Before Luke and Peters awoke and came to us I took a small knife and nicked Zarinah’s wrist. The blood did no flow, but rather, it dripped as she had been cold for so long, but once I had enough I sealed it in a milk bottle and set about that which I knew would give me one last chance to be with her. Locking the door and on clearing a space on the rug beside the bed, I arranged fossil dust a few drops of the first serum in a drinking glass from Zarinah’s beside. Next I prepared the second serum and as soon as ten minutes had passed I drank her blood. The shock of it jolted me, kicking my legs out and scattering the accoutrements before me on the rug. The mixture flung me from this world back into that cold place, but it was filled with unfamiliar beings. None of which even seemed to notice that I could see them. It was clouded in crushing waves of chilling vibrations which coursed through everything including my own formless self. Then, a distance away, the crowded mass of beings turned and somehow I felt their emptiness fill up. Then, between them, a deep ruby red glow appeared. It was faint at first but it blossomed into a full being. It was her. I could feel her. I could taste her on the air. But she had no idea that I was there. She was embraced by the other beings, each of them going to her and pausing before her before moving on to let the next being come forward. It was beautiful, the greetings and the feelings of love that permeated that cold place. At once it was no longer a void, but a cauldron of tenderness. Before the beings had finished greeting her, I awoke with Luke and Peters standing over me exchanging blows. Fists swung and hands grabbed at collars and lapels and feet stamped near my head. Weakened by the loss of the Madam and my need for the second serum. I scurried for the vile that I had kicked over and received several incidental kicks in the process, but once the fluid had been taken I stood and looked down upon my Zarinah. She was no longer mine, but rather, she belong to those in that cold place now. She was with those who loved her before she and I had ever met. And then I took punch in the side of head and fell onto the bed beside the Madam. Peters roared like a lion and dragged me from the bed while Luke attempted to drag him off of me. But Peters’ his rage had overcome him and as I flew back onto the rug, I could hear him wail out, making the kind of sound no man of honour should ever had to make.
I could see his love for her when I stood and saw him knelt beside her, his hand outstretched and clenching hers, his face buried in the blankets at the edge if the bed. He was a pitiful sight of the destruction that life can wrought upon a soul. He had cared for her for so very long that she had become as his daughter. His loss was as mine and although I had felt the tenderness of that cold place Peters was still unaware of the love that Zarinah now felt. I wished that I could have shown Peters. I wish that he hadn’t taken up that shard of glass that smashed when he and Luke were brawling. I wish that he were still here now. That is what the Madam would have wanted.
Luke and I faced a terrible truth. Peters and Zarinah lay death at our feet in an empty house and we were without lodgings or a source of income. He looked at me and I looked at him. Stock still we stared at one another. I could see it in him as no doubt he could in me. Without saying it or even nodding an acknowledgment, Luke turned and walked out of the room. I leaned down and kissed Zarinah’s forehead and then took the blanket I had slept in from the chair and laid it out next to Peters. Next I lifted him onto it and folded his arms across his chest. Then I wrapped him in the blanket and tied its corners around him. By the time that I had done the same for Zarinah on the bed Luke had returned with shovels. Again, without any signs of understanding, I walked to him and he handed one of the spades to me before me left our host and her attendant and proceeded to the garden where we each dug a grave in absolute silence. I didn’t feel anything. I knew that Zarinah was with her people. That she was happy there in the cold place. But I did pity Peters. He was a good man, all he cared about was keeping the Madam. And we had brought death upon him. As I laid her remains down in that dank hole in the ground I bayed Madam Zarinah Sabine goodbye. In that moment there was only the two of us. No Luke. No Peters. I stood over her grave and wept, knowing that I would never again see the smile that gave me all the joy I had never known. The woman. The woman, was gone forever.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey