Shattered: Chapter Three
Finally, chapter three is here! This will be the last chapter I post before SHATTERED will be available to purchase.
CHAPTER 3: MORTIMER
Mortimer had never known pain such as the agony he was feeling now. Every molecule of his immortal body was on fire and it took all his strength not to scream out loud in twisted suffering. The pain was so unbearable in fact that he thought that his head might explode and, on more than one occasion, he passed into an unconscious state. Eventually, he realised that the pain had subsided.
Then, the sickness took over.
Mortimer was thankful that he hadn’t had anything to eat for quite a long time. Otherwise, it would have paid him an unfortunate visit.
Stumbling to his feet, he tried so hard not to retch, as he swayed about. It was as if he were drunk. God, he felt so ill and lightheaded.
“It won’t last long,” an ancient voice cackled from behind him, sending shivers up and down Mortimer’s spine, which was a serious rarity. “Your soul’s been through much torment.”
At hearing this disconcerting voice, Mortimer spun around, as if he had just been branded by a hot poker. As soon as he did so, he wished he hadn’t for two reasons.
Reason One: He was almost brutally sick.
Reason Two: The person who had just spoken looked as if he had been hired to be the lead role in a blockbuster horror movie. He gave Mortimer a run for his money and that was saying something. Therefore, although Mortimer didn’t show it, inside, he was extremely put out.
The other, who was skeletal in appearance, studied Mortimer in interest. As a substitute to a normal body, bones could be seen peeking out of his long, ragged robe and he gripped a blackened, wizened staff in his hand for support with long, thin, bony fingers. Moreover, instead of regular eyes, black voids replaced the usual sockets, although deep within them, a raging fire burned.
Suddenly, a horrifying thought struck Mortimer.
“A…am I dead?” Mortimer asked the skeleton-man, his face whitening considerably.
At hearing Mortimer’s question, the skeleton-man chuckled.
“In a sense, yes,” he eventually replied in a voice that would have sent hell hounds running for the hills. “However, in more technical terms, you’ve been shattered.”
This did not sound like good news.
In actual fact, this sounded terrible.
“W…what does that mean?” Mortimer asked, feeling his insides grow cold.
The skeleton-man smiled, revealing bones for teeth.
“It means that your soul and body are currently separated,” he replied, chuckling coldly. “Right now, your soul’s forming, but it’s trapped in a world between life and death - a kind of limbo world if you like. This is that world.”
Mortimer shivered once more. He desperately tried to comprehend this awful news. Soon, he realised that this terrible circumstance had most certainly happened when that mysterious fire had consumed Alexandra. He had been inside her head when it had happened. He had been possessing her and commanding her to sacrifice herself, so that he could complete his second transition. Then, it had all gone so…horribly…wrong.
Someone had shouted her name.
Someone he hadn’t recognised.
Someone who he wished he could rip apart with his bare hands right now.
As soon as this person had shouted Alexandra’s name, Mortimer had felt the fire lick his entire being. Not long afterwards, he had found himself here - here in this rotten predicament.
“Can I get back to my body?” Mortimer asked the skeleton-man, whilst his soul finished returning back to its original form. The skeleton-man didn’t answer him.
Mortimer wasn’t having this kind of response.
Mortimer was delighted to feel that he could still call upon his powers. He was also pleased that he was no longer feeling nauseous. Satisfied with both outcomes, Mortimer lashed out, striking the skeleton-man in his chest with a powerful blast of dark energy. This blast sent the skeleton-man flying backwards, so much so that he landed with a hard bump onto his bony bottom. The moment the skeleton-man hit the ground, his bones made a terrible cracking sound, almost causing Mortimer to wince - almost.
As soon as the skeleton man had fallen, his eyes flashed with numerous emotions – including fury.
“Answer me,” Mortimer abruptly commanded, thrilled that he was back on top form. “Can I get back to my body?”
As he rose once more, the skeleton-man slowly nodded. His bones rattled as he did so and he clutched his staff a little more than before. However, deep within his eyes, a strong vehemence burned.
“Yes,” the skeleton-man replied, his voice adopting a more submissive tone. He realised that this new soul was not to be messed with, for he possessed incredible powers – powers that rivalled his own. Nevertheless, he didn’t like being bossed around.
Usually, he was the one that did the bossing.
“How do I reunite my soul and body?” Mortimer asked the skeleton-man, his eyes flashing red. “What do I have to do?”
It was obvious, once again, that the skeleton-man was reluctant to reveal any more information.
It was there – in his black eyes.
All the same, he knew that he daren’t push his luck.
Rather begrudgingly, he withdrew a picture of a key from inside his dirty, black cloak. The picture was worn in many places, in addition to being incredibly faded. Still, Mortimer could still make out the handle of the key, which was in the image of a skull. What’s more, this chilling theme continued in the key’s distorted framework, making it look as if it were made of bones as opposed to a normal substance.
“Find the key,” the skeleton-man told Mortimer, waving the ancient picture in Mortimer’s face. “The key will unlock the gateway that will take you back to the mortal world, where your soul and body can once more be reunited.”
Mortimer was immensely pleased by this news. Nonetheless, there was one, remaining problem.
“How do I find this key?” he asked the skeleton-man. “Where’s it located?”
As soon as he had asked these questions, Mortimer could tell that the skeleton-man had reached boiling point. His eyes flamed dangerously within their black sockets.
“I can’t and won’t tell you where this place is,” he replied. “I’ve already revealed too much information on the matter and, if I told you anything else, I’d be going against the rules.”
What rules? Mortimer thought. Was this some kind of twisted game?
After much speculation, Mortimer went to answer back. However, watching the skeleton-man with wariness, he decided against it. Instead, he dared to ask a final question – a question that he was secretly afraid to know the answer to.
“Who are you?” Mortimer said, before he set off on this quest to find the key.
At hearing Mortimer’s question, the skeleton-man smiled. It was a chilling smile and, deep within his eyes, Mortimer saw a gleam of authority.
“I’m The Gatekeeper,” the skeleton-man replied, displaying his cracked and yellow teeth. “I’ve walked this world since the dawn of time and I’m the one in charge of this place.” Then, as if by magic, the skeleton-man disappeared, leaving an open mouthed and somewhat pale Mortimer behind.