Inside, old Ababuo, stood, a silent statue, dressed in a black and green batik patterned head-scarf and robe. Ababuo dreamed with her eyes open. She dreamed beyond her mundane life, to the ancient age, and the consecrated women, the women chosen from the highest families, daughters of warriors and chiefs. Once in a generation these women emerged from their tunnels to be pulled along the streets, in wooden carts. The procession wove along the moon-bright Stone City streets. The men and women of the ancient city welcomed the women with silence and respectful down-cast eyes.
On the floor of Ababuo’s house was a shattered vial. Empty now, save for one lingering drop of oily liquid, clinging to the broken crystal.
After the night in perfect stillness, Ababuo’s mind returned reluctantly to this time. She gasped as her mind shuddered back into her body.
She walked to her desk, her naked feet trod on unnoticed glass. Each step pushed the fragments deeper, and left a trail of thin blood against the rush matting. It was of no consequence. She slipped the lap-top under her arm, like a folded book.
In the kitchen, Ababuo pushed aside a woven mat and bent to pull open the hidden cellar door. She descended into the musty darkness. Ababuo was a wealthy woman; the family clove farms gave her access to certain privileges, the wealth of a world’s knowledge in a silver computer.
The cellar was a solitary place. It would be disrespectful, to tread the dark pathway, above ground. She only wished that she could burrow further into the earth, like the consecrated women, of ages past wriggling into the dry caverns of earth, away from the fierce judgment of the sun. Most of those tunnels were now lost. Age had sealed them, and their purpose. Yet some things never die, only sleep. The caverns of Wonte had been recently excavated, photographed and marveled over. The images placed on the internet for all to view.
Ababuo burrowed through the electric earth, along the familiar images of the discovered ancient tunnels. She delved deeper, into speculation and half-hidden messages, dredged from the memories of old. She dug into the illicit knowledge. Nothing is forbidden in this age. Secrets are no longer protected by the guardians, who once spent generations of life blood on hiding such things. No, the stories abound, within the dark sites, and Ababuo drew knowledge around her like a shell.
Above ground the oily residue, dried slowly on the broken crystal. The essence taken from a mummy found in the depths of that deserted Wonte tunnel. A body of a woman, misshapen, her legs fused together, the bones of her face, changed and melded and elongated. That body was immediately reburied, but in this electronic age, nothing stays buried for very long.
And a thousand vials of the mummy’s essence were procured and sent to the families of the high born ladies, like Ababuo.
Ababuo gropes in the darkness, not following the curves into the stone, made by the passage of the old one, millennia ago, , but moving through the curves of knowledge, adding incrementally, piece by piece, until the new revelation.
She is a consecrated woman, wriggling in the dark, illuminated by the glow of the screen, groping through the traces left, time upon, time upon, time ago. She is not alone. That ancient mummy spawned a thousand vials, and over this island, a thousand wealthy consecrated women, undulated in harmony, though the old unearthed knowledge. Their movements were a prayer that reverberated, deep, down deep, so deep, and layered upon the twitching hide of one in a fretful sleep.
© Deborah Walker
Deborah Walker is a big fan of old school weird. Her horror has been published in Necrotic Tissue, Poe Little Thing, and other fine venues. She blogs at: Deborah Walker’s Bibliography