Chapter 4:

Soup of the Soul

I'm Engaged! ...To Death's Designated Thread Cutter

Void.  Emptiness.  Well, not quite.  If I had to describe what lies before my eyes, it would have to be...barren landscape.  Not a Baron named Landscape, but you should know that.  My mind feels groggy like it is endlessly drifting back and forth, leaning on other minds like they are drunk friends of its.  Where was I?  No, where am I?  Yes.  Barren Landscape.

"You really were always apt to overexplain things."

Who is that?  No, I know who that is.

"Is it the Baron Landscape?  Lord Landscape?  High King of Landscapes Under the Mountain?"

I would recognize that smarmy sassy silly feminine tone anywhere.  

"Would you though?"  The voice says.  "Would you recognize it?"

The voice.  It is reading my mind.  These words are not in quotes at all so they must be thought or narrated and yet this voice is responding to them all the same.

"The voice has a name you know.  I think you were even about to say it.  No.  I know you were about to say it.  We both know you were about to say it."

Think it, you mean.


"Say it."


"Say it."

The barren landscape before me ceases to be barren.

"Say it."

Standing amid the rolling sandy planes and the extraordinarily overcast night sky is a form.

"Say it."

It is her.  I know her.  And she knows I.  But she is not I.  That would be...



"  Say it, please."

She starts to come...

"towards you?  She walks towards you.  Heavy strided.  Confident in the black mist that surrounds her and prevents her from being seen.  Prevents her from being acknowledged.  Prevents her from truly...truly being.  Why am I like this?  Why did you make me like this?  Why?  Why won't you..."

She reaches her hand toward me.  No no no no no.  I can't.  I won't.  I won't...

""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

I jar awake.  Aroused into consciousness by a disturbingly loud voice.  No, it wasn't that loud.  It just seemed like it.  I'm guessing.  But it was an incredibly masculine voice.  So male, so beaten, so butch, that it broke the seeming peace within my groggy dream, wherein I found that I was about to reach my hand out and touch the slowly revealed finger and upper arm of the dark female figure that beckoned me.  But in an instant, these sudden words became a knife which cleaved my barren world asunder, and also, in doing so, split my dream arm in half.  And upon the severing I awoke here.  And where is here?

I look at the face of the man who presumably shouted to wake me.  I have to do a sort of double take when I look at him.  His appearance was not atypical.  That is, to say, he did not appear strange and unorthodox.  However, based on the current pattern of the place, he was odd looking.  He was old.  He wasn't young like the three other men.  The ponytail maker, the master, the butler.  They were all decidedly young.  Not of the same age, but devoid of wrinkles and regal gray hair.  This man, however, had all of that, and seemed more than apt to embrace these elements of himself.

His hair flowed freely off his head.  It was long.  Long enough to reach his butt, but reach his butt it never did.  Because it was not like a horse's maine, flowing like a river down his back, but it flowed in all directions, like he had placed his hand on one of those electric charged things and all the hair on his head stood up.  It did not stick straight up though.  It pointed in all directions.  He was like a hedgehog.

"Sorry to shout at you darling," said the man.  His voice was British.  He sounded like an older Sherlock Holmes.  Weary of thinking and figuring out murderers, but still ready to solve the problems set before him.  "It seemed my soup was starting to rouse you from slumber, but then you started to yell some things.  It had me rather worried, but I suppose that is par for the course with soulp."

He turns away from me and starts to stir a large pot of, what I can obviously assume is, soup.  He taps the ladle he is using to stir the pot on the edge of the pot and then dries his hands with a rag near it.

"Um," I say, groggily trying to speak after having been knocked out, "It's pronounced soup."

The man turns and looks at me.  I see his eyes wide with surprise.  I examine them for any kind of uniqueness but cannot seem to find any.

"What was that?" He said.

"Oh, I said you pronounce soup weird.  It's soup, not soulp."

"No no no, I heard you loud clear darling.  It's's not at all what I expected the first thing you would say would be."

"Oh!  Shit!  You're right!  I'm sorry!  Thank you so much for saving me!...You me...right?"

The old man laughs a hearty laugh.

"Yes yes.  But it is a bit embarrassing to hear it said quite like that.  And for the record, young miss, I am in fact saying soulp right, because soulp is actually not soup."

"It's not soup?"

"Well, it is, but it's not.  It's a mixture of soul and soup.  Soul soup.  Soulp."

"Oh, like chicken soup for the soul?  Oh, but you probably don't know what that is, do you?"

"The book series.  I know of it."


"Did you expect that I wouldn't know it?"

"Well, yeah kinda.  I mean, you are a spirit, correct?"

The man returns to stirring his pot of "soulp."  Did I say something to offend him?  Why isn't he answering?

"But, I mean," I continue.  "Being a spirit doesn't mean that you wouldn't know about stuff like that, since that would mean that you had came from Earth in the first place."

"Everything in your statement is correct."

That was a weird way to say that.  So, he is a spirit?  He is from Earth?  That is why he knows what Chicken Soup for the Soul is?

"But I'm afraid," he continues, "that you're wrong about why I call my concoction soulp."

"So, why is that?"

"Well, you see..."

The old man starts to go into a long detailed explanation of why his soup is called soulp.  I want to listen.  REALLY, I do!  I am intrigued, but I am unfortunately more intrigued by his beard.  I do not know how I hadn't noticed his beard until now.  I guess because of how alarming unique his hair is, mixed with the overwhelming uniqueness of the situation and a light and groggy head.  But his beard was actually one loooooong braided ponytail that stretched from the tip of his chin down to, I guess, the floor.  I couldn't tell if it was the floor though because I didn't want to break eye contact with him and make him think I was rude and unattentive.  Normally, I might not care if a person thought of me in such a way, but for whatever reason I seemed to especially care if this man thinks of me as rude.  I guess because he, so far, has been the only one to exude a sort of paternal air.  The butler, from before, expressed an air of authority, but it was a dry office worker kind of authority that came with experience demanding from others, whereas this man seemed to have the authority that one gains from understanding others, expecting from others.

"...and then I shot him right between the eyes, yelled hippy skippy, and then took a massive poop right there on his face."

"Wait, what?"

"That got your attention, I see."

"Oh geez.  I'm sorry, I was distracted by your beard."

"Yeah, he got me too."

"You can just start from the beginning.  I'll listen."

I was about to say.  "Got me too?  You mean the ponytail guy?  Where is he?  I'll ring his neck."  But I felt like that would be making everything more about me and I had already offended him by not listening to his story.  I'll just remember to ask later or maybe he'll just volunteer the information.  It doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

"Well," he said, "there really isn't much of a story.  In fact, the explanation I gave you probably took a whole 10 seconds if even that long.  My mouth was running for longer because I had noticed quite a while ago that you weren't paying attention and started concocting a story as a joke.  For whatever reason you only ended up hearing that last part.  It's a shame too!  What I ended up making up was a doosy.  Perhaps I should be a novelist in my spare time."

I looked down to the floor.  There was a ribbon attached to the end of his beard.  It's red.  It's cute.

"You listening?"


"Sigh, maybe it'll be easier to just show you."

The man leans over toward me and puts his hand on top of my head.  I wonder what he is about to do, but I feel no need to resist.  He takes my head and he points my face, my eyes, toward my right arm.


My right arm is not there.