Come Alive

Page 38

“She must have buried her way before me,” I said. “She already has her.”

“Well what can we do?”

I looked back at the cabin. Rose was in there. But was it too late? And was it worth the risk of trying? The two of us versus a heap of mind-controlled zombies wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

Suddenly there was movement from the water and I knew the undead were rising slowly out of the swamp, as if they’d been there all along, waiting like alligators. I hoped that at least a few lucky gators got a meal out of them.

Perry whirled around toward the sluicing noise and I shone the flashlight on them, their eyes shining with madness. Yup. The undead.

I was about to tell Perry to run, to take us back to her boat, when I felt a presence behind me. Automatically, I made my body go slack, as if Perry had just dug me out and I was a bit brain-dead still.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ambrosia said, her hand resting on my shoulder. “I figured the poison would wear off faster with you.” She looked over at Perry, who was frozen in a mix of hate and fear as the zombies came closer and closer. “So you thought you’d come and try to save him. Well, I’m sorry dawlin’, he can’t be saved. And now, neither can you.”

I was grabbed from behind by six strong hands and ripped backward just in time to see a bunch of Ambrosia’s slaves lay their hands on Perry.

I yelled out for her before I was yanked forward and dragged through the dirt to her cabin. The ground disappeared and we had to slog through water to get to the entrance. They threw me up the stairs and up onto the rickety porch. No wonder Ambrosia practiced her magic out here, no one would ever suspect a thing. No one would even hear you scream.

I was shoved back into the cabin where I fell onto the floor covered with feathers, candle wax, and blood. The chicken’s body was gone, nailed to the wall with a knife. They immediately picked me up again and hauled me to one end of the main sacrificial room, whirling me around to face the door. Perry was brought in after me, Ambrosia holding onto one arm, her nails digging in, while another slave held the other. I fought to get free while she fought to get free, trying to get to each other. Our eyes said it all.

There was a groan coming from another small room and we both craned our necks to look. Rose was stumbling out of it, covered in dirt and blood, long, white hair in her face. It was obvious that we were too late. Rose had already lost her mind and free will. She was already under Ambrosia’s control. There was no more Rose.

“I haven’t tried anything on her yet,” Ambrosia explained, watching with clinical amusement as Rose staggered across the room, seeming to have no clear place to go. “You can both witness the dawning of the new Rose, the extent of my power.”

She started chanting loudly in her Voodoo speak, Perry wincing since it was right in her ear. She then yelled, “Rose, this man means you harm.”

For a minute, I thought Ambrosia was pointing at me, but it was a lean, handsome zombie-man to my right. Well, he would have been handsome if he hadn’t looked stoned out of his gourd.

“Rose,” Ambrosia continued, “I am your master, I am your protector. Destroy this man. Bite him, kill him. Tear him from limb to limb.” Then she started chanting again, her eyes rolling back in her head, as if she was calling some dark force to do her bidding.

I eyed a few oily candles in the corner of the room, all burning brightly. I wondered if Rose’s name was on one of them and if hers was the only name. I wondered if this zombie shit was actually going to work. To see them as the walking, yet recently deceased, was one thing. To see one become a zombie, someone that you knew, was another.

Rose had paused in the middle of the cabin, in between Perry and me, in the circle of candles that had melted down to wax. It was almost like she was listening.

Then she turned very slowly to face the man, the man who still had a firm grip on my right arm. This could go nowhere or this could get ugly. I didn’t want to see Rose this way, this hardened girl with her aching heart for her lost love. This wasn’t her.

But this Rose started to come forward, walking jerkily like the drugs were creating spasms. She kept coming and between the strands of her blonde hair, I could see her eyes. Blue-grey and crazed.

Rose stopped a couple of feet away, swaying back and forth as if she needed an extra push. Ambrosia yelled something at her, fire in her evil eyes, and Rose moved again.

She reached out for the man, wrapping both of her hands around his forearm, and bit him. She took a literal bite out of him, her mouth coming away dripping with blood and muscles and tendons. I nearly shit myself and had to look away from the sight, from this Rose that was no longer human. Across the room, Perry sounded like she was about to vomit.

Ambrosia clapped gleefully. “I knew it.”

Rose still stood there, like a robot, the man’s stringy flesh handing from her mouth until Ambrosia screeched another word and Rose lunged at the man again, this time her mouth going for his chest.

All this time, I was wondering if the zombie was just going to stand there and take it. He was still holding onto me. Didn’t he understand pain? What was happening?

He answered that fairly quickly. With one huge swipe of his mutilated arm, he grunted with rage and threw Rose backward until she slammed against the nearest wall. The candelabras shook overhead. Rose collapsed like a rag doll to the floor.

I watched her for a few moments until I saw she was breathing, then I glanced at Ambrosia. A look of surprise was on her face. Apparently, this was something she hadn’t planned for.

“Well, that was interesting,” she noted. “I should pit them against each other more often. Their basic instinct to survive…survives.”

“You are a sick fucking bitch,” I snarled at her. “It’s not your choice to play God.”

She smiled coldly, her eyes narrowing. I saw her nails dig further into Perry’s pale arm and I immediately regretted saying anything. “If I don’t play God with the power I am given, than why am I given the power?”

“You stole their power,” Perry sneered.

Ambrosia immediately elbowed her in the face, Perry dropping to her knees as she screamed out in pain. I tried to get to her, to break free, but the men around me were fast.

Ambrosia kicked at Perry’s side and said to the slaves nearest her, “Take her over there, hold her open.”

I did not know what the fuck that meant but I had a feeling I was going to find out. The men took Perry to the farthest wall and held her back against it, one man pulling one way with her arm, the other man pulling the other. Blood trickled out from her nose, but her attention was just on me, only on me. Her blue eyes cut me deep.

“Now it’s your turn, Declan,” Ambrosia said. My nostrils flared. I made a move to run, to jerk out of their grasp, but they held me in place, even the man with a chunk of his arm missing.

Ambrosia picked up a candle from the floor, lit it, and started coming toward me with it. She began to chant, low and gravely sounds. Everything she said sounded like death.

She paused right in front of me, the candlelight flickering in her face. For once, I saw how ugly she really was. Her smile was crooked, her hair was rough and split, her skin light, but ashy. Her eyes danced with wicked joy, glinted with the absence of her soul. All her beauty was masked by the fact that I knew who she really was.

“Even though Perry dug you up, the ritual is still in process,” she told me. “You were dead and now you’ve risen. Now you will become my own.”

From behind the candle, she lifted a syringe. Before I knew what was happening, she stabbed it into my neck, plunging the drug deep into my veins.

Perry screamed, the sound immediately amplified by whatever new drugs were surging through my body. The room swirled and twisted on itself, the candles turned into a kaleidoscope of lights.

Perry was still across the room, terrified, a lamb to be slaughtered. I was supposed to slaughter her.

But I couldn’t. Because the datura or whatever Ambrosia injected into me, didn’t work. I was high as fuck, and tripping out hardcore, but I was still me.

And I could tell the witch was watching me carefully. She probably even gave me an extra dose of it since the original paralysis poison didn’t stay in my system long enough. If she caught on that it didn’t work as well as she’d hoped, she’d either pump me full of drugs until I was brain-dead, or she’d flat-out kill me. And Perry too.

I couldn’t let that happen. So I did what I attempted to do earlier. I let my mind go slack. I let my muscles droop. I played up the fact that I was on some wild and scary drug trip. I channeled my inner teenager, on those nights I did too many mushrooms and smoked too much pot.

I pretended to be a zombie. I pretended to be hers.

“Declan, can you hear me?” Ambrosia asked, peering at me. I ignored the annoying use of my full name, and stared straight ahead at an imaginary spot on the wall. She waved her hand in front of my face and I had to think whether I should respond to it or not. What did zombies do? I took a risk and slowly, jaggedly, turned my head her way. My eyes looked to a spot on her forehead.

I could see her expression changing, frowning, suspicious.

“Declan are you ready to do my bidding?”

I decided to not show anything. I kept staring, dumb-faced, swaying slightly. It was only then that I heard Perry whimpering. She was believing it, all of it. She had no idea.

I had to ignore that. I couldn’t screw up now. I had to play this up for as long as I could, until I was sure that Perry and I could escape. While I stared dully at Ambrosia, my mind tried to recall what the room looked like and if there were any weapons anywhere. There was just the knife, I remembered seeing it sticking out of the wall when I came in, skewering the dead chicken to it.

Ambrosia studied me for a bit longer and then started her chanting, her commanding words vibrating off the walls. She waved the candle around then delicately placed it on the floor. She walked over to a bookshelf and pulled off a large jar of oil, bringing it over to me. It smelt disgustingly sweet, just like her—baby powder and bitch.

She placed that on the ground too, and started dipping her hands in it. Then she rubbed the oil all over my face and neck, down my chest, arms, and legs. Even my crotch. She rubbed that area a little too long, but what I’d said earlier held true. I’d only be hard for Perry.

When she was done, she stepped back to admire her handiwork. From what I could tell, all she did was rub me in a vat of stinky almond oil. To her, it was probably the finishing touches in her ritual for mind-control, and though I had no doubt that she did have power, that she could bend dark forces to her will, it wasn’t working with me.

I should have been relieved at that. But then she came closer, a cloy smile on her lips, and I knew it wasn’t over yet. My allegiance wasn’t sealed.

“Declan,” she said seductively, putting her arms around my neck. Suddenly I had images of the stereotypical Voodoo ceremonies: blood orgies and naked, dancing, writhing bodies and animal sacrifices. If she was asking me to fuck her, right here, right now, I didn’t know if I could do it.

She leaned into my ear, the one that was still whole, and whispered, “Kiss me like you mean it.”

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