The ghoul felt a subtle, unmistakable pain as its connection to its creator was severed. A mute, wordless protest accompanied this feeling. An ineffable confusion of separation from the grave and the being that gave its unlife. Why did the ghoul exist, when all else had been taken away? Without language to voice this existential crisis, the ghoul sank to the cavern ground. Carrion beetles gnawed at the ghoul’s grey, bloodless flesh. They caused no pain and were paid no heed by the undead creature.
Months passed. Gradually, flickers of consciousness returned to the ghoul, most fading before taking root. Sparks would ignite the ruined synapses of lifeless brain tissue, against all odds. Against even the expectations for the magic that reanimated the ghoul. The ghoul became self-aware, in a limited sense. It recognized itself as unique from the other ghouls that crossed before its path. They had a purpose, a creator, and a hunger that drove them when their creator did not. The ghoul felt that same hunger, allowing it to drive her as once did the creator’s commands.
‘Her,’ another flicker of consciousness. Once, the ghoul had been female, before the rotting corpse had been recalled from the earth. In the next instant, the meaning of female was lost. But the ghoul kept the pronoun ‘her’, finding in it a purpose, much like the hunger. Hunger afforded a sense of kinship between her and the other ghouls. With that final thought, the ghoul climbed to her malformed feet.
She shambled along the winding cavernous place- a ‘city’- the word came to consciousness. Something about it was familiar. A living person crossed her path after a few hours, and hunger returned to the forefront. Something stopped her from acting upon it, though. A final, lingering command from the creator: Do not attack those of the city. The ghoul fought against the command, focusing on that hunger. But the living person left, and the hunger subsided. She was not strong enough to break the command.
This happened many times, and each time the ghoul felt stronger, more self-aware... and more drawn to the hunger. And yet, each time, it was not quite enough. She drifted for days in the void between mindless desire and conscious control. The control left by the creator. Where had the creator gone?
These questions remained beyond conscious thought. They were too vague and too abstract for the ghoul to contemplate. All she knew was a drive to move forward, searching for a way to satisfy an unfulfilled need.
And then she saw him. Or rather, another ghoul. A single flickering thought declared the ghoul as ‘he’. Some instinct drew her to him. A bond as deep and profound within her mindless undead nature as she had once had to the creator. He was greenish grey, covered with pus and rotting flesh, patches missing to expose bone- and he was beautiful.
Her step quickened from a slow shamble to an awkward trot. She tripped over the loose stones of the cavern and frightened away many of the carrion beetles in her path. Every step brought her closer to the one she desired, an end to the search, the frustrated longing.
But alas- another stood between her and the ghoul. A creator, she recognized, dimly, but this one was living. Hunger stirred in her as never before, driven by rage borne in response to denial. She lunged forward at the man, this interloper.
The creator stared at her with cold dismissal, and spoke a single word to the ghoul beside him. The word meant nothing to her, and she continued forward, snarling, clawed hands outstretched.
To him, the other ghoul, the word brought with it a semblance of life, a spark behind lifeless eyes. He moved to intercept her before she could reach the creator. Her rage quieted as the ghoul bit and clawed at her undead flesh.
A strange emotion became the last, flickering light of consciousness for the ghoul. It was akin to joy or contentment, of purpose found at long last: to die in the arms of her beloved.