Wisps

We are the dead.
We do not eat, or sleep, or spend time in leisure activities. We have no jobs to go to, no friends or families any more. What we were is gone, burnt away by death.

We do not haunt those who wronged us, or stay tethered to the site of our final, hopeless moments. We have no desire to, no need for justice. Who we were does not matter now.

All we have and all we do is hunger. Hunger for the warmth and brightness of life, for the half-remembered feel of sunlight on skin, or the taste of food. We hunger even for pain, for the sharp stinging sensation and the dull heavy ache that mean life.

And so we flock for those who live most brightly. Those who take the most joy in the warmth of the world, those who shine brightest. We flock to them, and we wait.

Some of them see us, occasionally – a shadow in the dark, a reflection that is gone when they look again. Some of them see us all, the congregation round them, watching and waiting.

One day, they too will die, as all things die. And when they breathe their last, when they still and grow cold, we will be there.

We cannot live again. We cannot touch the brightness of the world once more. But when their life leaves them, it must go somewhere. Wisps rise from the incipient corpse, slipping away to dissipate and be lost for ever.

We take those wisps, consume them, feel again what life is, let colour back into ourselves if even for the shadow of a moment. We cannot live again. But we can touch just the dregs of life, taking the rags of existence and trying to believe that it will last.

It does not. Fought over by countless thousands, the remnants of life – of warmth, of happiness and sadness, of anything save hunger – last no time at all. And with every frenzy over scraps, our numbers swell by one.


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