The Curious Tale of Calypso Grimly [Part 3]

Written in response to: Write about a character, animal or human, who is reborn as something totally different.... view prompt

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Fantasy Speculative Urban Fantasy

It wasn't the scythe in the wall that made Calypso a believer. Nor was it the ghosts that suddenly appeared from their graves to stare at him in wonder as he held onto the handle. It wasn’t even the sudden feeling of being solid that overcame him. Though, it was a vast improvement over feeling like he was floating. That ethereal feeling of being there and not being there at the same time. He wondered if this is what it would feel like to be mist. It was the fact that after he shrieked and threw the scythe down onto the ground, the scythe chased after him. He had a dog as a child that had less energy and enthusiasm. "Go away!" He turns to look at the scythe and runs straight into a tombstone, flipping over it and landing next to the feet of a ghost staring down at him. By the furrowed eyebrows and hands on her hips, she was quite cross. 

"Excuse me. But that is my grave, you've just disturbed." The ghost's dark hair fell loosely around her shoulders and simply wore a corset and a silk slip. She wore a pendant on a chain around her neck that dipped down past her collarbone. A pearl pin was clasped loosely in loose strands of hair.

"I'm sorry..." Calypso gets to his feet and turns straight into the scythe. The sound of Toro's laughter echoed around him. "How could I even fall? I thought I was a ghost?" He shoos away the scythe who weaves away from his touch and whacks him on the arm with the end of its handle. 

"No, no," Toro wheezes.

The scythe tilts sideways, somehow affecting a curious tone.

"This," Toro says, gesturing grandly the scythe's way, "proves you are so much more than a ghost. You're a grim!" He grins. "You might remember I said that before."

"I don't want to be a grim..." He kicks a small stone to the side and jostles the hiding spot of a small green snake that slithers away quickly within the crack of a tombstone. Calypso turns to face Toro when the realization finally dawns on him. "Grim? Like a grim reaper?"

"Exactly like!" Toro says cheerfully. "Well not exactly, but you do collect dead souls and escort them to the next stage."

"The next stage of .. what? Death? After-death? I don't know how to do that!" Calypso sits on the top of the tombstone and puts his head in his hands. His head was spinning with all the words that Toro shared. He couldn’t be a grim reaper. Those were creatures in black robes and had the bodies of skeletons. He glances down at himself. He most certainly wasn’t a skeleton. "This can't be happening."

"The scythe does most of the work," Toro says as the scythe swoops into Calypso's lap.

"Why me?" Calypso looks down at it. The scythe bobs and does a little twirl with a flourish before settling across his lap. "I swear this isn't me...." The words of his mother echo in his mind. Ever since he was a child, she told him to stay out of graveyards. She was right. He never should have come into this graveyard. "I swear. I just... I just don't want to be dead. I shouldn't be."

"Technically you're only sort of dead," Toro chirps. 

The scythe wriggles, careful to keep its pointy end away from its grim's body.

"Grims have to experience a brush with death. Afterward, they pop back."

"Pop back?" The words sent a jolt through him. Calypso hurries off the tombstone and back to where he last saw his body. "Does this mean... I'm back?" He looks around but can't find his body. "I can't find me! Am I me?" 

"Soul and body reunited as one," Toro says. He wipes away an imaginary tear. "Beautiful."

Calypso pats himself down. "So... I can leave?" He could find Kennet. He could show Kennet that he's not dead! The scythe bonks him on the head.

"Not until you do your job!" Toro scolds.

Calypso swats at the scythe. "I don't know how! Look, why don't you just hold the scythe and you can do the reaper thing?" The scythe rears back, thoroughly offended. 

"Ghosts can't," Toro explains. "Some grim reaper magic thing, I suppose."

"I'm not a grim reaper." Calypso plops down on the ground. "I just want to not be dead. I want to go home."

"You can't have it all," Toro says. "That's just how the world works."

“Says the ghost,” Calypso mutters quietly. “So you’ve just been stuck here? Icolet said this was a boundary or something between places. I guess she was right. Being that there’s ghosts and all lurking about.”

“There shouldn’t be,” a voice says from behind him. He sees the ghost whose grave he disturbed, making her way over to them. “Grim reapers are supposed to reap the souls of the dead and carry them on to the afterlife. But we haven’t seen any of those since before my death - and that was very long ago.” 

“Chaitri -” Toro starts but Calypso cuts him off. 

“Where did they go?” Calypso asks, looking between the two ghosts. As his eyes drift to Toro, he notices other ghosts - including the ones from the crypt - making their way around them in a circle. 

“No one knows,” Chaitri says. She twirls a strand of her hair around a finger as her eyes drift to looking at a tombstone to the left of Calypso. “They were just gone. I wasn’t ready to cross, so the last time I saw a reaper, they gave me time for closure, promised to return, but… none ever came until you. Then Sahir and Tinuviel saw someone hiding the scythe in the crypt wall. This was -” she looks at the pair. “How long ago, Tinuviel?”

The shyer of the two whispered to the other one. “Tinny says it was a few decades ago, give or take a few days,” Sahir answers.

“We just know that something broke between life and death. Marked this place.” Chaitri glances around at the various tombstones. “You haven’t seen it because you haven’t wanted to. But there’s a bleed between the living and the dead. Merging together.”

“What does that even mean?” Calypso runs hands through his hair. The scythe twirled around to the side of him, bobbing the sharp blade a little closer to his head than he liked - even if he was sort of dead.

“Close your eyes,” Toro says, only continuing once Calypso has done so. “Clear your mind.” 

Seeing ghosts was definitely not on Calypso’s bucket list. Talking to them was even further down. He kept his eyes closed, despite not seeing how little good this was going to do. He focused on clearing his mind but was quickly reminded how bad he was at mediation. Kennet always said that his mind was too busy to be quiet. He smiles softly to himself. Kennet. Calypso focused on his smile. He focused on the way the light streamed in from the window of the bedroom, giving him a gentle halo upon his messy bed hair. 

“Open your eyes,” Toro’s voice echoes around him. 

When Calypso opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were ghosts. He stood up off the tombstone, turning in a circle to look at each of the ghosts that gathered around him. Nothing seemed to change except for a subtle shift in his perspective when he saw a heavy mist of shadows drift over the ground, draping around the gravestones. The small snake slithered its way out of the stone with shadows wrapping around it as it morphed into something bigger. A crunch of its body at a time as it grew and grew with dark scales reminding him of coal, piercing along its body. The snake grew legs with hands on the end that were clawed and a tail that sprouted a stinger. He backs away from the creature and spots a raven nestled on a bare tree limb. It flew down, causing him to duck in a moment of panic, and land on the ground. The raven broke apart, feathers were thrown into every direction that merged back together and stretched out to form a creature in a humanoid shape, feathers like knives sticking along its body and prickling its skin. Taloned hands, thin and sharp fingers, ran over the gravestones as it cocked its head to look at Calypso over its shoulder. Its face was dark and held a dark beak. Calypso scrambled onto his feet, running through the ghosts that disappeared into mists that merged with the shadows that engulfed the graves. He made it to the gate and yanked on the bars but it didn’t even creak with an attempt to open.

He turned, backing up hard against the iron and frantically looking in every direction. He watched as a deer sprang out of the trees, twisting and distorting its body into a monster that hunched over with a skull face and clawed hands. He watched as the moss gurgled together to form the shape of a man that possessed no face and ram horns that were dripping moss as if it was blood. He watched as a horse emerged from the shadows. By all appearance, it was a horse, but its features were wrong with a ratlike tail, thin legs, and a mouth that opened in a shriek that made Calypso think of a mutant mix of an octopus and lamprey. He watched as the world around him - the one he once knew so well - was reborn into something horrifying. 

November 04, 2021 20:04

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