By Ravi Kakkad
Callum doesn’t stand in a forest, nor in a graveyard, nor in a foggy field at midnight. He sits in his bedroom, watching a fanged smile slip from the face of the boy in front of him. The boy, Isaac, begins to shake as Callum whispers a single, cursed word.
Isaac carefully places down a yellow four with a trembling hand, but Callum slams down a red four – his last card. It shimmers, the colour bleeding out of it until all that’s left is a white rectangle.
Callum loves the next bit. Isaac’s body disintegrates, becoming a maelstrom of colour and light. Red mostly, typical for vampires, with hints of green and yellow for the faerie parts of his soul. And in the middle of it all rests Callum’s prize. A Soul Card, the last image of Isaac rendered in the bleached corpse of an Uno card.
He takes it to the corkboard by the open window, pinning the card to it, piercing it where Isaac’s forehead is. Callum savours the shrill whistle of pain and the delicate droplets of blood that form under the pin. His collection, full of creatures that pervert the rules of reality: life-draining vampires, mind-shattering faeries.
And, he thinks, selecting a Soul Card from the top of the board, death-summoning banshees.
He rips the card in two, squeezes the pieces in his fist and throws them out of the window, now a black dust. His next challenger will come.
They always do.