“What she is saying,” the Keeper of Minds said, “is that when the Keeper of Death is raising the dead like this, it is in fact hurting her…”
“Killing,” the Keeper of Souls whispered.
“I didn’t want to put it that way,” the Keeper of Minds said. “But yes, it is and will kill her. When a person dies, the soul becomes a part of her; it creates her and keeps her going. When the souls are taken back…”
The Keeper of Minds shook his head.
“And what happens when we kill the zombies? Does the soul go back?”
“It’s not that easy John. Not at all. Think of it this way – you take rock and smash it off the ground. Each time you smash it, pieces fall off. Eventually you’re going to smash it so many times, there will be no more rock, just pebbles and dust. When those creatures you call zombies die, part of their soul returns.”
“But then he raises them again and again!” the Keeper of Souls shouted. “He has to be stopped!”
John looked towards Athan who sat still. Too still in John’s opinion…
“We will stop him,” the Keeper of Minds said.
John looked at the Keeper of Minds then to the Keeper of Souls. He opened his mouth, thought for a second, then closed it. He waited a few seconds, then opened his mouth again. Before he could speak, Athan had somehow leaped from his chair over John and put his hand to his mouth.
“Think long,” Athan whispered, “think very long…”
“Okay, this is enough of talking about this,” the Keeper of Minds said. “Athan…” he pointed to the empty chair.
Athan walked slow back to the chair and went back to his robotic position.
“John, do you still have the card?” the Keeper of Minds asked.
John reached into his pocket and pulled it out. He hadn’t read the card in what felt days – not since he met Athan.
The Keeper of Souls smiled. “He really is the one…”
“Indeed,” the Keeper of Minds said. He plucked the card from John’s hand and placed it on the table. He closed his eyes and whispered its words:
let rest as they be.
open, alive, dead.
They hide – no longer they cast.
Time to chase,
there goes away.
The black shakes,
the sand dances.
What shows is not there,
what moves has power.
All is gone,
except what isn’t.
The Keeper of Minds opened his eyes. He looked refreshed. The Keeper of Souls smiled again and the glistening in her eyes was gone. Athan still sat hollowed, an empty shell of a man (or something else.)
“John,” the Keeper of Minds said, “before we fight, you must learn.”
“Learn what?” John asked. He looked down at the guns strapped to his waist. He wasn’t an expert with guns on Earth. He didn’t even own a gun on Earth. But somehow he’d become an expert. He had bullets. He had the steel muscular man that was Athan. And he had Mystery (wherever the horse was now…). What else did he need?
“You need to know what they did wrong,” the Keeper of Souls said.
She pointed and John turned to see a pile of bodies all stacked on top of each other, uneven and all dead.
John turned back slow and put his hands on the table. “Talk.”