Martin J. Gibbons, 57-year-old house painter.
Randall R. Stibbs, 49-year-old insurance agent and financial advisor.
Alison May Baker-Smith, 37-year-old soccer mom, mother of three.
Cody Timpkins, 28-year-old drummer for the up-and-coming rock band, Syzzle.
Andrew Taylor Corliss, 19-year-old trouble maker and doer of nothing whose friends once called Tack.
The list of recently missing, seemingly disconnected persons, grew slowly, almost deliberately. Each plucked from the burden of their every day struggles with the unknowing intent of serving as the vessel that would bring the dark master to the light of day.
Each one failing the task due to the weak and inadequate construction of the human animal.
He raised his hand before him and turned it slowly, deliberately. The once youthful skin of Andrew Taylor Corliss sat uncomfortably taught and bloated like a too small glove pulled over his fingers and palm. The skin, once smooth and dark, was now pale, dry and covered with liver spots and wrinkles.
He slowly clenched his hand into a fist and watched as the remnant flesh gave way to the pressure, popping and tearing and slowly peeling away as the fist flexed tighter and tighter.
He yearned to roam the lands above again to witness his work first hand, to drink in their tears and savor a symphony of screams. Still, for all that comes with unfathomable power, power in and of itself can be…restrictive. Yet, to effectively do his work among them, he must in essence be one of them. And so the process is what the case demands.
Such a frail species.
He loosened the grip and shook the hand away from him, flicking the last residue of young Corliss from him and toward the decaying pile of what was left of those who came before. A diminished skull from one Martin Gibbons, whose empty eyes stared through the pair of broken glasses resting in a cock-eyed fashion across a shriveled nose. He was strong and outdoorsy, but the process of transference puts so much strain on the human form, that the flesh ages at an accelerated rate. Martin Gibbons, at least the shell of Martin Gibbons, proved the least useful of all.
Mr. Stibbs suffered from an as yet to be diagnosed heart condition, substantially reducing his potential usefulness. Pity, he had a certain look that would have served him well, up there.
The woman was interesting, but again, the transference ravaged the mortal system. She just wore out too quickly for his needs.
Corliss showed promise, real promise. Yet perhaps, in his excitement in finally being able to reach the surface, he probably added more stress to his new form than he might have originally intended. At least until he was top side. The reflection of the once, some might say handsome and brooding young man, seemed to shift all too quickly to middle age and then to the more useless aged and decrepit, then to a pile of rot.
Failures all of them, but in each failure a lesson learned, an adjustment made and an extension of the possibilities that lie ahead. There are no real mistakes in this world, only curiosities…experiments. This time, he would go younger still. Perhaps a smaller and more resilient body would make the transference easier both on the vessel, and on him. So many transferences in such a relatively short period of time had a way of ‘running down the batteries’ as they might say on the crust.
He looked at his clenching fists. He had been charging is batteries long enough. It was time to really get some business done.