Chapter 32: Loyalty Among the Undead
The flames, suddenly, disappeared as if they never existed. But the altar, and everything around it, was burned to ashes.
I was stunned speechless; I couldn’t move. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. What I had seen. Flames reaching up to the ceiling had erupted, the female spirit who spoke to me seemed to dance in them, and then suddenly, these flames were gone. ′
I stared at the destroyed altar before trying to snap back into my senses. I walked over to the burned altar, noticing the matchbox. There was only one match that wasn’t completely charred and beyond uses. I picked it up, but only held it. I could have tried to burn the parchments again, but the spirit would probably come back. However, there was something else in me that prevented me from burning the parchments. This spurt of curiosity - a curiosity that this spirit was smart enough to know I possessed.
So, I kept them. I folded them, stuffed them in my pajama pants. But I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. Mama was still downstairs, holding Abraham and Hezekiah off. But she was doing this so I could burn these papers. However, these papers were not being burned. They were in my possession because this spirit told me to keep them.
Suddenly, Mama came into the room, frantic. Her eyes were back to normal; she was back to normal, the sweat on her brow and wide eyes indication that she was herself again. There was blood on her nightgown on her abdomen paired with a dark, black substance, but she paid it no mind. She rushed in, and the first thing that she did when she came into the room was look at the destroyed altar.
“What happened?” she asked in a short breath. The explanation hung on my tongue but never came off. I stood there, dumbfounded into silence. She would believe me if I told her what happened, but I didn’t want to. I couldn’t. At least not yet. But she had no time to interrogate the truth out of me.
“Alize!” Abraham called from the hall. His voice was strained as if it pained him to talk. Quickly, Mama shut the door and rushed to the table, where underneath lied a box filled with gris-gris. She picked one up, emptied out a dark powder from the small pouch right onto the floor by the door. She spread it with her hands, then grabbed a piece of chalk from the table and began to draw Papa Legba’s veve on the ground.
Go on, girl. Get your Mama that bottle of rum and a candle.
The spirit was back in my head. She gave me instructions, and after a brief moment of disbelief, I decided to follow them. I ran to the altar, used my shirt to grab the charred bottle of rum, the half-melted candle, and the last match.
Now sprinkle the rum on the ground where your mama be at, on Papa’s veve. Sprinkle it over the both of you, too.
I followed her instructions carefully. Mama looked at me, stunned, that I knew what to do. I sprinkled some rum on the veve, then on the both of us, before leaving the bottle near the veve. Then I used the last match to light the candle.
Mama grabbed my hands then. She began to chant to Papa Legba, asking for protection; asking to open the gates. Our offering wasn’t much, and I felt that this wouldn’t aid us. Mama, however, continued to chant, despite Abraham’s footsteps growing nearer. It was a panic I had never known. A panic of impending doom looming above us. Abraham was going to kill us. He would kill me, steal these parchments, and find out whatever it is Mama wanted to hide; whatever it is this spirit wanted me to protect.
Vampiro, vampiro, vade retro.
She gave me new instructions, this spirit. These instructions weren’t in relation to the Loa; they were in latin. It was a chant, she was saying - a chant to banish a vampire from residence, even if they were initially invited inside. But I didn’t know what she told me; I didn’t know what she meant. And as Mama continued to call upon Papa Legba over and over, this spirit said these words in latin over and over in my head. She didn’t stop until I repeated them aloud. And when I did, Mama came to an epiphany. She tightened her hand around mine and repeated the words with me.
The door busted open, and everything happened in a blur.
“Vampiro, vade retro!”
Vampire, be gone! Mama yelled at him, and suddenly, a wave of horror washed over Abraham’s features. I don’t remember much of what happened after that, but I could put the pieces together from what occurred. The moment Mama yelled those words, Abraham and Hezekiah’s invitation into our home was revoked. They were violently thrust out of the house through the window by an invisible hand; a mediating hand. But Abraham, knowing what was coming due to his incredibly fast instinct, grabbed my arm before being thrown out of the house. The world blurred around me, only feeling the tight, cold hold of Abraham’s hands on my arms before being thrown out of the house. We crashed through the window, flying out onto the grass, landing on a bed of glass.
I was rendered unconscious.
“Lisa!” I could hear my Mama scream from the top floor. And after a brief moment, I opened my eyes. I could see the blackened sky, the few lights from the house, but what I felt triumphed what I saw. It was a piercing pain in my left arm that sent currents coursing through my whole body. I sat still, groaning and wailing in pain when I realized that a slab of glass had wedged itself in my arm. My heart was beating through my ears as I still regained consciousness. I looked around me, seeing Abraham on his hands and knees on the grass. His eyes looked at my wound; he looked scared. Concerned.
The pain grew. It was almost unbearable. I couldn’t move, nor could I focus on anything. I was bleeding; I kept the glass in my arm, fearing the consequences of pulling it out. Abraham and I continued to make eye contact. It was a weird, strange instance, staring at him - he looked afraid. Almost remorseful, of what he had done. But I didn’t know if this pained expression was from guilt, or from smelling the sweet blood leaking out of my arm. And that is when I turned to see the leeches that surrounded the house. They stood idly by, not knowing how to react, but the smell of my blood invading their inverted nostrils. I still couldn’t move; I waited for the unnamed spirit to come into my mind again. I waited for Legba, too, who didn’t show up despite us calling upon him. I waited for Mama, who was still making her way down the staircase. I waited for someone - something - but nothing came.
“Hold!” Abraham yelled ahead. He was yelling at Beau, one of the Elders, whose eyes began to turn a hungry shade of black at the sight of my bleeding. Out of the newborn vampires that surrounded him, he, an aged Elder vampire, had the least amount of self-control.
Jeanie, the fair-skinned Elder next to him, tried her best to hold him back.
“Beau, don’t you do it!” she yelled at him. “Baby, don’t you do it!” But despite her remarkable superhuman strength, he slipped out of her hold and ran towards me. There was nothing I could do but close my eyes; I closed my eyes and accepted my fate.
In the darkness behind my lids, I wondered what would come next after my death. I knew there was a life after this; that gave me some solace. The brutal death I was to endure by Beau sucking the blood out of my veins and breaking my neck was the hard part. I hoped it got easier after this; I hope I went somewhere. I didn’t want to be a wandering spirit. I wanted to go somewhere; hopefully, I was good enough to sleep peacefully. Hopefully, the Loa accepted me. Hopefully --
My eyes shot open.
With the little strength I had, I rolled out of the way when I saw Hezekiah, in his monstrous state, running towards me. Despite Abraham’s screams, Hezekiah kept his momentum forward. He was faster than Beau; Beau didn’t stand a chance.
Mama had made it out to the porch the moment Hezekiah lunged over me and tackled Beau to the ground a second before Beau approached me. They were on the grass, wrestling; no one knew who was who from how fast they were moving over each other. The leeches stood back and stared in shock at what was happening, and Tekoah held Jeanie back as Beau and Hezekiah began to fight like rabid wolves. Beau had Hezekiah in a short chokehold before Hezekiah flipped Beau off of him, sending him flying across the yard. And before Beau could get up, Hezekiah jumped on top of him again. Beau struggled beneath him, but the struggle was short.
Hezekiah grabbed Beau’s neck with both hands and snapped it.
“No!” Jeanie cried piercingly. She continued to scream as Tekoah held her down. Beau, laying completely lifeless on the grass, was beyond death now; he ceased to exist. Hezekiah sat above him, staring at Beau’s face as if he was waiting for him to come back. But when he realized what he had done, he turned to look at all of us, then ran off into the woods, his sprint so fast anyone blinking would have missed him. And once he disappeared, Jeanie managed to snake herself out of Tekoah’s hold. She was livid, her eyes like gateways to a hell worse than ever described. Jeanie could have killed me then and there; she wanted to. I could see it in her eyes. But instead, she ran into the forest and went after Hezekiah instead. And once she left, Tekoah raced after her.
Abraham, completely stunned and horrified, stood up and addressed his leeches.
“Go, go!” He yelled at them. He didn’t stop yelling until they had all ran after the Elders who sprinted into the blanket of trees. And when they were all gone, he wordlessly looked at me and Mama, who was by my side then. He wanted to say something, but nothing came out of his mouth. He wanted to do something, but his hands were frozen by his side. Finally, he walked over to Beau’s body. He stared down at it, still in shock. He stared and stared, looking to where Hezekiah ran off to, then looking back down at the body. Then, his eyes met mine, still in disbelief. He bent down, hauled Beau over his shoulder, then stood still for a moment.
“Marie told me this would happen,” he said to us.
Mama shook her head. “She said no such thing -”
“She told me this would happen.” He grew angry. Furious. “And I didn’t listen. She say, ‘ain’t no loyalty among the undead.’ I ain’t listen.”
“Marie hated your kind,” Mama said as she carefully guided me into the house.
Abraham shook his head. “She told me this ’fore we killed her.”
Mama stopped moving. Her body went rigid against me.
“Wh-what you...what -”
“We killed Marie Laveau. We killed Marie Laveau’s daughter. We killed Marie Laveau’s sisters and her protegee’s. We killed Marie Laveau’s grandkids. And 130 years later, we gone do the same thing to you. Only this time, I make sure it gone hurt. You just wait, Alize. Just wait.”
The sky, slowly, began to lighten - black to a dark blue. Abraham left us, disappearing into the trees like his clan. Mama and I both stood on the porch because Mama couldn’t find it in her to move.