The Soul Catcher

October 10, 2013 § 11 Comments

A short piece of whimsical flash. Not a word of truth in it. But then…

Let me know what you make of it!

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      He was used to hanging around in this job. Good at the waiting game. He found things to do, planned the catch, preened the old tail feathers. Turning up late for work was bad news: his clients could be a handful – get a bit wild – give him the run around; and sometimes they got away. That meant trouble.

The wind was splitting the clouds into untidy clumps and ruffling his feathers. Nothing new then – Gareth was often needed when the weather turned nasty.  That’s why seagulls were so popular in his line of work: they could handle gales. His mind hopped back to the night that ferry had gone down in the Channel. Force 9 it was – splashed all over the papers. There had been hundreds of punters needing help; but the boss called in reinforcements, and they got the job done just in time. Great team work too. That plane that went down in the thunderstorm last week had been a bit messy – got a bit out of control. Souls milling around aimlessly wondering what the devil was going on. Didn’t know they were dead. Still, accidents happened – that’s what Gareth was there for.

The organist was halfway through Gluck’s Dance Of The Blessed Spirits. Five minutes to go. It wouldn’t be soon enough for the two ravens that were eyeing Gareth from the belfry. They knew what he was up to and they wanted him off their patch. He hopped around the yew trees pretending to be interested in some rotting confetti, then he took a spider by surprise and swallowed it. The ravens cackled and started to dive bomb – Gareth sidled under the hedge and pretended he wasn’t there.

Like his cousin the albatross, Gareth was a soul catcher. When death took people by surprise their souls didn’t have a clue where to go; they’d flit about in a panic and end up causing havoc.  If Gareth and his colleagues didn’t move fast they’d all end up in what was known in the trade as the twilight world – that in between place that wasn’t heaven and wasn’t here either. Being stuck there was when the real trouble started: the restless ones would slip back again and hang about haunting people.

Doris had been planning this day for months. She should have married Harold, and needed to sort things out with Alf so she could. She’d been slipping arsenic into Alf’s tea for a week or two, and it had finally done the trick.

Alf came out of the church in his box and Doris dabbed at her face with Harold’s hanky. The boss had been right to send Gareth – Alf had probably had such a shock when he died, his soul was probably still inside his body and getting a bit confused. This was Gareth’s only chance to sort things out, and probably Alf’s too.

As the coffin bearers lowered Alf into his last resting place, Doris kicked up rough. ‘Get rid of that seagull,’ she whined. ‘Horrible dirty things.’

Harold aimed a kick at Gareth, but he was ready for him. He dodged, fluttered a bit unsteadily, shook himself and peered down the hole. This was the bit where Alf’s soul was supposed to leave his earthly body. Nothing happened. Gareth hopped from one leg to the other flapping his wings crossly. Then he let out a squawk loud enough to wake the dead – Alf had been a bit on the deaf side after all.

Then he saw it: a silvery bubble rose from the coffin pulsating like a jellyfish. It reached the feet of the mourners and dithered. Gareth flapped his wings again and the bubble floated sedately towards him. It wobbled uncertainly then hovered two inches from his head. Gareth opened his beak wide and swallowed. Job done…

*

 

 

 

 

 

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