Of all things, at three o’clock in the morning, Zorica had not expected her roommate to break into her room covered in blood and murder her. Fortunately, she was already dead, so it was a minor inconvenience.
“What the hell?” she demanded, forcing her ghost back into the body. While she hated the pain that involved, without access to her hands she couldn’t begin to put the body back into place.
“I knew it!” Janice exclaimed. “You’re some sort of monster!”
“Why are you covered in blood, Janice?” Zorica asked the moment she could actually move her mouth again.
“Monsters!” Janice said, pointing the knife at her again.
Zorica slapped her. Janice dropped the knife. She could smell the blood, now on her hand, the fumes of insanity on it.
It wasn’t as though Zorica had had worse mornings, but she wouldn’t want it to become worse than now. Despite the pain, she dragged Janice to the shower to get her body and mind clean.
Ingrid made a beeline for the fire. Everyone else had long since disappeared into their huts. Only one other person remained out in the elements.
Kahina’s voice was low. Her chant was in the language of her people, one that Ingrid did not know nor could she name it. The reason for her speech in front of the fire was something Ingrid also did not comprehend. It had something to do with the fire, that was all she knew. It appeared to dwindle, though the light remained consistent and the heat increased to the point where Ingrid could feel it, several lengths away.
“Stop that,” Ingrid said.
Had everyone gone home because they were scared? Or was it because that was how things were done here? Ingrid considered not getting involved. But the intensity of the small fire terrified her.
Kahina’s voice became raspy as she continued. Ingrid couldn’t get over how short her hair was, completely shorn off as of this morning. This way she could see every feature of Kahina’s face, glowing in the light. Full lips were in constant motion, tongue pink between her crooked teeth.
It was too hot and Ingrid wasn’t as close as Kahina. She could feel her eyes drying, lips cracking.
It was as if she were on fire.
Was she on fire?
Ingrid tackled Kahina, dropping them both to the ground. Kahina stopped chanting. The heat diminished, the light normalized, and the fire returned to eating the wood and leaves blanketed below it.
It was fine. Ingrid drew in a ragged breath, feeling Kahina do the same underneath her.
And then she heard the chant.