Reaching into my side pouch, I examine the body before me. A man, his leg cut wide by an errant machete swing while harvesting sugarcane in the fields. The man had grown ill over the course of five hours since his act of misfortune, leaving him feverish and clammy, delusional to the outside world. His wife had called me in, wheedling me for information that could save his life while still trying to observe the rites and observances according to the traditions of our people. I try to assure her I’m not someone to scrap and bow to, but they have brought her up with “proper” respect for me.
A one-armed, one-eyed bokor with scars running along his chest and face like spider webs on the wall? It’s not so bad I suppose, I get to stay out of the fields, act as someone who watches the young ones officially while the adults work in the fields and the house.
After the rebellion eight years ago, I’d taken the brunt of the punishment for my people, offering myself as a willing sacrifice to be had in place of our children being sold off.
He’d bound me up good and tight, and with my own machete, the one I’d used for twenty-two years on his plantation for his precious sugar cane. He’d taken my arm, and he took my eye. I hate him. I hate all of his kind. But I temper my hate with patience, knowing my time will come soon enough. Even without an arm and missing an eye, I’m worth over one would assume. Being a bokor pays, I would say. I use herbal poultices and tonics to keep myself fresh and able-bodied, younger than my peers in both body and mind.
I chuckle a bit, earning a glare from the man’s wife. I just shake my head and pull from my satchel some Goofer dust, blowing it over the wound and extracting the ill will I feel lingering there. Someone sent some foul mojo over this man and has been doing it for a while.
I look up at his wife, Sarah. “He’s been cursed,” I say moving my hand up to the wound to run my long nails over the slit in his leg, picking a maggot I’d placed there away from its brethren. The rotted flesh is almost all gone, eaten away by the voracious little worms I’d liberally poured over the infection after lancing it. He thrashes in his unconscious state, forcing me to wave my hand over his head, quelling his mind into a calmed state. Another practitioner of the arts would worry I’m about to make a thrall out of a man.
There aren’t that many that call to the old arts anymore, no. Not since the white man replaced our gods with their God.
“Can you lift it?” Sarah asks, looking from her husband to me.
I chuckle. “Whoever did it has power, yes. But skill? Skill they be lacking! And skill be something Johamba have!”
“Then please Johamba, please cure him. Purge his soul of the foul curse once and for all!”
I smile grimly, moving my arm back down to my pouch. I pull a stuffed mushroom from it, rolling it between my fingers idly. Packed with enough poisons to kill a bull, when suffused with my white magic it should act as a firm kick in the teeth to whatever curse this man has that’s leeching his luck. Poking my index finger into the cap, I spear the mushroom and bring it up to my lips, and breathe on it, my breath extending out like the smoke from a pipe. The smoke sinks into the cap, forcing the colors of the fungus to change from speckled red to stark white.
“This,” I hold it up with a laugh, “be what skill brings to da table.”
And with that I ram the mushroom into the wound, pushing maggots out of the way as I push it in deep, wriggling it into exposed muscle until it slides along bone. The man moans, shifting on his cot as I pull back a bloody finger. Looking to his wife, I smile.
“That should take care of any curse laid upon him, allowing the wound to heal as it would. Sew up da wound nice and tight after dousing with whiskey. Do not worry, he be out like until da sun comes up tomorrow.”
“And he’ll live?” Sarah asks in a quivering voice.
I shrug my shoulders. “’ou can say? I just be making the curse focus on the poppet I stuff in da cut. It be a deep wound, but not one he can’t overcome. Others overcome so much more, vous le savez?”
“Je comprends, thank you Johamba! What would we ever do without you?” Sarah says, hugging her husband’s prone form.
“You would be jus’ fine, mon ami. I am but a humble servant, doing what I can to ‘elp my people do what they can while in chains.” I lie, knowing full well this man would have died by sunrise if I hadn’t intervened. This makes me wonder who cast such a charm over him in the first place, making him a victim of a leeching curse. It would have to be someone on the plantation, someone who has access to the slave quarters. They’d need to get him to eat or drink something with their blood in it, so they could channel their energies into his body, robbing him of his own. At least that’s how a Voodoo practitioner would do it… the witchcraft of the white man has its own rules from what I understand.
I clear my mind with a deep breath and open my eyes to stare at Sarah once more. “Do what ya must, but keep da wound clean. It take a long time to heal, but he should just have a scar to show your children instead of a stump like old Johamba.”
She looks away, slightly ashamed. All of my people look at me in such a way, reminded of what I gave up when they tried to revolt against my wishes. Who was I to say no to the group though? I was just a field worker, saying that we couldn’t take on the white men and their guns even with our numbers.
And I’d been right.
Now they see me as a reminder of their actions, which I loathe. Most of them have accepted we will never be free, and have lost all fire in their belly over the realization. Turning away from Sarah as she begins scooping maggots from her husband’s wound, I shuffle out of the shack and into the humid summer night. Scratching at my neck errantly, I look up the hill towards the manor; most of the windows are dark, though one on the second story boasts a flickering light. Someone is up late.
The madam is notorious for her drinking and passing out early, as is her husband, the great Albert Dufont, our Master. He spends his evenings reading and listening to his house servants play the piano for him. My own daughter works and lives in the house with him, catering to the eldest daughter as a handmaiden, causing me worry every waking moment. Life as a house servant is precarious, a constant balancing act of remaining invisible enough not to draw the eye of the master, and just present enough to do your chores. I know she acts as a personal servant to the Dufont’s eldest child, Marie, and that she caters to the youngest.
Kallie is strong. She won’t have any worries so long as she stays on Dufont’s good side.
Besides the two adults, there are five children of varying ages. The eldest is his daughter, the aforementioned Marie, a beautiful waif if ever there was one. Beautiful blue eyes and bright blonde hair with skin as pure as fresh milk, Marie is a somewhat kind, if naïve, child that views me as an old mare she can talk to and hear old stories from. I do not enjoy those times. She comes down every so often to the slums where we work and loves to offer us treats.
As if we’re pets, or animals.
I avoid her visits as much as I can, staying to my own shack where the mothers who work in the house drop off their children for me to watch during the day. I teach them, feed them and try to keep the darkness of our conditions as far from mind as possible. Walking along the grounds of our slums, I slip by a child playing with a few hens, chasing them with a stick. Looking up at the height of the moon, I raise an eyebrow; it’s a little late for a child to be out and about. Hell, it’s a little late for me to be out and about.
“Jerome,” I say aloud, catching the boys’ attention. “What you doing up at a time like this? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“I would be, but Kallie came down from the house with fresh sheets and cinnamon bread. She’s talking to my mama right now!” The boy sounded ecstatic. It would only be another year before he’d be in the fields, tasting the whip from an overseer for being too slow.
“Go on den, back to your mama. I’ll walk you,” I say, wanting to see Kallie and find out what she was doing down here.
“Okay!” Jerome said, chasing one last chicken a few feet before running up beside me, walking on my good side where I can see him. All the children have learned that I don’t appreciate them lingering in my blind spot. I take my role as caretaker of the children seriously, and hex children with minor ailments if they prove too unruly. I smile at how poor Jerome, after calling me a naughty word, had suffered from stomach cramps a full week. He apologized and I gave him a tonic, which relieved it. His mother, Delia, was most unsympathetic with the lad’s plight. Now Jerome was my little friend, following me around and helping with the youngest children when others are acting up.
I’ve often thought of taking on another apprentice, someone I can teach the old ways to. I tried with my daughter, and to an extent the teachings took root. She knows how to brew the most basic of healing draughts, and a dozen other potions and unguents beneficial. But then she decided she wanted to work in the manor. The field work was “beneath” her.
Heh… a slave thinking something is beneath them. It made me proud that she wanted more out of life, but disappointed that she would give up the path to the Voodoo so readily. The Loa only know how much I worry over that girl…
We get to Jerome’s shack in under a minute where I’m greeted by the sight of my daughter speaking with Delia in the doorway of their small home. Delia looks up at me, that look of pity entering her eyes, an involuntary flinch that I despise. She quickly replaces it with one of cheer, stopping Jerome at her knees and placing a hand on his shoulder.
“We were just speaking about you, Johamba. You listenen’ in on us now?” She teased, making me smile half-heartedly.
“Non, I was just walking back from Mathieu’s after cleanin’ him up when I bumped into ya boy chasin’ the chickens. Thought I’d bring him home…” I trail off, my eye moving to meet my daughter’s gaze. “Heard me daughter was down here, handin’ out treats.”
She looks down with a slight smile.
I stare at her for a few more moments, remembering the shouting match we’d gotten in the last time she was down here. She’d been seeing one of Dufont’s sons in the evenings… something I hadn’t been too keen on. That was over a week ago. Depending on her news, I might just finish the fetish doll I’d been making of the boy; strike him where it hurt him most every night.
I dismiss such thoughts as Kallie moves in to hug me, her arms slipping around my neck and pulling my stooped frame even lower to match her height. She took after her mother, thank goodness, and didn’t possess my tall stature that forced me to bow my upper body when I entered a building. Walking with a slouch, my fingernails sliding in the earth beside my feet had become second nature to me; the taskmasters take it as a challenge if I stand up to my full height, two full heads taller than “Big Bones” Butch. I pat her on the back and greet her with a kiss to the temple.
“How ya doin’ girl?” I ask, waving goodbye to Delia as Kallie and I begin to walk away.
“I’m doing fine,” she replies, her accent not as sharp as mine. “The house is busy as always. Master is expecting some friends over for a card game in the next few nights.”
“Lovely,” I grouse.
“Oh stop,” she says, taking the crook of my elbow with her hands. “Master is really growing more lenient in his old age.”
“Evil men always be evil, ma fille. Age have nothin’ to do wit it.”
“He’s not evil…” Kallie says, looking down as we walk.
I look at her. “He took my arm, if’n you don’t remember?”
“You offered yourself instead of him selling us off. The fact that he was so gentle with slaves that tried to break free says how kind a man he really is.” She said, looking at me with her large violet eyes. “He takes care of us.”
I snort. “He cares for his sugar cane Kallie, make no mistake. We just be work horses for his men to take out every planting season and harvest.”
“Look, I didn’t come down to get into another argument with you.” Kallie says after a few moments of silence, moving her hands from my elbow. “I came to ask a favor.”
“A favor? Well you know I serve the other slaves, so why would I say no to you?” I stop in front of my hut, a large one meant for a large family. I had a large family once… before Dufont had sold off my two youngest sons, and my wife. All because I’d spoken out of turn in my youth. I’d begged for him to let me keep my daughter. That had cost me over a hundred lashes over four weeks. Each week he’d asked if I wanted to keep my infant daughter in exchange for the lashes. And each week I’d accepted the lashes.
“I…I need something to get more luck.”
That perks my ears, causing me to look my daughter over for a moment. Could she be cursed as well?
“Why?” I ask, my throat suddenly dry. I look her over and don’t see any signs of her being cursed, no markings or sudden loss of weight.
“I’ve just been experiencing some poor luck lately. Pots breaking, food getting burnt, water turning foul while I’m cleaning… I just need a little help.”
“When did dis start?” I ask, throwing open the door of my home and beckoning her to follow. We move inside, out of the humid night air and into my quarters. The scent of drying herbs and meats hangs heavy in the air, something I can tell Kallie isn’t used to anymore. To me, it’s like breathing in a deep breath of fresh air compared to the stickiness of the summer night.
“A little over a month ago,” she says, walking around the many cots that take up most my room. “It’s just been a bad run and I finally figured the great Johamba might have something to help, heh heh.”
“I taught you the old ways when you was a young one,” I say as I approach my worktable. I look at the old machete, lying in its cracked sheath, and smile. “I ‘ave the reagents necessary to brew you a potion for luck, or we could always make a poppet and just ‘ave you eat it.”
“The potion would probably do it,” she blurts. I nod solemnly and reach up into the rafters to pluck a few owl feathers before walking over to my fireplace. I set up a few logs and stoke the fire before filling the black cauldron with a few ladles of water from a ceramic pot I keep by my bedside. That she wants the potion has me suspicious… a poppet would work much better if she were cursed.
Looking over my shoulder, I smile at how nervous my daughter is. “You still remember all this Voodoo, or do they have you believing what those books say about witches?”
“I have been learning more and more about God and his commandments, but you know I would never condemn you for being a witch father!”
I ignore the icy knife to my heart as I chuckle. “That’s what I want to hear.”
I grab a jar where I keep cat teeth, and pull down a mason jar of frog tongues. Nine teeth into the pot followed by three tongues tied into a circle. I ask Kallie to do the tying for me, and she relents after I raise my voice. Walking over to my work table, I draw my machete out from its sheath, and hold it up to the flickering light of the fire.
It shines with an earthy glow; I made this into my own personal fetish after I lost my arm and eye. A focus for my magic, and a key to my own spells; my own connection to the spirit world. I hurry over to the boiling water and, using the machete, I spill blood from my scarred shoulder with a tender slice. Then I use the end of my blade, smeared with my own blood, to stir the concoction nine times one way, and nine times the other way, before I set the blade aside and lift the cauldron away from the fire, setting it onto a blackened section of floorboards, which have seen this very act more times than I’ve seen my daughter. Taking a ladle, I scoop up some brackish fluid and hold it out to Kallie, judging her as she stares at the potion I’ve concocted.
“Drink,” I say, staring at her.
She hesitantly takes the heavy ladle and brings it to her lips, drinking in the tonic slowly. After her third gulp, she drops to her knees, gasping for air, the ladle falling to the ground, spilling the poison about in all directions. I must clean that up before it soaks into the wood.
“What… what is this?” She asks, holding up her hands and staring at them.
“A potion to purge magical effects from a person. Don’t react well to other bokor. So, judging by how the potion is reacting, you took to my lessons more than I thought, and you don’t have your fetish nearby. It could help you, help you fight off the effects.”
She spits at me like a viper, falling over to her side. “You old fool! Like I would be involved in your crippled version of magic when I can learn from a true master of the black arts!”
“So,” I scoop up my machete before stalking over to her, “you have someone teaching you white’s man’s magic, eh?”
“I’m learning true witchcraft, from a true witch! Someone who commands the very elements to do her bidding, instead of slinking around like a salamander dolling out cure-alls to a bunch of colored simpletons; all you do is prepare potions and tonics, whereas she casts spells father. Actual spells!”
“You wanna see a spell from your old man, eh? Wanna see the true witchcraft of your own people? That I can do for ya, ma fille. That I can do.”
Picking up my discarded machete, I tossed it onto her pain wracked body before gripping her leg and dragging her. Dragging her through my doorway and towards the common area for the rest of our people, where we held our gatherings and sang songs, celebrated births and mourned deaths.
Tonight would be a night of mourning for a father, and celebration for a bokor hell-bent on keeping his people safe. After this, the gauntlet would be thrown once again, for the first time since seventeen ninety one. Tonight we would be ready.
Tonight I would be ready.
Dragging my daughter along the dirt path towards the commons attracted attention, many of the other slaves moving out of my path as I dragged her. Jerome has run up beside me, scooping up my machete off of Kallie.
“Good boy,” I mutter to myself more than him. He smiles regardless.
By the time I’ve reached the center of our small camp, everyone that can walk has seen me bring her out here, and has gathered to see what could be going on. I could feel the spirits questioning my actions, the voices of our ancestors telling me to stop. I stamp my foot down on that. My own flesh and blood had betrayed her people, had gone and learned the magic of the white man, even after learning her own people’s spiritual tools. Such rejection really called for one thing.
“Brothers and sisters,” I call out, letting go of her once she’s in the burnt-out remains of a bonfire. “You all once asked me to lend my aid in an uprising. And I told you then that it was a foolish undertaking. That we should remain bound, that being bound meant we were together and safe.”
A murmur of agreement came from the gathered crowd of eighty plus men and women, with a third as many children and teenagers.
“Now I ask you: after giving up my arm, my eye, my very family, what could drive me to stand up against our masters?” I call out, reaching for my machete from Jerome. He hands it to me with shaking hands before falling back into the crowd. “Well, tonight you find out what make Johamba rebel!”
Taking the machete, I run it along my scarred side, gathering blood on the blade from the long cut. Holding it up high for everyone to see, I throw it to where it spatters on my daughter, where it sizzles and smoke.
“You wanted to see sorcery child? You wanted witchcraft? ‘Ave you ever seen Bloodfire before Kallie? Has your Mistress up in the house taught you anyting other than curses to sap health and strength from others?”
“You won’t get away with this,” Kallie grits out, the blood rapidly becoming a column of smoke swirling around her midsection. “She’ll get you!”
“No,” I say before flipping two fingers up, igniting the column. “She won’t.”
The swirling column of flames sears through Kallie’s skin and muscle like ice on a scorching July day, severing her into an infinitesimal fraction of her upper body and her calves that remain unburned from the show of sorcery. The Bloodfire leaves no gore in its wake, cauterizing and consuming anything that it comes in contact with. I hear horses coming up from behind me, and turn my head to glare as three overseers come up, rifles sitting across their laps.
“Alright you all, back to your homes.” One of them, “Lazy” Mike calls out as they approach. The one in the center is Big Bones himself, and he’s the first to catch sight of Kallie’s remains.
“Oh my god, they burned one of the house slaves!” He shouts out, waving a hand for more of Dufont’s task force to come over. “Why would you all kill her? Who did this?”
“I did,” I say, turning to face them with a wide grin. The pillar of flames continues charring the grounds and blackening the earth, reducing Kallie’s remains into a fine ash. I smile widely even as I mourn the loss of my child, the feeling of the flames fanning at my back and the warm blood dribbling down my side, I feel as if I am ready to take on the world.
What do I have left?
“Why William? Why would you do that?” Big Bones asks, mortified.
“Don’t be calling me William, or else you learn to regret it,” I warn him, pointing my machete at the three men. “Me name is Johamba, just like me father, and his father before that.”
“What did you say to me?” Big Bones growls, reaching for the ever-present whip hanging from his side.
I twist my machete in the air, sending a pulse of fear out at the men. At worst, it’ll make the hair on their arms stand up… but the horses will react differently to it that’s for certain. They rear up and buck, trying to get their fear-radiating riders off of them, making the men scream as their horses thrash about.
I turn back to the gathered crowd and will the Bloodfire to go away. “Come brothers and sisters, let us take what is rightfully ours!”
Bellows of rage come along with my declaration, and my fellow slaves rush forward, waiting for the men to be bucked one by one before the slaves fall upon them. Many of them merely pick up rocks, or peel boards from the sides of houses. I see Jerome running along with a small kitchen knife. I move through them, heading to the opposite side of the plantation.
“Johamba,” Jerome calls out, causing me to look back. “Where are you going?”
“To bring in some reinforcements that deserves this every bit as much as we do.” I say with a sinister smile as I march off to the back of the plantation.
Hiking through the tall grass past the huts we call home, I make my way to the field where so many of my brethren lie together. The remnants of the rebellion lie here, buried in one large grave to conserve space. Not that we as slaves were granted our own graves anyway… I’ve been serving as the man who would deal with a dead slave for years now, burning their bodies over a pyre so as to save space. I would scatter their ashes into the winds, praying to the ancestors to guide them home.
But these brave souls were lobbed together and buried in the same plot, a potter’s field of dead men and women who thought we should be free from the chain and whip. They died fighting, or from the injuries they got fighting; I buried them with the help of several other men, my lost arm still healing from the “punishment” I’d received for our betrayal.
I stop at a pile of stones where a plaque rests, an offering from Master after the rebellion so many years ago. The plaque reads off a bible verse telling slaves to obey their masters… a simple reminder to those of us that can read what will happen to us should we ever dare rebel again.
I chuckle, raising my hand up as I chant, calling out to the departed ancestors who fell beneath the bullet and the whip. I call on all those who have suffered under Dufont and have never seen justice. I call on the men and women who fought when I was too busy being afraid…
I call on the heroes of our people.
As I finish the last of my chants, I throw my machete out into the field in a high arc. Lazily twirling in the air, an arm bursts forth from the ground to grab the handle before it can pierce the ground. This arm is followed by another, which pulls up a leathery, dirt-clogged corpse from the loose topsoil. More arms sprout from around the form, most with nooses wrapped tight around their necks, some tearing through burial shrouds. All are dark skinned and white eyed, their teeth and hair falling away in great clumps.
Doggedly they emerge from the earth, all of their faces twisting into the same twisted grin I wear.
“Tis Judgment day for your masters,” I call out, earning a dull roar of anger back. “How are they to be sentenced?”
A hundred rotting fists pump the air, one clutching my machete. “Death!” The risen dead groan together, their voices strained and gasping.
Turning, I slip back into the woods as the dead march on the manor. The zombies all shuffle into the fray at the back of the house, save for three shambling along with me, one bearing my machete. My path leads me to the front of the great house, where I’m certain the family is escaping from via the carriage. Moving to the tree line, I see the hundred or so slaves battling with the white caretakers, stringing them up in trees by their own necks. The house in the back is in flames, and the animals run free. In the dancing firelight I can see the ragged forms of our ancestors joining the fray. I can just make out Jerome’s minute frame, cheering on as Big Bones struggles at the end of a rope.
I turn my attention to the front of the house. Sure enough, I see Mr. Dufont and his portly wife moving towards the carriage, a few house servants moving with them. They’re all dressed in their evening wear, and Mr. Dufont has his old cavalry sabre out.
I smile, pulling a pinch of Goofer dust from my sack and blowing it in their direction. Before they can finish loading the carriage with anyone other than the youngest son, the horses take off, the carriage careening back and forth as the boy screams for his mother. I set my face in grim determination as I watch the carriage flip over, a shadow of the boy’s body flying from it and striking a tree far away.
All of the Dufont’s are screaming now. I stalk through the tall grass, smiling as I gather the potent energy of my ancestors in my hand. Reaching back, I yank my machete from the zombie holding it and order them to move and intercept anyone trying to flee.
I shout as I appear in the middle of them, breathing out a poisonous cloud of noxious fumes, which explode out in a wide radius, engulfing the entire family. The zombies rush in, groaning as the fumes roll off of them like a sinister fog.
“Dufont! Your time has come!”
“William? Is it you that started all this?” The older man asked his greying brow crinkled in confusion.
I ignore the name and instead prepare to fight him, my zombie brethren moving in for the kill on the wife.
“You took my arm, white man… I come to take your life!” I scream as I lunge forward, swinging my machete. The children are all coughing, moving away from the fight while the house behind us burns.
I stand up to my full height and swing downward at him, hammering through his saber and crushing his left shoulder and arm joint, causing him to shriek as he drops his blade. I hammer one more time, caving in his skull. I look around at the circle of scared women and children.
“Now who be the witch amongst you? Who go corruptin’ my daughter with your sorcery?” I demand, looking between the women. The portly mother has a younger daughter and son clutching to her, crying, while a young man looks at me, enraged at what I’ve done to his father. It’s the eldest daughter, Marie that looks at me with cold, calculating eyes.
I sneer. “So you be the viper in the henhouse, eh?”
“What of it Negro? Your daughter is my friend, my one loyal friend in the world. I was teaching her a way to better herself, to pull herself above the filth your kind flounders in.”
I roll out of the way as a pulse of force flies past me, smacking a zombie and sending it into a tree. She paces within the mist carefully, ignoring how the other two zombies have pulled the children from her mother, and are tearing her limb from limb. The children’s shrieks are hardly heartwarming.
Marie is dressed in a sleeveless silken gown, which flutters in the green mist around us. Her hands crackle with untold power, causing the hair on the back of my arm to stand up. With a cry she throws her hands out, a bolt of lightning arcing towards me.
I mutter a prayer to the ancestors and hold my focus up, deflecting the spell off to the side, the errant bolt striking her burning home with a loud explosion of blistered wood. Breathing heavily, I smear some blood on my machete, readying it for my next spell.
“So this is what Kallie always told me about? Her father, the Voodoo priest. I have to say, I’m hardly impressed.” Marie says as she circles around, my own long legs moving to keep her from moving into my blind spot. “I can sense how strong you are… you’re nothing but a candle, and I am the sun!”
I smile grimly, the smile growing wide enough to show my teeth. “You are powerful, engorged on all the health and luck you’ve been stealing from the slaves. But can you take a zombie bite?”
“What?” She asked just as the zombie she had blasted away earlier comes up behind her, grabbing her by the biceps and sinking its teeth into her throat, pulling back to allow a spray of arterial blood to paint the ground between us. I rush forward, lopping off her left arm with my machete before elbowing her in the face, a sick crunch telling me I broke her nose.
She falls to the ground, the other two zombies swarming in to begin their feast. I feel the lives of the other children snuff out from the venomous mists I poured out, the life of the mother long since gone thanks to my ancestors. Striding forward, I smile as my own vision fades, the poison finally taking its toll on me. The only Dufont left is the eldest boy, who looks at me terrified. I close my eye and extend my senses out to him; the poisonous mist isn’t enough to kill him, just cripple later in life. I extend my machete towards the boy, a cyclone pulling the mist all around him, forcing him to breathe it in deeply as I chant a spell to sterilize the child before allowing the magic hanging heavy in the mists to dissipate.
He stumbles out of the hazy column coughing, looking at me with watery eyes. “Are you, are you going to kill me too William?”
“I already have enough blood on my hands tonight as it is, I see no reason in claiming your life. Run along, and tell the rest of the white man that we be a comin’ to free our people!”
The boy nods before turning and breaking off into a stumbling sprint down the road. I turn back enjoy the sight of the burning manor.
Embedding my machete into the ground, I squat down and watch the manor burn as the sun rises. My limbs are slowly growing numb, and my breathing labored. With my last few moments of life, I scrape into the dirt beside me my final wish. “Continue the revolt. Free Haiti. Free ourselves.”