Delilah's Shadow

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Chapter 3

Hummingbird grew up strong and incredibly athletic. Her nightly runs through the mountain woods, alongside her constant companion and best friend, the mountain lion, she referred to as Soft. She was as feral a creature as the beast at her side. They roamed the mountain nightly, learning every square inch of it. Hummingbird spent most of her time completely naked, roaming the woods like an animal. It was a daily battle for the woman of the woods to clothe young Hummingbird. She spent so much time, sharing minds with the animals, that she thought and acted like them. No animal would be caught dead in rabbit skinned drawers! The animals of the mountain treated her as one of their own. To deer, she was a deer, to rabbits, she was a rabbit, and to squirrels, well, they came to envy her skill at leaping from branch to branch just like they did. She was an animal of the mountain. Time had long since passed that she would enter the minds of the animals. She learned new ways to control and manipulate them without entering their minds and potentially killing them. Times when the woman of the woods made her stay home at night were the only time she would venture into their minds, and only to see through their eyes. She never wanted to miss out on anything that happened on her mountain. Hummingbird held to her promise, and never dared to look into the mind of the woman of the woods, but the woman of the woods was not immune to the power within young Hummingbird. She learned she could control the woman of the woods as easily as she controlled the animals of the mountain, without entering her mind. The two acts did not have to go hand in hand. She learned she could make herself appear to be anywhere she wanted. Her maginins, her momma called it. She could show creatures, including the woman of the woods, anything she wanted them to see. With that power, she often interacted with the woman of the woods without actually being present, unbeknownst to the woman of the woods, young Hummingbird would actually be roaming the mountain. She could maintain that façade over great distances, and in more than one place at a time. Her abilities had grown with her. Anything she could think of, she could do. She made the woman of the woods sleep very deep with hardly any effort at all so that she could run alongside her cougar. The beast was in fine form, moving much faster than Hummingbird through the brush and trees, as it stalked a deer, while she stalked her friend. The deer, in turn, led them all over the mountain, moving closer to the base, farther from home. They would share the meal when the cougar finally felled it with its fatal bite, Hummingbird would bring what was left home to the woman of the woods. During the hunt, Hummingbird wandered off, she sensed people coming up the mountain. She knew where they were going, and her curiosity got the better of her. She promised herself, only a peak, a glance, just once, to see what another person, who did not live on her mountain, was like. Other than looking down the mountain from the top of her waterfall at the town way down below, the cabana at the little forest park was the closest thing to civilization she had ever come across. It was also the first time she had ever seen anyone come to it. Her curiosity was driven beyond her ability to control, sensing strange emotions from the couple in the car. She made it to the park first and hid behind a dumpster closest to the trees in case she needed to make a swift exit. The smell of the dumpster was horrid, but the smell did little to stop her from pressing her body close to it to keep hidden. The lights of the green Nova driving up the one lane road to the small park, shined on the dumpster and brightened the night, lighting up the entire area around Hummingbird. The lights quickly went away when the green Nova turned into a parking space near the lone cabana. Hummingbird was terrified she might have been spotted with so much light around her that she considered fleeing to the safety of the forest. After a few moments of holding her breath and waiting, Hummingbird could hear the voices of the car’s occupants. She relaxed, knowing they were still unaware of her presence. Hummingbird scoured the area with her mind, searching for a suitable host, eyes, she needed eyes. An owl some distance away, was her best pick. Flight and height would give her the best vantage point, and its eyes could see a lot better than her own in the night. She entered its mind, hitching a ride and subtly guiding it to the park, landing in a tree near the cabana, one not too close, so that its roof blocked her vision, and not so far that she could not hear what was said between the two visitors. The smell the car emitted stung her nose, and crinkled her face, even from behind the dumpster, she could smell the exhaust. Strange smells came from the couple as well and mixed with the scent of the exhaust. Hummingbird could not determine if it were a pleasant one, or as foul as the car and the dumpster were. She watched them through the eyes of the owl, giving them her full attention and becoming one with the mind of the owl. Carefully, she moved deeper into the mind of the owl, leaving her own body of its senses, no longer smelling the dumpster, but the fresh night air that the owl could smell from high in the tree. The couple spoke English, but to Hummingbird, it sounded like gibberish. It was so foreign to her ears, it was confusing. Some words were the same, but others, she’d never heard before. Their emotions spoke to her the way their words could not. She never entered the mind of another person before. The thought of it scared and exhilarated her. Fear of discovery, temptation of the unknown, what would happen if she climbed in, just for a little look? What were those emotions she felt from them, the girl especially? She was the same age as Hummingbird, another girl, the same, yet so very different. It was intoxicating. Hummingbird wanted to take control of the girl, see her mind, understand her, the emotions she felt for this boy with her. She could feel the passion and desire coming from the young couple. She slipped to her naked butt on the cold, dirty concrete, behind the dumpster. Their erotic desire for one another, was a new sensation that dragged her mind partially back to her body. Her breathing shallowed and her eyes rolled back in her head. Such pleasure, the anticipation of something to come, a kiss? She ran her hands over the skin of her naked stomach, making her tingle with pleasure from her own touch, she did not want it to stop. She wanted what the girl in the cabana wanted. She wanted Kevin to kiss her.

“It’s so dark here, kinda creepy, too. Does anybody ever come out here?” Melissa asked the young man, Kevin. She sat down at the picnic table where he quickly joined her, putting his arm casually behind her.

“It’s on the list of attractions, but it says it’s closed to the public.” Kevin said.

“Really? Will we get in trouble for being here?”

“No one comes out here, even to check it.” They both sat at the picnic table facing the parking lot. Melissa noticed Kevin’s arm was behind her and she waited for him to put it on her shoulder so she could lean into him. Kevin wanted nothing more than to put his arm around her, but insecurity held him at bay.

“It’s cold.” Melissa grabbed her shoulders then glanced at Kevin. He smiled at her then looked away like he heard something, but he didn’t. His stomach was in knots and adrenaline coursed through him, trying to muster the courage to make a move, any move. He hoped her comment was an invitation and scooted closer to her, putting his arm around her in one quick motion. Melissa immediately pressed herself against him. She had been waiting for him to make a move for days, and eagerly accepted his advance. Kevin felt as if he would burst when she did not jerk away from him. He was elated he guessed right, and almost exhaled a sound of relief before he stopped holding his breath. They snuggled a moment. Both felt the relief of finally moving on to a first romantic touch. The imaginary wall of ‘just friends’, could finally fall between them.

“It’s beautiful here. You can see every star. I mean if we were like, over there, or something. Not like right here, but… you know… by the car.” Kevin’s heart was still racing, he struggled to find a topic that wasn’t awkward. So many thoughts of what could happen, how far it would go, their first date.

“So, was this your big plan? Take me out to the woods to get me alone?” Melissa giggled, elbowing his ribs gently.

“No, I mean, yeah. I mean-” Kevin struggled. Melissa laughed and snuggled her shoulder into him even more, it had a calming effect on Kevin. “I wanted to come out here first, so we could just, you know, talk. I mean, I have plans, not just sitting here all night.” Kevin rolled his eyes at her, smiling sheepishly.

“Oh yeah? Like what?” Melissa looked into his eyes. Kevin leaned in slowly to kiss her, their lips so close, Melissa closed her eyes and Kevin knew, it was time. The first kiss. Before their lips met, Melissa fell forward off the bench to her knees, barely managing to bring her hands up to stop herself from face planting into the concrete. Her head swam, she was dizzy and could hardly keep her eyes focused. The world spun so hard, she had to fight the urge to throw up. Kevin jumped up taking a few steps back, watching, confused and surprised, not knowing what to do. After a second, he got a hold of himself and knelt beside her.

“Are you ok?” his words echoed to her like they were said in a canyon.

Hummingbird entered the mind of Melissa, caught up in the moment between the two lovers, desperate to steal that kiss for herself. In the flash of time that she entered her mind, they became one. Every bit of Melissa was instantly Hummingbird. She was suddenly aware of all the differences between herself and Melissa and the worlds each inhabited. Hummingbird left Melissa’s mind quickly, returning to her own, terrified of what she saw. It was hardly long enough to be the slightest of touch’s, but it was so much, so fast, she was unprepared for what happened. Hummingbird’s body fell limp, mindless, behind the dumpster. She returned to the owl instinctively, like it was her own body. Confused to her own identity, unable to discern she was not Melissa, not the owl. She tried to take flight as the panicked bird she had become, her loss of control caused the owl to fall from the tree, dead, in a loud thud, startling Kevin.

“Jesus Christ!” Kevin yelled, turning around to see what the sound was. Melissa sat back on her heels, still trying to collect herself. Her hands were on the sides of her head moving her hair from her face. She didn’t know where she was or how she got there. Kevin gathered her up and ushered her back into his car, scanning the area for what might have made that noise that scared the shit out of him. They were gone in minutes, leaving Hummingbird alone at the little park. She returned to her body in a spasm that left her twitching and convulsing on the cold concrete behind the dumpster. Her mind was twisted by both the owl and Melissa’s minds combined. Her arms flapped like a bird, trying to flee in panic. Her head bobbed up and down, gasping for air. She banged her head hard against the metal dumpster and the concrete as her body reacted violently. She was Melissa, terrified and out of control. Then, she collected herself, overpowering the owls mind, or what remnants of it remained, feeling its death keenly. Her eyes focused. She rolled to her knees quickly in a panic, scraping her naked body against the concrete, as she rushed to stand. The mind of Melissa spawned its own personality within Hummingbird and took control. She looked down at her dirty, naked, body and covered herself with her hands. She didn’t know how she got behind the dumpster from the cabana, and more importantly, where did her clothes disappeared to? Melissa shyly peeked out from around the edge of the dumpster then instantly panicked, seeing Kevin’s car was gone.

“Kevin!” she screamed and rushed out into the parking lot. She paced in a circle still covering herself with her hands, trying to figure out what happened and why Kevin left her there, naked. Did he do this to her? Was she raped? Why was she so dirty? Her mind swirled in fear of the possibilities, she remembered a flush of sexual desire then flying and glimpses of an owl, it was all too jumbled to make sense of. She burst into a run, as fast as she could, down the lone mountain road that led back to town. “Kevin!” she screamed in the darkness. Melissa stopped running and looked around in the dark night. She noticed that the stars were indeed very bright, just as Kevin pointed out in the cabana. She needed to find her clothes, or something to cover herself with, before she walked back to town, it would take all night to get home. She walked back to the cabana and hoped to find her clothes there, Melissa’s clothes. God forbid she have to dumpster dive for something to cover herself with. She was furious and scared, struggling to remember what happened to her. Not entirely sure if Kevin were to blame or not, but he left her there? It had to be his fault, why would he leave her there? On her way back to the cabana, she cut through the grass from the rocky dirt road. She stopped dead in her tracks, spotting the dead owl on the ground. She stared at it for a long time. Hummingbird, she was Hummingbird, not Melissa, she fought her way back in control of herself, struggling to remember who she was. Melissa was such a strong personality, so foreign to Hummingbird, it seemed as though she was the true owner of the mind they shared. It was too much. Hummingbird fell to her knees moaning in pain and fear, her mouth hung open, drool dripped down her chin. Her eyes rolled back in her head, thoughtless, mindless, lost in darkness, without an identity. She wasn’t Melissa. She wasn’t anybody. Her breathing stopped, and her body seized up in a spasm that locked every muscle, curling her into a ball on the ground next to the owl.

Alerted to her pain, the mountain lion, Soft, stopped its hunt and made its way to Hummingbird as fast as it could. Within minutes it arrived, finding her in a heap next to the dead owl. It roared at Hummingbird, then pawed at her, rolling her around on the ground like a cat’s toy. It took her head in its mouth, like a cub, dragging her several feet away from the dead owl. Hummingbird jumped again from her own mind, seeking freedom from Melissa, whom she thought she still inhabited in her confusion, oblivious of what was truly happening to her. The only place to jump was into her friend and surrogate mother. She tore through the mind of the mountain lion, uncontrolled. She became suddenly aware, seeing herself through the eyes of the mountain lion. The familiar mind comforted her. She looked at her own body before her, realizing it was not Melissa but indeed her own body. She could no longer sense the mountain lion, whose body she took control of. She knew instantly she had killed it. She roared a long growl of sorrow and anger for what she had done. She returned to her own body, but what waited for her there was only more darkness and pain. The world was nothing but the darkness. A light pierced the darkness of Hummingbirds mind. A woman appeared to her. She crouched down next to her spasmed, locked body, wiping the hair from her face then kissing her lips and whispered, “Breathe, Hummingbird.” Hummingbird gasped to life and her body relaxed. She felt the incredible pain from the spasm and every muscle ached. She was alone in her body again, just her, in control. She realized she was crying, not just a normal cry, but a screaming wail. She quieted to a panting whimper. Fear calmed her even further. What did she do to herself? Was she Melissa now? She felt all that Melissa felt and had memories that were not her own. The thoughts were so strong it confused her, Melissa’s life was so foreign to her own, she couldn’t make sense of most of Melissa’s thoughts. She propped herself up to a sitting position next to the mountain lion. Seeing it again reminded her of what she had done. “No!” she screamed loud and long, crawling to her friend, her sorrow renewed. She wrapped herself entirely around its body wailing and crying for what seemed like hours. Hoping she was wrong and that her friend would come back to life, “Please, come back, I sorry, I ne’er do again, please! I sorry!” She clung to the cat as the warmth from its body faded away. Her anguish was felt the mountain over. The woman of the woods was awakened from Hummingbirds sorrow, no sleep was deep enough to protect her from the pain that emanated from her little girl’s broken heart. The woman of the woods quickly gathered herself, leaving the shack in search of her broken little girl, somewhere on the mountain.

After all heat and hope had left Soft’s body, Hummingbird released it. She sat for a while, whimpering, looking at its dead body. The events that led up to the cat’s death slowly came to focus. She touched her own lips, remembering the woman who kissed her. Who was she? Did it really happen? Was it another memory she stole when she tried to steal that kiss? Hummingbird needed to get far away from that place and back up the mountain, home. She walked back up the mountain, making her way to her waterfall. Every step she took was a sobbing, jerking, twitching struggle, her body fought her. Melissa’s personality grew stronger, and it did not want to go deeper into the woods. Flashes of Melissa’s life, returned, edging its way to the forefront once again, like a person walking side by side with her. Melissa’s voice spoke to her in echoes at first, then talked outright, using Hummingbirds own mouth. Blurting nonsensical words, trying to gain control of Hummingbirds tongue and speech. It was hours of twitching conversations of confusion, before she made her way to the waterfall and her large mossy rock. It was nearly dawn and a mist covered the waters of the cold mountain river. Hummingbird walked into the water with no regard for its temperature and dunked herself in its frigid embrace, desperate for relief from Melissa, who struggled to take control of her. When she crawled from the water to the shore, she did so tearfully, fully controlled by Melissa. Remorseful and sad Kevin left her there on the mountain and she never got to feel his kiss. The cold air on her naked body made her shiver so hard her teeth banged together painfully. It snapped her from her misery and reminded her that Kevin was not hers to kiss, but Melissa’s and she was not Melissa. She was Hummingbird. She couldn’t stop herself from becoming Melissa repeatedly, until finally Melissa became a whole person inside Hummingbird. She was unaware at first, that they shared her voice. In a moment of clarity brought on by the cold, Hummingbird knew she needed to get warm quickly, she would never make it to the fires of home and summoned a nearby bear. It lumbered out of the forest and she rushed to it just as it lay down before her, letting her warm herself by its massive body. Hummingbird nestled into the warmth of the bear. She cried for a while, overwhelmed at what she had done and fear of the person who lingered inside her. It took hours to untangle Melissa from her mind enough to control herself and come to terms with the personality that would not go away. Hummingbird tried to join with the minds of any animal around her, in hopes of freeing her of Melissa. She justified one death after another, before she knew it, she had killed dozens, maybe hundreds, to no avail. Melissa was not going anywhere. When the sun shone brightly down on the river’s edge, where she lay with the bear as a blanket, and when she had sufficiently warmed herself. She released the bear back to the woods, its purpose served. Watching the bear lumber off to where it had come from, she was reminded of her nudity and became embarrassed by it like never before. Knowledge changed her. Knowing the difference between herself and Melissa was as brutal to her, as being surrounded by bullies at school and being made fun of, for just about everything that could possibly be pointed out. Her filthy hair, her lack of clothes, her inability to speak properly. She was embarrassed of herself, of things she ate, of how she lived. Hummingbird was so sad from embarrassment she was crying. She made her way to the semicircle of bird cages, sheds, and unfinished structures that made up the home she shared with the woman of the woods. The fire pit in the center of the area was roaring. Her mother was surely awake. What would she tell her? How could she tell her? Hummingbird fought back a sob at the thought of telling her momma she killed her friend. The reminder made her burst out a whimper, almost falling completely to pieces again. All of it because she wanted to know what it was like to be a girl like Melissa. She crouched down, close to the fire extending her hands over it, warming herself as best she could. Hummingbird waited until the heat was unbearable, then walked around the fire to the main structure. She entered through the small doorway and had to crouch to enter the doorway that got smaller and smaller every year. Her arms were folded to cover her breasts. She quickly made her way to her bedding, where she gathered her blanket, then wrapped it around herself like a towel after getting out of the shower. Her hair was still damp and knotted, almost in a dreadlock, had it not been for the woman of the woods detangling session that she absolutely insisted upon, it would have been worse, long ago. Hummingbird snatched a stick from the dirt floor, wiped it off, then blew on it to remove any remaining dirt. She didn’t care about the dirt, but Melissa did. With a quick one-handed motion, she gathered her hair up in her hand and twirled it atop her head, then used the stick to keep it in place. Hummingbird had never done that before, and it surprised her. It was Melissa. Everything Melissa had learned in life, belonged to Hummingbird. That short moment their minds connected, opened a whole new world for Hummingbird. She sat in the chair near the fireplace, which had also been freshly started. She stared into the fire contemplating the flood of information she acquired, re-evaluating her whole existence. At that moment, an Egg McMuffin with cheese and a large, hot, mocha with whole milk. Two things she never knew existed, but longed for their taste, Melissa’s morning ritual, her desire for them was so strong it made her mouth water. The door opened, and the woman of the woods entered. She held several small dead animals. Rabbits and Quail mostly. The woman of the woods had set out to find Hummingbird, but only found death. She was never one for waste, and gathered what she could carry, knowing their cause of death sat before her in front of the fire, her little girl. She stared at Hummingbird for a moment, unsure what to say or how to comfort the sad girl by the fire. Without a word she walked cautiously to the counter, setting the dead game on the floor in a pile. She turned back to Hummingbird who looked at her with fearful glances through sad eyes, knowing she did something that she shouldn’t have. She returned her attention to the fire not wanting to face what she had done or say it aloud. The woman of the woods walked over to Hummingbird and put her hand on her head.

“I feels ya hurtin’ from all da way up here, wake me from da dead ya did,” she crouched down putting her arms around Hummingbird who collapsed into her embrace, crying, “I’s here for ya now, hush child, ya just needin’ some rest is all, den ya be ya self again.” The woman of the woods rocked Hummingbird in her arms.

“I kill her momma,” Hummingbird whimpered, choking on her tears, “She like a nudda momma ta me, and I kill her fo nuttin good. I can’t get rid of it needa!” She cried hard wrapping her arms around the woman of the woods. Her sadness was so great the woman of the woods felt the terrible loss, infected by Hummingbird. She cried too. The woman of the woods knew her sadness came from the strength of Hummingbirds power, she always knew.

“Girl, ya gone inside a nudda’s mind, some come back witcha? Is dat ya sayin?”

“Momma, I ain’t got no how to get her gone!”

“Hush, girl, dey all go way soon enuff. Ya just needin ta sleep.” She ushered her to the bedding and lay her down, covering her with her blanket. She hummed to her and caressed her head as Hummingbird cried, struggling with her identity and the loss of her lifelong friend. Crying eventually gave way to sleep. The woman of the woods left Hummingbird after she drifted off to sleep. Then, went about doing both their chores and let her be. Hummingbird woke no more than an hour after the woman of the woods left her alone. She woke startled, confused, and not alone at all.

“This place is so gross, there’s not even a bathroom!” Melissa had control of Hummingbird and spoke, so educated and proper, “Why ya heya den? Cha can go now!” Hummingbird asked in return, standing up from her bed offended at Melissa’s disgust. She went to the counter and started to clean it, she looked down feeling the sting of embarrassment, and like she couldn’t look Melissa in the face, if she had one. Melissa was so disgusted, “Believe me, sister, I don’t want to be here.” She said wiping the counter off, “I’m so over this place, and I’ve only been here a few minutes, how do you even deal?” She started to fix her hair involuntarily while her other hand wiped the counter, Melissa had become part of her, “Stop it!” Hummingbird yelled, jerking her hand back to the counter from her hair, then sniffled about to cry. Melissa took control again and straightened up then stopped the crying by speaking out again, “You’re kidding, right? You mean you want your hair like this?” Hummingbird slammed both hands down on the counter, “Ya heya til I says ya dead, den ya never be no more!” she backed away from the counter with her hands up, “Ok, ok, no reason to be a bitch. Plus, I think we both know, I ain’t going anywhere, not anytime soon, mountain girl.” Hummingbird paced in a circle quickly regaining control of her body, “You keep ya mind off me, and stop ya sayings aloud! It’s my mouth!” she could feel Melissa’s condescension, who then said, “I’m so happy you at least have all your teeth.” Hummingbird considered Melissa’s impulse to get dressed in more than the towel sized blanket she was wrapped in. It confused her and made her re-evaluate her willingness to get dressed, it was what normal people did. “There is so much in the world you can’t see up here in this shack.” Melissa said, “When I’s ready I’s gonna go see fo myself.” Hummingbird snapped back, tired of Melissa and her attitude. The shack started to feel small and devoid of air. Hummingbird walked outside gasping for fresh air. She put her hands on her knees and bent over trying to catch her breath. The fire pit had dwindled. She straightened up and looked around, “Wow, it doesn’t get any better out here, does it? Is this where you use the bathroom or do you walk all the way down to that park. I just thought of something, you don’t even have a name, do you? How is that possible?” Hummingbird stomped around the fire, “Ya judgin me ya not know nuttin bout me. I gots a name, I’s Hummin, bird,” She stopped and put her hands on her hips, “I know everything you know, and you know that ain’t a name.” she smiled. Hummingbird snarled quickly, “It’s time ya went back from ya came! Leave me lone!” she stomped out of the semi-circle of structures off into the woods. The woman of the woods was frozen in place watching Hummingbird’s conversation with herself from behind one of the animal pens she was cleaning. Her little girl was in big trouble. She was two people, arguing. Hummingbird marched down to the river, the only place she could think of, where she could find some peace, “Ew,” She crinkled her face, “So many dead animal’s around here.” Hummingbird was embarrassed again, “Can’t ya shut it?” She askedlowering her eyes again, she wanted to cry, not being able to rid herself of Melissa, it frightened her. “I did dat cuz a you!” she reached the bottom of the waterfall, “Me?” she climbed on her rock and sat with her arms wrapped around her shins. Her face scrunched up angrily, then relaxed, “Well, I’m still here so, it didn’t work.” she said then angrily responded, “I kills ’em fo nuttin!” she put her face in her knee-tops. “Aw, don’t feel bad they’re just animals-” Melissa started, “Dey is my friends!” Humminbird yelled out, with watery eyes.

“I can help you.” A voice spoke startling Hummingbird. She looked up quickly and froze, holding her breath, it wasn’t her that spoke, nor was it Melissa using her voice. Her eyes darted left to right, looking around in bewilderment, daring not to move, waiting. “I can show you how to make her go away.” Hummingbird leapt from the rock in a burst, springing high in the air, like a startled cat, landing in the river up to her knees with a splash. She crouched down behind the rock in the cold water, “Don’t be scared.” The voice came from everywhere. Hummingbird stood slowly, backing away from the rock deeper into the pool, scanning the shore and forests edge for whoever it was that spoke, “I’ve always been with you, Hummingbird.”

“Ya… ya in my head?” she asked still scanning the forest around her, she thought for a moment.

“Yes. I’m like you. You are my sister.”

“I don’t have no sissy! You lie!” she pointed at the forest and slowly turned in a circle, “Momma only gots me!” she yelled out, scanning both sides of the river, even glancing up the waterfall, “Dis some maginins, you just dat lissa, won’t go way! Momma say ya go on soon nuff!”

“She’s not your mother. She murdered your mother. And now, you’re old enough, I’m here to kill her. You’ll be with me and I will show you how to live, Hummingbird.”

“You lie! You get from my Momma, I kill’s ya dead!” Hummingbird screamed angrily.

“I’ll be back for you when I’m done with her.”

“No!” Hummingbird ran from the river as fast as she could, screaming for her momma all the way home, terrified. When she reached the fire-pit she called out, “Momma!” she looked around for the woman of the woods then ran to the door, bursting inside, “Momma!” the woman of the woods was on the floor grabbing her head and convulsing. Hummingbird ran to her side, falling to her knees then grabbed the woman of the woods head in both hands, trying to steady her and look in her eyes. Drool and spit flew as she convulsed in Hummingbird’s arms, “Momma! Tell me what ta do!” she shook her, “Momma!” the woman of the woods gasped then her eyes popped open.

“In…side…” she barely managed to squeak the words. Hummingbird closed her eyes tight, concentrating on the woman of the woods in her hands, then dove into her mind. It was instant pain for Hummingbird, forcing her to drop the woman of the woods and grab her own head. Still, she pressed on. In a flash, the woman of the woods entire life was Hummingbirds. She saw it all. The rape of the woman, once known as Rachel Harris, an attack so brutal it left her unable to have children again, an attack that killed her husband and small child, a little girl. The death of Delilah Barnes on the very floor hummingbird slept on her entire life. Every memory was hers, same as when she entered Melissa. She could hear the voice that spoke to her by the river, it spoke to the woman of the woods. Hummingbird could hear them, muffled at first, then even louder, as though she were walking down a hall to where the two women were having a conversation. They stood, the three of them, in a room around a pregnant young woman on the floor frozen in time. It was Hummingbirds room, her house.

“That’s your mother.” A strange woman spoke, across from the woman of the woods. She looked to be the same age as Hummingbird, “I’m your sister.” She said looking at Hummingbird. The woman of the woods watched both girls, fearfully.

“This is her maginin, Humminbird, don’t believe her lies, she can lie inside yo head.” She said to her girl.

“You!” The strange woman walked over to the woman of the woods, “Will feel her pain! Tenfold!” then the woman of the woods disappeared with a scream.

“Momma!” Hummingbird ran over to where she once stood. The strange woman reached over to pet her hair, but Hummingbird would have none of that. She slapped her hand away.

“I love you,” she said to Humminbird.

“I kill’s ya dead as old wood, fo hurtin’ ma momma.” She responded with angry, narrowed eyes. She reached out with everything she had, all the death she could muster. How she had killed was suddenly so clear to her. It was easy to kill. The strange woman’s eyes lit up as Hummingbird unleashed her fury upon her.

“No! Stop! Humminbir-” she grabbed her head then disappeared. The world suddenly flashed, filling her with memories and experiences as if they happened to her, all at once, right then. All the rage and hatred of the strange woman, Delilah, filled Hummingbird. A lifetime of hate in a flash, so strong it was all Hummingbird could feel from the young woman, hate and anger, beyond measure.

“Momma!” Hummingbird cried out, then Rachel Harris’s life filled Hummingbird. Melissa, Delilah, Rachel Harris, Soft, every animal mind she had ever entered flooded her.

“Humminbird.” The woman of the woods voice was the last thing she heard before her body seized and the darkness took her.

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