Moonsilver Transfusion Chapter 8

Chapter 8


In the few minutes we took to shift and get ready, things had gotten worse. Isabell lay on the ground, clawing at her back. Several onlookers sat on the ground back from the circle, nursing injuries. Sadie wailed at her mother’s feet, clutching her ankles. Into this situation I strode, side by side with Victoria, Secret riding low on my back. All eyes and the TV camera had swung to us as I lowered my muzzle from my howl. Most ominously, the mound stirred, those street lamp eye stalks extending.

Now what? I wondered.

“Hello,” Victoria waved to them all and spoke with a sultry authority. “We’ve come to offer our assistance with these negotiations.”

“Negotiations?” Grimacing, Isabell pushed up on to her hands and knees. “It has my daughter! Make it let her go.”

“Have you asked it nicely?” Victoria continued walking forward, and I kept pace with her as she continued talking, “In dealing with the dead, it is always better to be polite and respectful. It’s even more important with spirits of the land, who cannot be banished or trapped with salt.” The onlookers scattered from our path.

Isabell stared uncomprehendingly, as if we’d melted into abstract paintings.

Victoria knelt at the edge of the circle. “Spirit, we ask you to pause your screaming and allow the girl to speak on her own behalf. We invite you to communicate directly with those who live within you so they might understand. Please.”

The ground rumbled and the spirit’s thoughts rolled up my legs.

The sun-coddled humans are deaf to our pain, blind to our omens. We shall force them to hear again, wrench open their closed eyes. If they refuse, then they shall rot within us.

Victoria tapped a finger against her knee as she composed her reply. “Spirit, respectfully, the language of your omens is lost. It must be taught again. You wish to be understood. You wish the pain to stop. To move beyond the pain and heal. Then you must teach us how.”

The dirt beneath my paws heated. Steam rose from the soil around us as the spirit’s anger frothed under us. It burned with near malice towards its residents, it just didn’t understand.

Pain teaches. Our agony can teach. When they all know our pain then they shall know us.

A growl rose in my throat. If it only had pain to offer, then that’s all it would receive. I dredged up images of strip mining, oil drilling and various other tortures mankind would inflict. The heat of its anger cooled to fear as it learned that humanity practiced the arts of mountaintop removal.

Victoria nodded. “While we recognize your pain, spirit, I remind you that surely that is not the sum of your existence. Families are raised here. Flourish here. Love here. Surely that counts for something, yes? Let the girl speak to her mother. Let her speak of your wishes.”

The lake of pain and anger beneath us stilled as the spirit considered that humanity as a whole could indeed punish it for a widespread temper tantrum. The girl’s latest wail slowly died away and did not resume.

Sadie let her head sink down so her forehead rested on the ground and breathed.

“Is it… dawn yet?” she asked.

“Oh baby.” Isabell heaved herself up onto her knees. Hissing with her own pain, she dragged herself to Sadie and pulled her up into a hug. “It’s going to be okay. Momma’s gonna get you out of here.”

“No, mom. It won’t let me leave. I don’t wanna leave.” Sadie leaned bonelessly against her mother.

“I won’t let it hurt you anymore,” Isabell said with fierce determination, but her eyes went to us, wide, panicked, and in pain.

“It's not hurting me. It's hurting. Not me. Someone has to let it scream. Or it won’t let us live here anymore. It won’t let anyone live here anymore. It will do what it did to dad, but worse.” Sadie spoke calmly, her breaths deepening as she gave her mother a rare smile that I recognized. Secret had smiled that smile when she held Little Nick’s hand and walked off with him toward Winter’s palace. Rarely, it appeared in my ambulance when a child put on a brave face for a  hysterical parent.

“So? We’ll move. Far away,” Isabell insisted.

Sadie simply shook her head. “What about Melissa, Courtney, and David? All my other friends.”

“Child,” Victoria called out as she stood, “Would it allow another to take your place?”

Sadie lowered her eyes, listening intently to something only she heard. Then nodded. “Yes,” she said, her mouth opened to say more but her mother cut her off.

“Great.” Isabell’s eyes gained a manic shine as they fixed on Victoria. “Swap places with her then! Come on.”

“We have other responsibilities tonight.” Victoria said, her tone icy. “My mate has already given herself once to this spirit.”

“So you're happy for it to have an eleven year old girl instead?” Isabell snapped, her gaze locked onto one of the other onlookers. “How ‘bout you, Will? You’re a big, tough MAN. You can take this, right?”

 The man looked around as if there might be someone else bearing his name. “Uh, um…” He sighed, “I guess?”

“Mooooom,” Sadie groaned, “I can do it. He can take tomorrow. Then somebody else can the next. Until there are no more screams.”

“I said no.” Isabell’s face twisted in anger. “Your dad’s in the hospital! And I’ve thrown out my back. That’s enough!”

“It’s okay, mom. It won’t touch our house again. It says it will fix it. I made a promise.” Sadie smiled gently into her mother’s horrified face. “You always say we should keep our promises.”

“No! No. No!” Isabell hugged her daughter tightly and broke into a wracking sob. “It’s not fair! Let her go!” She began to drag Sadie away.

“Stop, mom! I have to stay for it.” Sadie reached down and dug her fingers into the ground. “You’re gonna hurt yourself again! Somebody help, or it will do it. And it’s not gentle!”

Victoria and I growled with our shared frustration at the unyielding stubbornness of mother and daughter.

“What do I do?” Victoria whispered.

If the girl refused to yield her place then Isabell had to be prevented from both injuring herself and provoking the spirit further. Remove her, I sent.

Victoria sucked in her breath through clenched teeth, then pointed at Will and one other man. “You and you. Assist me before she does any more damage to herself.”

The three of them entered the circle and peeled Isabell from her daughter. She fought briefly before allowing herself to be dragged away.

“I’ll be fine, mom,” Sadie assured her as pain crowded into her features. Once Isabell crossed the circle’s threshold, Sadie lifted her face to the sky and let loose a ragged, agonized cry. She hugged herself, fingers clawing at her forearms, nails digging through skin.

“You’re all monsters!” Isabell shouted, “Standing here. Listening to that.”

“That’s what the spirit wants. For us to hear it.” Victoria addressed the crowd, “That’s its price. It wants you to know that we have hurt it. Hopefully, at some point the screams will give way to healing. A peace can be negotiated. Yes, you can leave, refuse to pay this price. But the land is waking up. Spirits like this one will become more common. No matter where you live, you will need to learn to coexist. Unlike the dead, who can be forced back to their graves, and fey who burn at the touch of iron, spirits like this one are part of our world. I pray that not all of them will be as angry as this one.”

“So you’re just going to let my little girl scream? Listen to her pain? All night?” Isabell accused her.

“Your daughter is very brave.” As Victoria addressed Isabell, Secret leaned up to my ear and whispered.

“I know how to help her,” she explained.

I had to laugh, so simple, and Isabell had been so close to it. Worth a shot.

After assuring the spirit that I wouldn’t remove Sadie from the circle, I stepped out into it.

Isabell, who had been listening to Victoria extoll the virtues of her daughter, snapped back to form as I approached Sadie. “What are you doing, monster?! Don’t you hurt her anymore! You’ve done enough.”

There would be no winning with Isabell apparently; I huffed in annoyance as Secret leapt down from my back, landing in kitten form onto Sadie’s arms. Sadie didn’t notice so Secret stood on her hind legs, purring and rubbing her cheeks against Sadie’s jaw. When Sadie paused for breath, her hands came up and pressed Secret against her chest.

“Merf!” Secret complained of the pressure before purring loud enough to be heard beneath the next wail.

As this happened, I curled around the pair, embracing them with my body.

“What are you doing to my daughter?” Isabell’s voice reached my ears.

“She’s hugging her. Same as you do when you are with a sick child. You can’t make the pain go away, but you can hold them.” Victoria said.

More than that, Sadie expressed the spirit’s pain as she relaxed against my fur and squeezed Secret. Confusion burbled among that lake of pain below. A new gentle warmth mixed among the hot anger and bitterness. Such a brave kid. She would endure this, probably come out stronger for it. Each time I licked her cheek a drop of love fell into the spirit’s ocean, cooling it minutely. Sadie did not stop wailing out the spirit’s pain, but she muffled it occasionally in my thick fur.

Time passed, Luna inched across the sky. Isabell stared at me with a bitter scowl, and the news crew camera continued to roll. Finally, Isabell rose, one hand pressed against her injured back. Snakes of roots and cable slithered across the surface of the soil in warning.

“Fine, I won’t try to take her. I promise,” she snarled, then set off across the circle at a slow hobble. When she reached us, she stared down into my eyes and said “Let her go and then go away. I’m her mother, not you.”

I stared back, just long enough to show that I didn’t have to yield to her harshly worded request. Then I uncurled, plucked Secret from Sadie’s arms and stepped away.

“Merf?” Secret asked sleepily as she hung from my teeth. Then I tossed her onto my back and she protested, “Meeerf!”

“Baby! I got you my baby.” Isabell rushed in to hold Sadie as she wobbled in the midst of a wail. Embracing her daughter and guiding her down to her knees, the bitterness washed from her features. “Mom’s got you.”

Victoria’s golden eyes met mine, we shared a nod, and silently we left the backyard and walked south to our own territory. Once out of sight, Victoria plucked a feather from her shoulder and the outfit shimmered from existence.

We still had work to do and the night was far from over.


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