I has passed out and the first thing that came to mind other than the fact I was absolutely ravenous was if these people were some type of lost culture, did they practice human sacrifice? It was the only explanation I had to why I’d been led to the equivalent of a medicine woman, and rendered unconscious by herbs and chanting. I opened my eyes, and the world came into focus. I was looking at the inside of makeshift tent. Edges of canvas were tied to rings on the wall of the theater. I slowly sat up. The tent was enclosed, the flaps were down, but not tied, I could see movement through the slit of the flaps and I could hear chanting, it wasn’t like the medicine woman’s from last night, but this was energetic, as if something to get the blood pumping, to ready themselves for something coming. There was the beat of drums, and the shake of something rattled. My heart began to try to beat with the drums, speeding up.
I had been laying on a pallet of what appeared to be clothing scraps and blanket pieces stitched haphazardly together, stuffed with straw. I was alone in the tent, and there were a few personal items in the tent, mostly trinkets, but a framed picture, one of those incredible captured life paintings that I’d seen everywhere in the odd village. Except it was of Mocsk and… that couldn’t be… Me? The woman in the painting, stood close to Mocsk, she had her arm around his shoulders. They both wore the same blue shirt, but she wore a black apron that he did not. The woman looked uncannily like me, same hair color, same eyes, same face structure, except this woman was about a hundred pounds heavier than me. She was plump, with large hips, large breasts and only the smallest resemblance of a waist line. This woman in the painting had one thing I didn’t, happiness. I’d never seen someone who looked so happy. Mocsk on the other hand looked stiff, like her closeness to him made him uncomfortable. He was smiling and I had admit he seemed happy, but it was like the woman was getting painted with a statue. Around them in the painting was the weird village except it was busy, people were moving about, the odd trains were traveling and everything was clean and colorful.
Turning from the photo, I picked up my tricorn hat. I opened the tent flaps and saw at least a dozen baskets placed at the opening. Some contained fruit, some nuts, one looked like dried meat of some kind. Another one had clothing, another with trinkets and what looked like coins. I picked up a small copper looking coin. Stamped on one side was a man I’d never seen before, on the other was a building I did not recognize. Around the bowels and baskets were a small crowd of people, they were the ones chanting. I looked around for Remy and did not see him. Perhaps he was still sleeping, but I doubted many could sleep through these drums and voices. I did see Mocsk, he was beating a drum, and he smiled when our eyes met. He did not look away, and once again he seemed to be drinking in my appearance. Did he think I was the woman from the painting?
The chanting suddenly stopped and the rush of silence crowded in on me. I realized my heart was pounding and I was heated up. I wanted to take my overcoat off, but I decided against it. Sweat had beaded on my brow. Giving the drum to another man, Mocsk stood and walked towards me, I was amazed at how confident he moved, I hadn’t seen posture that good since Sam.
“You’re finally awake,” he spoke clearly and I took a step back from him, giving him an angry look.
“You speak Common? That’s a dick move,” I snapped at him. I saw confusion briefly flutter across his face. He gave the small sound that I thought sounded like a cat meow, but I now heard him clearly.
“Yeah,” was what he had said.
“Say my name,” I ordered him.
“Yeah,” he said in that same soft voice looking away from me.
“You’ll have to forgive, Mitch,” came a strong feminine voice from behind him. Mitch? Wasn’t his name Mocsk? “He doesn’t understand a word you’re saying.” I quirked a brow at her. Mocsk was looking anywhere except at me. “He thought you were his friend, Becky, she looks exactly like you.”
“You both speak, Common?” I asked and she looked at me a moment as if registering my words.
“I don’t understand you, either, so it would seem the spell only half worked.”
“Do you understand what I’m saying?” I asked, realizing my voice was rising. It was a terrible thing that when I got excited I got louder. I was shouting at him and he almost winced, like he’d been physically struck. I was angry. He turned away from me and that set me off. I’d have forked him if I still had the fork. “Where do you think you’re going?” I grabbed his arm, which felt like steel under my grasp and there was the same electricity as before. He looked at me, square in the eyes, and though he looked hurt, he tried to smile at me. I wanted to smack it off him. He stared at me, until I finally let him go, which I didn’t want to do. The crowd that had chanted around the tent I’d been sleeping in had dispersed but they were now turning to look at us.
He walked towards the stage, and then to the tent that held the medicine woman. I would assume she was the village leader from her position on the stage. Her tent was higher than the others, and the only one on the stage. Around her tent were the same bowls and baskets of what I realized were offerings. The medicine woman was crouched next to her fire, and she was roasting something that may have been a rabbit.
“Neis, it didn’t work,” he says to her.
“What didn’t work?” I asked before she can reply to him. She glances at me a moment. I cross my arms over my chest.
“I warned you, as much as you may want to wish that this outsider is her, Semihga is not Bella,” the medicine woman told him.
“She hast to be, she came from the heavens,” Mocsk insisted.
“You have to let her go,” the medicine woman said softly to him. “The Beast took her, you know this. We have seen her spirit.” Mocsk sort of shut down. He wasn’t going to let go of his hope so easily. I could empathize with him. I’d been seeing my husband, but when I’d learned that I was seeing Orford’s ghost, I knew I was seeing Paul’s as well. So he believed that I was the woman in the painting. I had to admit the resemblance was creepy uncanny. And the Beast was most likely the Sky Kraken. So the Sky Kraken had taken someone from him.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said quietly. I’d only known him a few hours, but just the way he looked at me, the attention he gave me even though he couldn’t understand a word I said… seemed like I had known him lifetimes. Mocsk turned and looked at me, once again that absorbing intense gaze, I could get lost in those blue eyes. He even smiled slightly, but sadly. Suddenly it occurred to me, I understood them perfectly, but they couldn’t understand me. “It half worked.” I said quickly. I wasn’t sure what ‘it’ was, but somehow, through some sort of magic, I could hear their language. I just had no clue how to explain to them I understood them.
“Yeah.” I was going to kill him. I understood now he said that when he didn’t understand.
“I,” I pointed to myself, “can hear,” I pointed to my ear, “you,” I pointed to him and then the medicine woman. I nodded vigorously up and down. The medicine woman stood up and looked me up and then down.
“You can hear us?” She asked. I nodded vigorously again, trying to contain the satisfaction that we were for the love of God communicating. “You understand what I’m saying?” Again a nod, I thought my head was going to bobble off. “Take two steps back.” I stepped back two steps. “Three steps left.” I moved three steps. She gave a half smile, slightly pleased, but I could see the concern on her face.
“What?” I asked. I looked from her to Nick who was just watching me and smiling hugely.
“The magic should’ve worked completely or not at all,” the medicine woman stated placing a hand on her hip. She suddenly reached forward and took my hand, I tugged away from her, but her grip was like iron. She pulled up my sleeves, turned my wrist around to see it all. She grabbed the other hand and checked the wrist. She examined the circle, sucker shaped bruise on my wrist carefully, before releasing me. “You’re not Bella.”
“No I’m not, I’m Honesty, from the clouds,” I pointed upwards. I rubbed my wrists where she had touched me.
“Semihga,” she stated to Mocsk pointing to me, “I don’t know who she is.” The medicine woman went back to her fire. I looked at Mocsk.
“Where is Remy?” I asked, “Remy. The guy who was here with me.”
“Juna,” he stated.
“No, Remy,” I corrected.
“Juna,” he stated with a nod of recognition.
“Rem-mee,” I said slower.
“Joon-nah,” he said just as slow.
“Honesty,” I pointed to myself. He smiled sweetly.
“Semihga,” he replied. I pointed to him.
“Mocsk,” I stated.
“Mitch,” he pointed to himself.
“Mitch? Your name is Mitch?” I asked.
“Not Mocsk. Mitch,” he corrected. It suddenly dawned on me that what I was hearing was not what he was actually saying. Before the medicine woman’s spell, I had heard him say his name in his language, now that magic was translating, he was still saying his name in his language, but it was being translated. So Remy translated to Juna in his language, and Honesty was Semihga.
“Where is Remy?” I asked, hoping that he’d understand just by the question in my voice. Mocsk indicated that I should follow him again and I did. I glanced back at the medicine woman, she had a huge smile on her face that nearly entirely hidden by her wild hair. Apparently she found our conversation rather funny.
He led me outside of the theater encampment and I squinted at the sunshine. I gazed in awe at the blue cloudless sky. The sky was never this shade from the clouds above. The weird village was just as dirty and rundown in the daylight as it had been in the dark. Paint had faded, things had collapsed.
“What is this place?” I asked trying to indicate where we were.
“It’s a theme park,” he said and I muddled over his words. Theme and park did not make sense together. Parks were areas of trees, statues, goldfish ponds and benches, courtyards that were open to the public.
“What’s a theme park?”
“Yeah.” I just wanted to fork him so bad every time he did that. It was hard to remember that though I understood him, he had almost no clue what I was saying. He stood there, spear in hand, black shirt that was ripped and patched, that was almost form fitting. I could easily see his chest and arm muscles flexing when he moved. He seemed close to my age, he had lines at the corners of eyes from squinting in the sun or from laughing. However he had stubble on his face, but it wasn’t a man’s growth, more like a boy’s.