“Please,” Jennie sobbed, inasmuch as her disembodied spirit was capable of such a gesture without tear ducts or a mouth. “Just stop.”

The Zaar cocked its head, which Jennie perceived to be like looking in a twisted mirror. “I suppose I could,” it said, using what sounded like a mixture of her voice and the nasal cackle it had used before. “I suppose that I could find another trinket that would work just as well, another group of guileless souls to torment with their own meaninglessness. That would be rather noble of me, wouldn’t it?”

“Please-” Jennie began.

“But I’m not,” sneered the Zaar, twisting the lip of Jennie’s possessed body cruelly. “And do you know why? Because you want it so very badly. I can see it in every fiber of your spirit, and there’s nothing more joyously side-splitting to me. Look at you! Whining and weeping over a worthless trinket just because grandmammy touched it? Pathetic! Nagging at me like a dog after a pile of garbage with your little gang of cast-offs and misfits? PAH-THETIC!”

“But…but…”

“Enough! You could’ve just been a good little girl and let me go about my business. You might even have survived what I’m planning to do! You might have only lost a limb, or your sanity! But no, you had to be…difficult! You had to fight back! And because of that, I’m taking time out from my busy, busy schedule of–spoiler alert–ending as many lives as I can all at once, just to run you and your little troop into the ground.”

Jennie watched as the Zaar opened her hand and lashed out, snatching a fly from the air and crushing it to goo in her palm.

“Life is a meaningless parade of kicks to the stomach and bullets to the head, girl. You think there’s an ounce of meaning in the molecules that make up your pretty little trinket? It’s just wood for a bonefire to me. You think that your ridiculous midway of an entourage means something to this cold and unforgiving orb we’re all hanging onto by our fingernails? I will relish the opportunity to show you how wrong you are by slaughtering them in particularly amusing ways while you watch, helpless. Or not! I’ll happily off them when you’re not so you can know the exquisite agony, as you fade away into spiritual nothingness, of not knowing. It’ll be a time and a half, you’ll see, and I’ll think nothing more of it than if I were writing a dirty word on a bathroom wall.”

The Zaar cackled at each misery it listed, but its next words were delivered in a low, menacing tone that was more a growl than any human speech.

“This is why you leave a Zaar to their business, girl. To trifle with one of us is to see your own pathetic notions reduced to atoms and stars in front of your face, until you’re left with nothing but the pain.”

Jennie reached futilely for her body, but the Zaar backed away, wearing a wide grin and cackling anew.

“Who knows? In time, perhaps your spirit is potent and miserable enough to become a Zaar itself. Wouldn’t that just be the greatest punchline to end this grand joke I’m in the middle of telling the universe?”

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