A Story of Sera and Itzel (Warmth)
Sweat poured down her cheek in sticky rivulets, clinging briefly in the corner of her blameless and unlined eye. Sera, although certain it was the only water to be found for at least 50 miles in either direction, was not at all concerned with dehydration. They could both be out of here long before that was a problem. Still, they must be growing near their destination. The other woman, whose name was Itzel, was slowing down.
“Are we almost there?” Sera asked her.
“Yes,” Itzel answered. She swatted absently at a small, buzzing insect near her eye – a fly perhaps, maybe a gnat. “The petroglyphs are right over there, near the entrance of that cave.” She pointed towards a cavern in the face of the red of rock. Sera thought she could see a face scrawled into the surface of it. Both of the women walked up to it to get a closer look.
“Who knows how long this has been here?” Itzel remarked.
The women didn’t bear even a passing resemblance to one another, and it was clear they weren’t related. The woman Sera was unusually tall, and of a thick, muscular bearing. Her hair was of thick, wool-like curls that fell past her shoulders, and her skin was the color of a chestnut, with brown hair not much darker in hue. Her arms and legs were thickly muscular, and while she wasn’t fat, she was heavily built. Itzel was short, a full foot shorter than Sera. Her skin was the color of a hazelnut, and her hair as black as the very centers of her eyes. Her arms and legs were thin and wiry, and she appeared to be quite a bit older than Sera. In fact, she looked old enough to be her grandmother. They had this much in common, though: both had jagged, sharpened teeth, like the teeth of a shark.
“The Dead,” Sera said, agitated. “They have been here longer than I, indeed, I knew as much. Yet I never imagined that they lived before you lived.”
“The Pox,” Itzel said, pointing at the marks on her own face – and then, on Sera’s. “The Pox destroyed them all, and with them, it took most of us… the Afflicted, and the Unafflicted of my people along with them. I am all that is left, but believe me, child, the Dead wandered in this place before the men who lived here knew how to count the time.”
Sera shuddered. “I hate the Dead. They have no self control.”
“All of us are near the Dead,” Itzel chided. “When you die, you will become that.” She tapped on the green face on the red rock before them. “It would be better for the Unafflicted if there were no Afflicted, if we all were to die at once, of the Pox or some illness that would prevent us from turning. The more of us there are, the more danger there is to them. We are little better, Sera. We are little better.”
Sera shrugged. She was hungry. She rifled around in the leather satchel at her side until she found the snack she’d stored near the beginning of their journey. Finally, she found it – slightly overripe from the heat, but still delicious. Her sharpened teeth tore easily at the flesh, and she spat the bone out on the ground.
“Ouch!” she yelped. Then she spit something out on the ground. Whatever it was, it glittered in the sun. Itzel ran over to pick it up.
“A Conquistador’s ring,” Itzel announced. She smiled, revealing two lovely rows of saw-shaped teeth stretching wide across her pockmarked visage. “I’ll be able to trade that for something good.”Sera shook her head and laughed. “I really should look before I eat.”
The two Ghoulish women stood for a time, staring at the petroglyphs in awe and in silence. There used to be other Ghoul in what the Conquistadors called the New World, that world which to Itzel, was the old one. There used to be other walking Dead, the inevitable result of the Ghoul. But now there were none.
Neither of the ladies would see another of their kind for the next 300 years.
READ MORE ABOUT SERA AND THE REST OF THE AFFLICTED!
Keep up with Sera and her valiant journey to keep the Dead from destroying the earth with their ravenous appetites and impulsive natures in a world where the flesh-eating Ghoul are apparently the lesser of two evils… at least for now. Buy “Warmth” and read all about it:
THANKS TO KATERYNA FURY
For the Zombie Art. Keep up with her blog Textual Fury here: