This is my entry for Vamplit blog's Friday flash fiction this week. I hope you enjoy it.
She leads me to a large bed in a small room. There is not much more space in here for anything other than her bed. She motions for me to lie down , and I do so. What she can show me that I have not already seen is beyond me, but she possesses some kind of knowledge, some kind of power that can feel things in much the same manner I do.
“Let your mind relax,” she says. “The dreams will come to you. You will see many things. Wonderful things; joyous things; sad, disturbing things.”
Her voice is magical, calming me, setting the scene for a transformation to my dream state. I see the streets of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the surrounding countryside: Louisiana in all its majesty, set apart from the rest of the country not only by its wondrous swamps and topography so different from anywhere else, but by a resonating feeling in the air; a feeling of spiritual dominance.
Voodoo. After all these years, the underpinnings of the religion are still present. The faith is primarily one of joy and hope, reaching out for community and love amongst its family. The true New Orleans voodoo is not concerned with evil. Good is at its core.
On the outskirts of a long ago plantation, a wonderful dance is occurring, spirits are surrounding the worshipers, guiding them, helping them find peace in a troubled world. They spin and twirl around a bonfire reminiscent of the days in Benin, on the Western African coast, before the slave trade brought them here.
In the center of the festivities is a young woman with a huge snake around her shoulders, its tail and head supported in her hands. Her glistening, black body, naked to her waist, draws the attention of the rest of the worshipers. She is the Voodoo Queen; she holds powers, ones she will use only for good.
The Voodoo serpents have healing knowledge and are a connection between heaven and earth. Legba is happy with the invocations tonight. His intercessions on behalf of Loa will be kind.
Through the night the dancing continues, the joy spreads to all.
And then . . .
The Bokor arrives; with snakes of his own; not the good snakes present here, but evil, vile serpents intent on harm. They attack the worshipers, striking out at them viciously, causing them to drop from the ingestion into their bodies of the poisonous venom. Huge pockets of pus form on the stricken people and other serpents tear these open and inject even more venom. No one stands a chance from the attack.
This beastly Bokor produces his evil ouanga, that poisonous charm, and sets upon the Voodoo Queen. The poison contained within strikes at her, weakening her, and draining her strength. She has much power and ouanga of her own, but her reluctance early on to use it is costing her now.
He strips her of the rest of her garments and flings her to the ground, calling on his demonic serpents to finish her off, to use her in whatever way they wish. They waste no time, slashing into her, attacking seemingly every square inch of her body. She fights back, actually killing off some of them with her poisonous charms, but is too little, too late. There are too many of them, and the Bokor reviles in his power over her and the rest.
The bonfire burns brightly, displaying the scenes of torture and grief, the ground red from spilled blood. The mind-controlled ones under the Bokor’s control arrive and start dragging bodies towards the fire, hacking and tearing them apart before fueling the fire with their remains. With each piece tossed in, the fire burns ever more vivid, a Satanic scene of tremendous proportion.
The Bokor has triumphed. He has the power. His will has shoved the dominance of what he is to a greater understanding amongst the faithful. He has spared only a few to relay the news to the others within the area. New Orleans will be his. All of Louisiana will soon fall under his sway.
He picks the bleeding Voodoo Queen up from the ground and carries her to the fire: the cleansing fire of his wrath. With his tremendous strength, he raises her high overhead and tosses her into the center of the huge gathering of flames.
She sends a horrifying shriek of pain throughout the swamplands . . .
I twist and turn in my dream state, horrified at what I’m seeing, actually feeling the heat of the flames. Yes, I am there, but there is nothing I am able to do: the past can not be changed.
The Bokor and his minions leave, and the few witnesses to this horrible spectacle run off to escape, not knowing what their role is.
I remain, watching the fire, wondering why I am rooted to where I’m at. My answer comes when I see a parting in the fire: Legba has the Voodoo Queen in his arms and is carrying her out, away from the flames. She is bleeding from every conceivable place in her body, and her charred flesh is falling off, dropping to the ground.
He places her on a patch of damp grass away from the area of the burning and sprinkles some powders over her. The giant snake returns and carefully wraps itself around her tortured body. Ever so slowly, she starts to heal, the bleeding stopping first, and then her useless, charred skin replaced by new, vital tissue.
She shivers as her transformation occurs and moans from the pain still present in her body. Visions of ancestors display themselves before her eyes, telling her they are there and will help, that she just needs to be strong: for herself and the community.
Legba smiles down on her, and he and the serpent vanish into a mist, floating away. She lies there until her rejuvenation is complete and gets to her feet, still shakened and weak, but standing. It pains her to think of what happened to her family; how she was unable to stop the brutal massacre. With difficulty, she searches the area to find anyone she can help, but it is a fruitless search. She is alone.
Clothes have been placed for her on the limbs of a low growing bush and she puts them on. One last look behind her, and she wanders in the direction of the plantation house. It is here she will stay while she ponders her next move.
My eyes open, and I look at the face of my new friend. Tears are falling down her cheeks. It was not easy for her to re-live the horrendous moments of the past.
Her nightmare has become mine. She is no longer alone in fighting it.