom. The interior was bare and had little to no personality. Autumn had lived in Hallow Heights her entire life, but still insisted she was in transit. Aside from a colorful hand crocheted floral blanket, she hid the few ruminants of her inner desires under the bed. A box of photographs collected from thrift shops, several books with broken spines read to pieces, and a small walkman.

Autumn flicked the radio on and snuggled into her blanket with the bag of chips and a dusty copy of Alice in Wonderland. Inside her safety bubble, nothing could harm Autumn.

The soul sucker had lost sight of the pink flame. Without the glow, the approaching night appeared darker than usual. For the first time, the beast was in distress. It tracked the muddy footprints desperately expelling an awkward moan. In a panic, it bumped into trees head on and tripped over prickly bushes. The creature had never experienced anything other than pain and hunger let alone knew how to make a sound. The vibrations in its throat baffled the monster as it struggled to find the fading path.

However, the trail went cold as it came to the edge of the woods. Beyond the clearing were suburban homes and people who had more than one emotion and conversated regularly. Their customs were messy nonsense to the soul sucker.

“No, I don’t think Harold would like that very much. He has his own way of doing things,” a sweet voice broke through the creature’s aggressive search. Then a giggle or two. The noises intrigued the out of sorts beast. “I’m not sure. Do you know another way to blast off rockets without accidentally hurting anyone?” A thick black ivy grew against a white house. The beast listened to the melody of thee words exchanged as it pet the leafy brush. Another chuckle. The creature enjoyed the voice’s speech pattern even without understanding the context of the conversation. “You’re right. Here and there. Well, I have to get back to fixing dinner. I’ll talk to you later.”

The soul sucker planted itself in front of a bayside window with chipped paint. Inside, a brightly pink hued woman arranged plates and food. For once, the monster was not distracted by its hunger or the pink glow. The longer it admired the woman, the more details of her features rose to the foreground. The woman pushed up her sleeves and danced to salsa music while she carried out the task. She dipped her hips and hummed along. Her bouncy blond curls whipped back and forth.

Unknowingly, the soul sucker tapped its long claw against the window. A habit it never shook. The rhythm soothed it while entranced by the woman. Amongst the loud guitars and singing, the consistent patting came across as a quiet out of place drum. The woman turned off the radio, and the tapping continued. Her heart beat ferociously. She couldn’t bring herself to look up. A tear fell down her face as a ghost called to the woman. She slowly lifted her head, and her striking blue eyes froze the soul sucker in its place. It’s claw paused, and the woman witnessed a cardinal fly away. She wiped away the tear and laughed somberly. It was only in her head.

A glimmer caught the beast’s attention. Across the street on the top floor of another equally aged home, the elusive sun passed by the window like a light house reaching through the murky fog. The soul sucker winced from the rays it emitted, and once again it returned to the hunt. The predator scaled the tall house with ease.

Autumn threw her snack and book when she saw her window open by itself. Claw marks dug into the frame without the presence anima. She gasped as two giant yellow eyes materialized in thin air.

Loneliness overwhelmed the young girl. Every worry she ever denied, manifested at an incredible speed. If the beast wasn’t already killing her, she’d wish to die. As the thick almost milkshake-like pink aura left her body, her last thoughts were,

“I’m always alone.”

Autumn Moon went limp with her eyes still open. Her emerald iris’s less sheen without their inner spark. The monster sucked in the remaining last slurps of her soul and stood tall at its full gargantuan height in the small room overflowing with happiness. Its fur rippled purples and bright cyan blues in rotating cycle. The creature’s eyes cried out yellow tears revealing a white interior. It’s claws and teeth retracted. The soul suckers metamorphous was in effect as it looked out the window and recognized the house across the street.

“What time is it?” a rusty voice croaked from within the monster’s vocal chords. The soul sucker saw by the stars and the moon it had been hours.

“I have to get home. I have to get crayons and bed sheets and,” the creature’s mental gears wound a million miles a second, “Oh no!” The beast grabbed its head, “I forgot the baby food!” But the moment of clarity had a short time frame, and the excruciating pain returned as the monster’s bones snapped, and its forehead broadened. Black goo dripped down its eyes, and the agony overpowered the thoughts. Within a minute, the soul sucker had returned to its hideous form.

Again obliviously of the corpse behind it, the soul sucker leaped from the window in a single bound craving a dream-like meal.

 

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Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker

Without any visible wounds the professionals would come to the conclusion that Autumn Moon died of a heart attack at the tender age of seventeen, but that just wasn’t true. Deep in the forests of Hallow Heights, the soul sucker hunts for the dream meal to satisfy it’s perpetual hunger. Through it’s giant yellow eyes, this thrilling tale unveils the secrets behind how the monster finds its prey, feeds, and the origin of where it all began. This prequel to Have You Seen My Arm? A Zombie Tale, Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker is for monster lovers, fans of origin stories, and people interested in the mind within the monster view point such as the classic book Grindal. This book is for anybody who loves: Monster Fiction Paranormal Fiction Paranormal Romance Mystery Horror Paranormal Urban Dark Fantasy The Hallow Heights Chronicles is a paranormal fiction horror series of stories that detail the supernatural happenings within a fictional universe. Although each story is presented from a different character’s perspective, they are all interconnected.

  • Author: Sivia and Nick
  • Published: 2017-09-06 02:35:13
  • Words: 12829
Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker Who Killed Autumn Moon?: The Origin of the Soul Sucker