The Soulless One
In the maternity ward of St. Joseph's Hospital, in London, the nurses watch over the slumbering newborns during the night. Especially tonight. The wife of an American ambassador had to be rushed into delivery right away. Twelve hours later, the five-pound eleven ounce Damien Thorn was born.
One of the nurses made her rounds among the babies. She took extra care to look over little Damien. But when she reached his bed, she found he was awake. Awake and silent. His eyes widened, when he saw her. His eyes, wide and dark.
She suddenly found herself swallowing a lump of discomfort. Something wasn't right. Something was... cold about the little babe. His unblinking gaze could easily be set akin to that of a bloodthirsty Great White Shark. The nurse shivered, as a chill ran up her spine; though it felt more like someone had brushed up against her.
“Run along, Kathy,” a voice sighed within her mind.
The nurse shook herself from her haze. She went about her business; pinching the bridge of her nose. Surely she'd been working too hard. Maybe she needed that vacation after all. When she was finished and almost out the door, she turned to the newborns and blew them all a kiss... no, not all of them. Not that ambassador's creepy kid.
When the room was empty, a cool breeze sailed through the windowless room. Some of the babies began to weep, while others cried their longs out. Through the eyes of an adult, it would appear nothing more than a room full of crying babies. But through a babies eyes, they witness sights that cause human beings to forget their first days of life.
Standing before little Damien Thorn was a tall gaunt man, with massive bat-like wings folded behind him. Strapped over his chest was a scorched, dented, breastplate. A tattered tunic draped to his knees and his dirt caked feet were bare. His eyes – black as pitch – looked over the young one; the quiet unsettling child who stared back. The winged man's head tilted, as he was fascinated by this bizarre little thing.
“Payden,” a voice called from the other side of the room.
The winged man – Payden – turned to see another winged man. This one had skin so pale the only hint of color was from the dark-purple veins that ran along his body.
“Klatus,” greeted Payden.
“What are you doing with these... things?”
Payden leaned closer to Damien; only mere inches from his face. “I'm intrigued by this little one, dear brother. There's something different about him.”
With but a blink, Klatus was standing next to Payden. “He looks no different than any other doll,” he glanced over the child. “If you're hungry, just feed and let us be on our way.”
“You look upon him with rash eyes,” stated Payden, as he stood tall. “Take a closer look and this time... see.”
Klatus shook his head and looked upon the child once more. After a deeper inspection, he found himself befuddled. “How can this be? He's-”
“Empty,” Payden finished. “As empty as you or I.”
“How is this possible?”
“I know not,” he answered, as a subtle smile stretched the corner of his lips. “However, I do know that it has escaped Father's notice.”
Klatus rose from the baby and looked at Payden. “What thoughts rattle within your mind, brother?”
Again, Payden leaned over Damien. “My thoughts are my own, brother... and with my thoughts, I could achieve greatness.”
“Be weary where your thoughts may lead you. Should you anger Father-”
“Father is always angry,” Payden interjected. “That's what makes him Father.”
Payden raised his hand to Damien's face; a ruddy, clawed, hand. He ran one of his talons across the baby's cheek, coaxing a burbled laugh.
“You know of what I speak, soulless one,” he whispered unto Damien. “We will show such wonders, all of Heaven and Hell will gaze upon us as kings.”
Klatus looked upon his brother, stunned, as a dark tear dripped from Payden's eye onto Damien's lips.