In the second excerpt from Carnivore we get a glimpse of the pair the Jackal has snared to do his work in Windfallow. The two work in a zoo near the Thomas home. A black couple, unmarried and now about to take part in another of the Jackal’s plots. Will this one succeed?
But he was no more content here than in San Diego. She knew that. At least though, he was staying with her and had stopped talking about another wife. Wife! He wouldn’t even marry this one; unless you counted that mumbo jumbo ceremony in Africa. She drew her knees up to her chin, wrapped her arms around them and waited.
Zulah leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. “I had a lot of dreams last night, baby. At first they were real weird, like images and pictures of a different place than this. Houses made of sparkly glass, kids playing with tigers and sunlight so bright it hurt my eyes. Then, I heard a voice. It kept saying, ‘This can be yours’. I woke up but as soon as I fell asleep, the voice and the pictures came back. Finally, I got up and came out here. I figured if I didn’t sleep I wouldn’t dream.”
“Yeah, I remember you leaving the bed. Why were the dreams bad? Was there something you didn’t like about them?” Carmen was relieved to hear Zulah’s normal voice again.
“No, they weren’t bad, except they wouldn’t go away. It was when I got out here it got scary. I felt my ring heating up and when I looked at it the eyes of the leopard were shining…”
“But it has no gemstones…”
“I know that, woman! I said shut up and listen! They didn’t need gemstones and the leopard moved. The tail moved back and forth like a cat when it’s stalking prey. And then I heard the voice again.”
Carmen wanted to interrupt, to tell Zulah he was scaring her, but she knew she couldn’t. Not when he was in this mood.
“You want to know what he said?” Zulah was looking her in the eye and he was not joking.
“Of course I do, Honey, go on.” Carmen inched away.
“He said there’s a place where buildings are made of rubies and diamonds and emeralds. He said the animals are all tame and the people are so dumb they never fight back. He said it was ours for the taking. He said we could be the king and queen if we wanted to. What do you think of that?”
Carmen said carefully, “I think we need to know more about the place before we believe any of it.”
“That’s exactly what I told him. I said give me some proof. And he said he would. Tonight.”
“Can you tell me who HE is, Zulah? Who was speaking to you?”
“I never saw a face. He spoke through this.” Zulah held up his spread fingers so the ring was clearly visible. Carmen saw the glowing eyes, the tail moving ever so slightly, just the tip, the way a waiting cat’s tail moves. “Now what do you think? You think I’m making it up?”
“No, something’s going on. It scares me, though.”
Zulah tapped the ring, “So, talk, whatever you are! Let my woman hear your voice!” His hand was clenched on the chair arm. Suddenly he slammed it to his mouth, drawing blood, and a voice, speaking through Zulah, vibrated between them.
“Don’t ever speak disrespectfully to me again, human! I can make you rich or I can destroy you. Is that clear?” Carmen instinctively made the sign of the cross on her breast, a reaction from her upbringing in Cajun Louisiana. Now Zulah’s hand grabbed the one she had used to make the sign. He twisted it until she gasped out a scream.
“Forget that stupid gesture! You won’t need it where you’re going! Now, listen to me!” It was the voice again and it was clear something other than Zulah had control of the man’s hand. It continued, “Close your eyes, humans. I will put into your minds pictures of a land called Windfallow. This world exists and you can get there with my help.