#2 – The Village

            All the others were asleep.  She was lying on her back on top of the thin blanket her hands crossed over her chest.  It had become a habit to sleep this way since the change.  Suddenly her eyes popped open.  She sat up.  The light of the moon shone in so she was able to see herself in the cracked and somewhat smudgy mirror.  Her skin was darker than before and her eyes had a yellowish gleam surrounding the green irises.  A dark figure wafted past her door and down the hallway leaving just a slight scent of lavender in its wake.  Zoya got up and followed.  On the first floor the shadowy form seemed to fade into the house.  So she continued on by herself out the door.

            She walked with a limp.  Somehow she couldn’t remember how that had started.  But there it was – a part of her now. There was no pain, just the limp. 

Once outside she sniffed the air warm, salty air.  And that’s when it hit her – the reason she had woken up – the smell and the powerful desire inside her to find its source. 

            The beach house was located on a narrow, winding dirt road.  Zoya limped up the road and turned east toward the village.  Her right foot dragged a little behind her.  The clomping of her left foot compensating for the right and the gravelly sound of dirt scratching under her right foot woke up a pair of monkeys who chirped at her.  They scolded her loudly for being out in the middle of the night.  She stopped briefly and looked up at them, her nose crinkling, assessing them carefully.  But they were not her goal.  She turned back and kept going.

            The village was a series of huts in the dense foliage of the rainforest.  It was at the edge of the same line of beach where Zoya’s house, the ramshackle one where she and a group of other students were staying on vacation for a couple of weeks, stood.  Palm fronds made crackling sounds in the wind, obscuring but not completely hiding the noise that her feet made.  A small dribble of saliva escaped the corner of her mouth as she continued toward the first house.  Anticipation caused her to shuffle faster, and the wind was her friend – picking up and rustling the foliage to hide her approach.      

           

 

            The morning sun blasted in, waking Marilu.  Reluctantly, she got out of bed, dressed and ate a banana for breakfast.  Today was her day to check on the elders.  As she walked toward the outskirts of town, her thin sandals crunched over an unusual line in the dirt on the path.  Marilu frowned.  What had made that rut in the ground?  She had never seen an animal do that, or any of the carts that the villagers owned.  A few neighbors called out morning greetings to her.  She called back as she walked and gave up thinking about it for the moment.   

            The elders, a married couple that had begotten at least half of the village, had chosen to live out their old age at the edge of the village, as close to isolation as they dared.  It wasn’t that they wanted to distance themselves from their family and friends.  They simply wanted to be with each other rather than with the others.

            Marilu’s first sign that something was wrong was the sharp tang of blood in the air.  She was the youngest of the elders’ forty-three grandchildren.  Most of the others were either fishermen or were away farming near the city.  But she had always wanted more.  She had wanted to study nursing and did, indeed, go to the city as a young woman to get her degree.  For five years she had worked in the hospital in the city, but had returned home a few months ago and was working in conjunction with the medicine man of the village – her uncle – to care for the aging population of her birthplace.

              With a frown on her face she walked faster.  The smell got stronger as she got closer to her grandparents house.  She ran inside.

 

 

            Some men who had been working on fixing a donkey cart several yards away from the elders’ house came running at the sound of screaming from that direction.  Marilu, her hair wild and her face contorted, was kneeling at the doorway of the elders’ house, her fingers grasping at her face like she wanted to tear it off.  Her cries came in waves and it looked like she was about to choke.  Her body convulsed.  The men called out for help.  When some women came to minister to Marilu the men went inside to see what had affected her so badly.  Inside, the small one room hut and everything in it was covered with blood.  The elders were both lying on the floor.  The man had his hands to his throat as if he were choking himself.  His stomach had been slashed open and the large intestine glistened in the bright light of the open doorway.  The woman was off to the side by the wall lying in a pool of her own blood.  She showed no outward sign of injury.

            The men stifled their own screams and looked around wildly to see if the killer were still lurking somewhere in the small structure.  The only thing they saw besides the massive amounts of blood and the two bodies was a line of diminutive footprints alongside a rut in the dirt by the door.  Their own, now bloody too, had almost erased them, but the men stepped gingerly outside again and were able to see the footprint and rut continue around the front and down toward the beach.

 

            Zoya lifted herself out of the wave, spit out salt water, and breathed a deep sigh of satisfaction.  She made her way, naked back toward the house.  Once inside, despite her limp, she tried to be quiet so as not to wake up the others.  But the boy with the light brown buzz cut, having woken early to pee, caught a glimpse of her wet buttocks as she slipped into her room.  He started after her and stepped in wetness.  He looked down and saw water mixed with a diluted, red substance trickle into a crack in the wood floor.  Recoiling hastily, he went to wash the water off his foot.

           

 

She sat on the bed mixing blue and yellow oils.  Soon Bokor came in, an enigmatic smile on her face, looked affectionately at Zoya and said, “Breakfast is ready dear.” 

            Zoya looked at her for a second, and then continued painting.        

           

           

Part three: next week

#1 Zombie Birth

            The beach was everything it was supposed to be that morning.  The sun came up, showing off a multitude of hues.  A gentle breeze swirled without changing the air temperature.  The sky was brilliant cerulean blue.  Waves lapped gently onto shore. 

            If anything, all that should have served to warn her. But she was not paying attention.  She walked along the water’s edge, her jeans awkwardly shoved up past her knees.  This morning, in a rare, fey mood, she had rushed to get out, not stopping to dig in her bag for her navy blue bikini.

            Toward lunchtime she heard the far off voices of her companions.  Their shouts were quickly carried away by the wind and soon it was quiet again.  She turned toward the house, only starting to walk back after careful contemplation of its façade.  It was a ramshackle place, rented hastily by the students for a few days of beach pleasure.  The wood on the front was a faded blue and a few slats were sagging slightly, leaving small air vents in the front rooms.  The rooms were basic and the students didn’t mind that they could not get into some of the rooms.  It had been reasonably priced.  They had accommodated themselves.

            She shuffled thorough the sand and up the stairs.  The rest of them were sitting at a long table in the dining room.  The usual mealtime sounds of eating and companionable laughter filled the air.  The boy with the light brown buzz cut and broad, tanned shoulders caught sight of her and called out, “Zoya, where have you been?  Come have lunch.”

            Not answering, she turned and walked up the stairs.  Most of the students had gone back to eating, not caring if she joined them or not.  But Bokor, their hostess and chaperone, followed her with her eyes until she disappeared up the stairs.

            Once in her room, she sat on the thin mattress and breathed in the salty air seeping through the badly-aligned window.  A tarantula stumbled over her foot and ambled toward the corner of the room.  Unperturbed, she reached over to her suitcase and brought out the tools of her studies.  Soon the thin, frayed bedspread was covered with a small canvas, a palette, brushes, a palette knife and a box of colors.  She used the palate knife to mix oils until she was satisfied.  Using a small brush, she began painting the spider.

            As she lifted her arm to stroke the last few lines on her canvas, her fingers went numb. The brush she was using clattered to the floor splattering ochre paint on the wood.  She uttered one brief shriek and felt herself falling backwards.  Someone caught her. 

            Bokor had the average coloring of the people of the island: dark brown eyes, course, wavy hair and olive skin.  There was nothing unusual about her – except the habitual magnanimous gleam in her eyes.  Her arms were muscular and she supported the afflicted girl comfortably.

            Zoya felt numbness travel up her arm to the shoulder.  It was not a gentle tingling like a limb going to sleep, but a sudden, insensate attack.  She heard the reassuring voice of the woman holding her drone on and on but was unable to respond.  The room became a dream.  Nothing mattered.  Her amygdala shut down.  She was aware of her surroundings as if they were present without her.  She didn’t care. She lost track of time.  Everything drifted farther away and soon she ceased to exist.

            And then she was back.  It was as if nothing had happened.  She sat up and looked at Bokor.  The woman looked back at her – for once her eyes unreadable.  Black anger boiled up in Zoya’s gut.  She snarled, reached over and clawed at Bokor’s face.  Four diagonal slashes appeared.  They were not deep but they bled copiously. 

            The other students, who had crowded in the doorway uttering cries of fear during her seizure, backed away in horror, tripping over each other in their haste to get away.  Zoya pulled her hand back from Bokor’s face.  It was bloody with the other woman’s gore. 

Bokor lifted a handkerchief to the wounds to stop the flow but she couldn’t control all of it.  Red drops splattered artistically on the tarantula painting, creating tiny spider footprints on the canvas.  Bokor looked at Zoya’s face, which was pale and emotionless, and smiled.  She leaned in and whispered, “You’ll do.”     

 

Second installment coming the week of February 4th.

No One is Ever Really Yours – a short story by Krystiana S.K.

There was softness underneath the rather scratchy outer layer.  The compulsion she had of keeping him in her arms was fueled by an urgent need to feel the comforting cotton-like warmth that she knew he possessed.  Whenever his round, green eyes met with hers she was automatically enslaved.  She would do whatever he bid her to do.  Except that he never seemed to really need her.

And because of that, his eyes were the source of all her pain.  They were widely set in a slim face, making it difficult sometimes to look directly into the irises.  This had to be a nature-given survival mechanism, she convinced herself, for when she did manage to make eye contact it was never long before she had to look away.  There was a quality to his eyes – a wild, ruthlessness – that made her squirm.  She could never admit that something just wasn’t quite right.

On that particular day she felt dazed – numb.  A sensation of grey cloudiness surrounded her as she grasped him tightly for the last time.  Somehow or other they ended up where she had always known they must go.  She tried to bury her lips in his softest parts but he wriggled around too much.  They came to get him.  She was separated from him and he went without even a backward glance at her.

Emptiness clashed recklessly with an odd, stinging sense of relief.  Her heart hurt physically but it beat at a normal rate again.  He was gone, and so was the frantic love that she had displayed for him.  She missed him dreadfully.

And yet, she could still see him.  Not only in the fleeting dreams that she often experienced deep in the night just before waking up in a cold sweat.  But also just a twenty minute drive away.  She could still see him – every day if she wanted to.  But it took her a year to gather enough courage to do so.

She parked in the lot and sat in her car, the heat of the day seeping in.  Busloads of screaming children were her melodramatic soundtrack.  Eventually she got out and, trance-like, walked to the space where he was held captive.  The air smelled like hot dogs and dung.  There was no breeze and the sun was directly overhead.  It took her a minute to find him.  A fence and small moat separated them now.  His enclosure was large, but not what she would have wanted for him.  He was lying prone in the only shady spot on a large boulder under a tree.    He had grown.  She realized with a pang of regret that she would not have been able to hold him anymore, even if she had not made that agonizing decision to let him go.

She stood there for hours.  Finally, he lifted his head and looked directly at her.  The fierceness was still there.  But after a moment, since she did not look away as she had done in the past, she felt, rather than saw, a flash of tenderness coming from him as he continued to stare at her.  He recognized her.  She smiled.

Then, the spell broken, he stretched open his mouth in a huge yawn, showing his fangs and curled pink tongue.  Before he lay his head back down to sleep, he licked his front paw.  He did not look at her again.  As she had known from the moment she met him, there was nothing left for her to do but go on with her life without him.  She pushed blindly through the throng of screaming children, went out to her car and drove away.

 

Help, I need a title!

Good Morning bloggers!  I’m at work putting together and editing all of the stories that I have collected from earthquake survivors.  I’m going to go the self published way again with this book too.  But I need a title.  So I thought, why not do a contest of sorts?  If you can think of a good title for me, I’ll send you copies of The Shattered Swan and The Crumbled Pyramid to read for free!  I’ll also put a thank you with your name in the new book.  :-)

Just so you have an idea, the collection is from people who have survived earthquakes.  I have many from the one in Peru, but I also have stories from earthquake survivors in Turkey and Pakistan.  They talk about what happened during the earthquake, but they also relate their feelings and experiences after the disaster.  

Title idea anyone?  e-mail me: krystianastacykelly@yahoo.com

Thank you and have a great day!!

What’s in a name?

To quote badly from Shakespeare… :-)

My name is Cristina so why did I choose to go by Krystiana Stacy Kelly?  If you Google Cristina + my last name, about 20 other people come up.  But Krystiana Stacy Kelly is all me so far.  It’s all about standing out in the 21st century world where everyone has something to contribute.

It’s a new year and time to reflect on what to do to make life friendlier.  If you’ve got ideas and would like to guest blog, please send me an e-mail krystianastacykelly@yahoo.com.  I’d love to hear from you about: mysteries, donating to your favorite organizations or your experiences as an indie author.

Have a great day!