Or was he? Instead of reappearing in the ‘landing pad’ room, I found myself waking up as if from a deep sleep – to watch my own burial.
It was dawn and a shallow grave had been dug in Bella’s backyard. My body was dumped face-down in the dirt and was now getting shovelfuls of mud thrown onto it. Bella wasn’t even there. She was upstairs combing her hair, as I could clearly see through the window.
“Wow that’s quite the view,” Conan said cheerfully as mud spattered onto the back of my body’s head. “You can even see the stake sticking out of your back!”
“Why are we doing this?” I asked as snarkily as one could while being in someone’s spiritual pocket. It came out sounding drowsy and sleepy. I was comfy, okay?
“We’re waiting,” Conan said happily, fluffing out his feathers and snuggling down into himself.
At that, I tried to rouse myself. Yes! It was dawn! Something must be happening! “What?” I asked peppily. Anything to distract myself from my own burial… “What are we waiting for?”
“For you to get the point!” and he cackled at his own joke.
“Oh very fucking funny,” I snarled. I tried to stretch and push him around but nope- no getting out of my cozy little pocket.
A crow fluttered down from a nearby tree and perched beside us. “Hey, what’s the occasion?” it asked in a caw.
“Some idiot got staked. The eyes are still there, if you can get to them,” Conan said happily.
“Eh,” the crow shrugged and ruffled itself. “Maybe once the dogs dig it up.”
“Or the werewolves,” Conan chirped in.
Are you fucking done?! I wanted to scream. That’s me they’re burying! Stop making fun! It’s not funny! Stop it!
The crow cocked its head to the side. “Do I hear someone?” it asked.
“I got one them in my pocket,” Conan said, as if that explained everything. The other crow cocked its head, but seemed to get the point.
“Unlike you!” Conan thought loudly, somehow prodding at me. “You got the point yet?”
“What point?” I shrieked, flailing around and throwing as big of a temper tantrum as I could.
“That you were being used like a,” Conan paused for effect, or to find his words.
“Yeah, yeah! I got the point!” I snapped. “Get over it!”
“Oh but did you?” and Conan, chirping a quick ‘bye’ to the bird, took off. He flew up to Bella’s window and perched on the sill. There, he stuck an eye almost into the glass, peering in. “Look at how miserable she is! Ooooh, take a good look at that!”
Bella was smirking, sitting in her chair and generally staring into space as she fiddled with her fingers.
“She’s so miserable!” chirped Conan. “She’s mourning you so bad! Grief knows no bounds!”
“Oh shut up!” I shrieked, because it did hurt. Bella just looked so happy.
“That’s because she is happy! She got rid of you, and the fact you went back to her shows her that she’s got an eternal grip on you – she won. You were her eternal lapdog.”
I wanted to cry, but no tears would come. “I was going to kill her,” I mumbled in my defense.
“She probably sensed that. That’s why she tried to kill you first.”
“Am I that predictable?” I whined miserably.
“Oh yes you are,” Conan said. “You throw a tantrum, go beat things up, and usually retreat to Bella. Did I get it right?”
I made an unhappy sound. But I was too cozy to really sound more than like a grumpy cat. I snuggled down into this pocket, drowsy and wanting to be left alone.
“You’ve got some choices to make,” Conan was saying as he hopped off the ledge and onto the nearby gutter. He pecked at some snow, then spat it out.
“Bla, bla, bla,” I thought grouchily. “Leave me alone. I’m dead.”
“Well, yes, you are,” he chirped as he hopped along the roof. “But that leaves you with several options, thanks to me.”
“Uh huh,” I tried to sleep but it wasn’t working.
“I’m a passageway for those I kill,” he announced. “I can-”
“You’ve killed people?” I was in shock. His perfect know-it-all perfection had killed things?
“It’s a long story,” he said unhappily. “But yes. And I can transfer their souls to another place. A galaxy where they start over. So that’s one option.”
“What happens in this galaxy?” I asked hopefully. After all, it didn’t seem like I had a good chance at getting into the Pure Lands right now.
“I don’t know,” he said softly. “It’s just where I send people. I’ve never been there.”
I paused. “Okay, that’s – creepy. You got a better option?”
He ruffled his feathers and looked pompously up into the sky. “I can release you, and you, as a spirit that died, get taken into the Source to be… reconstructed. It seems to be that was where your soul was going before I put you under my wing.”
“Am I under your wing?” I asked.
“Oh hush,” he sighed. “Then we have a third option.”
“Go on,” I said grumpily. Figures, he’d stick me in his armpit.
Conan hesitated. “I eat you.”
“You WHAT?” I yelped, suddenly not so drowsy and cozy anymore.
“Hey, calm down, I’m offering, it’s not like I’m a rabid cannibal with no self control.”
“No, you’re a civilized cannibal?”
Conan paused. “I’m not sure I count as a cannibal. You see, I’m a crow Chaos. In my realm, that comes with certain powers. To travel the realms, and to ingest souls. To take them and bond them into yourself. I’ve done this multiple times, and, really, it’s what saved me from Bella. You see, I’m not one soul with only three pieces. I’m a soul with many, many, pieces. And Bella can only control one piece at a time, so I was relatively free in her grasp.”
“You’re, a soul-eater?” I would be a guppy if I had a shape right then.
“I’m just a crow with a lot of power,” he said with a creaky sigh. “Now you’ve got to make up your mind. What do you want to do?”
“Well I certainly don’t want to get Eaten!” I fairly yelled. He rattled his head as if I was loud. “What are you doing with me anyways? Why don’t you just let me go?”
“That will release you into the Source. Is that what you want?”
“No!” I snapped. Somehow, I didn’t feel like being de-constructed. I had a life, I had things to fix. I’d screwed up but… what other choice was there?
“I can send you to the galaxy,” he offered.
I snorted. “Galaxy of what? You don’t even know what is there!”
“True,” he cocked his head to the side. “But it’s where I feel compelled to send souls-”
“So why didn’t you send me there?” I snapped, thinking I had found a loophole in his story. Hah!
“Because,” he said calmly. “I want to eat you. Ingest you. Absorb you.”
I screamed wordlessly. Trust the cute guy to be a maniac!
Conan chuckled, ruffling his feathers against a cold breeze. “So what’ll it be?”
I moped. I tried to change the topic. “Is that it? The reason you were flirting with me? You were like ‘mmm, I wanna eat that’?”
Conan laughed. “No. I like you.”
“Why?” I snapped.
“Beats me,” and he sighed again. “Look it’s getting cold. Make up your mind.”
I groaned, then whined pathetically. “I don’t want to. Can’t we-” but my mind was made up. I had three options, and I hated all of them. But only one really gave me a chance to fix what I’d screwed up.
I wailed wordlessly, but I knew he’d heard my decision. “Fine! Eat me!”
Conan chuckled. “With pleasure,” he said softly.