Read Soul Catcher Online

Authors: G.P. Ching

Tags: #General Fiction

Soul Catcher (7 page)

BOOK: Soul Catcher
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“You don’t know that, all right? You don’t know why my body was taken and you certainly don’t know how to fix this. If the priests get me out of you, where will I go? Until I find my body and we figure out how to put me back, I’m stuck.”

What about your parents? They must be so worried. And how is sitting in this pit of a motel room helping to find your body?

Chevy didn’t know how to answer her. He wasn’t sure what to do. But he was afraid to go back, afraid the priests would judge him and cast him out to roam the Earth for eternity as the evil spirit he was. He had to try to find another way.

“There has to be a way to get my body back from the spirits,” he said sternly.

The door smashed open, bouncing off the interior wall and washing the room with afternoon light. A weirdly cold breeze circled inside. Chevy jumped up and poked his head into the outdoor corridor. There was no one out there. It must have been the wind. He closed the door again.

When he turned back around there was a woman in the room, blond, tall, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. He gasped. How did she pass without him noticing?

“Hello, Cheveyo,” the woman said. How did she know his name? Especially considering he was inside Raine’s body.

He shook his head like he didn’t know what she was talking about.

“Oh, Cheveyo, don’t you recognize me?” The woman shivered, transforming into a snake with a shock of white hair and menacing leathery wings.

Chevy collapsed to his knees, tears flowing. “However I have offended you, please forgive me.”

The snake slithered forward, transforming into a blond woman again. “Yes, Cheveyo, you have offended me. But you can make everything right again. I have a mission for you from the Great Spirit. If you help us, you can prove your worth again, and your body will be returned from the underworld.”

Shaking so hard his teeth clacked together, Chevy forced himself to look up at her terrible presence. “What do I need to do?”

“First, something to drink.” The snake woman waved her hand, and a small table appeared with a cup of steaming tea. “Sit.”

He did as he was told. The tea tasted of dark spices and smelled of cinnamon. The warmth from the liquid coursed over his tongue, down his throat, and infused every muscle in Raine’s body. At the back of his skull, he could feel her slip away, rendered insentient by the concoction. Completely relaxed, he slumped in the chair, his eyelids sagging.

“That’s better,” Snake Woman said. “Now, listen to me very carefully. In this world, there are good spirits, like me, who keep the world safe from evil ones. But evil is everywhere, and I need your help to stop it.”

“How?” Cheveyo mumbled.

“There is a boy, slightly older than you, who is destined for great evil.” The snake woman removed a disk from her pocket and projected the image of a muscular boy with brown hair and gray eyes. He looked about eighteen. “He is part of a group of humans who call themselves the Soulkeepers because they exist to ruin human souls. You must possess this boy as you have possessed Raine, and follow my instructions. Once you have destroyed the Soulkeepers, I will return your body to you.”

“I don’t know how to do it,” Chevy stuttered. “It just happened. Raine was touching me, and my soul jumped into her body.”

The snake woman smiled. “That is how it is done. You touch someone, skin to skin, and will yourself into the body. You’ll see, with practice it will become second nature to you.”

“Can you show me?” Chevy asked, reaching for the snake woman’s hand. He hoped he could free Raine with her help.

The spirit jerked away. “Don’t ever touch me!” she snapped.

Chevy recoiled, bowing his head. A red flag of warning rose inside of him. His father always said never to trust a man who wouldn’t shake your hand. Did that apply to spirits?

“The evil you are made of is incompatible with my purity,” the snake woman hissed. “If you touch me, you will die. Only human beings.”

Of course. He nodded his head and wiped his sweaty palms on his thighs. He was no better than a worm, groveling at her feet. His heart ached to set things right. “How do I find this boy?”

“His name is Dane Michaels. I will call him to you. You will know him when you see him, and you will possess him.”

“Yes.”

“But first, you need practice. Can’t have you freezing up when the time comes. Besides, I think Raine has had enough.”

Chevy’s tears started anew. She did understand and was showing him mercy. He needed to try his best to please her.

“What can I do?” he asked.

“Downstairs, there is a small restaurant where a boy named Jaden works. You will find him cleaning tables. The boy has no family, few friends, and lives in room twenty of this motel. Go to the restaurant, jump into the boy, and wait for my instructions. No one can know you’ve taken control. Keep working at the restaurant and don’t call attention to yourself. Go. Do it now.”

I don’t trust her.
Raine’s voice was an unwelcome interruption.
The elders have never told stories of good Kachinas using people like this. She’s a bad spirit, Cheveyo. Don’t listen to her.

Chevy nodded his head and pushed himself up to his feet, wiping the tears from his cheeks. He turned from the snake woman and exited the room.

Don’t do this. Please. I have a bad feeling.

“Sorry, Raine, you just don’t understand,” he said, closing her out behind the steel wall.

Chevy jogged down the concrete stairwell, past the pool, and into the Prickly Pear Diner. The place was practically empty, aside from an elderly couple in a booth near the back and their mousy-haired waitress. It was easy enough to find Jaden; there was only one boy bussing tables. He looked up when the bell above the door rang.

“Can I help you?” Jaden asked politely.

Chevy strode forward and grabbed Jaden’s wrist.

“Hey? What the hel—”

The snake woman was right. The jump was almost instinctual. He willed his soul out of Raine and into Jaden, sliding easily into the boy’s skin. The first thing he noticed was the weight of the bin of dirty dishes in his hands. He rested it on the table in front of him.

Raine’s hand still gripped his wrist, only she had power over it now. From inside Jaden, Cheveyo could see what he’d done to her. Dark circles loomed beneath her eyes, and her hair was a rat’s nest. The clothes he’d put her in were wrinkled and dirty.

“Don’t do this, Chev—Chevy,” she whispered. “We can go home. The elders will know what to do.”

“Al, you better get out here!” the waitress called.

Chevy gazed at Raine, the girl he’d grown up with, his good friend, and understood what he had to do. This was his problem, not hers.

A large man in an apron appeared behind the counter. “What’s going on out here, Jaden?” he asked.

Chevy didn’t hesitate. “This is the missing girl, Raine Nokami. I don’t think she’s right in the head.”

“No. No!” Raine protested. She backed up, shaking her head. “Don’t do this. It’s wrong. She’s a bad spirit.”

The man behind the counter fished a phone from his pocket. When it was obvious he’d called 911, Raine made for the door, but the stout man leapt over the counter and blocked her path. The police responded almost immediately, the spinning red cherry lights lighting up the diner. Soon Raine was ushered into the back of an ambulance, shaking her head and uttering the truth, which sounded like nonsense to everyone else.

“Wow, that was something. Good job recognizing her. I’ve seen the flyers but, man, she was in bad shape.”

Chevy nodded. “Lucky I guess. I just saw the flyer this morning. Scary though. Did you see how she grabbed my arm?”

“Yeah, a real head case. Okay, enough excitement. Back to work. Maybe we’ll get some tourists in here curious about the drama.”

Sure enough, a few diners appeared in the doorway. The mousy-haired waitress began seating them at the booths, telling the story over and over about the found girl with the messed up head. He grabbed the rag off his shoulder and began to wipe down the nearest table, telling himself this was for the best. Raine was safe now.

What? What’s happened to me?
Jaden’s panicked voice woke up inside Cheveyo’s head. He ignored it, slammed the steel door shut, and kept working. He’d explain it all to the boy tonight, safely behind the locked door of room twenty. And then, he would wait. He’d follow the spirit’s instructions. He’d find this Dane and keep him from doing whatever evil thing he planned to do. Raine would see. This was the only way. Soon, he’d have his body back and be able to explain everything. Soon.

He hoped.

Chapter 8

Party in Paradise

D
ane climbed off the boat and stepped onto the path to the Eden School for Soulkeepers, oddly nervous. Odd because he’d spent enough time here to be comfortable with the path through the jungle, the stately white adobe mansion, and all of the people who lived here, but for some reason, waves of anxiety had been plaguing him since morning. Heart racing and head swimming, he was afraid to think too hard about what his body was trying to tell him. He suspected his nervousness was due to Malini’s request to talk with him alone. He’d heard somewhere bad news came in threes. His father’s illness had been number one. Was this the night the council would kick him out of Eden because he wasn’t a Soulkeeper?

He glanced over his shoulder at Malini as she followed hand in hand with Jacob through the jungle trail. She smiled just like always, not giving him any indication of foreboding news. He picked up the pace, pushing aside wide palm leaves and branches of trees he couldn’t even name. Tropical birds cawed overhead, and a legion of lemurs stared at him with round, reflective eyes as he broke free of the vegetation and crossed the yard to the entrance of the school.

“Master Dane! Welcome back to Eden.” Archibald, the head garden gnome, stood near the door, pointy green hat in hand.

“Good to see you again, Archibald. Are you working tonight?”

“No, sir. Ms. Bonnie gave me the night off and said I could do anything I like. I like watching guests arrive. Your clothing is unusual.”

Grinning, Dane looked down at his favorite plaid shirt, jeans, and work boots, comparing them to Archibald’s green lederhosen. He guessed it was all in what you were used to.

The gnome reached a hand tentatively toward his shirt.

“Would you like to touch it?” Dane asked.

Archibald’s lips pulled back from his ragged teeth. He waddled forward a step and stretched a grubby, green-stained hand toward Dane. He rubbed the gray plaid between his fingers, and then ran his chubby touch down the outside seam of his jeans. Dane disguised his groan as a cough, when he noticed the streaky grass stain the gnome left in his wake.

“The fibers are strange, Master Dane. Does the fabric itch?”

“No.”

The gnome rubbed his chin skeptically.

Malini came to his rescue. “Please excuse us, Archibald. We don’t want to be late.”

The gnome bowed his head and backed into the shadows. “Of course, Healer. Enjoy your evening.” His body twisted, and he was gone.

She brushed the excess dirt from Dane’s side. “I don’t think this stain is going to come out.”

“It’s just a smudge, Malini. No big deal.”

“That was cool of you. Archie kinda gives me the creeps,” Jacob added.

Dane shrugged. “You’ve got to think he’s never been outside of Eden. I can buy a new shirt, but how many chances will he get to see one like this?”

“You are a sweetheart, Dane,” Malini said, pecking him on the cheek.

Jacob growled.

Dane followed the two of them to the dining hall, placing a hand on his flip-flopping stomach. Behind the ornately carved doors was a natural wonderland. Candelabras lit the carved wood interior between crossbeams draped in evergreen, red fruit, and pinecone swags. Fir trees lined the walls, branches laden with berry sprays and additional candles. Pushed against the windows, the dining tables sat loaded with large bamboo bowls of popcorn, chips, and cookies. A glass punch bowl bubbled with a tropical blue drink. Where the tables used to be, a dance floor was squared off, and music played from a small but powerful battery-powered speaker someone had obviously brought in from the outside world.

Bonnie and Samantha swayed casually to the music, sipping cups of the blue liquid. The girls were all dressed up in black mini-dresses and jewelry. Now that he thought about it, Malini was wearing a dress too, a casual emerald number. Maybe he should’ve worn a tie? No, Jacob was wearing jeans and a black button-down, and Ghost appeared near the girls in his usual faded t-shirt. Guess it was come as you are.

Dane’s eyes flipped around the room. Why did he feel so antsy? Maybe because Jacob and Malini had crossed the room to talk to Bonnie, leaving him standing alone awkwardly at the entrance. He approached the snack table, hoping no one would notice his accidental abandonment. That was when the door creaked open.

Ethan entered the dining hall in the black t-shirt and jeans he almost always wore. His eyes found Dane immediately, and he smiled. An easy calm overcame Dane as he smiled back. Maybe this was the problem; he needed a friend. Jacob had Malini, Jesse had Sam, and Bonnie almost always hung with Sam too. Dane was a third wheel until Ethan was around. Ethan always made him feel important, part of the group, even when he obviously didn’t belong. The guy had seen him at his worst, when he’d first returned from Hell nothing more than a skeleton, but somehow he still treated him as an equal. He was such a good friend.

“What’s in the blue juice?” Ethan asked as he approached the table.

“I’m not sure,” Dane said. “Looks like some kind of berries or something.”

Ethan poured a glass and took a sip. The corner of his mouth pulled to the side, and his eyebrow arched. “I think it’s alcoholic.” He handed over the glass.

As he reached for the punch, Dane didn’t think twice about drinking out of the same glass, but when his fingers brushed Ethan’s, a wave of heat passed through him. His mouth dried up, or maybe his tongue swelled, he wasn’t sure. He caught himself staring at the point of contact like he couldn’t pull his hand away. With magnetic accuracy, his eyes flicked up to Ethan’s dark ones. His mind drifted while his visual cortex fixated on the way Ethan’s bangs swept across his brow and his lips curled around impossibly white teeth.

BOOK: Soul Catcher
4.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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