75/366 – The Soul Stealers

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Ekua said, looking over at Ackon as he caught the waitress.

“She fainted,” Ackon replied.

“I know that, but really, here? You know that we need her to order food, right?” Ekua said, shaking her head.

Ackon shrugged and slid the waitress into a booth, laying her head gently on the red cushion. He walked back to the table and slid in across from Ekua.

“I don’t know. Sometimes things work out for the best this way,” Ackon said, taking a sip from his coffee.

“Explain to me how?” Ekua said, “I know most people don’t think much of their souls, but you can’t just walk up and take every single one you pass. You have to be selective.”

“Being selective is what got us lawyers,” Ackon replied as the kitchen door opened.

A portly man entered the dining car and looked around, confused. His eyebrows went up as he rushed around the counter and approached the waitress.

“Gladys! Gladys, are you okay?” he said, shaking the waitress lightly.

“She’ll be fine,” Ackon said over his shoulder. “She just felt a little tired and sat down.”

The man looked up from his friend and looked at the only two people in the diner. “We should call 9-1-1!” he said, rushing toward the phone on the wall.

“It’ll be fine,” Ackon said. “I’m telling you, it’s unnecessary.”

“Get out,” the man replied as he picked up the phone and dialed the number, “Hello? Yes, my friend has passed out, and I can’t get her to wake up. I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Ackon slid out of the booth and stretched, lifting his arms high for the ceiling. Ekua followed suit, shaking her head.

“See, this is what I was talking about. Now we aren’t going to get any food tonight,” Ekua said.

“You could if you wanted to,” Ackon replied, nodding to the man at the wall still talking into the phone.

“I don’t want to, that’s what I’m saying. What good does it do? How many souls must I steal to feel something again?” Ekua said. “So far, none of them have made a lick of difference.”

“Maybe you’re taking the wrong ones?” Ackon replied, dropping a five-dollar bill on the table.

“I don’t think that’s it,” Ekua replied, “I think that I may just be over it entirely.”

“Hey, guy. What’s your name?” Ackon said to the man who was hanging up the phone.

“Gerry,” he replied as he returned to Gladys’ side.

“Well, Gerry, can I ask you a question?” Ackon said.

“I’m a little busy at the moment,” he said without looking up.

Ackon walked over and slid into the booth across from them. Gerry looked at him in total disbelief.

“Seriously, it’ll be really quick,” Ackon said.

“Ackon, don’t,” Ekua said, “Let’s just go.”

“What?” Gerry replied, looking nervously between them.

“Can my friend have your soul? It’s been a bit of a rough patch for her, and-”

“What the fuck is wrong with you, man? Get out already. What are you still doing here? My friend is having a medical crisis, and you’re talking to me about souls?” Gerry said as the sound of sirens began growing louder outside.

“Alright,” Ackon said, putting his hands up, “if you don’t want to answer, I guess we’ll go. But there was a lot of money on the table for you, just saying.”

Gerry shook his head as Ackon stood up and walked toward the door. Ekua punched him in the arm as he passed her.

They stepped out onto the street as an ambulance pulled in with its red and blue lights flashing quickly. Two paramedics stepped out and ran inside with bags. Ekua stepped to the side to stay out of their way as she pulled a pack of cigarettes from her pocket. She flicked the lighter and took a long drag as she looked through the window at the three people standing around the waitress.

“What are you thinking?” Ackon said.

“It’s all unnecessary. You know that right?” she replied. “They are constantly seeking immortality on some scale but never finding it. Meanwhile, we walk through the eons stealing souls, and for what?”

“It’s what we do,” Ackon shrugged, plucking the cigarette from her hand and taking a drag.

“Have you ever wondered why?” Ekua asked, turning away from the diner. “Even that whole interaction with Gerry in there, he’s already forgotten that we were there. The paramedics didn’t notice us. We could kill someone with a knife in broad daylight and hand the weapon to a cop confessing our crime, and the cop would likely go to prison for it. None of it makes any sense.”

“I don’t put that much thought into it,” Ackon replied, walking beside Ekua down the road. “I just know that we exist and have needs, and they provide for some of them.”

“Did you get a rush from her that time?” Ekua asked.

“No,” Ackon replied after a second. “I haven’t gotten a rush from a soul in a long time.”

“People aren’t what they used to be, and neither are we. Why the hell are we here then?” Ekua said.

“Maybe God-”

“Don’t start with that bullshit,” Ekua snapped. “We’ve watched the rise and fall of countless religions. If there was a God or a Devil that fought for the immortal souls of the masses, don’t you think we’d have seen one of them?”

“I mean, they got close when they realized they had souls,” Ackon said.

“They only realized that because they used to see us. They used to fear us and hunt for us. Hell, some of us they actually managed to capture,” Ekua replied as she threw her cigarette into the gutter. “Things used to have at least a little bit of logic to it, but after all this time, I don’t feel anything about anything anymore.”

“What about me?” Ackon asked. “Do you feel anything for me.”

“I’m familiar with you,” Ekua replied with a shrug, “If you decided to leave, I wouldn’t blame you, and, honestly, I would just keep going on with life like always.”

“Wouldn’t you miss me?” Ackon asked.

“With the fact that I’m indifferent to most things, I don’t know,” Ekua replied, looking at him curiously. “Would you really miss me if I left?”

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Ackon said. “How do we fix it?”

“I don’t know,” Ekua said. “Feelings are wonderful and all, I suppose, but I don’t know that anything will change regardless of the number we steal.”

“We’re not really stealing them if they don’t want them,” Ackon replied.

“Here we go again,” Ekua said as they disappeared around a corner.


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