Wandering Spirits

Lanett Bagley

 

Cold. That was the last thing the spirit had known. The kind of cold that could not be soothed away by the warmth of firelight or the weight of blankets. It was the kind of cold that stole your very last breaths. They had set out on an icy morning just like this one. The sun coming slowly over the peak of Mont Blanc, shedding the precious few rays that reached into the depths of the valley. Mist rose from the icy rock, shrouding the valley, intensifying the light.  

The spirit drifted along, slowly, lazily, following the path of the mist, letting the glacial breeze guide them along. It was one of the few pleasures they had left in life, well, death more like. It was a peaceful existence, maybe peaceful was not the right word. They puzzled over this quiet fact. Was it truly peaceful if they could feel emotion no longer? An empty existence. That is what it was. Empty, lacking of any substance, of any emotion, of anything. Eternal nothingness. That is all this existence was.  

They let themselves fall back into another current of mist.  

They didn’t know how long they had been here in this eternal nothingness. Could have been for days, yet it felt longer, or it could have been centuries, yet that felt too long. They no longer had a concept of time. For what was time but a construct made by man and used only by man. What use did a spirit have for time?  

Another current of air caught them and they fluttered up high in the air, nearly to the summit of the mountain. It was a lovely view. Lovely? No. Nothing was lovely in this place. Loveliness was reserved for lush, warm, and flowering places. This was a harsh climate. Ice and snow were all this terrain knew.  

They let themselves sink again. 

“Wandering spirits,” The words shocked them. Loud. Louder and more human than anything in the valley. “If indeed ye wander, and do no rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take me as your companion, away from the joys of life.”  

It was a man’s voice. That they were sure of as they suddenly jolted across the valley seeking the source of the voice.  

“Why do you curse me so!” The voice pierced the air and the spirit followed the source more closely this time, driven by the sudden, intense curiosity that filled them. Curiosity, or something akin to it.  

They found the man, for it really was a man, standing on the top of the ascent. A man of darkest black hair, a shock of color against the whiteness of the surrounding, his skin flushed with color from the icy breeze blowing across the mountain. Warmth, oh such warmth, pulsed through those living veins.  

They drifted close, watching the plumes of the man’s breath fog out from between purpling lips. They reached out, letting a tendrilled finger lightly caress his stubbled jaw, and watched in rapt fascination as the man shuddered, gooseflesh rising under the touch. It was a pleasurable warmth unlike anything they had felt in so long.  

“Spirit!” The word was a gasp from the man’s lips. He fell back a step in shock.  

You called to me. They thought, You called to me and I came.  

They drifted closer to the man’s perfect warmth. “No!” The man stumbled, striking out with ineffectual hands.  

You called to me, I came and now you reject me! Their words were a howl on the wind. They careened forward, their matter flooding through the man’s body, filling him with indescribable cold, chasing away the fleeting happiness that had begun in his heart. Yes, for they could sense it now, deep within the man there was a desire to be happy, truly happy. But no happiness could exist here. This was a place for cold, cold and nothingness.  

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