The boss found a new place for me. It’s a little cramped, of course. A bit smaller than the place I was before, but I guess I can’t be too demanding. The last place I lived was a lot of fun. Plenty of parties, lots of drinking. Wasn’t too fond of that car being wrapped around the telephone pole near the end of my stay, but hey. These things do happen on occasion.
But this place isn’t too bad. My new roommate seems pretty nice, if a little quiet. I think her name is Doris, but I haven’t actually met her yet. I’ve seen her sleeping in the corner of her room from time to time. She’s a small little thing, black hair that is in half formed braids, and pretty little dresses. I imagine she has some beautiful brown eyes, but again, I’m not quite sure yet.
There are only two windows really in the whole place, right out front. They’re nice to look out of every once in a while, although they do look a bit grimy and fuzzy. I suppose that I should clean them, of course, but with everything else going on lately I don’t seem to find the time.
The home was a mobile one, of course, and it was fun moving it from place to place, being able to see new things and visit with others. Doris used to have a routine from what I understand, places she used to go, and people that she used to talk to, but now, well now she really didn’t do much of anything as far as I could tell.
But still, a home like this needs motion. The scenery needs to change every so often, so I do my best to keep things active. Every so often I try to get her involved of course.
“Hey Doris,” I would say, “Why don’t we head down to that nice park a few blocks down? The sun seems pretty nice and warm today, how about it?”
Her usual response is to shrug slightly and roll over to go back to sleep. The girl is always sleeping.
Still, I try to do what I can to take care of the place. Make sure the garbage is taken out, keep the heater and cooling system working properly as best as I can. Little stuff like that. I even try to take us to the places that I know she’s been to before, hoping that she takes the time to look around.
So far, no luck, but I’ll keep trying.
^ ^ ^
It was pretty late in the evening when I first noticed it. Someone outside was chanting, low and urgent. I smiled a little bit. The boss had always said that I’d hear stuff like this eventually. It was part of the process, he said. To make sure things were all above board. Still, I didn’t see any real reason to be concerned. I wasn’t harming anything by living here. In a way, I was helping. The fact that I was here meant that Doris could sleep a little bit longer. She must have had it pretty hard before I came. I wondered what had happened to her sometimes. Still, except for that chanting, it was very peaceful here.
I thought once or twice about waking her up to enjoy the evening with me, but I figured it would be better to let her rest. There would be plenty of evenings to follow.
A few days later, I finally found my groove, and I hoped that Doris would like what I had done with the place. I took the liberty of changing some of the decorations. Found a few things in the storage room that was more to my liking, and even managed to trim the branches outside. Some of them had the same inky, beautiful blackness of her hair, but they really needed better care. It was a shame to see them go, but hopefully they will grow back even better than before. I do wish I could find a way to clean those windows, though. Nothing I’m doing seems to work. Maybe Doris knows a trick or something. I’ll have to ask her when she awakens.
^ ^ ^
Those chanters came back again last night. They were just as urgent, but louder than before. Wish they would either go away or chant in a language that I understood. I managed to look out the windows. All I could see was panels of painted tile. Apparently we had moved away from the stars for a while. Maybe Doris had woken up for a little bit while I rested?
It’s hard to say, really. She doesn’t seem to come out from that room of hers at all anymore. Every time I check on her, she’s still sleeping, her face so peaceful. Her breathing is slow and even, just like a little child when they’re taking a nap. I shook my head. It’s hard to believe she can sleep through every place we’ve been, and all the changes I’ve made. Still maybe she’s seen them and is just too shy to tell me.
^ ^ ^
Something is wrong. I’m having trouble moving this place to a different location. The machines don’t seem to be responding to me as easily as before. Still, I’m able to get the garbage outside, and keep things inside in some sort of order, so there is that. I can also see some wood paneling and a bit of the evening sun if I force the upper portion to twist around a bit. It’s something else to see besides that infernal painted paneling.
I actually tried waking Doris this evening. Actually reached out and shook her shoulder. Her response was to bat my hand away as if it was a bothersome gnat.
“Why won’t you wake up?” I whispered urgently as I listened to the sounds outside our home. Something was breathing out there, beneath the chanting that had become almost non-stop now. It was rhythmic and slow, in and out. In and out. I heard a scraping, scratching sound coming from the far reaches of the home, far away from those inky black branches that I had cut just a few days ago.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all.
Something out there was trying to get in
^ ^ ^
The ventilation system is on the fritz. An awful, pungent smell keeps coming inside. It’s getting harder to breathe in here. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to make it go away.
I could really use some help here. It’s getting harder to breathe.
Why won’t she wake up?
How can she sleep through all of this?
I run to the window and scream at what is outside.
“Stop! This is my home! Why are you doing this!”
Exorcizo te ominis spiritus immunde in nomine Dei Patris–
The smoke began to slowly pour from the walls. The floors felt hot against my feet. I sprang to the chair, hoping to get away.
“Please!” I cried. “Why are you doing this?”
–omnipotentis et in nomine Jesu Christi Filii ejus Domini et Judicis nostri et in virtute Spiritus Sancti–
“Dammit! I’m not harming anyone!”
I felt the walls begin to shake. I watched in a mixture of horror and wonderment as a beautiful vase shimmied off the table, crashing onto the floor.
–ut descedas ab hoc plasmate Dei Doris–
Doris! What did they want with that poor girl?
I ran to her room. The floors and walls were shaking violently now. I was forced to lean against the wall and cough for a few moments, my lungs and eyes burning with every exhale. This wasn’t going to work. Even if I could get that poor girl awake, there was no way she would be able to breathe in this.
–quod Dominus noster ad templum sanctum suum vocare dignatus est–
I’m not entirely sure what they spewing from their mouths out there, or but it was starting to irritate the hell out of me. That and the fact that I was losing control of my home. I had only been here a week!
–ut fiat templum Dei vivi et Spiritus Sanctus habitet in eo Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum qui-
Something about it was just– just — wrong. Authoritative and in not a good way. I ran to the front windows and tried to force them open, the smoke and the haze and those damn voices were getting to be too much.
All I could see from them were other residences like mine, but they were black and purple. Not colorful at all. I banged on the window latch- once, twice, and finally a third time it started to give way, and more smoke and heat tore into my home.
“Dammit!” I screamed through the window, now partially open. “What right do you have to do this! What in the name of all that is right–”
– venturus est judicare vivos et mortuous et saeculum per ignem–
The damn droning continued unabated. No, it actually grew stronger, and more irritating the more I yelled. The walls and floor felt like fire now, and yet nothing was smoldering, nothing caught fire. Just a lot of smoke and that damn chanting.
Why wouldn’t they just stop already!?!
“What’s going on?”
The sound of snowflakes entered my ears, soft and almost unnoticed against the roar that now surrounded me. I turned to see a young girl, her black hair tangled and beautiful against her pale skin, her brown eyes wide with wonderment.
“Doris!” I exclaimed as I ran to her. Without hesitation, I wrapped her protectively in my arms.
“Why is everything so noisy?” she asked into my chest. Noisy. I had to laugh, at least a little bit at the child’s question. I pushed her away slightly and bent down to look her in the eyes.
“It’s noisy because some people are trying to get into our home, sweetheart,” I said quickly. “I’m doing the best I can to stop them, but–”
“Are they bad people?”
“They are certainly acting like it!” I said as we were hit by another blast of heat. I looked down at Doris to make sure she was all right. I didn’t see any scorch marks or burns, thankfully. In fact, I didn’t see any real effect, save for the puzzled, sleepy expression on her face. I guess small miracles do happen.
–I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit in the name of God, the Father Almighty–
Unclean spirit? I whirled around, recognizing English when I heard it. Exorcise. I remember the boss saying something about that. How sometimes his old boss would get pretty defensive about where my boss’s people chose to live. Something about owning the space originally or something like that.
– and in the name of Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord and Judge, and in the power–
Lord and Judge? Who was he kidding? I was an independent contractor! The paperwork said so!
“How dare you!” I screamed at the voices that still droned outside our home. “You have no rights here! Possession is all that matters!”
I picked up a candy dish and threw it at the window on the right. It landed with a resounding thud right below the sill.
I turned to Doris. A small red blemish marked her beautiful, innocent face. Right. The boss had warned me about throwing things inside the residence.
“What did you do that for?”
“Sorry. Just trying to get those things outside to go away.”
–of the Holy Spirit, that thou depart from this creature of God Doris which our Lord hath designed to call unto His holy temple–
I stopped for a moment. Was that it? Was Doris and her residence not really… available? Was she a creature of God? I shook my head. No way. I was invited in. The boss gave his all clear. The paperwork was all in order. I had every right to be here, despite what those chanting morons might think.
–that it may be made the temple of the living God–
Ah, so that was it. They were planning on renovating the place. Probably planning on converting it to one of those high rise penthouses. All glamor, no style. I looked over at Doris. Her brown eyes were wide and watchful.
“What are they doing?” she asked, a tiny bit of fear creeping into her voice.
“Sounds like their planning on changing a few things.”
“But I don’t want things to change!” She said, stomping her foot. I smiled despite everything. I didn’t realize children actually did that sort of thing.
“I know sweetheart, but things do change. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.”
“But I like it how it is here. I like having you around. It would be so lonely without you.”
I glanced down at Doris.
“And I thought you were asleep the whole time…”
“I was pretending,” she said with a proud smile. “Did it work? Did I fool you?”
“Yes you did,” I answered with a laugh as I lifted her up in my arms and danced around. “Yes, you did.”
– of the living God, and the Holy Spirit may dwell therein.
“Hey, I have an idea,” I said as I placed her down on the floor. “Do you think you can teach me how to pretend that well? Maybe find a place that I could hide?”
“But why? You belong here. I asked you to come.”
“I know sweetheart. I don’t think that matters to them, though.”
“So we’ll hide together?”
“No– no, just me this time, Doris. I think if they think I’ve gone away, they’ll be happy and go away. But if they think that you’re gone, they’ll just be really sad.”
“I don’t want anyone to be sad.”
“I know. So we’re going to play a little bit of a trick for now, all right? I’ll hide away, and you’ll pretend that I went away and that you’re happy about it, okay?”
“And that will make them happy, and things will be quiet again?”
“Yep. I think so.”
“Okay. Let’s go!”
Doris grabbed my hand and led me through a confusing maze of twist and turns, stairs and slides until we reached a small room barely big enough for the two of us.
“This is where I keep my heart,” she said quietly. “The only other one who knows the way here is Imagination.”
I looked around and marveled at what I saw. The entire room, although small moved as one in a rhythmic fashion. Despite the chaos, smoke, heat and pain that assaulted us and surrounded us, here a peace like no other could be felt.
“I know. Pretty neat, huh? Now sit down, right there in the middle on the floor, and close your eyes.”
“But won’t I hurt your heart? I don’t want to sit on it by mistake.” I lowered myself to the floor. “I’m not sure where it is.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said with a smile. “You’re in my heart. You can’t sit on something you’re already inside of!”
I smiled. The kid had a point.
“All right. I’m sitting down. Now, what?”
“Just close your eyes and try to make your heart sound like my heart. Oh, it helps if you breathe like my heart does too.”
“Okay, I’ll try.”
I sat down and attempted my new task, listening to her footsteps fade into the distance, as she scampered away. Every so often I heard those droning voices again, but her snowflakes still reached me in her heart, and I was glad for them. I heard her voice, a bit more mechanical than I would have liked to hear a few times, but soon, the sound of her jumping run could be heard coming back to the heart.
“I did what you said!” she squealed. “They were so happy, and they went away. Everything is quiet now.”
“Really? I asked, opening my eyes just a bit to look around. “What happened?”
“Well,” she said shyly, “I had to throw some garbage out the front door to get their attention, and they made me renounce some guy named Satan, but I really didn’t mean it. After all, what does renounce even mean?”
“It means to give up something or someone.” Ouch. The boss wasn’t going to like hearing about that little tactic.
“How can I give up someone I never even met?”
I nodded. She made another great point. Maybe the boss didn’t have a lot to worry about for this one.
“So, you’ll stay?” she said, her eyes hopeful.
“Sure, as long as you want me,” I promised. “I might have to go away for a little bit every once in a while to see my other friends, but I’ll always come back to you. Does that sound good?”
Her smile looked like fresh snow on a sunny day.
“Uh-huh!” she said with a fierce, happy, nod.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
I stopped for a moment. No one had ever asked me that before.
“I am called Dantalion,” I said.
“And I am called Doris,” she said with a laugh and she took my hand in hers. I laughed at the awkwardness of it and took her hand in mine.
“Thank you, Doris, for allowing me to stay,” I said with a smile. “In exchange I will give you a gift.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Oh! What kind of gift?”
“The gift of knowledge,” I said with a smile. “For every change of the moon that you welcome me into your heart, I will give you a new bit of knowledge. Starting with this.”
I leaned in closer and whispered in her ear. I saw the color rise through her neck and I smiled just a little bit.
“Oh! You mean animals do that, too?”
“Yes, some of them do.”
^ ^ ^
Three weeks later I decided to check in with the boss.
“Oh, Dantalion,” he said, looking up from his desk, a pile of papers slowly starting to tumble. I caught them quickly and tried to straighten them out as best I could.
“What are these?” I asked.
“Those? Just requests for new roommates,” he said with a tired smile. “More and more are coming in every day. Seems that there are a lot of lonely people with vacancies.”
“What about your old boss?” I asked with some hesitation. “Doesn’t he have a bit of a monopoly on that sort of thing?”
“Not anymore,” he said, leaning back in his squeaky chair. “Seems more and more people are getting fed up with his ‘my way or the highway’ type of thinking, and kicking him and his people out.”
“So that would explain that,” I said.
“Yep. So how are things going with the latest roommate? I think her name is Doris?”
“Amazingly well,” I said with a warm smile. “She’s always happy to see me, and we always have such good conversations. Plus, she’s gotten stronger. She doesn’t mind so much when I go away and handle my other responsibilities now.”
“That’s good to hear!”
“You know, she would make a great addition to the team,” I said
The boss frowned at me.
“You know my policy, Dantalion,” he said. “No recruitment, just volunteers. I want people here because they want to be. Not because they feel obligated.”
“All right, then. Back to work, you. And mind your manners with that young Doris.”
© 2015 – 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.