Stacy was an easy one to possess.
She was young, only nine years old when I took over her. Usually the soul puts up a fight and struggles, but not her. I was surprised. She just surrendered without contest. This will make the job easy, I thought to myself.
The job was Stacy’s father, Senator John Rothsman. As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, he had the power to enable the chaos my master desired. I just needed to find a way to influence him, to push him over the edge. His only daughter seemed like a good starting point.
I was just planning a classic possession: tantrums, vandalizing the family property, screaming randomly at night, maybe a runaway episode or two, that sort of thing. The senator would be so sleep deprived, he’d snap at work, and the war in Damascus would be underway. My colleagues were working with other officials, both locally and abroad, to make sure the pieces all came together. Stir up the strife in Syria, build up the resentment in America, add in a little border crisis with Israel, and you had a perfect recipe for war. My boss really, really likes war.
Unfortunately, the first night in Stacy’s body proved the job would be a lot harder than I anticipated.
It was late when the Uber dropped her father off and he quietly stumbled inside, whiskey still on his breath. I could feel Stacy’s soul quiver and retreat, surrendering even more control over to me. This was all too easy. I prepared to start Stacy’s first tantrum after the senator fell asleep.
Things did not go according to plan, though. Instead of heading to his own bed with his wife, Stacy’s father entered her room. I held still as he came up to the bedside. Inside, I could feel her soul violently thrashing, not against me but against him. A wave of nausea passed over Stacy so strong that not even I could escape it.
My eyes shot open. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I asked in a very matter of fact tone.
The senator jumped back, startled. “Wha-...how dare you!” It must have been shocking, especially in his still-drunk state, to hear such language come out of such a small girl. “Listen here, you little…”
As he reached for Stacy’s neck, her soul recoiled, and I suddenly realized why she put up so little of a fight when I overtook her. She had already been fighting a war for a long time, and she had little left. Grabbing the senator’s wrist, I peeled him off and flung him across the room. He hit the wall with a “thud” and sunk to the floor, bewildered. I stood up and walked over to open the door wide, keeping firm eye contact with her father.
“Stacy is mine now. You can’t have her anymore. Touch her again and you die.” With that, unseen forces dragged the senator out of the room as he screamed, and the door slammed shut. It was a little more flair than I intended with this possession, but the circumstances warranted it.
Rebecca, Stacy’s mother, came in shortly after, disturbed by the ruckus that woke her up. “Sweetie, what happened? What’s wrong?”
I was back in bed, sobbing, blankets pulled up close around me. “Daddy said not to tell or he’d hurt me,” I whispered through the tears streaming down the girl’s cheeks.
Thus began the lengthy and publicly humiliating inquiry into the allegations that Senator John Rothsman was sexually abusing his young daughter. Rebecca forced him to move out of the home and into a hotel. During the investigation, the Senate came to a vote of no confidence, ousting him from his chairman seat. A recall election was stirring before he resigned by himself. The divorce was finalized a year later.
My colleagues in Syria did a good job stirring up trouble, pitting various local factions against each other. With the public debacle absorbing everyone’s attention stateside, though, the full-scale war my master envisioned didn’t materialize. A humiliated local senator being metaphorically tarred and feathered in a congressional hearing garnered more viewers than a few dozen orphaned kids on the other side of the world, and the war plan collapsed.
After her father left, Stacy’s soul began to relax. The school put her in mandatory counselling. I did most of the talking. I could feel her thoughts and emotions and filter what she wanted to share and what she didn’t. She was too scared to come out on her own. I would have let her, really, but she was comfortable in her own private space inside, cut off from the world, so I told the therapist everything they wanted to hear.
There was no way Stacy was going to make it on her own, and with the disgraced former senator now useless for my master’s plans I had nothing better to do than help her out. I made sure she did all her homework at school and got her into soccer in the afternoons. To all outside perspectives, she seemed to be recovering and even thriving in the absence of her father. Inside, I could feel her reluctance to come forward. She was still afraid of the world that had hurt her so deeply, and was content to ride along while I held onto the steering wheel. I didn’t mind. Possessing humans was fun, and I actually enjoyed the soccer games. Watching overly competitive parents fight each other on the sidelines filled me with great pleasure.
By high school, Stacy had grown to be wildly popular. Academically gifted, athletically talented, and now politically inclined. I had devised the best class president campaign, which Stacy agreed to even though she still let me take the lead. In addition to an expanded selection of snacks in the cafeteria vending machines and an extra winter formal, I petitioned for a sister school outreach program where we would share letters and learning with a foreign school. The idea was a hit, and in Stacy’s junior year she was elected class president. We made contacts with a high school in Jableh and each month shared a video call with students on the other side of the globe. The principal called it a “valuable interactive learning and social experience” and it was hailed as a role-model program in a write-up in the New York Post.
At night, I could feel her trepidation about her life that wasn’t fully her own. I was doing all the hard work, after all. She was just along for the ride, witnessing her life unfurl and unfold in ways she had little input in, too afraid to come up to the surface to take part herself. As I braided Stacy’s hair before bed one evening, I looked at her in the mirror. “You can do this too, you know,” I said. “Any time you want to come out, you’re welcome to. Even if it’s just for a bit.”
Inside I felt a cold shiver pass through her soul. She made no move to push for control. I continued braiding her hair.
After graduating high school summa cum laude, getting a scholarship to Harvard was an easy process. It was there that we met Emma, our roommate. She had a soothing quality about her, and immediately I built a rapport with her.
“What are you here for?” she asked.
“I’m aiming for law school, though I’m not completely certain yet. You?”
“I’m pre-med. I want to be a pediatrician. I just love kids, but I don’t think I’m cut out for teaching and med school seemed like the next best way to work with kids.” She let out a giggle.
When we heard Emma’s laugh, I could feel something stir inside Stacy. “That sounds like a great plan.” They were Stacy’s words, not mine, but I let her speak them.
As the years went by, Emma became our best friend. We scheduled our pre-requisites and electives together, we ate lunches together, we even joined the student activist union and went to protests together to petition for peace in the Middle East. For once in Stacy’s adult life, I was able to start stepping aside. When Emma was around, Stacy would push forward to face the world.
I passed our LSAT and completed all the coursework and networking to get us through law school. Stacy did the socializing with her friend group. By college graduation, Stacy was already looking into moving in with Emma, and I was already making plans to take Senator McGrath’s seat.
Five years later, Stacy was sworn in as senator a month after adopting her first child with Emma. Little Johnathan stood nearby watching as Stacy recited her affirmation to uphold the Constitution. She was able to do this on her own. I was merely a spectator from within. I had been for some time, barely coming to the forefront except in the most stressful of times when Stacy needed a break.
Three years later as Stacy prepared for an important committee meeting, she stopped and stared in the mirror. She cocked her head and stared deep into our eyes. “I don’t know who you are. I know you’re there. You’ve been with me for so long, almost as long as I can remember. You’re my guardian angel. I just wanted to say, thank you. Everything you’ve done to get me here, to get me to Emma and Johnathan...it really means a lot. I think...I think I’m doing good now. I’m going to go and do good things, for the world. I’m not going to make mistakes, not like Dad. I’m...I’m going to do some good here. I can take it from here now.”
I confess, a wave of pride washed over me. The scared little girl I had inhabited so many years ago had grown into a confident woman, lover, and mother. As close as I had grown to Stacy, though, I knew it was time to go. She didn’t need me anymore. With a heavy heart, I slipped out of her, and for the first time in decades I was without a shell in the world.
That evening, I found a man downtown, the rundown sort who I could easily possess. He was so lost in his own mind, he barely noticed. We headed to a bar for a drink and dinner. I looked up at the news and saw Stacy’s name in the spotlight. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee had voted that day to extend the president’s emergency police action in Syria. More troops were going to the Middle East immediately.
My master always gets what he wants, and I live to serve him. The plan took a little longer to execute than I anticipated, but it all worked out in the end. I’ll always miss Stacy. She made me so, so proud.