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The Spirit

“Not again,” I sighed.

The sky, which had been cloudy just moments before, was now a flat crimson canvas, pulled tight over the Earth like a fitted sheet. As my eyes adjusted, I began to notice the clouds again, but they weren’t still, as they had been before I picked up the box. They were roiling storm clouds now, releasing bright orange lightning and thunder that was so loud it seemed to come from the ground and shake me in my boots.

I turned my head as the wind began to pick up, leaves from the churchyard fluttering around us. As I turned my head, I saw Janet, my apprentice, staring up in awe.

“This happens all the time, okay? It’s nothing to worry about, unless you take too long to deal with it.”

She swallowed, not averting her gaze. “And if you take too long?”

“Let’s not think about that,” I grunted as I walked up the stairs to the front door. “Give me a hand with this.”

She and I walked to the box at the altar, which was heavy – no surprise there – and we lugged it outside. Inside the church, there was a peaceful, deathly quiet, but once we stepped outside, the red storm was raging. It had begun to rain now, not hard, but enough to soak you if you stood outside for a couple minutes.

“Is this blood!?” Janet whispered frantically. She showed me her hand, palm up. Streaks of red flowed down her arm and dripped off her elbow.

“Yes, but don’t worry. You’re not bleeding. It’s the rain.”

As I prepared the box, I saw her silently freak out. She was staring up at the sky, eyes wide, and her breathing sped up a bit.

“Listen,” I said, in as fatherly a tone as I could, “You signed up for this job. Okay? Being a spirit tamer is freaky and there’s all sorts of wild shit. Didn’t I tell you that?”

She nodded and began to help me prepare the box. I sort of let her do it and just observed. The kid had talent, even if her ability to see the spirits was still developing.

“So you gotta be strong. Can you do that?”

She nodded again, looked over the box once more, and said, firmly, “It’s ready.”

I opened the latch on the box and held my hand on the top for a second.

“I’m proud of you,” I said.

With a flourish, I opened the box wide. The sky grew darker and darker, until it was pitch black, and then folded in on itself until it got to a single, infinitely thin point. The sky then plummeted down towards us and fell straight into the box, leaving the blue sky that had been there before perfectly intact.

I closed the box and did the latch.

“Done.”

She went to rub her eyes, realized her hands were still bloody, then decided against it. “Ugh,” she said, “I’m gonna have to wash my hair too. What was in this box, anyway?”

“It’s a spirit locker. That’s what I call it, anyway, I don’t know if it has a real name. It’s a bunch of spirits all together, sometimes thousands. When there’s a natural disaster or something but the bodies can’t be properly buried and given a ritual, oftentimes witches will make a box like this to house those many souls until they can be properly laid to rest somehow. But if they stay in there too long, they start thinking no one’s ever gonna come for them, and well, they get cranky. By the looks of it, this box might be hundreds of years old.”

“Why couldn’t the witch let them out?”

“She probably forgot about it. Then died. And then, well, no one around to let them out.”

“So what do we do now?” She leaned down, picked the box up, and shook it. “It sounds empty.”

“Spirits don’t have any mass, of course it does. As to what we’re gonna do about it, we’ll just have to burn the box or something. Unfortunately for these spirits, they’re too far gone to save now.”

“Jesus,” she said.

“I know, it sucks. But that’s part of the job.”

“No, not that,” she said with a handful of her bloody hair raised to her nose, “This blood smells terrible.”

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor

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