A Song For Mama: Chapter Four Of “The Crystal Ship”

After her low but precise description, I make up two dummy wraps. I make it look as if she and I are lying on the ground asleep. Our premonitions are dead on. About midnight, my would-be attacker returns with his buddies.

He mounts the dummy wrap disguised as me. “C’mon, bitch. Now you’re gonna see what a man can really do.”

His friends gang up on the second dummy wrap. A few moments later, his papa comes to join in on the fun. I send her around another way to quietly waken and alert the rest of the camp. They all quietly congregate around the scene and watch.

I step in from the darkness, lantern held high. “Having fun, boys?”

It is at the very moment I speak that they realize that they are surrounded. They also realize that whatever is in those wraps are not women. They jump up. “What sorta witchery is this?” The adult of the bunch is clearly not amused. “What have you made us do?”

I remain calm. “No witchery. And I made you do nothing. You did it all on your own.” I nod to two of the more trustworthy camp men. “Bind them and tie them to the nearest trees. They cannot be trusted. The rations I handed to them are now to be divided among the rest of you.”

The camper looks at me. “What’re you goin’ to do with them?”

I look at him. “Do you want them around your daughters or your wives?”

He shakes his head. “No.”

I look at all of the campers. “Then they shall be left behind tied to trees when we move on down river. Make sure they have nothing that they can cut through the ropes with. Act like animals. Be left as bate for the next available undead.”

A great murmur of agreement goes through the crowd. But the boys are not happy. Their spokesboy is most vocal of all. “You can’t do this to us!!!”

I look at him coolly. “Didn’t I tell you that you would not like the result of your actions if you tried anything again? And no man takes advantage of a woman. Ever. Not one of you are a man. Not even papa dear. And the camp has spoken in its agreement with the punishment.”

Another opens his mouth. “But there are vampires out here!”

I smile. “But they are the least of your worries. You forget about the zombies and the ghouls. They are your biggest worry. Or should be. Right now, the suck-heads are too busy trying to destroy the cities. Not chasing down little ass-heads like you.” I bend close to the father of the lead boy. “You really ought to be more careful who you threaten or try things on. I am no mere woman. I am Grigori. You don’t mess with Grigori. Or hunters. Your worthless little life depends on us. Without us, you would be blood-slaves to the Vampire Nation.”

His eyes go wide as the realization of what I have just said sinks in. But he is also too proud to apologize. Or even beg for his life. I do see hints of tears well up in his eyes. “Go. Leave us to die.”

***

I purposely lead the camp south. We travel along the river in hopes of spotting a way across. My mysterious companion is humming. More amazing is that I find it strangely calming.

I look over at her. “What is that tune you are humming?”

She smiles. “It was a song I wrote to my mama before she died of the plague.”

I am surprised. “The plague?”

She bows her head. “Yes. When I was a teen, My mama came down with the plague. Rats poured out of the sewers of the city and infested houses, apartment buildings, and the streets. They carried the plague. Among other diseases.”

I look away. “So all the diseases we were told were no longer existent actually came back? how did she catch it?”

She smiles sadly. “Yes. We found out too late that such diseases do not go away. They just go dormant and linger until conditions are right. Mama was bitten by a rat. In a week, she was bedridden. In two, she was dead. I should have caught it too. But didn’t.”

I put my arm around her. “I am sorry I opened the wound.”

She looks over at me. “It’s ok. It helps a little to talk about it.”

A silence falls over us for a short distance. She drops back for a while. Then returns to my side. We keep scanning the horizon. Somewhere out there is a way across the river.

We walk for some distance. Then she points. “Look!”

I look where she is pointing, but see nothing. “What is it?”

She points again. “There’s a house up ahead. Do you think we should stop for the night?”

I nod. “Yes. Might be a good idea. But not everyone will be able to fit in the house. And I will have to investigate it.”

She smiles. “Well, at least we can look for something to entertain us for a while. I like to look at old magazines if there are any around.”

I smile back. “Perhaps I can find me a few new books to read. It would be nice to have a change.”

She gasps. “You know how to read?”

I smile. “Yes. I have known how since I was four. Mama and papa wanted to make sure I was ready for school. They died in the war.”

She looks over at me suspiciously. “Then that would make you about eighty. But you do not look older than twenty.”

I look over at her. “I am Grigori. We age much slower than humans.”

She is uncertain. “Grigori?”

I look away. “Mistakenly thought of as the Fallen. They are only half of the picture. Not the whole. In the beginning, we were called The Watchers. We are the guardians of balance. We are supposed to maintain nature’s balance.”

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