Monday, August 11, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water: Marie LaVeau's Escape

Marie was moping. She watched the flickering candle flame, in her mind's eye making the flame a dancer, one of the many voodoo doctors she'd seen in the ceremonies, full of life and fire. The wax ran down the candle, beginning to bead on the stick. She wondered if she could use the wax to help her slip out of the shackles. True, once out of the shackles, she didn't know how to open the shutters Shalimar had secured, but she decided on difficulty at a time was enough.

She blew the candle out, and the room became pitch. She poured the wax in the holder between the shackle and her wrists. The hot wax burned, then coated her skin. Then she twirled the cuffs as much as she could, making her wrists smooth. The hard part came next.

Marie began to slowly work her hands out. She could feel metal pinching her wrists as she inched the iron cuffs over her hands. Bones pressed together, skin broke where the metal scraped her hands. Marie minded the damage, but not half as much as she minded staying here. She finally pulled one hand free.

The door bust open. One of the guards feel at the feet of a tall man Marie had not seen with Shalimar before. The new arrival, resplendent in theater garb, was at her side in two long strides. “Leave your candlestick Marie LaVeau. We must leave immediately.”

“No wish could be dearer to my heart at the moment, Monsieur. But I make it a policy never to leave with strange men.”

“I am no stranger. At least not in the traditional sense. And I am no friend of Shalimar's. At the moment I hope that will be sufficient motivation?” He moved to the window, his cape swirling slightly. He smashed the glass with a fist, then heaved upon the secured shutters. “This is the way you must leave. Out this window.”

Marie finished drawing her other hand out of its fetter. Her hands were swollen, torn, and painful. She caught a glimpse of his hands and saw no blood staining the white kid gloves he wore. Of course not. If Marie could assume correctly from his appearance, the only blood he would have would most likely be on loan. “What can you possibly gain out of this?” she asked. Marie was sure this was a game of Shalimar's. The moment she stepped outside, a manhunt was certain to begin.

“Even if that is what you think,” said the man, “this way you have some chance to escape. Is that so bad?”

Whoever this vampire was, he was certainly a good debater. Marie couldn't argue with his logic. And what he stood to receive in return for his actions from Shalimar was no longer her concern She surveyed the grounds below her. The trimmed lawn of the island the house was built on soon disappeared into chaotic bayou. “You must find Ulysses Simpson,” the man said behind her. “They will attempt to do him harm. You must join forces.”

She climbed on the ledge. Ulysses Simpson, that detective who had been on the Lalaurie case some years ago, could wait for a more reflective time to receive her consideration. She turned to thank the man for his assistance. He had disappeared into th night with the usual mysteriousness of his kind.

Marie walked the high second floor ledge, glancing occasionally at the ground. She knew that Shalimar's creatures would still be active, feeding. She inched herself down a trellis, each movement of her swollen hands knifing her fingers. The night felt as though it would swallow her; the chirping of the insects in the bayou rumbled like a growling beast. Perhaps her escape would blend in with the natural sounds and the night creatures would not notice her.

Marie ran for the edge of the small island. She had nothing to fear from the animals of the bayou. She had made an agreement with the alligators long ago. They watched her house. She gave them meat. They left her visitors alone, when she wanted them to. However, as she was about to step into the swamp, she hoped Shalimar had remembered to feed the alligators better than she'd remembered to feed her prisoner.

A roar of air hit her ears and she knew where it came from before the thing touched her. The giant bat's claws raked her shoulders, tearing her dress, leaving red streaks, knocking her down. She lifted her face from the much and glanced furiously at the creature. It was turning, circling for another attack.

Only one of Shalimar's lesser creatures, thought Marie ruefully, feeling the sting of her back. She lifted her hand, felt the power hers again, as she lay on the ground next to the earth. She needed the creature to land, come closer to her. She tried to will it to do so.

The monster was surprisingly willing to cooperate. It landed before her, changing into a man. Like herself, he was of mixed color, taking on an eerie yellowish tinge that glowed in the night. “My prey,” he hissed in a decomposing voice, “meet your master.”

“I am Marie LaVeau. You are in my city, and in my power.”

“Marie LaVeau?” The monster chuckled and wheezed at the same time. Smoke began to flow from his ears, as Marie tightened her magic grip upon him. “That explains a lot.” He pitched forward, dead instead of undead.

Another whoosh of air. Not again! She didn't know if she could stand another confrontation. She was becoming tired and Shalimar might be sending out the bigger artillery.

The man in the opera cape stood inches away. “Come,” he said. “It is time to go.”

Marie stood up. “Yes, I know that. Believe me, I wasn't hoping to be invited in for dinner.”

The man swirled the opera cape. The wind whistled in their ears and they were airborne, dizzying heights above New Orleans. He swirled his cape again, and she faded into blackness. When she awoke, she was unceremoniously heaped on a chalky doorstep. Of the undead who had brought her here, there was no sign. The morning sun peeked rose colored over the horizon, and Marie LaVeau stretched. She shuffled down the street to locate Ulysses Simpson. New Orleans began to wake, sensing its sorceress in the streets.

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