Mark of Child: Part 2
An hour later, the girls arrives outside the dorm room of one Matthew Banks, a struggling student doing his graduate thesis in tribal cultures at the local university.
“Now, just leave the talking to me. If there’s anyone who can tell us about mystic magic, it’ll be him,” Penny says, petting her hair and adjusting her blouse to make sure nothing is out of place.
“He studies black magic?” Joan asks with fascinated eyes.
“No, he studies the people who studies black magic. He mentioned it… at some gathering. ”
“How did you know him?”
Penny stares at Joan with a look that says mind your own business, before knocking on the door.
From inside the room, came a loud tumbling noise and the creak of the wooden floor boards underneath. Whispers emanate from the room as the girls can clearly hear the voice of a man and woman coming from inside.
From the corner of her eye, Joan could see Penny’s expression, going from one of shock only moments earlier, to one of black hatred.
The door opens, and a wide-eyed handsome blonde with a head of bed hair opens the door, pulling on a shirt. “Penny, what are you doing here?”
Forcing a smile, Penny cut right through the pleasantries. “We need your help Matthew. My sister, Joan, here has some questions which you might be able to help with.” she says, throwing a quick glance behind the man. “Are we interrupting anything?”
Matthew smiles and brings out the girl hiding behind the door. She walks to the door wrapped in the blanket. “This is Leticia, she’s an exchange student from South East Asia.”
“Hi,” says the attractive dark-skinned Asian girl clearly used to American sensibilities and freedom by now. Still she hides herself behind Matthew. Pleasantries and introductions are made once again as a visibly black-faced Penny shakes the hand of Leticia.
Oblivious, Matthew turns to Joan. “So which part of tribal culture are you interested in?” he asks, happy to meet a fellow enthusiast.
“Not exactly culture,” Joan answers, uncomfortable in discussing this in the open. “I’m interested in finding out more about their medicine. Is there somewhere we can go to discuss this somewhere more quiet?”
“Sure, there’s a cafe nearby, give us one sec and we can all go together.”
Joan wanted to tell him that they wish to speak with him privately. But the doors closes before she can act. The couple get dressed behind closed doors, while Joan watches a brooding Penny pace the floor outside. In minutes, everyone is ready and they made their way to the cafe.
Sitting down, Leticia volunteers to get the drinks while the three of them talk, relieving the girls the pressure of having to get rid of her.
“So, tribal medicine?” Matthew begins, getting things rolling.“Which cultures would you like to start with. African, Aborigines, American Indians?”
Joan looks at Penny, who decides to speak on her behalf of her sister. “Matthew listen, I’m going to be very direct here. We’re trying to find out if there alternative methods that these woman… you know, control the number of children they have.”
Matthew blinks, staying silent for a moment. He’s clearly not prepared for such a query. “Wow, that’s a very specific question, umm yes I’ve.. hmm.. I’ve read about such primitive birth control methods before. I could direct you to a few books or research papers if you like…”
“No Matthew, not birth control, I’m talking about abortion here. And were looking for someone someone familiar with such tribal practices in this town. We need his services now,” Penny says as a matter of fact.
Matthew narrows his eyes, “Wait, are you…”
“Look, just help us alright.”
Leticia returns with the drinks. “Hey, what you guys talking about?” she asks, joining in the conversation as she takes the seat beside Matthew.
“Tribal abor…medicine,” he mumbles, racking his brains for an answer to Penny’s query.
“Oh, what about it, maybe I can help,” Leticia says casually, stirring her latte. “My grandfather use to be a medicine man in West Java.”
The girls suddenly perk, Joan especially. After all the luck she’s had today, this is probably the first piece of good news she’s heard all day.
“What do you mean medicine man?” Penny asks suspiciously, unwilling to divulge too much to this man-stealer from halfway around the globe.
Leticia shrugs. He cares for his village, you know. Medicine, rituals, customs, the whole deal. Where I come from, we call him a bomoh, which literally means tribal shaman.”
“Leticia’s family comes from a long line of Javanese chieftains and bomohs,” Matthew adds, holding her hand and smiling at her. “They’re very highly respected by the tribesmen. For the longest time, her ancestors stayed in the jungles of Sumatra before they moved into the city,”
Joan can hardly believe her luck, she casts aside all worries and the doubts of Penny as she proceeds to tell them both the truth. Matthew sits back in his chair and whistles a long note as Joan finishes her tale, while Leticia looks on at her with heartfelt sadness.
“Oh you poor dear! I know how you feel, the same thing happened to my aunt long ago as well. Such things are a death sentence in tribal cultures back then. Woman who get pregnant without a husband are deemed to be evil spirits, and the child in their womb is cursed to be the devil’s child.
“What happens to these women?” Joan asks, expecting more to the tale.
Leticia shrugged, “Where my family comes from, they bury the woman alive. My grandfather once told me that you can still hear them screaming from under the earth for days after that.”
Joan’s face turns a ghastly white. Suddenly, getting screamed at by father and ridiculed by her friends doesn’t seem like so big a deal after all.
“Wait, how do you know all this?” Penny asks, still not entirely trusting of this woman.
“When he was alive, grandfather taught me the ways of the tribe,” Leticia explains, “That is until my father found out and burned everything in my room. He had a big fight with grandfather over this, he doesn’t want any more black magic in the family.”
“Strange, I could have sworn you used a love charm on me,” Matthew jokes, throwing Leticia a cheeky look while Penny fumes in silence.
“Wait, what black magic?” Penny asks, interrupting the lovebirds.
“Never mind that Penny, can we go back to the woman, what did they do if they want to avoid their sentence?” Joan asks, anxious to hear where this is going.
Leticia smiles, “My grandfather had a remedy if these woman came to him before they got caught. Of course, its a secret, the tribal leaders will never stand for such a thing.”
“That’s great!” Joan screams, jumping up in her seat. She could hardly believe her ears. This night seems to be getting better and better. Thank god they had the luck to find Leticia here. Matthew is turning out to be quite a bum.
“But…” Penny cuts in, staring at Joan to calm down, “There’s always a but somewhere inside, am I right Leticia? ”
She nods, “Yes, black magic always comes at a cost, at least that’s what it says in the book.”
“You even have a book on this? Joan asks, getting more and more impress with Leticia by the minute.
“Didn’t your father burn everything?” Penny interjects.
“Yea, well grandfather gave it to me for safekeeping before he died. My family has no idea that it even exists. It’s a strange book, you’ll know what I mean when you see it,” Leticia says, sipping her latte.
Eyes light up across the table. “You have the book here?
“Of course, I can’t leave it with my parents,” Leticia smirks, looking at us like it should be obvious.
Tiny wheels in Joan’s head starts to click into place. She leans forward and looks at Leticia with serious eyes, “Will you help me Leticia?”
“I don’t know Joan,” Matthew says urging caution. “You should let me take a look at it first, maybe…”
“No, I can’t wait. Will you help me?” Joan asks again.
“Joan, Matthew’s right.” Penny says, siding with reason, “We’re dealing with something we don’t understand here.”
Joan turns and glowers at her sister, “Penny, you promised me anything.”
“Yes but…” Penny looks at the hopeful eyes of her sister and knows that this is a lost cause. “Alright fine, whatever. Leticia, you’re sure it’s going to be safe?”
Leticia nods her head. “Our ancestors have been using it for generations, can’t see what’s wrong. Of course, we might need to find the necessary herbs, that might prove tricky.”
“Between the horticultural lab and greenhouses here on campus, the medicinal shops in Chinatown, and the weird gypsy place down on the west end, I’m sure we’ll find what we need,” Matthew suggests, actually saying something useful for the first time.
“Well! Let’s get started,” Joan says to all the waiting faces, eager to get this over with once and for all. Matthew and Penny look at each other grimly as they reluctantly agree.
“Great, to my apartment then,” Leticia chirps, “Let’s see what grandfather’s book has to say.”
END PART 2
Please let me know how this passage is able to capture your attention. I’m trying to build up the thing here, but might be too draggy. But basically, I’ve passed the first pillar here and will be delving into the action proper soon. Also looking for a more readable theme, looking at Mimbo Pro.
- Flesh Eaters: Part 1 (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Flesh Eaters: Part 2 (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Random Horror Intro (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)