Jonathon speaks ~
I need this song. Every so often I listen to it. It soothes me. Night-folk spend a lot of time in the dark. And I mean to make no moral judgments. 'Dark' is an ambiguous thing.... basically just an empty void. It takes all comers. It hides everything. Some are eventually discovered. Others never are.... Darkness is magic.
The storms were severe. Four houses were struck by lightning. One home in the Delaware countryside suffered tornado damage. Vampires fear lightning. We seem to attract it. The most famished life-eater will not go out when it's near. A mortal might, under certain circumstances, survive a hit. Vampires never do. We explode. Suicidal vampires run screaming and laughing maniacally into the tempest searching for the final cataclysm. I am not suicidal. Suicide is a sin.....
So I waited till it was over, went out into the dark, raised my arms and ascended into the cloudy night sky. Sublimation calms me. Some vampires fear it, but 'Papa's' blood is almost without equal. I revel in it. I move through the air and the air moves through me. I like that... and headed for a secret place, deep within the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Ah, The Pines... one of the largest, old growth, original forests east of the Mississippi and right in the middle of Philadelphia and New York City.... Some folks don't even know it's there... but night-folk know... and 'witchy' folk and Red Paint People and strange, mysterious species of human-ish beings know too. ... Secrets live along its dark streams. Orange eyes peer out from black shadows..... Careless people have been devoured by the huge snapping turtles and certain spider bites can take an eye out.
There's an ivy shrouded cave deep in a dense stand of tall, Southern Pines. South Jersey is the last stand of them what thrives in the South.... Got muskrats and bobcats and coy-wolves... a cougar or two... and that's just the documented varieties.... It's the undocumented specimens I mush up with.
Came down and condensed right outside that cave. Two, little dead-fish-white imp things tittered and scurried out of my way. I stood there, barely discernible in the weak moonlight dripping down through the trees and listened to what was going on in that cave.... Talks-To-God man lives in it. He's a shaman... a non-denominational shaman. Line started with the Red Paint People more than eight thousand years ago, but he does hoo-doo's for everybody now. Acts as court of last resort too. Real bad types get dragged in there. Then he shoves them down a near endless, round, narrow tunnel... more like a chute, sliding into the dirt, gravel and mud... a one way ride you don't want to take. Some folks try to straighten their legs and wedge them against the opposite side. That works for a bit, but sooner or later they get a cramp, or get tired and the race is on... sliding and careening down that greasy tunnel till they pop out the end, fifteen feet above an oozing, muddy, clay-like floor of a Hershey's Kiss shaped chamber...
I can hear them moaning.....
If they break a few bones, they break a few bones. It's not like anyone comes back up.
I step into the cave and quietly make my way 'round a bend, toward a low burnished glow about sixty feet up ahead... a four hundred pound black bear snorts and wakes up to check me out. Animals don't bother night-folk. He just sniffs and goes back to sleep.... Then the Talks-To-God-Man speaks. He says - His eyes are my eyes. Why are you hear, vampirino?.... I enter the small, round room where he sits staring into a compact, reddish fire. It's hard to tell where his shaggy hair and beard leaves off and his tattered, shredded up animal skin cloak begins. I sit down, nod... he talks again - Can you hear them moaning? There's two of them down there. One's got a broken shoulder and a broken leg. The other's got a shattered femur. Razor sharp piece jammed up into his bladder. He might have a few more fractures too, but that's the big one. They don't die right away. Water seeps up through the clay. Got fat slugs crawlin' around down there. Live off the mold. When them two get hungry enough, fat mold eatin' slugs gonna be like candy. Last bastard what rode the chute lived nine months. Well, existed nine months. When he dies, slugs ate him. They got a slime turns bone into soft, rubbery gristle. Slugs got rough tongues. They like gristle. They like everything. Mold just for tough times. Now, why you here, life-eater?
No reason for me to tell him. He knows. Talks-To-God-Men have their ways. I want to rescue one. You see, Edith, my housekeeper is a Piney-Witchy-Woman. She picks up things, even forty or fifty miles away in Philadelphia and one of them poor bastards is like a nephew to her.
Did he do anything horrible?
Don't ask me that. It's not what you do. It's all who you know... I say - I want one of them back.....
He laughs and says - Which one?
I say - The one with the punctured bladder. You know who that is. I'm thinking the slugs are your eyes too.
He nods and says something in Red Paint People talk. Then adds - Do your best, vampirino...
I attempt to get up, but my legs are all sucked into the damp, clay floor and no matter how I try, nothing changes. Even with all my abilities, I'm not going anywhere.
And the two, poor souls, three hundred feet into the earth begin to scream...
<more next time>
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