Read Soul Catcher Online

Authors: G.P. Ching

Tags: #General Fiction

Soul Catcher (6 page)

BOOK: Soul Catcher
13.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter 6

The Quota

W
ith a flick of her well-manicured hand, the redheaded Watcher, Alexandra, opened the gate to Nod and dragged the Hopi boy into the city of the damned. Her dark purple, stiletto boots trudged over the filthy street, past a group of Watchers stripping flesh from a newly captured human.
Yum!
As soon as she made her deposit with Auriel, she was joining that party. This little number made her quota for the week.

She yanked her quarry into line behind the ten or so other Watchers bringing in their souls. Ahead of her, Xavier had an old woman in his clutches.

“Please, please let me go. I need to take care of my grandchildren.” She struggled helplessly against his talons.

“Oh, dear woman,” Xavier said, pressing a nail into her chin, “I’ll take care of your grandchildren. The young are so much sweeter.”

The woman burst into hysterics, weeping desperately.

Alexandra eyed her captive and gave the boy a little shake. He was still breathing, and his eyes were open, but he wasn’t panicked like the other humans. As quiet as if he were sleeping, he stood next to her, facing forward, with a vacant expression. Aside from an occasional blink, she could barely tell he was alive.

“There’s something wrong with my human, Xavier,” Alexandra said.

The dark-haired mass of muscle turned around, flexing his navy blue wings. “What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

“It’s not crying out like the others. No fight whatsoever.”

Xavier poked the boy in the chest, hard enough to knock him off balance. Alexandra kept him from falling but was sure the force of the jab should elicit some sort of response. “Odd,” Xavier said. “Don’t mention anything to Auriel or she might not count the soul toward your quota.”

“Right. I’m not doing this again today. I hate going up.” Since the last battle with the Soulkeepers, Lucifer had increased the Watcher quota of souls, partly as a punishment for his failed plan and partly out of undiluted evil. She could appreciate the latter, but it was more work than she liked. There wasn’t enough room in Nod for all the souls, which meant some had to die, and the dead didn’t bury themselves. It was exhausting.

“Maybe she won’t notice,” Xavier said.

Alexandra growled, showing a bit of fang. “So what if she does? A human is a human. It should count.”

The line advanced toward the entrance to the steel and glass building where Auriel waited to sort deposits. Xavier pushed his soul forward by the neck. The old woman screamed, begging for her life anew. Alexandra dragged her boy roughly behind them. The human stepped forward but didn’t make a peep. Maybe his brain was damaged. Auriel wouldn’t be pleased. Watchers usually didn’t take physically or mentally damaged humans because their usefulness in Nod was limited, and often their souls were too clean to take comfortably. There had to be sin or the skin would burn when touched.

This boy didn’t burn, and he’d better count.

Xavier entered, and Alexandra shouldered the door open behind him. Elbowing into the room, she jockeyed for position in the crowded lobby. “You ten,” the bored looking blond Watcher behind the desk said. She pointed a baby pink wing toward the elevator. “Level three.”

Alexandra sprinted for the elevator doors. As luck would have it, her dormant human proved to be an advantage. She was the first onto the elevator and hastily punched the button. The doors closed before anyone else could get on. She grinned, hearing the snarls of the Watchers stuck in the lobby.
You snooze, you lose
.

The doors opened on level three, the throne room. She rolled her eyes. Only Auriel would require such pomp and circumstance to drop off a soul. She missed Mordechai’s more pragmatic approach. But so be it. Alexandra dragged the boy’s body down the red velvet runner to the platinum blond Watcher on the golden throne.

“I have one, fifteen-year-old Hopi boy for deposit,” she said.

Auriel glanced up from her manicure and sniffed the air. Her face tightened, stretching her lips into a hard line. “Where did you find this one?”

“On the Hopi reservation in Arizona.”

Jumping off her throne, Auriel lifted the skirt of her ivory gown and paced down the steps of the raised platform until her face was inches from the boy’s. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing, Queen Auriel. He took my hand. Clearly an offender.”

Again, Auriel sniffed the air, lifting the boy’s hair to her nose and whiffing the strands directly. “I know that scent,” she said with a start. A smirk spread across her face, more teeth than lips. “Alexandra, you dimwit. You’ve taken a Soulkeeper.”

“Wha-what?”

“Can’t you smell it? He reeks of kindness and self-sacrifice. It’s subtle but unmistakable.” She shook the boy by the shoulder. “What is your name Soulkeeper?”

The boy stared vacantly at Auriel.

She dug in her talons and shook harder. “Answer me!”

“Queen Auriel, he bleeds,” Alexandra said. It would be her head if the boy truly was a Soulkeeper and died before Lucifer could question him. “We should call Lucifer.”

Auriel retracted her talons from the boy’s skin. “What sorcery is this? Has he been responsive?”

Alexandra dropped her head and shuffled her purple boots. “Not since I brought him through the tree.”

Whirling toward her throne, Auriel screamed loud enough for the other Watchers, who had gathered in the doorway of the throne room, to take a step back. “Lucifer. Lucifer!”

Dark smoke swirled near her feet, changing into oily droplets that tornadoed from the red velvet carpet. The drops squeezed together into a sharply dressed blond man who straightened the lapels of his gray Armani suit jacket. The Watchers at the door broke into applause, as did Alexandra. She noticed Auriel clapped the loudest in an obvious attempt to curry favor, and her nostrils flared.

“This better be important, Auriel. You took me from a meeting with the board of directors.”

“My Lord.” Auriel tore the boy from Alexandra’s talons. “I have found the lost Soulkeeper.”

Alexandra placed her clenched fists on her hips. Auriel shot her a warning glance.

The Lord of Illusions pinched the boy’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and stared into brown, vacant eyes. “Finally, the long, lost Soulkeeper.” Lucifer tipped his head to the side, examining his catch. He inserted his hooked finger into the human’s chest cavity and pulled out...nothing. “He’s not in here.”

“My Lord?”

Lucifer’s dark laugh echoed through the room. “This is his body, but his soul is somewhere else.”

“Can they do that?” Auriel asked.

“Never before. Tell me, Auriel, what happened. I need every detail.”

Auriel fidgeted with the corner of her gown.

“Auriel!”

“Alexandra was the Watcher who actually pulled him through the tree,” Auriel sputtered.

With a smug grin, Alexandra stepped forward and snaked her arm into the crook of Lucifer’s elbow. “I would be happy to give you all of the details, My Lord.”

“Good.” He waved a hand in Auriel’s direction. “Auriel, see that the boy’s body is stored in the zoo.” Lucifer’s eyes locked solely on Alexandra. As they strolled from the room, past the other waiting Watchers, she began to tell her story, not leaving out a single detail.

* * * * *

Auriel drummed her talons on the arm of her throne. With the abnormally large intake of souls and finding the lost Soulkeeper, she should have been in a better mood. Instead, her black blood boiled. She’d have Alexandra’s head for the way she’d looked at Lucifer. There was a reason they called her Queen Auriel. While Lucifer could have anyone he liked, he most often chose
her
to share his company, and Auriel intended to maintain her position by his side.

“Oh relax, Auriel. Do you give me no credit?” Lucifer stood in the center of the otherwise empty throne room, Alexandra’s purple wing dangling from his bloodied hand. “She angered me.” He tossed the wing aside and approached her.

“Did you find out about the boy?” Auriel asked, easing off the throne and lowering herself to her knees in front of him.

He ran his fingers through her hair and cupped her cheek. “Always on task,” he murmured. “Yes. It seems our Soulkeeper, Cheveyo is his name, can possess another human’s body. When Alexandra took him, he jumped into the girl with him. She was a bitch to find. Raised the Hopi way, simple and sweet. I found her thanks to the boy’s soul. The echo from his body was easy enough to track. Her name is Raine Nokami. She’s missing. Her Hopi parents are beside themselves with grief.” He chuckled.

“He couldn’t have gone far with her. Alexandra just took him this morning,” Auriel said, then cringed when she realized her mistake. The look he gave her. How embarrassing. “Mara,” she said with disgust. “Time is slower in Nod. The witch is messing with us still. How much of a delay?”

“Two weeks, but she changes our clock often. It’s impossible to say from below.” Lucifer’s eyes drilled into her.

“What is it you wish me to do?” she asked hesitantly.

“It has come to my attention Cheveyo could be useful to us. Alexandra mentioned the boy was confused about what she was, thanks to a convenient resemblance we have to Hopi spirits.”

“What do Hopi spirits look like?” Auriel asked. With the right illusion, she could look any way he pleased.

“Some look like winged snakes. They call them
Kachinas
.”

“Fascinating.”

“I don’t believe Cheveyo knows he’s a Soulkeeper. You will find him, pose as a
Kachina
, and convince him to join our cause.”

“Our cause?”

“The Soulkeepers have been hiding. I didn’t know where at first, only that their souls would conveniently disappear. When Abigail dropped off the map, things became painfully clear. I think they’ve found Eden.”


The
Eden? How?”

He scowled. “The Great Oppressive Deity, of course. It must be Eden; the one place I can’t follow. The one place they are safe from us. But I have a plan to end their bothersome sanctuary.”

“Please, share your brilliance with me, My Lord,” Auriel gushed.

“The human we captured, Dane, is somehow able to join them there. He disappears at the same time as Malini. If we can convince Cheveyo to help us by possessing Dane, he can infiltrate Eden and slaughter the Soulkeepers from the inside out.” Lucifer’s lips peeled back from his teeth.

“A Trojan Horse. Your magnificence astounds me. But why can’t one of us possess him? Call Dane’s soul now and I will do it.”

“Eden is guarded by two cherubim and the Great Oppressor’s own power. You wouldn’t be able to see it, let alone enter. The power would filter you out of Dane’s body. But Cheveyo has the mark of a Soulkeeper. He’ll be allowed to enter hidden inside the human’s body.”

Auriel tapped her bottom lip with her finger. “Tricky. I must make him believe killing the Soulkeepers is the right thing to do, and the only way to get his body back. It will take a beautiful, elaborate lie.”

“You are the best liar I know, besides myself,” Lucifer said. He offered her his hand and lifted her to her feet. “We can’t allow Death, Time, or Fate to interfere. You’ll have to live among them until our cause is achieved.”

The idea of walking in the sun didn’t appeal to Auriel, but she nodded anyway. Lucifer would reward her well if she accomplished this. Living above ground wouldn’t be pleasant, but she would do it to cement her place as Mordechai’s successor.

“I won’t fail you, My Lord. The boy is as good as mine.”

He yanked her into his embrace. “Good girl. For once, we’ve gotten lucky. Let’s find a way to tell the Soulkeepers we’ve found Cheveyo. We’ll need them to deliver our precious cargo.”

“With pleasure.”

“Excellent. Before you go, I have another need for you, Auriel.” Lucifer laughed wickedly before delivering a sharp kiss to her throat.

What Lucifer wanted from her would be painful and humiliating, but she welcomed him with open arms. This was the price she paid for her position. Not that she had a choice anyway. The day Auriel decided to follow Lucifer from Heaven was the last day she chose anything for herself.

Chapter 7

Jump

C
heveyo? Please don’t do this. I need to call my parents. They must be so worried
.

“Raine, I’ve told you a million times, call me Chevy.” The noise from the soda machine masked his words. He just couldn’t get used to talking to her inside his head, but speaking out loud to no one had its drawbacks. Like, people generally stared at the crazy woman talking to herself. Possessing Raine’s body was highly inconvenient.

She started weeping again. He hated when she cried. Besides being much louder inside his head than in real life, he couldn’t put his arm around her to comfort her, making her sobs a special kind of torture. If he wanted to, he could cut her off, lock her behind the steel door he’d discovered at the back of his brain, but he was afraid. Her voice had grown steadily weaker the last few days, and he was concerned severing their connection might hurt her. For the first time, his Hopi name seemed apropos. Cheveyo the monster who steals children.

He flipped open the can and raised the soda to his lips, noticing Raine’s hand wrapped around the aluminum. How disconcerting to be inside
her
body, but remain in control. She was locked inside his head, not the other way around. But no matter how much she fought or screamed or cried, he couldn’t go back to the reservation, not until he figured out why this had happened. A curse of the
Kachina
? A punishment for not believing?

Walking back to the motel room, he stomped on a roach as he entered the door, gagging at the smell of stale smoke ever-present in the faded orange decor. He wanted to crack a window but couldn’t risk someone overhearing what he needed to say to her.

“Raine, please stop crying.”

She sobbed harder.

“I’m not sure why the spirit stole my body or why I’m in yours, but we can’t go home until we figure this out. What would I tell your parents?”

You could tell them the truth! The spirits are punishing you for not taking them seriously. This is your fault, Cheveyo. We need the priests to help us.

BOOK: Soul Catcher
13.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Enchantress Returns by Colfer, Chris
El misterio de Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
House Rules by G.C. Scott
The Crossword Murder by Nero Blanc
Intoxicating by Lori Wilde