The Cinderman was intrigued by the young lady and by the path she was preparing herself for.
He could read into her soul with just a glance, and at first he could not believe what he saw. What a delicious soul it was, pure and clean, made all the more delectable because of all she had been through. Most anyone else would have black, smoldering ash in place of the soul after what she had seen, but not her.
She was alone, and had been for years, but did not seem lonely. In fact, it seemed that she preferred to be alone. She had a pervasive sadness about her, but also a stubborn desire to overcome it and survive. He could see that it was a constant, frustrating, feckless struggle for her, like Sisyphus and his boulder.
He delighted in her tortured attempts to enjoy life, in her occasional thoughts of suicide when it all became too much for her and she felt she was losing the battle and there was no point in trying anymore.
How pleasant it would be to take that soul.
But for now he was on to the next innocent soul. These were rare. The souls that were honest and hardworking — those were the ones with true value. He was so enjoying his time on earth. The hunt for innocence was in itself very satisfying, and ensuring that innocent souls didn’t go to heaven was enthralling. But all of this would pale in comparison to claiming innocent Ashley as his own.