The lonely spirit took its toll from all those who trespassed in its domain, and there were so many now, coming and going.
Each time just a few hours he took, just his due.
What kind of fools were these now? Trading their time for such a fleeting glimpse? Only a few choose to stay anymore, it thought, to dance the fields as glorious as could be imagined or to sail the tides of their own madness on a ship of fear.
These were the great ones, kings of a realm of transients; second only to the one they named Jack. None could stay his hand. None would brave his gaze. For he stole and took and held, keeping his power to himself, all the stolen minutes of all the wasted lives. These lesser king rarely demanded more then a brief entertainment from those that came to their lands, a glimpse at the lands outside. Not that that is the right word, this place had no outside.
They could gain my power, I know it. I see them scheming to over throw me, each time someone comes and I take my toll they are tempted to try. But they heard what happened the last time. Still the land there will support nothing! I cannot be stopped; soon I will have it all. Then all will be peaceful and I can go back to the void.
So the kings watch and despair and Jack grows fat and greedy and strong on the stolen moments. Only a few in the other realm suspect and after a few passages though Jacks realm, even these few stop believing it could be any other way.
Sensing a shred of belief coming close, someone who suspects comes close to the other realm. Only then do I come close, close enough to be sensed, if any thought to look and try to see, and I wait to take my toll. Just a few hours I’ll take, just my due, but it adds up over the years and decades they have here. Soon I will have all the time in the world. Strange that they no longer try to hold me at bay, it is as if they stopped fearing the darkness underneath.
“But mommy, I don’t want to go to sleep, the monster will get me. Its under the bed, I know it.”