Your storm windows stood no chance of protecting you, even though you’d had them specially made from steel. Readying for the storm you knew would come.
I watched you install them. And you felt me watching, I know. You prepared and I lurked. Waiting for atmospheric turbulence. Wind shear. Moisture.
Cold air aloft.
Piles of bones kept appearing on my doorstep. Not animal bones, either, but people bones.
At first, I’d thought the bones a threat. I lived alone and far away, after all. A perfect target for the ire of nearby villagers. Not one to be cowed, I’d nailed skull and rib cage to the walls of my house.
The moment my skin tore and blood oozed up within the cut, I knew you would hunt me.
How anyone could be expected not to bleed, I didn’t know. But our kin always told us, No blood outside. The hunter will come. Not in that joking way adults talked about monsters. But dead serious.
Every year, we skimmed off the top of your harvest. Taxes, we said. Easy enough to collect food for ourselves in the name of food for all without lifting a finger.
But who followed up on that yield distribution?
I should’ve realized you would.
Why else would you have kept such a foggy photo, if not because it contained something important?
Light had damaged the film roll, spreading a gray smudge across the upper two-thirds of the image. Only a pair of legs, from knobby knees downward, remained visible.
A single long cobweb hung from the ceiling where I’d lowered myself down at your side. It swayed in a breeze blowing through the door you’d left open in your haste to flee. My cobweb reached almost to the footstool where you’d sat, but didn’t quite reach.
You’d knocked me flying when you’d jumped up.
Legend had it, because of course legend did, that you took unwanted things. Neglected things. Folks made sure to pull items out of storage every few months so they’d be there when they were needed again.
Otherwise, you’d take them.
As far as you were concerned, burial didn’t count if it didn’t involve dirt. Yet we’d drifted far from land during our fight over who would captain this ship. And I didn’t have anywhere else to put your corpse when I won.
I think I won, anyway.
To this day, I’m still looking for your soul. You lost it during that one game of hide and seek, remember? I don’t know what happened exactly, because you were hiding and I was seeking, and you broke cover before I found you.
But you came from the direction of that old barn where we weren’t supposed to play.
Moonlight glinted off golden panels where you worked on one of the solar arrays of your empty space station. These repairs could’ve waited until you’d reached the sunlit side of the darkened planet below, but I only appeared in moonlit reflections.
And you were lonely.