Come Alive

Page 21

She shook her head. “I’ll be okay.” She looked up at me. “Dex, make love to me.”

I cocked my head, not hearing her right. “What? Now?”

“I need to feel you,” she said, her voice barely above a whimper.

“Okay, baby,” I told her. I brought her out of the bath, quickly dried her off, and then carried her over to the bed. I lay her down on it, then slowly, gently, covered her silken body with kisses, from the curve of her shoulder to her delicate ankle bones.

While I was inside, staring deep into her eyes, pushing slow, pushing soft while I was so hard, I felt a tingle at the back of my neck, a wash of heat covering my head.

I love making love to you, Perry’s thoughts crept into my brain. I need you, I need you.

I couldn’t help but smile and took us both over the edge. It wasn’t quite I love you. But it was a start.


“Dex, wake up.” Perry was whispering harshly, trying to shake me awake.

I slowly opened my eyes, the room dark except for the streetlights that were being filtered in through the gauzy curtains.

“What is it?” Where was I? I sat up and looked around. Perry was beside me in bed, topless, her breasts glowing in the dim light. We were in New Orleans. The bed and breakfast.

“There’s someone on our balcony, she says she wants to speak with you.”

I shook my head, blinking fast, swallowing the terror. “What?”

I looked over to the French doors. There was a silhouette of a woman standing on the other side of them. The curtains billowed, a ghost dance.

Perry whispered in my ear. “She says she’s going to take me with her, all the way to hell.”

I spun around to see what Perry meant by that but suddenly she was gone. I was alone in the bed. The woman wasn’t on the balcony.

My teeth began chattering, my limbs turning to blocks of ice, holding me to the bed. The fear came so suddenly, so strongly, that I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything.

I just knew that someone was in the room with me. It wasn’t outside anymore.

It was in.

“Dex,” Perry’s small voice called out from the bathroom. “Dex, she’s in the mirror.”

I tried to call out to her, but my teeth were chattering too much.

“She says she’ll give me the baby if I step through the mirror.”

No! I tried to scream, but now my jaw was glued shut and my lungs were filling up with internal screams and fluid as cold as dead bones. Dirt began to fill the room, raining down from the ceiling.

“I have to go,” Perry said, her voice just an echo. “I’m sorry, baby.”

I blinked in my rage, and my mother stood at the edge of the bed, waist deep in the dirt that was rising around the bed like floodwaters. She picked some up in her hands. “I’m coming back for all of you, Declan.”

Then she threw the dirt on my head, again and again and again, until it filled my mouth, my nose, my ears, and finally my eyes.

It was all over.

I was dead and buried.


“Are you sure you’re okay?” Perry asked during breakfast, gently pushing my hair off my face.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” I said right back to her, returning her suspicious look. “You’re the one who had someone die right beside them last night.”

“And you’re the one who woke me up in the middle of the night, acting like you were dying. So that’s two scares for me.”

I looked around the breakfast dining room of the B&B. We were alone, drinking cup after cup of dark coffee and pulling apart flaky beignets, having gotten to breakfast just at the cut-off point. We were probably pushing our luck, but the breakfast server was sitting outside on the veranda and smoking away, not really caring.

“Well I’m fine, I just had a nightmare.”

“How often do you dream about your mother?” she asked. I had to tell her what happened, everything except the baby part. But anyway, it was just a dream; it wasn’t real. When things got real, then that’s when they became something. This was just my overactive imagination coupled with my raging hormones. Weird shit like this happened all the time.

“Not very often,” I said truthfully.

“More after you saw her in the motel in Canada?”

I shrugged, hoping she’d drop it. “Doesn’t seem like it. Hey, are you sure you’re up for shooting tonight? I mean, after last night, I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to back out of the whole thing.”

She shook her head determinedly. “No, I’m good. I mean, I feel kind of icky, like…dirty. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. I feel…tainted. Like that’s going to stick in my head for a long time. But I feel okay otherwise. I’m not scared, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I’m just worried about you, kiddo. And frankly, we want you to be a little bit scared. Haunted house TV show, remember?”

She glared at me mockingly. “Still the sadist, aren’t you? Like the time you made me climb the stairs in the lighthouse.”

“I was just trying to look at your ass,” I admitted, stuffing the pastry in my mouth.

Maximus had left the B&B early, perhaps to visit Rose or stock up on more flannel shirts and pomade. He left a note but all it said was to meet him in the lobby at 7PM, so Perry and I decided to have a nice touristy day in the Big Easy together. Fluffy, sexy fun between the bookends of death.

At least that was the plan. And we did follow through with it, for the most part. We took a ride in one of the red velvet lined, mule-drawn carriages. We had crawfish and Bloody Mary’s down by the river. We watched a few buskers in Pirates Alley and peered in people’s yards in the Garden District. We took the streetcar (wasn’t called Desire, but it did set Perry off on an endless—and terrible—Blanche DuBois impression). We got a bit sunburned and humored a couple of crazy drunks.

But then I got restless and curious. I wanted to find an authentic Voodoo shop and do a little research of my own.

“So much for a happy fun date,” Perry said as we peered into an in-your-face store, Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo Shop on St. Peter Street.

“Well if this place can’t tell us about zombies, I don’t know what will,” I noted, as I spied a sign in the display window among the figurines and potions that said, Come on in and shop for a spell.

We entered the store, surprised again, this time to see it quite busy and not with just tourists. It wasn’t hard to see why: there were tons of statues among all the occult books and unnerving masks. It was a bit creepy having so many eyes on you, whether they were inanimate or not. I felt like nothing was inanimate in Voodoo culture.

There was an adjoining tobacco shop that was capturing Perry’s interest, so I decided to nip it in the bud right there.

“Hey, I saw you have that cigarette last night,” I warned her.

She shot me an annoyed look. “What are you, my dad?”

“No, I’m your concerned boyfriend who doesn’t want you hooked on the stuff.”

She looked up in exasperation. “Right, Dex.”

“Hey, for every cigarette you smoke, I’m going to smoke one too.”

“Now that’s mature.”

“Can I help you?” A mustached, bow-tie wearing, white guy with knee-high Doc Martens stopped right in front of us. He kinda looked like he was heading to a Marilyn Manson concert—in the 1920s—and got lost along the way.

“Can we help you?” I asked.

He smiled. “I work here. My name’s Ezekiel. Let me know if you need any help with anything.”

He turned, ready to go greet the next customers but I reached out and touched his arm lightly.

“Hey, uh, Ezekiel?”

He stopped and smiled pleasantly. I noticed he had weird markings tattooed up and down his neck. “Yes?”

“Hi.” I nodded at Perry. “We’re not from here.”

“I figured.”

“We’re actually visiting friends…and she said she’d heard some rumors about some bad juju going on in the city.”

“Bad juju?” he repeated. I had a feeling I was insulting him.

“Sorry,” I quickly said, flashing him a smile. “I meant, bad…stuff. Regarding local Mambos. Some of them are raising zombies in the ghetto.”

He raised his brows as far as they could go. “Mmmhmm?”

Perry spoke up. “We were wondering if you knew anything about that. We don’t know much about your culture, so whatever you could tell us about what’s real and what’s not would be really, really helpful. We don’t want to go around perpetuating a stereotype.”

“Oh, thank god,” Ezekiel said dryly. He sighed and gently fingered his mustache. “Look here, I’ve heard these rumors too, but they must be just that. There have always been priestesses who try and use the spirits for destruction instead of healing, pain instead of love. They’re in every religion. But even though there are a few of them in the state at the moment, it doesn’t mean they’d bother with zombie rituals. That’s outdated, back to the old days when people owned slaves. That just doesn’t exist anymore. Curses, hexes, those are way more plausible. The zombie rumors are probably just kids on bath salts, that’s all. Everyone points the finger at Voodoo when the first weird thing happens in this town.”

“You say there are a few of them at the moment, a few of the Bokors,” I said. “Could you tell me their names?”

He looked shocked that I asked. “Of course I won’t. I’m not a snitch. Voodoo has a karma aspect to it, you know. Now, if I can interest you in some books on Voodoo, you’ll probably find them a lot more helpful.”

“Is one of them Mambo Maryse?” Perry asked quickly.

We both watched as Ezekiel’s eyes narrowed slightly. Then he smiled. “I have no comment on that.”

He looked over my shoulder, making eye contact with a couple who had just entered the shop, and muttered, “Excuse me” while he went after them.

“Well, at least we know that’s the truth; Mambo Maryse really isn’t the most popular Mambo in town. Do you know what is the most popular Mambo?”

She nodded then shot me a sly grin. “You’re two seconds from getting that song in my head again, aren’t you?”

“A little bit of Perry in my life,” I sang into her ear. “A little bit of Perry by my side.”

I grabbed her hands and spun her around the aisle, narrowly missing knocking over a few Voodoo statues. Now that would have been bad juju.

After we left the Voodoo store, feeling no better or worse about the whole zombie situation, we headed back to the B&B, grabbing a quick bite of dinner at a nearby café. I voiced my suspicions to Perry about Maryse being behind the walking dead.

“Well, that’s pretty obvious,” she noted over her piping hot jambalaya that I kept stealing bites from. “She’s shunned from the community, apparently for becoming a bad apple. But that Ezekiel dude did say that there were others.”

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