Time. Time is irrelevant when you are
immortal. It flies past like lightening or flows like molasses, sometimes
changing in the blink of an eye. The world can move in a languidly, in a sort
of warm lethargy, or it fling itself in ones face and dance a jig never seen it
moves so fast. It can go back and forth and to and fro until the one
experiencing it is sure that it’s a living, breathing thing. It can-- pause.
Just stay still and breathe in and hold for a moment as though waiting for just
the right time to exhale-- and continue moving forward. It cannot rewind,
though to the immortal, that hardly matters. Those who live forever are able to
hoard their memories or discard them. If held, they can go back into their
minds and relive those moments over and over in any way their choose. In that
way, they can control their pasts.
And to the immortals who live outside of humanity, to whom human beings mean nothing... Well, to them, time is even less. They live among themselves or within themselves. Often, they have nothing with which to measure the passage of time. Only the quicksilver, countless rotations of sun around the Earth-- rise and fall and night and day and night. Over and over again. One day is much like another and rarely does anything punctuate the monotony of it all. Rarely, but that isn’t exactly ’never’.
For an anju, one of those shadowy demons that feeds on nightmares and terrors, the tedium breaks when they find one whose fears fits so closely with their hungers as to be a perfect match. A girl deathly afraid of dirt to the point of frozen terror when her hands gain a slightly dusty look could make a feast for an anju who feeds on fear of grime and the like. And a boy who only wants freedom, to move out from under the captive watch of his mother and into the world of grandeur and mysticism-- well, one certain anju found him quite appetising indeed.
This particular anju waited in the dreams near a small village, often pushing back in his memories to nights where the Romans took slaves from that very area. Captivity was much feared then, as men were always certain their wives or daughters or precious sons would walk away in chains while they-- fighting to keep what little they possessed-- fought and died in bloody massacres, Gallic barbarians with no hope of surviving against Latin-garbling masses. Where was that fear which tasted so sweet in his mouth? Where was the terror, like electrified copper, tangy to the senses? It was no more, apparently. Sure, there was often a brief flare from someone who was afraid of getting locked up, or sick and sad at staying confined all day-- perhaps forever-- but those were not true fears. They didn’t infuse every waking moment, weren’t worthy of full indulgence. And so this particular anju... Rested... For a time, tired of searching. Sort of pushed time away and just went somewhere else, where everything was nothing.
Now and then, he would drift into the dreams of those nearby and try to raise in them some sort of primeval fear of being cornered. It worked to sate him for a few moments, even if it was a shadow of the true thing. Better than going hungry, certainly, though he remained parch for real terror for such a long time without being quenched. So long... Until one day he found a very special victim.
The boy. The boy interested in mysticism, tied to his mother’s apron strings. He longed to get out, longed to feel the wind of adventure on his face, and feared worse than death staying forever gripped in one place, trapped like a common mule in a stall. How odd that the first taste of something more in so very long would come from a mere child.
The anju enjoyed his first taste of this ethereal being of the daylight that he began to stalk the child. In the boy’s dreams, he worked to cultivate the fear to bring it out until it could raise a cold sweat on the brow. He watched the child and was sure he was seen or suspected in turn. And he whispered. He told the child of the greatness that was out in the world, of such secrets upon which little ones thrived until he was sure his victim wanted nothing more than to go out into the world.
The boy drank in his every word and each night when he went into the child’s dream, he could taste that fear growing ever-stronger within. The connection was perfect-- the boy was an ideal and gullible meal. And he began to wonder. Could he possibly use this boy for something more? Could this boy be the one he’s sought so long? The one to whom he could bind himself.
He’d nearly forgotten in his lethargy that he was searching. Searching for a body of his very own, one he would jealously keep. One he could manipulate into accepting him in and giving him a taste of flesh and death.
Long ago, he had sought out one who told him how he could stay in the physical world-- which provided so much more nourishment than the dream realm-- and learned of a spell. He had to make the boy utter the spell. He was such a malleable thing that it couldn’t be difficult. Oh, but for that short time it took, it seemed forever.
He would haunt the child’s dreams, whispering to him desperately, eagerly, hungrily of the spell. He told the boy what great things would come if only he uttered a few simple words.
The boy’s mother distrusted her son’s oddity, however, ad began barring his way. Oh, the frustration. So close to receiving a body and the woman was trying to ruin his chances. But the boy remains curious as ever, lusting for knowledge and satisfaction. It was almost admirable. Not so admirable that the anju wouldn’t possess him, of course. If anything, it made the growing boy an even better candidate, for he’d always been hungry for more.
The boy worked against his parents to bring him back into the dreams, so that he could whisper once more--louder, now, for the boy was practically inviting him in. It was beautiful. Soon, he knew. So soon, he could practically taste the gory flesh on his tongue. For the first time, he started to become impatient for triumph. He was ready long before the boy, had been for ages, it felt. In waiting, the anju felt every moment of his existence.
But the day came-- or, rather, the night. The sweet foolish child followed his words exactly, so obedient and eager. He watched and waited for the right moment and when it came, waited just a second more to see the disappointment light over the boy’s face-- and then moved in.
Oh, glorious ecstasy! He could feel the boy dying as he pushed his way through. Could feel this magnetism coming from the weakening soul as he bonded to the flesh the hair greying prematurely, the body growing weak and spasming. And-- he could feel! The wind was spraying over his flesh and the night air was dark against his lips. He felt. He ate nothing, yet he could taste. Nothing had a taste and a smell and feel. It was tangible in this world. And...
And just as he was about to rejoice, he felt that weak spark within. The boy was still there. He could feel him, cursedly alive. And through some horrible mistake, they were bonded. Their souls were twins now, conjoined within one body. He who feasted upon the fear of others who didn’t want to live cornered-- he was trapped.
Oh, how he howled an raged then. A piece of the world, he now had the ability to beat his fists and cry out at the bright moon. “Curse it. Curse it all to Hell!” He could speak, but that was bittersweet. The embodiment of fear now felt it’s sting. Perhaps this was the side-effect of bonding to a human-- that human emotions were all very real. It was no longer anju, but “other.”