Bankal reached up with his left arm, attempting to loosen the tension of the chains strapping his wrists to the ceiling. He gritted his teeth as his fingers grasped the shackle. The pain in his right arm shot down to his shoulder. If he could relieve the tension on his other arm for just a second, he would be able to think straight.
It was not the first time he had gone too far.
His muscle strength now was nothing compared to a day ago, when he was seventeen. The wrinkles on his arms made it look as if he was eighty, but he felt far older than that. In his previous body, Bankal could have quickly pulled himself up the chain to unhook it from the dungeon ceiling.
Bankal frequently moved in and out of other bodies. His friends and family, if you could call them that, did not believe him. They were quick to dismiss his journeys as dreams. If they could see him now, they would understand.
His grip on the chain faltered. The links slipped between his fingers. The clank of the chains echoed down the corridor as they snapped tight. A sharp edge cut deep into his wrist, and he let out a guttural moan. The depth and bass in his cry were a voice that seemed fitting for this body. It reflected character and experience, which matched the wear of this withered frame.
For the slightest moment, Bankal’s mind considered his predicament. It will all be over soon. He could deal with the pain.
A tiny river of blood, starting at his wrist, snaked down the wrinkles his arm. The stream gathered at his elbow. He could hear the splats as blood drops hit the floor.
Footsteps echoed off the dark granite walls. Something had alerted the guard. Amid the cries of neighboring inmates, the sound of heavy boots neared his cell. Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound of the guard’s approach was something he knew well. His body inadvertently trembled.
Bankal wondered if this body had lived in this world before he possessed it. In this case, no one recognized him as a friend, foe or acquaintance. He had no idea of this old man’s name. It was as if he appeared out of nowhere. In this case, he could not confirm nor deny the man he assumed had previously existed. Unfortunately, time spent in this body was fleeting.
Each adventure was different. Sometimes Bankal assumed the same body more than once. ‘Assuming’ the body was his way of describing the experience, though he had complete control over the body during the assumptions. He believed each host was someone unique, someone special. Each time, Bankal silently thanked them for the brief ride, and the perspective they bestowed upon him. He wasn’t sure if the bodies ever knew he had followed them. He did not have the ability to communicate with the body’s rightful owner.
Today, he felt guilty and fearful for what he had done. Bankal had no choice. Now the old man was in danger.
A familiar flicker invaded his vision.
Time to go.
The guard screamed, turning the corner, and snapped a whip. Bankal threw his head back as the tip lashed across his chest. He let out a blood-curdling scream and closed his eyes.