Canto 19 – Rattling the Owl’s Cage
Stan was at the toy store early the next day, fuming enough that he didn’t know why there wasn’t a trail of smoke coming out of each of his ears as he made his way through the unlocked business door.
“Geist! You need to explain some things!”
“Oh? Did you make the mistake of cutting open the paper skull?”
The owlish man blinked his magnified eyes and gave Stan a grim smile.
“No, I didn’t. But not because I believe any of that nonsense about demons and the Bones of the Lonelies.”
“Then why didn’t you do it?”
“Well, I need to know how it really works. I am not going to risk there being some poisonous chemical or radioactive substances in the workings of the thing.”
“I don’t know what is inside the thing. I do know the one that got opened in Colombia fifty years ago started a series of grisly killings that didn’t stop until at least five hundred people were dead.”
“I don’t want to hear more of the BS. I want to know how it really works. Somehow the thing can talk to me in my mind and Maria can’t hear it. And then it talks to her, and I can’t hear what it says. This is not the way the universe works. I want to know how the science works. And who programmed the damned thing.”
“Well, at least you understand that the thing is damned. I can’t tell you scientifically how the thing works. I do not know. There is science behind it somehow, but growing up I was a barn owl and lived in a tree.“
“What good are you to this place if you don’t know anything at all about how things work?”
“Has she asked it how to get her boyfriend back?”
“She was talking to it again when I left.”
“It will be guiding her, then, on how to get to the Bones of the Lonelies. It will require a sacrifice of her, possibly asking her to give up her life.”
“What? You mean it might kill her?”
“Oh, that is what most often happens in these scenarios. Is she guilty of any mortal sins?”
“She admitted that she brought Yesenia here so she could steal her boyfriend.”
“Yeah, that kind of betrayal probably requires the death penalty.”
“What? How could that happen?”
“Well, the skull opens a portal to the land of the dead. A spirit from the other side will come to the doorway used as a portal and take possession of the body. Considering where she would be going, to the Bones of the Lonelies, she will be taken nude to the other side, leaving some blood-spattered clothing, probably underwear, at the spot of the exchange. There she will relive an event in the life of a lonely one. And if the story she is reliving involves death, then the human body will become a sacrifice to the story, and she will die. Most of the bodies from this practice have decomposed completely in the present because they died so far in the past.”
Stan blanched. He had to get home to Maria and the skull to stop her before…
When he got home, the door to Maria’s bedroom was wide open, which it never was in his prior experience of it. In fact, it was usually not only closed but locked.
Just inside the doorway was a discarded pair of pink panties. And there was blood.