Trapped Within

by Andrea Goyan

A hundred lifetimes ago, the Egyptians called me Ammit. Demon. Eater of the dead.

Gratefully, the modern world had no need for my services. To eat corpses, I needed to dismember them. In my pathetic human form, that required knives and saws—cumbersome, messy, it took all the fun out of my job. I missed my original body with her magnificent teeth and nails. The dissonances didn’t end there. Human tongues preferred cooked meat, whereas I liked it raw and fresh. The putrid smell of days-old flesh sold in markets turned me into a vegetarian. I longed for Egypt but remained shackled to the human world, trapped within one mortal body after another.

My current body neared its end.

It, she, held such promise when I first took possession four decades ago. Her flesh still lithe, golden skin, and thick black hair long enough to blanket her small, pert breasts. She embodied the perfect female, and I embodied her. Together, we moved like poetry, loved like fire, and sang with a voice worthy of the gods. It was a perfect union. Now, she rotted off in pieces—a finger one day, a toe the next. Last week, a chunk of flesh the size of an apple fell off the calf. Soon nothing would be left.

I required a new vessel. Time to face Ra and pray he’d finally forgiven me.

Ra lived in Beverly Hills, slumming as a Hollywood producer. Running a studio suited his vanity and need for adulation. He relished beautiful things, people, and objects. As a movie mogul, he assured a life surrounded by them. One of the many reasons I knew my appearance wouldn’t be welcome. Not in my current form.


The driver opened all the windows when I slid into the Uber at LAX. He stifled a gag as we pulled away from the curb. Ignoring him, I stuck my head outside to feel the hot air against my face. Delicious, dry heat. Like the old country. As we merged onto the freeway and accelerated, the wind tore a flap of skin off my scalp. I retreated inside and pressed my scarf against the gaping wound. The driver’s mask of terror reflected in the rearview mirror sent tingles up my spine. I hadn’t induced fear like that since Egypt.

It was dusk when I arrived at Ra’s estate. The car’s tires squealed as the Uber driver made his getaway. He’d discover a generous tip for his troubles. I may be a demon, but I’ve never been a cheapskate. Ra’s gate stood open, and I limped my way up the winding flagstone road toward his residence. Sunflowers stood sentry along either side like adoring soldiers. How very Ra.

I reached the circular drive by the house’s entrance, where I stopped to catch my breath and watch the sun plummet below the horizon. Perfect timing. The wrathful Sun God’s temper quelled after sunset, increasing my odds of success. I hobbled onto the stoop and rang the bell, prepared to talk my way past whatever servant answered. Ra opened the door. He towered over me, his skin shimmering as if fire, not blood, filled his veins, and his eyes sparkled with rays of light. Damn. He remained the most beautiful being I’d ever seen. He smirked. “I could smell you a mile away, Ammit.”

I nodded, and a rivulet of blood from my scalp cascaded down my forehead, blinding me in one eye. “Then you know why I’ve come?” I said in our mother tongue.

He didn’t invite me inside. Then again, I reeked of decay.

“English, Ammit. We speak English now.”

Ugh, I spoke it fluently; however, my thick accent made it difficult for people to understand. But I obeyed.

“It’s time,” I said.

He laughed. “All these years, and you speak like a gargling crocodile.”

I hissed at him, then caught myself and bowed. “Apologies, my king.”

There was a long silence, during which my nose began to slide down my face.

Ra studied me. “It’s like a tiny avalanche on your head.”

I held my nose in place. “Please, may I return to my body?”

“I haven’t forgiven you.”

One of my legs caved. I collapsed onto my backside.

“Ow.” Blood bubbles ballooned from my nasal cavities and spurted between my fingers.

Ra sighed. “Zahra was one of my favorites.”

“But her heart wasn’t pure.” I balled my fist, slamming it against the ground. Bones shattered.

“Clearly, you have yet to feel remorse.” He shook his head. “You really are a fright.”

“I know.”

“Kudos for holding out so long. I need you to promise again never to eat another one of my wives.”

I nodded, feeling the flesh at the back of my neck rip open.

“You need to say it.”

“I promise.”

“What was that?” Ra cupped his hand by his ear.

My tongue split, and blood filled my mouth.

“I promise never to eat one of your wives again.” My words were garbled, but Ra understood.

“Fine,” he said.


When I regained consciousness, the sun was high in the sky. I lay poolside on the cement. Ra lounged on a chaise nearby.

“You’re awake,” he said. “Excellent. Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr. Ammit.”

My hand flew to my crotch, where a third leg awoke beneath my touch. I remained human, and worse, male.

“No, please.” My deep voice startled me. “I want to go home.”

He held up his hand, silencing me. “And one day you will. Remember, as you suffer countless more human lifetimes, my wife Zahra was a favorite.”

Powerless, I could only thank him, genuflect, and leave his estate. At least I enjoyed the fresh, pain-free young body as I sauntered down the drive. It would serve me for a few good years before it festered.

Perched on his porch, Ra followed me with falcon eyes. All the sunflowers turned their heads away from the sun to salute him. Some things never change.

Arrogant asshole.

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