Part I: August 1885

          They moved like wraiths through the night. They were shadows, dark and silent and undetectable. Still mostly human, they were ascended enough to understand the dark. Someday they would be part of it. Someday they would be gods, but first they needed to accumulate more power.

          Shapes moved in the moonlight, shapes normal people couldn’t see. The wraiths’ eyes had been opened. They had seen the truth. They destroyed lives and devoured souls and their power continued to grow.

          They watched disembodied souls pass in the darkness. Energy of different hues and levels of brightness swirled in the night air. Most people had no idea what existed all around them.

          They could see the servants’ shack up ahead, a ways distant from the main house and of a cheaper construction. Whereas the main house possessed an air of old wealth and dignity, the shack was little more than a room, a wooden box to house the Negro servants when they weren’t working.

They approached the shack like gusts of the night breeze, silent, insubstantial. The dogs roaming the property failed to bark or growl. The crickets never stopped chirping.

          Then they were at the crude wooden door. It’s hinges croaked as it swung open, but the shapes in the bed did not stir. There were two bodies beneath the thin blankets.

          The wraiths loomed over the figures: a woman and a girl, likely a mother and daughter. The girl was bathed in a creamy blue aura that was pale and soothing. The mother’s aura was the yellow of old paper. Her soul was used-up, stale.