Her head is throbbing and a strange rumbling echoes loudly in her left ear, accompanied by a swaddling warmth around her throat. She snorts, and sweat breaks out lightly on her skin. Masha starts to roll over, not quite awake yet, when she feels a sharp pin pricking at the tip of her nose, and her eyes fly open.
Golden eyes, the same color as her own, but the pupils are vertical slits and full of energy and mischief. The kitten curls comfortably at Masha's throat, head nestled near her ear, purring, one paw still poised from his recent activity.
"You poked me, you little devil!" Masha starts to scoop up the kitten but as her fingers sink into the soft calico fur, the purr gets louder and she smiles and relaxes back on her pillows, petting his silky ears. "Little demon, eh? What am I to call you? And why does my head hurt, so-- ah." Masha tosses back the covers, holding the kitten snug to her throat with one hand and pads over to her safe to retrieve her journal. Sitting at the desk she scoops the kitten to her shoulder and pets him while her pen begins to move.
'As always, life here in Midian is never dull. I have had opportunity and then some to practice my medical skills, although strangely, I never seem to see Doctor Hax. He has also closed down the clinic which appears to be undergoing renovations, but I never received word from him about it.
'I have taken to broadening my usual circuit in the evenings, making my honors but also poking my head into places like the Snake Pit and of course the Zone now that the Sarcina are there. Bah, I do not like that place - it is just not my style - but they like it and seem to be doing well. I even started going back to the Pool Hall, and of course I have been working to tend my new garden in the park along with fulfilling my other duties there. I am embarrased to admit that I have yet to write a word for the Dark Times - perhaps I should just face it up and tell the editor that I lack motivation or whatever it is that makes reporters into reporters?
'Now, here is the good stuff. Remember the artifact? The artifact was some sort of monolithic item with keys to open it secreted here and there about the city. When the Sarcina discussed entering our own bid for the keys, I was against it. It seemed too much like a baited mouse trap, you know? But no one listens to me, and of course, peoples wanted it opened.
'Here and only on this page, I say it: I told them so.
'I cannot believe I am writing this, but here it is: evil plant women emerged from where the artifact was opened and tried to make babies with peoples. Then angry tree men (who I think must be their outraged husbands?) came out to wreak vengeance upon us all. I managed to miss most of the events, cooped up with my books, of course. I first encountered one of the plant ladies shortly after I helped with Rena and Chi to cure Pera of the virus that had infected her, and by the way, she was still possessed by Ezili Freda when we found her! I must remember to write to Grandmere about this, that not only was a vampire possessed by Ezili but that Ezili stayed to save her life. Whatever they are, vampires, they are NOT of the dead. How else to explain? The Ezili's, NONE of them will go near the dead. At the peristyle, we never call them along with the Ghedes, and if we try, they will not come. Their shrines, they must be separated. They do not touch. Yet, there, Ezili Freda Dahomey, grand belle of the Ezili's, sat firmly in the seat of Pera's head, willingly. I am astounded still.
'Anyhow, Pera is well and I was walking along from the Snake Pit a day or two later and encountered the strangest of sights. A green woman, she was attacking another woman with these strange tentacular growths. A man wearing a guitar of all things, he was attacking the plant lady. I did not think but leapt forward, trying to help the lady, you know? And then the oddest thing, this scent that was indescribably good, it just filled my head and all I could look at was the green woman, as beautiful as Ezili herself. Then the man, he did something and she let out this horrible, horrible shriek, right into my face and I thought I would die my ears, they hurt so bad. I felt the man grab my hair and then I was flying through the air, and then, blackness.
'I woke in the MC surrounded by those who lately hang about the gas station. I know some of them, Luk and Mitchell, they were there with me, and I have also met Mud and Cait, who is a lovely lady also from Louisiana! My skull, it had still been very fragile from what Drakeo did when I was crazy in the Zone, and when I got thrown by the guitar man, it cracked open. Mitchell, he gave me more of those little machines and that seemed to do the trick. I hope they are not addictive, because I seem to be using them much of late.
'Later that evening, I snuck into Zoe's and cooked up some of my special Cajun burgers for them, I was so grateful. Any peoples who helps a stranger, well, they get my trust until the prove otherwise. I refuse to let what happened with Marina and Jackson change that for me. So I took them the burgers but they were in the middle of something and Cait, she looked truly awful, and I still do not know if she is welllllllllllll---'
Masha scoops the kitten off the page where he was sitting with a triumphant cat smile, ears at high perk, pupils enormous. "You little imp, we, you got my pen. But not while I am writing!" She nuzzles his soft nose with her own and he mews at her, nuzzling back before trying for a gentle nip. Masha laughs. "You a fierce hunter, eh? I think I will name you Fewòs Chasè. Do you like that, little one? Little Fewos?"
She pets the peach fuzz fur of the tiny cat, admiring the patches of cream, brown and orange, then cradles him up to her neck, feeling his heat and the fierce pulse of his heart. She had found him just yesterday, nestled in a hollowed out log near the shore at the park, his dead mother nearby, and no signs of his littermates. How could she not take him home? Setting Fewos back on her shoulder, Masha promises herself to guard her pen more closely, and returns to her journal.
'That little mark was my new kitty's fault and I have named him Fewòs Chasè to honor his hunting prowess. He is good, strong, and thank the good god that Auntie keeps milk at the community center. I can find him meat as he grows. But to continue.
'So, let me see. Momi and the woman Scar? They killed each other, and I do not know they why or how of it. I missed the funeral services, but I went later to put my own addition, an offering to Maman Brigitte who will keep Momi's bones safe under the waters.
'Later that evening, I was walking about, like I do, and was just headed up main street when I saw a large man who I know to be a Hound carrying Rena! I followed, and was taken to some sort of bunker the Hounds have that possesses quite a few things like a shooting range, prison cells and a well equipped medical clinic. Nerio's guard, Janus, he was there and I mostly stayed long enough to see that Rena was well and to observe that Ix's scent was upon her neck, near the rather obvious puncture wound. I have to say this in the interests of honesty - as much as I mislike him, Nerio arrived and seemed genuinely torn by Rena's injury. I suppose it is possible that he feels real love for her? Bah, who knows. Abusers show love between bouts of violence, do they not? I wish I could learn the truth of that boy and set my mind at ease.
'That also reminds me - Rena is getting married to Nerio and further, I have agreed to be maid of honor. You know, he just better be what Rena claims he is...
'Anyhow, this topic just aggravates me and little Fewos is trying to claim my pen again so I will continue relating events. The next evening or so, there was chaos in the streets and several peoples who were injured in the MC. Or was this before Ix attacked Rena and I met the plant lady? Things are so jumbled and confused and my head hurts, which I will get to. Suffice to say, it all happened around the same time, so it is good enough for these pages.
'Nerio was brought in covered in burns. Literally. Rena was distraught, saying they had fought one of the angry tree men. Deb was there, thank the god, as was Sol, and I assisted with Nerio and others that were wounded as well, winding once again up in that bunker. Or maybe it was the first time. Nevermind. We wound up having to call upon rather unusual resources as Nerio is allergic to Debra's little machines, and they contacted Fu, and that magician man, Bones. They did quite some magics, on Nerio and another Hound and my memory is unclear - was it Calee? O was there too, and surprisingly, she is gifted now with this, this... what can I call it, flesh knitting? It is a miracle, a true blessing from Les Mysteres. I will say that Bones, he gives me shivers, he is like a Ghede walking about always, only he has no love or family connection with me and mine like Papa does with the honfour. Sol is funny around him, turning from her normal confident, controlled self to a teenage like girlfriend. It is strange and sweet and oddly moving and I pray that she is happy with this situation.
'That reminds me. Somewhere in there, I got to spend some time at the docks, just talking with Sol. She told me her story and suffice to say, she is a remarkable woman. She is also Nerio's aunt, which I do not begin to understand as I thought Damian and Marina were his parents and her story did not mention being relations with either of them? But that family is strange, so who knows?
'Let me see. Other events, more recent. Probably all that is left worthy of noting here on these pages is from last evening. First, I encountered Marina carrying the man I know to be Odina's lover and he was bleeding terribly. They did not wish to go to the MCMC, so we went to the Hax Clinic where Marina broke in. They called someone called Able, a German man who seemed quite competant with medical things and not only allowed me to assist but seemed happy with my work. The man, Forge? He had a gun shot wound in the leg which I am starting to be able to handle quite readily, and two big gouges in his chest, punctures really. Those worried me, because my books, they say that it is hard to clean them and infection can get in really easy, you know? So we got him fixed up and I smelled lilac and jasmine on him and teased Odina about it, thinking to distract her a bit, but a look passed between her and Marina and I think it was a clue for who they planned to hunt. When Forge woke, he said it was some man with horns and spikes, another odd creature, but hopefully, not made of plants.
'I had just finished there when I wandered down to the beach, hoping to catch the end of Sammy's placement fight with the Sarcina. But instead, there was a big crowd and fighting. One was Calee and some Hound, and the other was Nerio, Snaps and Rena, with Nerio trying to choke Rena to death! I was astounded and tried to help, finally injecting him with one of my remaining tranqualizer darts from my time with the Sarcina. He went down and Rena, Snaps, myself and Mitz managed to get him to that horrible bunker of the Hounds.
'We start to haul him down the ladder when we encounter this terrible pitiable mess of a man who later I learned was actually Janus. He had been horrifically wounded, covered in burns, his face distorted and broken, and he was wild, savage. Nerio was coming around and Mitz told me to use another dart so I did, just as Rena said wait, only Nerio can handle Janus. I only have one dart left now - I wonder if Deets or Deb will give me more?
'Anyhow, I thought about epinepherine, from my books? and found some in the clinic. I got it set up in Nerio's vein and refused to go back into the clinic (Nerio and Rena were in the hallway by the door that led to the room where Janus and two women were struggling). She gets so overprotective, you know, but she needs to learn that we all make our choices and she is not responsible for them, only her own. It worked well, and Rena was clever, using the door to bounce Nerio into the room and slamming it shut behind him. Then she got even more tricksy and shoved me into the clinic, following me in and locking the door behind her. I have to laugh, she is good, eh?
'Anyhow, we watched through the glass wall but we could not hear a thing, and we kept waiting for Janus to take a bite off Nerio (if I have not said, he is yet another vampire of some sort and for some reason, only Nerio's blood will suffice to heal him - I did not ask). Suddenly, Nerio, he slits his own throat! I was just amazed - we work so hard to save his life before when he was burned, he has everything to live for with Rena, and here he goes, throwing the most precious gift we all have into the drain. I was just mad, and it is a good thing I was swearing in Kreyol or those Hounds might have taken issue. We dashed in there and I did my best purely from reading. He seemed to be doing pretty good, stitched up and breathing on his own, when one of the women, she says we need to get Nerio's blood into Janus.
'She was rather rude, but I learned she is Janus' lover so I figure, she was distraught of course. They had this transfusion machine so I thought maybe if we kept the blood going into Nerio while some went out into Janus, it would keep them alive? I wanted poor Rena to decide - she is to be his wife and that is what wife's do. She was taking the whole thing horribly, in shock herself, but I had no time to help, blaming herself for Nerio's behavior. Bah, that man.
'Anyhow, I got the transfusion going when the big man from the beach? He brought in Calee with some simply gun shot wounds. I was just starting to work on her when Janus, he starts screaming and writhing.
'I was at a loss - what do I know about vampire physiology? I pulled at some of the burn skin on his arm, trying to check to see if any healing had occured, and a remarkable thing happened: when I pulled it off, it hurt him, but amazingly, the revealed skin, it healed before my very eyes. I pulled some more off, and then shouting and a big exploding pain in my head.
'I woke here with little Fewos on my neck and a headache. I think Janus' lover got mad at me for making him hurt. I suppose this is the bad side of being a medical person in Midian?'
Masha finally puts her pen down which is immediately pounced upon by the calico kitten. He bats it, watches it roll off the edge of the desk and bounce on the floor, then gleefully follows, playing with it until they both disappear under the bed, nothing but his long tail showing. Masha shakes her head, winces, puts the journal back in the safe, and goes to make an icepack for her head. She has studying to do.
Masha sleeps on her new bed, snug under the green quilt her grandmere had managed to get to her through various channels. How, Masha had no idea - the package was just there the other day, at the door of her flat, clearly postmarked from Port a Prince. The quilt was green and white and Masha swore she could smell the familiar scents of home and honfour in the woven threads.