Ghost in the Machine
By Jaelyn
(I have no rights to any of these characters)

Through out the ages, I have been called by many names: Azreal, Uriel, Lord, Lady, Shadowlover, Darkangel, the Grim Reaper.  With those names, I have worn forms as varied as the human imagination, from the comical to the horrific.  In this place and time, I am Shinigami— Shi – ni – gami.  The name flows across the tongue, emerges as a sigh, a breath, and a whisper of …dread.  The body is one of massive
strength, of towering height, of cold, black metal that captures light like a vortex and never releases it to shine again.  Coolant pulses through synthetic veins, and pure power blazes through my fiberoptic neuro system.  I have been given a visage fearsome to behold and metallic wings whose shadow eclipses the sun, striking the old, primordial fear.

What new joys this form brings!  The icy, unimaginable cold of space; the deepest, most crushing depths of the ocean—they are not to be feared.  And yes, I am still armed.  My scythe of blazing thermal energy brings swift, fiery death.  Nothing stands against me.  Truly, truly, this form is Art!  Such high technology allows me to work with added finesse; have you ever had the experience of witnessing death in the great
Void?  Lives are lost in  a fiery eruption of molten parts and eye-piercing brightness, yet there is utter, utter silence.  Truly it is…surreal.

Though my body borders on the indestructible, my will and heart in this age encompasses a human form. Small, young, and fine-boned, he is deceptively fragile in appearance with creamy-fair skin, an elfin, heart- shaped face and bright gamin smile.  Intelligence and mirth glitter from eyes the deep, rich color of African violets.  Mahogany-dark hair with hints of gold and bronze would cascade in playful waves to his knees if
left unbound from its efficient braid.  He calls to my mind the Old Ones, long gone, with that face, that body, those rare eyes and long, long hair.  There is more than a hint of Puck in his playful, mischievous, spirit, and Hermes, too – that patron of thieves.  Even Diana, the silver huntress of the moon, gleams from his eyes as we weal our scythe and send his enemies to their well deserved heaven or hell, telling them, half
angrily, half with glee, “You have seen my mysteries, you must die!”  His metal-bright  laughter sends them on their way to judgement. Can you imagine the image?  Joyful, laughing, Death.  My laughter echoes his at the sweet irony.

He is not alone in his endeavors; four others share his cause, aid me in my work.  He draws them as the sun does flowers with his warmth and brightness. Yet they do not understand him; they are surprised and confused by what seems to be an irreconcilable duality—his battle joy, his joy in life.  It is partly nature, partly my gift to him.  When we are in battle, I grant him the divine madness.  Clarity of vision, sharpness
of mind combined with the pump, pump pounding of the heart, the electric jolt of adrenaline, the euphoric release of endorphins to paint the vision in reds, yellows, and stark white as enemy after enemy explodes into oblivion.  As the old saying goes, what a rush!

When the battles are over and the high is gone, the madness clears.  Thoughtful, he climbs upon my massive body, his lean back against my chest, hands behind his head as he gazes at the stars.  Only at such times is he touched by sadness, wearied of death and destruction.  His past haunts him then-- pale shades of a mother and father he can’t remember, a scruffy boy who showed him kindness, a priest and nun who
taught him love, granted him security. I know these entities as well as he does for they came to me when he was but half-formed.  He can not know that I too grant them honor for they have helped make him what he is.  Shinigami.  My Shinigami.   As he lays upon me, close to my inhuman heart, he whispers his dreams to me.  We have shared many such moments.  He dreams of lying naked on sun-drenched beaches, kissing nubile young women in tiny bikinis, chasing great furry dogs, fishing on mirror-still lakes, hiking along wooded paths, playing a fast furious game of soccer.  Oh the trappings of normalcy.  But his ghosts are demanding.  They call him to duty, they and every *living* man, woman and child who in their ignorant bliss live the life he should have had.  All I can be is grateful, for it keeps him close to me. As he gives in to private tears, I wish for a human hand to stroke away his sadness, for human arms to hold him close.  Instead I warm my cold metal flesh for him and cause my mechanics to vibrate ever so gently, lulling him into the arms of my brother, Sleep.  Deep in his mind, I whisper to him, “All will be well, all will be well.”

In deepest night, I leave my body and come to him as my true self, in the only way that I can.  In his dreams.  In his dreams, I touch his closed eyes, his soft lips, and the delicate throat.  My hands roam freely, reverently, over the still, slender body.  I bend down close to inhale his clean, spicy scent, I rub my cheek in his soft, soft hair.  Those eyes flutter open, dilated in the darkness, still fogged with sleep.  A tiny gasp escapes him as he  focuses on my face.  Can he see me?  Surely not, but hope beats strongly in my ephemeral breast.  Bending down I brush his mouth with my own, letting the tip of my tongue brush his lip to taste his human sweetness, careful not to burn him.  He moans softly, little more than sigh, and arches slightly into my kiss, his small hand going about my neck, drawing me closer.  “Shinigami…” he whispers. Who is dreaming?  He or I?  Want.  It is a new sensation for me.  I want to devour him, encompass him, and take him into myself, this sweet alter ego.  But it is too soon.  We still have our work to do.  I content myself instead with the dream- worship of his flesh , the taste of his spirit.  Bending down, I  seize another,
more forceful kiss.  He surrenders oh so sweetly to my passion.  “Shinigami….” I murmur deep with in his mind.  “Soon, beloved…Soon.”



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