Finding the Right Body

Short Story as part of the 13 Days of Dark & Weird Stories

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Ben turned the key in the lock until he heard the mechanical click. They hadn’t changed the lock yet. Humans were so predictable.

Before he opened the door, he looked to his right. Two small holes where his grandfather’s mezuzah used to hang. He wondered where that little scroll of Torah was now. Nothing to save the new family from evil. Not that it mattered much. Ben didn’t believe in such things anyway. Was a little piece of paper with some scribbles on them really going to stop him from doing whatever he felt like?

No. As he pushed the door open, Ben grinned silently. Nothing was going to stop him now.

He walked through the door and immediately he noticed an unfamiliar smell. His grandfather’s place had always smelled a bit sour, like old sweat mixed with good wine. Whoever had bought the place had really tried their best to get rid of it with something very strong. Ammonia, probably.

Ben closed the door behind him and glanced about the room. Even though it was dark, with just a bit of light from a distant streetlamp coming through the windows, he could see all he needed. Some modernist furniture, papers cluttered on a desk in the corner where his grandfather’s chair had stood. Ben shook his head. He shouldn’t think about those things. There was no time. Better be quick and get it over with. This body was definitely not going to last much longer.

Without even glancing into the kitchen, Ben made his way through a small hallway towards the main bedroom. Another room lay on the side, but he knew the children would be sleeping there. And children were of no use to him. If everything went according to plan, they could remain alive, for all he cared. As long as they didn’t wake up and start wreaking havoc, they didn’t even really exist.

When he reached the door of the bedroom he stopped and listened. No sounds, except for those expected to come from two sleeping people. Ben looked down at the body he inhabited, and hoped his next one would be better. Maybe a bit younger this time. Maybe he’d even consider taking the woman. Depending on what she looked like, of course.

He should have spend more time scouting the place, preparing himself. But he had been trying to be Dr. Harold Stokes for about a year now, and it hadn’t been easy.

Perhaps they were right, mocking him for trying to fit in. What was the use, anyway? None of the others even tried assimilating into humanity. They just swooped in whenever they needed something, and never looked back. He couldn’t do that. At least that was what he kept telling himself.

Maybe this time it would be different. He might just walk in and take a body and get out of here. Let them deal with the mess. That’s what it meant to be human anyway: messy. He had tried to be Harold, he really did. But now he was facing the consequences. He had been so concerned with keeping up appearances, that he had forgotten the inevitable. Halloween.

Ben opened the bedroom. He knew Harold’s body so well by now, that he was able to move through the space unnoticed. He looked at the two people in the bed, sleeping. A woman of about 40 years, not too skinny as far as he could see. That was at least something, skinny people were the worst. He had heard of one case where the body couldn’t contain the whole soul, which was apparently extremely painful.

The man was a little bit older, but not too old. His hands were laying above the cover. Good sturdy hands. This was going to be a tough decision.

He glanced around the room, looking for signs. And then he saw it. On the side of the man was a glass with teeth, and a pair of glasses. On the side of the woman there were no such things. But Ben knew women were cunning, hiding their weak spots in cupboards.

He walked over to the side of the woman, and bent over her, looking at what he was to become.

He checked his watch. Almost midnight. Time to shift.

Short story written with thanks to the prompt that inspired it by Daphelba DeBeauvoir, for the October 2018 challenge of writing dark and weird fiction for the 13 days leading up to Halloween. Read more stories from other fiction writers for this challenge: Thirteen Days, A dArK and wEiRd fiction challenge.

To read other stories from October’s Dark & Weird Fiction Challenge, visit and follow The Mad River Literary Journal and 13 Days Pub.