01 Feb Aura
My mom’s death came unexpectedly during a stressful Christmas season. At the ripe old age of twenty-seven, she collapsed in the kitchen from an apparent heart attack, leaving behind this world and her six year old son.
I remember her arguing with my Grandpa, though what they discussed was beyond what my young mind could comprehend. “It’s adult stuff,” they simply responded as I asked.
The three of us lived together, my mom, my Grandpa and myself, seeing as my father left long before I was born. Leaving nothing behind but a note saying he wasn’t ready for children, running off and never looking back. In his absence, Grandpa had stepped up, taking his place as a father figure.
He must’ve been in his late seventies by the time I was born. Though none of us knew for certain, because he’d always joke about the answer whenever asked. But, even with his advancing age, he never took a day off, always working to provide for the for the family.
Despite the sudden onset of her sickness, my mom didn’t die immediately. They managed to keep her alive for a week in the hospital, and they worked around the clock to keep her going, doing their best to figure out what had caused her heart to suddenly give up.
She spent the remainder of her life in a coma, and I kept her company for as long as I could. My Grandpa would take care of me while waited for her to pass, making sure I ate, and just sitting by my side as I held my mother’s hand, desperately wishing for her to come back to me.
On the day of her death, my mother briefly regained consciousness. Only awaking to look deep into my eyes, staring intently into my soul, as if she was letting me know everything would be alright. She reached out her hand, grabbing onto mine tightly, and I felt a surge of energy flowing through my body, one filled with pure love and joy, making the hairs on my arms stand up.
During that split second, our souls merged for the briefest of moments, and something that had existed within my mother was passed over to me. Then, as quickly as it began, it faded away my, and mother fell silent in her bed, an ominous beep filling the room, as doctors and nurses rushed to her aid.
They did what they could to bring her back for a second time, but in the end she was a lost cause…
Following her death, Grandpa took me out for burgers and a milkshake. It was a tradition that had started years prior, when he discovered that pretty much any time I felt sad, it could be remedied, or at least helped with a burger and a strawberry milkshake.
Though it was just a minor act of kindness, one that couldn’t ease the fact of my mom’s death, it brought me a sense of normalcy, briefly taking away the feeling that the world had just ended.
Two weeks passed, and the funeral had been arranged. We didn’t have much family to speak of, but my mom was a well liked person at work, with plenty of friends who showed up to pay their final respects.
I’d seen a few of them before; Her boss: Mr. Roberts, and her best friends. But as a kid, I didn’t feel all that comfortable around people who were essentially strangers, and it took me a while to get used them.
I stood by Grandpa, holding onto his hand tightly, as different people spoke a few words. I listened intently to the stories they told, and thought about my own favorite memories. Then, as I looked up to see the next speaker take the stand, I saw something surrounding all the guests.
It was vague as first, hardly noticeable at all, but as people got closer to me, I noticed a clear outline hanging around them, clinging onto each and every person at the funeral. Like an aura radiating out from their bodies, varying in both intensity and emotion.
While most were gleaming with strong, brilliant auras, spreading around the church with a sense of hope and joy, others looked darker; Feeling more pitiful and empty, as if their life force was simply lacking, or spread too thin. Among the weak ones, Mr. Roberts stood out with his pitch black aura, his energy paling in comparison to the rest, full of despair and a bizarre feeling of intense agony. He’d looked miserable since the beginning of the funeral, but until then I assumed it to be due to the circumstances. Now, I noticed he carried himself in a strange way, each step he took was a struggle.
I turned to my Grandpa, who also had a magnificent aura surrounding him. He immediately noticed that something was bothering me, and quickly got me out of there without asking any questions. I wanted to tell him what I’d seen right then and there, but something within me made me keep quiet, as if telling him would be wrong, an dthat I had to carry the burden on my own.
The vision faded as soon as we’d left the funeral, and my Grandpa assumed the mass of people, and that the somber atmosphere was just too much for me. We went home, and I thought that would be the end of it, until a few days later when I overheard Grandpa on the phone mentioning that Mr. Roberts had passed away suddenly, and that he’d send flowers since he had meant a great deal to my mom.
Even at a young age, I was able to connect the dots, and realized his horrible aura at the funeral meant he had been only days away from death.
Years passed, and the vision had become little more than a distant, childhood memory to be ignored. I started school, and lived a relatively normal life, though a bit of a loner who kept quiet, and without a large family, I was more or less happy.
My grandpa took it upon himself to teach me all the important aspects of life. From cooking, washing, reading and math, to more personal issues such as love and respect. As an avid hunter, he even took me along once, teaching me about gun safety and such. After a couple of sessions we both realized it wasn’t for me, but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.
For all intents and purposes, he was my father. Nevertheless, I kept calling him Grandpa, and he never seemed to mind.
The next vision would come to me on the school bus. I sat in my designated seat and listened to music, just doing my best to ignore all the noise around me, as we slowly made our way to class. As I glanced up, I suddenly noticed the same beautiful aura I had seen so Smany years ago, now surrounding all the other kids on the bus, everyone full of hope, unique and magnificent in their own way…
…everyone except for Lucy.
Lucy suffered from Leukemia, which at the time, I didn’t understand the severity of. My immature brain still not realizing that death could strike anyone at any moment, regardless of age.
Her aura was weak, though not rid of all life force, it had definitely diminished to the point where she was standing on death’s doorstep. Lucy was sick, and it had been showing for quite some time.
Despite her illness, she kept her great attitude and eternal optimism. Though she was more of an introvert, she was well liked, but kids are immature, and since her diagnosis, many had shied away in fear of her sickness.
Knowing exactly what her aura meant, I decided to sit next to her, just to keep her company while she slowly inched towards the end of her line. We started talking, and to my surprise we had a lot in common. Daily bus rides together turned into daily lunches, and before long, we became good friends.
During the following months, we spent pretty much every day together, hanging out after school, watching movies, talking about our hopes and desires.
She confessed a lot of her inner secrets during out talks. That death wasn’t something she’d been prepared for, and that she was horrified of what came after. Then she told me she’d never kissed anyone before, which at the age of thirteen wasn’t a big deal, neither of us had any relationship experience, but in her case she feared she would miss out on a lot of important milestones in life.
It was through Lucy I learned that with the appropriate amount of focus, I could actually lock in on individual people’s aura. Rather than having uncontrolled bouts of my visions, which left me exhausted and confused, I could see each person’s aura as I interacted with them.
Her aura kept fading as the disease took its course, but despite the vanishing life force, the quality seemed just slightly better. Rather than the dull energy I’d seen on the bus the first day we spoke, there was a glimmer of joy hidden beneath, and even though I couldn’t say it for certain, I like to think I made a positive impact.
As her birthday came around, I brought her chocolate, flowers and a dinner invitation. A proper date that had been part of her bucket list for the longest time, and I fully intended to make the best of it. We ate at an Italian restaurant, and with our exquisite taste in food, we naturally ordered pizzas. The dinner was followed by a movie. Her pick was horror, which for whatever bizarre reason had always been her favorite.
The movie itself wasn’t anything beyond average, and as we grew tired and started leaning on each other, I felt truly content with life. I’d almost fallen asleep by the time the movie ended, and just as we lifted or tired heads and turned towards each other, a spark ignited, and we shared our first kiss.
It was the purest, and genuinely one of my happiest moments. Even when the kiss itself wasn’t the best, being her first and mine as well, our friendship had over the course of a year, flourished into something deeper.
One of the most beautiful years of my life, only to immediately be followed by one of the worst…
…Lucy never wanted to die in a hospital. In her mind, an unexpected death at home would be better than a drawn out month in hospice care, full of suffering before her body finally gave out.
We’d both just turned fourteen, and I’d come to pick her up for a walk in the snow filled park, during a particularly cold winter. As I arrived, her mother invited me in, explaining that Lucy was getting ready for our date.
I knocked on her door, once, twice, and yet she didn’t respond. Having seen her weakening aura for the better part of a year, I quickly spiraled into panic. Without hesitation, I barged in to see her lying on the bed, looking as if she was just sleeping, but her aura had completely vanished.
No pulse, no breathing… Lucy had died quickly and peacefully from an embolism, all while she waited for our date.
Honestly, it wasn’t the death on its own that haunted me the most; We’d all expected it, and thus made the most of the short time we had together. What truly tore a hole in my heart was the empty seat on the bus, serving as a constant reminder that Lucy was gone, that I had once again outlived one the most important people in my life.
My Grandpa, was naturally just as distraught as myself, and as he had always done, ever since I was a kid, he took me out for burgers and a strawberry milkshake. We talked, and laughed, and I admitted my feelings for Lucy, who’d been my first unofficial girlfriend. Then, just for a moment, with all the emotions brought on by reminiscing, and just mentioning her, gave me another vision. I hadn’t intended for it, but I unintentionally got a glimpse of my Grandpa’s aura, and I saw that it had rapidly diminished into a bleak version of its former self.
“Grandpa, are you feeling alright?” I asked as a reflex.
He gave me a peculiar look before answering.
“Of course, kiddo, a bit tired, but I’m as good as ever,” he said with a smile on his face, but it didn’t feel real. There was something unsettling behind his cheerful facade, as if he knew he exactly what I’d seen, that his time on Earth was a limited resource.
Time takes its toll, and there’s not a single person in this world strong enough to withstand its ever present tide. Grandpa’s once bright and fantastic aura had turned dull, and his time would soon come.
At that point, I still hadn’t told anyone about my gift. Not that it would’ve mattered, as death would always be an inevitable part of life, one people would rather keep as a surprise. Instead, I decided to spend as much time with him as possible, just as I did with Lucy.
Naturally, he was ecstatic to have me around more, though a bit confused to my newfound, clingy behavior.
“How old are you anyway?” I asked him during one of our many lunches.
“I’m 105!” He chuckled. Another false number like he always gave.
A few nights later, just as I’d fallen over the edge into the realm of dreams, I was abruptly awoken by sounds down in the garage. I carefully peeked out through the window, to see our car pull away from the driveway, quickly leaving the street.
I snuck down, to my Grandpa had gone missing. I tried calling him, but it went straight to voicemail. Then I sat nervously in the kitchen, staring out the window as I awaited his return. Once a couple of hours had passed, I was about ready to call the police, but just as I picked up the phone, he came driving back, parking the car down the street and walking the rest in an attempt at being quiet.
As he opened the door, I immediately noticed something that should have been reassuring, but instead it sent a dreadful shiver down my spine…
…In the brief two hours he’d been gone, his aura had grown stronger.
Not stronger in the sense that the quality had improved, or even changed, but his actual life force had increased as if he’d gone back several decades in time.
“Where were you?” I blurted out as he walked past the kitchen.
“H-hey, kiddo, didn’t realize you were still awake,” he stuttered. “I- I- just went to the pub. Needed time to think, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Think about what?”
“I haven’t been feeling like myself lately, just needed to get some thoughts in order.”
At that point his mysterious disappearance gave way to a hint of anger.
“And you were drinking and driving?”
“Just half a beer, I would never drive impaired.”
He walked over and hugged me, promising everything was alright, and without any further explanation he said he needed to sleep. Maybe I was naive, and should have dug deeper, but at the time I blindly accepted his explanation, and that was that.
A few years passed, and my Grandpa remained his strong, hard working self. I myself had just reached eighteen years of age, which meant I was legally an adult, and had successfully sent out a bunch of college applications to be rejected, while I worked part time.
Each year I’d made a tradition out of visiting both my mother’s and Lucy’s graves on their respective birthdays. I never felt like I’d gotten closure following my mother’s death, with the doctors failing to explain what killed her at such a young age.
I put flowers on their graves, and spoke to them for an hour, hoping they had found peace on the other side. Even without being particularly religious, it helped me cope with the loss.
In the meanwhile, it seemed my Grandpa had developed a ritual of his own, or maybe it was one I just hadn’t noticed before. Over time his aura kept growing weaker, and as it did, he would disappear for a couple of days at least once a year, blaming it on either a business trip, or old friends, only to return with an aura as strong as ever.
Since I learned to control my ability, I’d seen auras come in all shapes and forms, but never had I seen someone with a fluctuating aura, and with his biannual disappearing acts, I had started to grow suspicious.
After some contemplation, I decided to follow him. To prepare for the eventual stalking, I kept a close eye on his constantly diminishing aura, knowing that once it reached a certain point, he’d leave on one of his trips.
December quickly rolled around, and he made the excuse that he had to visit an old friend who had fallen ill earlier in the year. With my part time job I’d finally saved up enough money for a car, and in the snowy weather, following him discretely proved to be an easy enough task.
He drove a couple of hours over to the next town, and eventually pulled into a street leading to a run down neighborhood. I observed him from afar, and made sure I parked my own car on the next street over.
I quickly sprinted over to follow him on foot, while he waited outside the door to an old house. After what felt like an eternity, he knocked a second, and then a third time. Once the door opened, he was greeted by a man in his late eighties; Too frail to keep upright without the support of his cane, and his aura just as feeble. He took one look at my Grandpa, sighed, and invited him inside.
I snuck over to one of the windows, and watched them walk into the kitchen. They sat themselves down around a table without speaking a word, and the old man poured them both a tall glass of whiskey. While my Grandpa didn’t touch his drink, the old man instantly chugged his own in one large gulp, before snatching the other glass.
“How did you find me?” the man finally asked.
My Grandpa responded quietly, inaudible through the window.
“And now you’ve come to collect what little life I have left, huh? All so you can keep on living for another hundred years,” he said matter of factly, without the faintest hint of surprise or fear.
Grandpa didn’t respond, he just sat quietly and stared at the man.
“Well, I’m half way dead anyway, no point fighting it.”
“Any last wishes, James?”
“How about fuck you? I should have killed you when I had the chance,” the man said as he chugged his second glass of whiskey.
He slammed his empty glass down on the table, and stared into Grandpa’s eyes. “Get on with it then.”
After a short moment of intense silence, and the two men staring each other down, my Grandpa reached out his hand, grabbing the old man by his arm.
The man instantly froze in place, and his angry expression was replaced by one of intense agony. He tried to pull his arm free, but his muscles were paralyzed by the grip, he could do nothing but watch as his own life force drained.
“Fuck you,” he let out one last time.
Within the span of ten seconds, his aura had completely vanished, and he fell over dead on the table, all the while my Grandpa’s aura improved ever so slightly.
I slumped down on the ground in shock, horrified by what I’d just witnessed. Heartbroken by the fact that the only person I’d relied on since the death of my mother was a murderer.
As I heard my Grandfather open the door, I quickly ducked out of sight around a corner, where I patiently waited for him to leave. Once I heard his car drive away, I darted into the house to the dead man’s aid, frantically trying to call an ambulance.
It felt like hours passed between dialing the number and the ambulance arriving, and be it out of morbid curiosity or the need to figure out how to prevent more deaths, I went searching through the house for answers. The two of them had clearly known each other, and if I was lucky, maybe I could get answers.
His mail read: “Gordon Lewis,” which didn’t match what my grandfather had called him, so I figured it could be a fake name.
I kept digging, through closets, drawers, and wardrobes, desperate to find any information at all before the paramedics arrived. As I rummaged through his bedroom, I noticed a box stuffed under his bed, marked: “Charles Bishop.”
I opened the box to find newspaper clippings and several bundles of pictures. Some of the older, more worn out photos were sepia toned, and pictured a middle aged man holding a Ring-Necked pheasant he’d hunted, alongside a smiling kid diligently holding onto a rifle. The date on the photo read January 17th 1939, and the back read “Charles and James Bishop, first hunting session.”
The pictures were all dated in the late thirties and early forties, and as I studied them I realized that the man bore a striking resemblance to my grandfather.
I grabbed another bundle that seemed to contain pictures from the seventies, and the same man, albeit slightly older, appeared in most of the photographs. It was, without an ounce of doubt, my grandfather, except in the span of the past eighty years, he’d barely aged.
Most of the newspaper clippings held stories about mysterious deaths and murders throughout the 20th century, while the rest were just obituaries.
At the bottom of the box, I pulled out a much newer photograph, one with the date October 10th 1992. I almost dropped it in shock when I realized I had seen the photo before. It was one of our own family pictures, just my mother, my grandfather, and myself as an infant.
I quickly shuffled through the photos again to make a basic timeline. The man who had raised me, who I had called ‘Grandpa,’ for the better part of my life, had to be at the very least, over a century old.
As the ambulance arrived with its blaring siren, I collected some photos from the box, and met them at the door. A couple of paramedics barged in while a police officer started questioning me about what I’d seen. At a first glance, the murder scene didn’t look suspicious at all, just a heart attack that I happened to witness.
A part of me desperately wanted to tell them about my grandfather. That I’d seen him suck the life out of the poor, old man, but I knew that would more than likely put me in a psychiatric institution, and that if he ever figured out that I’d accused him, he might come after me. So, I made my own plan to bring him down.
Once I drove home, I snuck in through the garage, which lead into a back room where we stored our hunting equipment. I grabbed one of the rifles, figuring that if I were to confront him, I should at least have the chance to defend myself.
I quietly made my way into the kitchen, to find my grandfather sipping on a glass of whiskey, visibly distraught. Without letting him notice me, I put the rifle down behind the corner, and placed myself in the doorway, a safe distance from him.
As he noticed me, he tried to shake off his miserable demeanor and quickly put on a fake smile.
“Hey kiddo, didn’t see you there, where have you been?” he said, trying to sound casual.
Speechless, I just threw the bundle of pictures onto the table. He took one glance and immediately recognized them.
“Where did you find these?” he asked nervously.
“I saw you, with that man,” was all I managed to get out before the words froze in my throat.
With the context provided he didn’t need to ask what I meant. He knew he’d been caught red handed.
“I followed you today, to that house, where you-” the words froze in my throat.
He stood up from his chair, wearing a worried expression on is face as he walked towards me.
“It’s really not what it looks like,” he started saying.
Before he could reach me, I grabbed the rifle and pointed it directly at his chest.
“Woa, what are you doing?”
“Stay the fuck away from me, I saw how you killed that man!” I shouted on the brink of tears.
He started backing away with his hands raised. “Please, you- you don’t understand, just- just put the gun down.”
I kept the rifle pointed at him with trembling hands, as he backed into a corner, almost falling over.
“I saw the photos, I know how you kill people to stay alive,” I said.
He froze in place as I inched closer.
“How many have you killed?”
“No, it’s not like that, they- they weren’t good people, I wouldn’t- I- I-”
Whether it was the intense emotion of that moment, or if it was just the next stage in my developing ability, I don’t know, but something about his aura changed. As if the hundreds of souls he’d stolen started to split apart, enough for me to recognize each individual person he’d killed.
Hundreds of lives sacrificed only to give him a few extra years on Earth, and though the vast majority of them were strangers I didn’t know, I recognized the old man he’d killed, and I saw one that sent shivers down my spine…
“I chose them specifically because they hurt others, please, you have to believe me,” he begged as I snapped back to attention.
“My mother? You- you killed her,” I said with barely a whisper.
“She- she threatened to stop me, I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t listen. I’m- I’m sorry.”
He tried to approach me again, but I quickly pressed him back.
“Are you going to kill me?” he asked in terror.
I thought about for a moment, a part of me desperately wanted to pull the trigger, to avenge my mother. Unfortunately, I couldn’t separate the monster that stood before me from the man that raised me, a person I still loved and cared for.
“No, but I’m going to call the police,” I said as confidently as I could.
I picked up the phone to call the police, looking away for a split second.
“Stop that!” my grandfather shouted as he grabbed onto my rifle, trying to snatch it away from me. As I tried to get it back, I pulled too hard on the trigger, accidentally firing off a shot that hit him straight in his chest.
He let go, and without speaking another word, he fell, dead before he even hit the ground.
Following the shot, my memory went hazy. I vaguely remember dialing the number, the paramedics showing up along with the police. They asked me several questions, but in the end it was deemed an accident, and with the various aliases the police found linked to my grandfather, no chargers were pressed against me.
He had lived an extraordinary long life, at the cost of others. Whether most of the people he killed deserved it or not, I do not know, but I’m certain he didn’t do it to better the world.
As for me, nothing has been the same following my grandfather’s death. Not only because I’ve been left alone by everyone I ever loved, but because as his life drained from his ancient body, our powers merged into one, and while he knew how to control it, for me it’s something that always lurk in the background.
I can no longer stay too close to people, because the more time I spend with them, the more I passively drain their life force, stealing it unwillingly as their aura slowly grows weak.
Maybe I can learn to control it, or maybe this my grandfather’s punishment for killing him. Whatever the case, in a twisted turn of events, I’ve been given the choice between living forever while those around me die a premature death, or to fade away alone.
I’ve already made my choice, no one will get hurt because of me, so I will observe from afar, letting people know when their time is near in the hopes that they’ll make the best of what they have left.