The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XX

by Steppen Sawicki

Nearing the end for this chapter.

Novel: Occult Adventure

Sam hit his watch, and Atsel did the same.  The grass ceased its movement, the scream halted.  Atsel moved forward and the long blades of grass parted against him but didn’t close again.

Sam tried not to think about that.  Tried not to think of how he was gulping in air – drinking it in, forcing it out.  Sweat ran down his face as he concentrated on Atsel.

“Always the blameless one,” Sam said.  “We had to stop you.  Have you forgotten you killed her?”  His words seemed to leave his mouth and stop dead in the space in front of him, as if even soundwaves couldn’t travel here.  But Atsel heard him.

“Always the hypocrite.  You killed the others,” Atsel responded.  “And you would have killed her now had I not.  Is it easier if you think of it as a job?”

“And what of after you’d killed them all?  Then would the human race be too much soul for you?  The land?  Would you destroy the Earth to rid yourself of emotion?”

“You don’t know what it’s like,” Atsel spat.  “Millions upon billions of souls, all radiating feelings, memories, so many that they change how you view time passing.  And her, and the others, with their concentrated singular passions, eating away at me.  I could feel those from the other side of the planet.  And you, with your one soul, damning me for trying to alleviate some of it.  You and your sudden cherry-picked morals.”

“You have a choice.  I don’t.”

“I have a reason.  You have orders.  And it comes to the same end: we’re dying off.  I should thank you for picking off Dives and Gehazi and Cain.  We could almost call it even.”

“But you’d rather kill me?”  Sam gripped the knife and watch tighter.

Atsel laughed and continued walking through the grass, closer to Sam.  “Fool, I’m not going to kill you.  That’s for someone else who wants what you have.  I’m just going to rip you apart over and over and over.”

He rushed forward, closing the gap between them.  Sam tried to raise the knife, but something about how Atsel was racing towards him while the grass parted and stopped, leaning, disturbed his mind.  He suddenly wasn’t sure he could raise the knife; he would simply be moving too fast if he did.  No one could move that fast.

Atsel slapped his knife arm away and threw a punch at him.  Sam was just able to duck, and it landed on his ear.  Pain exploded in half of his head, quick pain.

Snap out of it, the other half of his brain roared.  He rolled away as Atsel moved to kick him in the stomach.  He righted himself and dove at Atsel’s legs, bowling him over.  That’s when he noticed he had dropped the knife.  He wrestled for Atsel’s watch, scrambled for the knob, had it in his hand…

Then it was gone, Atsel was gone, and the wind whistled in his ears over Claire’s scream.  Vertigo gripped him and he reeled.  When he looked up, he saw Atsel tossing the black watch behind him into the swaying grass.

“No,” Atsel said.  “I won’t kill you.  I want to see you suffer, like I suffered.”  He pointed to me.  “I want you to hear her scream in real time.”

He didn’t finish.  As soon as Sam’s watch went flying through the air I had started winding the one in my hands.  As I finished a second turn Atsel’s eyes flew to me, wide with horror.  He could feel it, a doubling of time around him as his second watch started.