Canto 10 – Rogelio and Steven
Rogelio found himself standing naked in a dark, night-time alley. A horse was tied up to a hitching post nearby and eating oats out of a wooden bucket. But the horse, though moving and apparently alive, was nothing but the skeleton of a horse with a ghostly outline of mane, flesh, and saddle overlaid upon it.
“What have I gotten into?”
“I paid the toy man the usual fee, and he gave me you to play with as the toy I need for this,” said Steven, apparently from inside his own head.
“What are you? Are you a ghost possessing me, or something?”
“We don’t use the word ghost, actually.”
“If you must know, we call ourselves the Lonelies. Or, as you will soon see, the Bones of the Lonelies.”
“What are you if you are not ghosts?”
“We are the ones left alone when we died. Those who died a terrible, lonely death. Or were cursed. Or simply did not have the love during life that life owed us.”
“How sad for you. But what do you need me for? And why am I standing here naked in an alley with a horse made of bones?”
“I need your body to do what I must do. Just as Imelda needs the body she is playing with. But we don’t need your clothes. In 1875 nobody wears impractical crap like that. And everybody is dead in my time compared to your time, so all you can see of them is their bones and the memory of their flesh.”
“Like the horse over there?”
“That’s Blue, my horse. We’re gonna ride him to the quinceañera.”
“The birthday celebration of the girl I have to kill.”
“Kill? What do you mean kill?”
“Don’t worry. I will explain it before we go. That’s just a simple time-ride on old Blue. I will show you everything that happened.”
“That’s why Yesenia and I are both here in the flesh? You’re going to kill her?”
“I must kill Imelda. But Imelda is using the living girl to relive the quinceañera celebration.”
“You have to let me go. I won’t help you do that!”
“You can’t go anywhere until I am done with you. And I will not be done with you until I stab Imelda to death once again.”
“You’ve done this before?”
“Hundreds of times.” Rogelio was suddenly sick to his stomach. But he couldn’t throw up. Steven was in complete control of his body. He was, apparently, merely along for the ride.