GULPING THE HOURS

 

            “I am going to pilfer your life from the inside,” the Man of Thatch said. His voice was like a whispered hiss. A snake lullaby.  “I am going to weevil through you. Slip inside you.  Fit in between your cells and live in you. And I am going to steal years of yours.” He held his hand over The Warrior’s chest and it splintered into millions of whispy, microscopic hairs. “You will never be without me. And I will eat years from you, but not all at once. A day here. A day here. Digesting your days and shortening you.”

 

            The Warrior couldn’t move. He couldn’t scream or threaten. He could only watch as the hairs sunk painlessly into his chest, slipping in every direction into the spaces between, like a river vanishing into an ocean and ceasing to be itself. The Man of Thatch continued to pour himself into The Warrior. Into his flesh. Into his insides. The Warrior had failed to stop him.

 

            Then the Man of Thatch was gone, hidden in the flesh. The Warrior only breathed for a moment, his failure complete. Now there was silence. He blinked.

 

            “I’m here,” came the whispered hiss again. “I am throughout you. I am in your eyes and see what you see. I am in your ears. Your heart. Your mind.  I am as close as I can be to you now – living in your deepest places. I can feel you all around me. Sheltering me. Feeding me.”

 

            The Warrior shuddered as his thought of the billions of tendrils snaking though him, feeding off him. He could hear The Man of Thatch gulping the hours of his life, slowly whittling his time down to nothing, moment by moment. He thought of what would happen next. How his failure had brought the end.

 

            “Fused together for all ages,” The Man of Thatch cooed again. “One.”

 

            The Warrior put the gun to his temple and squeezed the trigger.

 

            In the epilogue the boy didn’t know what his father had done to save him. To save everyone.

 

            Now, everything would be all right.