Charles L. Lucas sat on the back steps of the service entrance of his former home, staring out into the darkness, for a long, long time.
He still didn’t understand how it had happened. It was unexplainable. These eyes were just painted spheres of wood, and yet he could see with them. He had no lungs, no larynx; his tongue was a strip of felt. And still he spoke. He felt not heat or cold, hunger or thirst, pain or pleasure. He felt nothing.
And yet he lived. The magic of the Egyptian rings had placed his soul in this body of carved wood and rubber-band joints, and somehow made it work for him. Somehow.
He stared down at the ring on his carved wooden finger. He removed it and dropped it into his pocket with the other ring, the one he had taken from his own dead body. Someday, he thought he may want to use them again. Find another body to inhabit. Live as a man again.
In the meantime, this body was invulnerable to hunger, disease, and aging. Probably everything but termites, he thought with a chuckle. And it was innocuous; the last vessel one would suspect of housing a deadly mind, a ruthless mind, a mind bent on conquest.
His own fortune was gone, lost to him forever. But that was fine. He enjoyed the thrill of the taking much more than the having, anyway. And in this body, he could enjoy the thrill of taking in ways he never dared before.
The tiny wooden body hopped down the stairs and scampered off into the Long Island night. As he went, he laughed to himself at Barbara and her plan. Tried to make a dummy out of him with the aid of a ventriloquist. Well, Barbara, he thought cruelly, who’s the dummy now?