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The Soul Painter

The Soul Painter

By Leo E. Ndelle
© 2019 by the author

 

He strode steadily towards the door when the doorbell rang and peered through the peep hole before unlocking and opening the door.

“Hi,” a five-foot-eight, 140-pound brunette flashed a grin, revealing bleached, white teeth. “Damon Mukube?”

“Indeed,” he replied. “Ms. Emma Walsh, I presume?”

“That’s me,” Emma replied with a slight overdose of glee.

“Wonderful,” Damon smiled and opened the door wider. “Please, come in. Glad you could make it.”

Emma entered his 400-square-foot studio. He closed the door behind her.

She smells nice, he thought. Cheap perfume, but nice.

“This way, please,” he gestured towards a brown sofa with dark green stripes facing the door. “May I take your coat?”

“Oh, sure,” Emma unstrapped and shrugged off her light-yellow trench coat. “I like your studio.”

“Thanks,” Damon said. “I like to leave the white walls stained with what I call the fallout of my work.”

He hung Emma’s trench coat on the only coat hanger in the studio before heading for a small fridge to the left of the sofa.

“Would you like some water, soda, juice?” he asked. “Sorry, don’t have coffee ‘cause I don’t do coffee.”

“No, thanks,” Emma replied. “I’m good.”

Damon took a bottle of water for himself. He shut the fridge and grabbed one of the two chairs in the studio. He sat six feet across from Emma and crossed his legs.

Brown, short-sleeved blouse, mid-thigh denim skirt and brown, knee-high, brown leather boots, he assessed mentally. Interesting choice of colors for fall.

“So, Ms. Walsh,” Damon leveled a professional gaze at Emma.

“Emma,” she offered. “Hope you don’t mind if I call you Damon.”

“First-name basis sound great, Emma,” he smiled. “Shall we begin?”

“Of course,” Emma grinned with excitement.

“So, how did you hear about me?” Damon asked.

“Julie, my coworker,” Emma replied. “She has a digital version of one of your paintings of her on her work computer. I was beyond intrigued. It’s remarkable how you caught every detail of her.”

“Ah, Julie,” Damon chuckled. “She’s one of my most loyal clients. Hope she didn’t put up the nude one.”

Emma erupted with laughter.

Wonder why she thinks that’s so funny, Damon sipped some water.

“Of course, not,” Emma replied between bouts of laughter. “She showed me on her phone though. Says you’ve done six paintings of her.”

“I have,” Damon agreed. “I take it you’ve been to my website?”

“Oh my God,” she uncrossed her legs and shifted to the edge of the sofa.

She’s pure on the surface but her soul is scarred with the stain of an egregious sin, Damon’s thoughts spilled through his mind while Emma fangirled over him and his works. Her aura is yellow, tainted by the guilt that plagues her occasionally.

“That’s very kind and generous of you to say, Emma” Damon maintained a modest smile when her fangirling ceased. “So, since you’ve been on my site already, you know I ask many questions before I begin my work. The more I know, the better I work. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the questions I ask, please let me know immediately and I’ll cease. Deal?”

“Deal,” Emma nodded.

Her eyes beamed with undying excitement and her grin erred towards permanence.

“Unfortunately, nudes are reserved for regular clients only,” Damon added. “Never for first-time clients. Sorry. Personal policy.”

Emma’s grin vanished, her shoulders slumped and her glow in her eyes turned somber. She pursed her lips before she sighed.

“I understand,” Emma spoke barely above a whisper.

“But,” Damon took another sip of water. “I can do lingerie paintings for first-time clients.”

Emma’s shoulders straightened, her lips parted in surprise and the glow returned in her eyes. Damon chuckled a little.

“Really?” she asked rhetorically. “Wonderful. Let’s start with that then.”

“As you wish, Emma,” Damon set his bottle of water down by his chair. “Now, let the Q&A begin.”

Emma turned out to be an elaborate talker who held nothing back from him. Fifteen minutes later, Damon leaned back in his chair.

“Thanks for all those details,” he said. “They’re gonna be most helpful.”

“My pleasure,” Emma giggled nervously before she sank back into the sofa and crossed her legs. “Anything you need to make me look great in paint.”

Damon smiled and turned on his clairaudience; the ability to hear other people’s thoughts.

If he looks at me like that one more time, her thoughts hit his perception.

“Do you have any questions for me?” Damon asked.

“Why do they call you the soul painter?”

“Because I capture the soul within a moment of instantaneity and present it in paint.”

Literally, he added in his head.

“So the Q&A gives you a picture of the soul, sort of?”

“Yes,” he replied. “I try to capture feelings too. But that requires a connection, which I try to establish with the answers I get. Some call the ability to perceive other people’s feelings ‘clairsentience’.”

But words will never compare to the direct experience provided by clairvoyance, clairsentience and clairaudience, he thought.

“Wow, that’s awesome,” Emma nodded.

“Any more questions?” he asked.

“When do we begin?” she smiled.

“The present is always the perfect moment,” he replied. “Please, disrobe when you’re ready.”

Emma stood up and pulled her blouse over her head before she unzipped her denim skirt and let it fall to her ankles. Damon stood up and approached her with two hands extended towards her.

“May I?” he asked.

“Sure,” she replied.

She scooped up her blouse and skirt from the floor and handed them to Damon. He took them and stepped back.

“Should I take off my boots too?” she asked.

Maybe you can take them off for me, he heard her think.

“Your choice,” Damon replied. “But I’d say leave them on. I love how their color matches that of your lingerie.”

“As you wish,” she replied softly. “Is this the moment when you read my soul?”

“Yes,” he smiled. “I see Julie was detailed.”

That smile, he heard her think. Oh my God, that smile.

“Are you ready?” Damon asked.

“Yes,” Emma replied.

Damon set her clothes on his chair and looked her over once before he closed his eyes. Then, he opened his eyes, met her gaze and stared deep into her eyes.

Julie was right, she exclaimed in her mind. Oh my, those eyes. I see… beauty… I feel … I…I….

You will do, Damon thought. Not because you’re 32DD and meaty around the bones. My interest lies beyond the confines of your flesh… and so is my master’s.

Her aura slowly changed from yellow to red, her chest heaved more, her lips parted slightly and her features softened and she lost spatial and temporal awareness

Damon’s expanded his aura until it connected with hers. He emptied his mind and turned his psyche into a dark oblivion. His clairsentience revealed her psyche migrating into the esoteric vacuum created by the emptiness that used to be his psyche. In that moment, his essence connected with hers and everything that constituted Emma’s individualism exposed itself for him to copy and imprint unto his own individualism.

The sound of shattering glass on the floor jerked her back to the present.

“Sorry about that,” Damon rushed towards a desk close to a left wall.

“It’s okay,” Emma sighed with relief. “The noise just startled me.”

“Me too,” Damon lied. “Just a broken bottle.”

He headed back towards the sofa.

“I’ll clean it up later.”

He scooped her clothes from his chair and handed them to her.

“That’s it?” she asked with a tinge of disappointment.

“For your part, yes,” he replied. “My part’s just beginning.”

Emma slipped on her skirt and zipped it.

“I’ll start working on your painting today and should be done in six days,” he explained. “I’ll email you pictures of my progress if that’s alright with you.”

“Of course,” Emma slipped her blouse over her head. “And payment?”

“Only when I finish,” Damon slipped his hands in his pant pockets.

“Oh ok,” Emma adjusted her hair and smiled. “Well, guess I’d better leave you to your work then.”

“I’ll get your coat,” Damon headed for the coat hanger.

He retrieved Emma’s trench coat and returned to her. He held it up for Emma. Her cheeks reddened as she turned her back towards him and slid her arms in the trench coat sleeves. Damon adjusted the trench coat over her shoulders. She turned around to face him and her face was barely inches away from his, briefly. Her breath landed on his chin and her lips parted slightly.

Kiss me, he heard her think. Oh God, just kiss me, please.

Not yet, he thought. But soon.

“I’ll show you out,” Damon gestured towards the door.

Emma smiled sheepishly and followed him a pace behind. He opened the door for her.

“Thanks for coming and for your business, Emma,” Damon shook her hand. “You’ll hear from me within the next few days.”

“My pleasure,” Emma flashed a courteous smile.

Maybe next time YOU’LL disrobe me, he heard her think.

“Drive safe,” Damon said. “Bye for now.”

“Bye, Damon,” Emma replied softly.

Damon closed and locked the door. He sighed, turned around and marched towards the broken bottle.

Works every time, he thought. Easiest way to snap them out of hypnosis.

He scooped up the pieces of glass from the floor before he swept the remaining splinters into a dust pan. Then, he headed for a closet near the door and retrieved a 36”-by-36” square canvas board, an easel, a palette, a small can of paint and paint brush. He carried these items towards the sofa, mounted the canvas on the easel and opened the can of paint. Using clairvoyance, he perceived her soul imprint where she stood almost nude as a grey mist with the outline of a human being.

“There,” he said with zero enthusiasm.

He placed the open can of paint on the chair. Then, he unbuttoned his white, long-sleeved shirt and slid his right hand into his stomach through his abdominals. He removed his hand, which now held a bronze, double-edged, zig-zag dagger, with the sculpture of a fanged, two-horned creature’s head atop its hilt. His stomach sealed shut. He slit his left palm with the dagger and squeezed the black blood oozing from the cut into the can of paint. Then, he returned the dagger into his stomach and removed his right hand. His stomach closed up again. When he opened his left palm, the cut was healed without even a scar. He took the paint brush and stirred the paint and his blood into one mixture.

“Those worthy of a sacrifice feel drawn to me by the force of sex,” Damon tapped the brush on the edge of the can. “Sex; such a wasteful expression of rudimentary power.”

Damon caressed the canvas with dispassionate finesse.

“You’re special Emma,” he added. “Too bad you’ll never see yourself in paint for...”

He glanced at his watch. 3:54 p.m.

“...in eight hours and 6 minutes, your existence will serve a much higher purpose than you can possibly imagine.”

Damon closed his eyes and reached into the dark oblivion that used to be his psyche. Then, he visualized a key and a lock. He inserted the key into the lock and turned it six times counterclockwise. A handle appeared, which he grabbed and turned clockwise once. When he opened this door to his psyche, 168 souls writhed, screeched and clawed futilely for freedom. He searched for the imprint of Emma’s soul and found it. He took the imprint, exited the prison of souls he had created within his soul and shut it. He released Emma’s soul imprint into the dark oblivion of his psyche and for an instant, his soul and Emma’s soul imprint became one.

Damon opened his eyes and regarded the canvas for six seconds. Then, in six strokes of his brush, he finished his work. A picture of Emma donning a long, red gown, red lipstick, red nail polish and red high-heeled shoes stared back at him with red glowing eyes, accentuated by red hair. Red and yellow flames burned an inverted pentagram where she stood and an aura of red glowed around her body. He stepped back and appraised the painting, which hummed an eerie tune of evil.

“My final piece is my best work,” Damon declared.

He glanced at his watch. 11:59 pm. He nodded and settled into his sofa. He closed his eyes and stilled his mind.

“Time to collect.”

Then, with a mighty will, Damon separated his soul from his body in an astral projection. He used Emma’s soul signature to locate Emma before he teleported to her.

###

Emma tossed and turned in her sleep. Damon’s astral body hovered over hers.

“Hey,” she said in her sleep. “I’m glad you came. I made us dinner.”

Open your eyes, Emma, Damon commanded using telepathy.

Emma opened her eyes slowly before they bulged in shock and fright. She tried to scream, to flee, to call for help, but sleep paralysis rendered her physically rigid and unable to talk. Icicles of fear formed along her spine.

This is not a dream, Damon’s telepathic voice resonated with pure evil. I finished your painting and I’m here to collect. Unfortunately, you’ll never see your painting for, tonight, you die.

Emma struggled some more against the unseen forces that held her down as news of her impending death caused her body to release massive amounts of adrenaline. Alas, pure, unsullied fear remained the only response she could react to.

Yes, tonight you die. Your soul will be mine, the price of my work and the key to my freedom.

Damon’s astral hand took hold of her neck.

If it’s any consolation, he said with cold nonchalance, your soul gave me my favorite piece of art.

Then, he opened his mouth. A white mist flowed from Emma’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth into his mouth. The screaming, pleading and writhing in her mind did nothing to deter him. He continued to esoterically imbibe Emma’s soul to its last ether until, with a final sigh of letting go, her body expired on her bed. Her soul journeyed involuntarily through the dark oblivion that was his psyche, sucked in by a force it could not counteract, until it joined the other souls in the prison of souls.

Damon closed his eyes and savored the moment.

‘Finally, after 600 years, it is done,” he exclaimed.

His astral body teleported back to his studio. His physical body still sat on the sofa, devoid of life, but kept alive via a silver cord that connected his astral body to his physical body like an umbilical cord. His astral body prostrated itself on the floor.

“Master, your humble servant seeks audience with you,” he cried out. “Hear my plea, I beseech you.”

A black-red portal appeared beneath him and Damon freefell into another realm of existence he was all too familiar with.

“Rise,” commanded a deep, hollow voice that belonged to the epitome of evil.

Damon stood up but averted his gaze.

“My lord,” he said. “I have done as you have asked.”

“So?” his master asked.

“My lord, you said ‘13 souls 13 times over shall be the price for the soul of your wife and son’,” Damon replied. “Look into the prison of my soul and behold the price you seek for my family’s freedom.”

“And what makes you think I shall set your family free?” asked his master.

Damon whipped his head up and stared in shock at the red, thirteen-foot, fanged, double-horned, fork-tailed, smoldering, muscular beastly creature, seated on a throne of red-and-yellow flames. A pair of evil eyes burning with yellow flames stared him down with disdainful condescension. Razor sharp claws on each of his six fingers and toes on each hand promised to rip him to shreds just because.

“But, my lord,” Damon protested.

“Silence,” commanded the beastly creature.

Yellow flames flared from its eyes and mouth and the flames around his throne blazed higher and brighter at his outburst.

“You will speak only when I say so.”

“All the souls I took,” Damon shook his head from the realization that came with his master’s words. “Everything I did was for naught. I can’t save my family.”

He bared his teeth, clenched his fist and his body quaked as disappointment gave way to unhinged anger, the type that threatened to tear him apart inside-out.

“I guess this is what I get for making a deal with the devil.”

“You insult me by likening me unto the devil,” the beastly creature leaned forward and glared yellow flames at Damon. “The lowest of my minions. She cowers in my presence.”

Damon let out a scream of frustration and fury. He glared at the beastly creature. His being vibrated to energy that came from a place he had no idea existed within him, opened up by the anger and thirst for vengeance he had surrendered to. Yellow flames flared from his eyes and mouth.

“Impressive,” chuckled his master.

“You made one mistake, creature,” Damon burned with unbridled defiance. “You’ve pissed off a man with nothing else to lose.”

He stepped closer to the creature that used to be his master a moment ago.

“Mark my words,” he promised. “I will come for you and when I do, I will tear off your head from your body with my bare hands.”

Damon immediately teleported away from the creature’s presence. He tuned into the telepathic frequency of this realm of existence.

Minions, the creature’s telepathic voice boomed across the frequency. Whoever brings Damon Mukube’s head to me will be free of me. This, I swear to you.

“Challenge accepted,” Damon smiled with evil pleasure as the transmutation of his body and soul accelerated, turning him into something beyond human and with a savage desire to eviscerate everything evil.

“Let my atonement begin.”

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