Eternal

Eternal

Logan knows he's different from everyone else. Forced to uphold his end of a bargain, he seeks out souls trapped in our world, helping them to pass to the next life. The men he serves however begin to make their true plans known as loves from the past and the present force him into inner turmoil.
Will he triumph in the face of such adversity? Or is he doomed to remain alone and ever watchful of the human world for all eternity?

Chapter 5

Memory

“You’re doing very well,” smiled Richard a few days later.

I sat in his fancy office, slouching in one of the expensive leather armchairs. The room was largely decorated by paintings of landscapes hanging on the green walls and sculptures of human figures. A plush black carpet ran under my feet, probably costing far more than it was worth.

Richard sat behind his desk, facing the large window that took up the majority of the back wall. Out of it, one could see tall skyscrapers, the place where the well-off lived, where I could live if I chose to. He quickly swiveled around to face me, placing both hands on his desk. “We’ve seen a major decrease in souls over the past couple of months thanks to you.”

“I’m only doing my job,” I admitted sheepishly, still not used to his praise.

“It could be lower,” remarked a voice to my right.

My vision shifted to the man who lent on the corner of Richard’s desk. Dressed in similar attire to Richard, he smugly smoked his cigar, occasionally blowing smoke in my direction. This was Richard’s older brother, Robert.

I had to admit, they did look like brothers. They had the same black hair and hazel eyes. However, Robert was bigger than his younger brother, taller and leaner. He wore his hair longer than Richard’s, a defining factor in telling them apart. Unless you knew how much of a jerk Robert was.

“True, true,” Richard commented, rubbing his chin. “But the boy is doing the best he can despite the fact he works alone.”

That was one thing that really annoyed me about their conversations. They spoke as if I wasn’t there, as if I wasn’t even on the same planet.

“Well get him a team then, maybe that’ll speed up progress.” He blew out a breath of smoke and eyed me.

“I don’t need a team,” I stated, standing up to face Robert. “I’m fine on my own.”

“Was I talking to you, boy?” He stubbed out his cigar in the ashtray on the desk and stood, towering a good head over me. “I could have sworn I would have address you if I did.” He lent down so our faces were level. “So keep your mouth shut unless spoken to.”

“Robert, that’s enough.” Richard sat calmly at his desk, eyes closed. Like a chained dog, Robert backed off with an irritated look. Richard opened his eyes, staring directly at me. “Logan, I called you in here because there has been a crisis. It seems that a soul has been allowed to turn. Reports are all over the news about a monster in the night terrorizing the city.”

“Not as good as you thought you were,” Robert remarked arrogantly, giving him a mocking side-glance. I felt an overwhelming need to punch him in his smug little face. But the look Richard gave me told me to keep it to myself.

“I am not here to blame you; I’m here asking for your help.” He reached into the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a yellow folder. Placing it open on the desk he pointed to a few blurry pictures of a misshapen black shape. “These are the pictures that have been plastered on television and social media sites. They’re asking for any information on the monster.” He sat back in his chair, hands folded neatly together. “I don’t think I have to remind you about what you must do.”

I sighed, staring at the photo again. This was definitely a soul gone rogue. It was my job to stop this thing before it caused any more trouble.

I grabbed the folder and stood. “I know, I know, I’m on it.” Richard beamed at me like he was so happy that I was clearing up this problem.

Like I had a choice.

“Don’t screw this up,” Robert sneered under his breath as I left.

Don’t even go there I thought. He’s not worth your time.

******

“Back again?”

I glanced at the receptionist, giving her a quick smile. She was one of my favourite people at the nursing home because of how open and friendly she was. Her kind brown eyes and polished smile never failed to cheer me up. Her thick black hair hung loose over one shoulder, standing out against the deep red dress she wore. A shiny nameplate on her desk read Natasha in white letters.

“Yep, same as always,” I replied. I try to put on a cheerful demeanor but I knew what lay beyond those doors. It was always the same every time I came here. “Is she in her room?”
Natasha scanned a clipboard in front of her, running her finger down it until she stopped on one name. “You’re in luck, she should have just finished lunch.” She replaced the clipboard and looked up at me. “She should be back in her room now.”

I gave her a grateful nod and turned to leave.

No sooner have I turned did I find myself face to face with an older man in a blue bathrobe. He scratched the thinning white hair on his head, his wide pale eyes looking around the room confusedly. “I’m sorry, I’m looking for someone.” His eyes suddenly looked at me but I could see that he wasn’t all there. “Have you seen my wife, Constance? I can’t find her anywhere.”

“I’m afraid I haven’t,” I responded. The man gave a sigh and wandered off, starting to root through a nearby pot plant. I turned back to Natasha. “Still looking for her, then?”

“Yes, poor Mr. Anderson.” She glanced at the man as he gave up on the plant and chose to search through a bin. He tipped the bin’s contents onto the floor, pouring over every crumpled paper and discarded food wrapper. “We tried to tell him she’s passed away but I don’t think he quite understands. Perhaps it’s better he thinks she’s lost rather than deceased.”

Natasha dialed a number into the phone on her desk. She spoke quickly before replacing it in its receiver. Within moments, a flustered middle-aged nurse I knew as Penny bustled into the reception area. Tucking a stray curl of blonde hair behind her ear, she composed herself and strided over to Mr. Anderson. “There you are,” she says, taking his arm gently. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

“Have you seen my wife?” He asked her, looking around the room once more as if she’ll magically appear before him. “I can’t find her anywhere.”

“Why don’t I help you look for her?” Penny suggested sympathetically, trying to lead him away. “Perhaps she’s waiting for you in your room? We’ll start there if you like.” Mr. Anderson complied, allowing himself to be taken away. He gave one last scan around to make sure she wasn’t hiding somewhere in here.

“It must be terrible for him, not knowing where she is. I sometimes wish she were still alive, if nothing else but to comfort him.” Natasha shuffled a few things on her desk before spotting me. “Better not keep her waiting, I know she enjoys your visits.”

I gave her one final nod before leaving. I walked the narrow halls of the nursing home, the stark white walls bare and uninviting. Even the brown carpet under my feet felt lifeless. Only the doors offer me any sign of life, small glimpses into the lives lived by the people here.

A couple plays some sort of board game, rolling a dice with shaking hands. An elderly woman sits reading a book by the window, occasionally glancing out it to the garden beyond. A nurse cleaning one person’s room as they napped in an old armchair, head lolling to one side and snoring softly. The majority of doors I passed were not open, their inhabitants either sleeping or do not wished to be disturbed.

I finally arrived at her door, closed like most times I visited her. I lifted my hand to knock, hesitating for a moment. Why am I here? Why do I put myself through this? I brushed the thoughts from my mind. I'm here, no point turning back now.

I rapped softly on the door but there’s no answer. Is she not back from lunch yet? Just as I think of leaving, a raspy voice from within tells me the door is unlocked. I take a breath and swung open the door.

Inside the room is immaculate. The bed is made neatly, crisp white sheets and fluffy matching pillows. Each shelf of the tall bookcase is free of dust, much like the wooden table beside the bed. A large window with floral curtains on either side of it is completely see through, not a smudge to be seen. Sitting beside the window in a leather armchair is an elderly woman in a long pale pink dress.

“It’s you,” she murmured, a smile lighting her frail lips. She raised her head, hair slipping from her sliver bun and over her face. She lifted a wrinkled hand to brush it away but even that takes a lot of effort. I stepped forward and moved it behind her ear.

I kneeled beside her and clasped her other hand. “I’ve come back again to see you.” Her blue eyes lit up when I spoke and I watched as she tried to recall who I was.

“Logan?” She said after a moment’s thought.

I smiled. “Yes, it’s me. Do you remember?” I stroked the back of her hand, looking into her aged face. I wait patiently for her answer with hope.

“You’re the man whose been coming to see me, aren’t you?” She looked triumphant but all I felt was despair. She’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a long time ago and her memory had been getting worse and worse every day. I hated seeing her deteriorate slowly while I could only stand by and do nothing. My only comfort was seeing the rare times that she actually smiled, it’s the only time she looked like her old self.

“Yes, Eleanor, I’m the man whose been visiting you.”

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