One Night in New Orleans
By: Mike Lutz

Boom boom boom boom, tek tek tek tek, boom boom boom boom tek tek tek tek.

I hear the drums from everywhere now, I can't escape them, boom boom boom boom, tek tek tek tek. What was supposed to be a get away to remember has turned into a horror I want to forget, a horror I can't believe, but I have to believe it because I'm living it right now! Boom boom boom boom, tek tek tek tek.

I never should have walked into that stupid "Voodoo" shop on Bourbon St. It was a tourist trap for certain, cheap baubles hanging in the windows and "real" shrunken heads in display cases that could be seen from the street.

A sickly sweet smell of incense wafted out the door as two drunk sailors were escorted out by a tall man with wavy dark hair, he looked at me and held the door open with a sly smile.

"Welcome friend, everything you're looking for awaits inside." He said.

"I don't even know if I'm interested in anything in there." I replied

"Just come look, I know we have something for you, we have something for everyone that walks by here." He said beckoning me to enter.

Against better judgment, and fear of losing money on a worthless trinket I slid past the tall man into the shop, it was high ceilinged with flags and banners hanging down, much cooler than the street outside which was a relief, counters and book shelves and old furniture were covered with odd glass figurines and bottles of powders and liquids, all for sale of course.

"Look around friend, I'm certain you will find the treasure you seek. Just give a shout when you're ready." The tall man said as he stepped behind a counter and through a door I hadn't noticed when I first came in.

The shops white walls had seen better days, cracks here and there, and a uniform line of discoloration around the three feet up from the floor, maybe it was flood damage from Katrina?

But that couldn't be it, the whole area was pretty much under water and there's no way this place could have survived with this little damage.

The more I walked around the store, the more I noticed…things. The "real Human" shrunken heads had the odd look of leather bags that had been sculpted to resemble human faces. Their lips and eyes sewn shut with black and red twine, their long black hair shining in the shops over head lights, reminded me of doll hair, all to real looking but ultimately a fake synthetic.

Stuffed animals peeked from around shelves and banners, their unblinking eyes and ferocious snarls marking territory they will never move from.

I looked through all the shelves and stacks and counters, seeing what I figured I would see, tourist trap crap. Love potions, good luck powders, money making incense, and really, the only people making money from those incense are the people making them.

As I moved deeper into the shop, things became a little more 'real' I think. Chicken claws wrapped with feathers and red twine, small alligator heads floating in brown liquid, claws and teeth and bones from various other animals. Bundles of dried herbs and flowers hung near by and added their scents to the store, that's when it hit me, it was very quiet.

The humming drone of a ceiling fan was all I could hear, I looked out the closed front door of the shop and could see people walking around on the street outside, but I could just barely hear them, it had to be a trick of the way the shop was laid out or the materials the walls were made of.

As I looked, a small marching band in bright green, purple and yellow jackets passed by and I could just make out the tune they were playing!

Shaking my head and trying to pop my ears I started walking towards the front door, I've had enough of this place for one day. As my ears popped I heard a new sound, a drum beat, faintly coming from the door the tall man went through. Not just a drum, several drums by the sounds of it, I looked around and stepped behind the counter and pressed my ear to the door, the drums beat a rhythm that I could feel in the pit of my stomach.

Low and steady they sounded like my own heart beat, I twisted the door knob and opened the door a crack, the drum beat grew louder a bit and their tempo seemed to match that of my own, now, racing heart beat.

I opened the door wide and was met with a long hall way of bare wooden walls, the drums grew louder still. There was a door at the end of the hallway, light could be seen from the spaces between the door and the wall. The crept along the right hand side of the wall, sweat beading up on my forehead and rolling down my face.

With each step closer the louder the drumming became. I stopped halfway down the hall thinking I should turn back, I have no business here and the tall man probably wouldn't appreciate me sneaking around his shop. A muffled shout made me jump in fright, a tingling from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet made me freeze in place as my eyes, wide with the adrenaline dump, darted all over looking for danger!

The drumming picked up in intensity and I thought I could feel a rumbling or vibration in the floor boards, I felt myself creeping forward now, I don't recall willing myself forward, just that I was moving ahead and reaching for the rusty doorknob with a shaky hand. The metal knob was warm to the my touch and resisted a bit when I turned it, the door opened and I was struck with a flood of noise and heat so intense it felt like a physical blow!

The room was large, seeming larger than it might aught to be. Dark skinned women dressed in white dresses danced and whirled madly in circles around the room!

Men with skull masks hiding their faces were hunched over drums, pounding out a staccato rhythm that sounded like every clap of thunder I've ever heard! BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM, tek tek tek tek, BOOM BOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK! Standing the the center of the room was a woman, a snake in one hand and a wicked looking knife in the other, she was standing over another woman laid out on top of a small table!

"LEGBA, LEGBA!" She shouted as head head rocked back, "OUGUN, OUGUN! HEAR US!'

The dancing women spun by me, their eyes, either closed or rolled back up into their sockets only to reveal the whites of their eyes, paid me no heed, I turned to run back out the door but standing there was the tall man!

"LEGBA! OUGUN! OUGUN! LEGBA!" The woman with the snake shouted behind me, impossibly louder than the drums!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK! BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

The tall man smiled at me, a wicked, malevolent slash.

"You see my friend, you did find what you were looking for." He said over the drums, but not shouting, almost a whisper that I felt rather than heard.

"I…I…don't know what you're talking about, I don't want anything here! I want to get out of here!" I said frozen to the spot.

"That's where you're wrong, you answered the call, you came to serve my Queen." The tall man said inclining his head towards the woman with the snake and the knife.

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

"NO, no, no, no" was all I could speak as I tried to back away.

"It will be a great honor to server my Queen, you will come to believe this." The tall man said staring into my eyes, "You will serve her forever!"

I turned my head to look at the woman, the tall mans queen, her hand with the knife was now covered in blood and gore up to her elbow, the snake slithered over the body of the woman on the table, her eyes burned a bright yellow, she looked into me, looked into my very being and stripped it all away!

"You will serve me! You will make an excellent zombie!" She whispered over the drums.

I tried to scream as I turned to run, horror and fear driving me! But the tall man stepped in front of me, his left hand held a dripping wet rag over his mouth and nose, I blinked as I tried to comprehend what he was doing. He suddenly threw a folded piece of paper into my face, despite myself, I gasped as a yellow powder hit me! I inhaled the powder and felt it burning my eyes! My face burned as well as my lungs! I could feel myself falling to the floor but could do nothing to stop it. I tried to scream, but found my throat had closed up and I was suffocating! It felt as if lightening danced and raced across every nerve of my body! My muscles spasming and cramping uncontrollably!

I tried to get to my feet but my rebelled and refused to listen to my frantic commands to get up and run! The incessant drumming filling my ears, BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

It's maddening rhythm burning itself into my very soul!

My eyes, burning, saw the tall man stand over me and smile that evil smile again.

"You can try and fight all you want, but it's already far to late for you." He said.

"Yes…yes, the incantation is proceeding perfectly." The Voodoo Queen hissed serpentinely as she glided over to where I was laying on the floor. Gliding, I noticed through my pain addled brain, as if she wasn't even touching the floor!

"The elixir now." She commanded the tall man.

The tall man produced a black vial from a pocket, the brownish liquid inside swirled around as he removed the cork stopper, gripping my face he forced my mouth open and poured the viscous fluid into my mouth. The foul tasting stuff found a way to get past my closing throat and it felt like ice pouring into me. My body spasmed again and again!

The Voodoo Queen ran the tip of the blood caked knife down the front of my shirt which fell open, a thin red line of blood formed where the impossibly sharp knife touched my flesh. The tall man hefted me to my feet with little effort and held me in front of his queen as if presenting a fresh canvas for her to paint upon.

My nerves had stopped dancing with the lightning, in fact I could barely feel anything now, anything except the never ending beat of those accursed drums!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK! BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

The Voodoo Queen placed her bloody hand on my chest, just over my heart and the ice of the fluid surged inside my body, towards her hand, wrapping itself around my heart! I could feel my pulse strain to break the icy cocoon, but ultimately failing!

I could feel my heart stop and begin to shrink as the fluid contracted itself onto itself and becoming as solid as stone!

My eyes, wide with terror, locked onto the eyes of my cruel torturer, and the Voodoo Queen looked back with pure, mocking evil!

I opened my mouth to scream! Scream for help, scream in rage, scream in agony, but my choked throat issued for nothing but the slightest of sounds easily overcome by the drums!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

The VooDoo Queen clamped my mouth closed with a grip of iron and began to sew my lips together with a wickedly curved needle dragging black and red thread behind it!

"You don't need to worry about talking anymore, your job is to listen and obey." She said stitching an X pattern onto my ragged mouth.

Admiring her work she glided back a pace and flicked that sadistic knife across my abdomen, a peculiar sensation of something uncoiling coming from my waist, I looked down to see my intestines pooling like bloody eels on the floor at my feet!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

More black and red X's sealed my hollowed out body, the tall man released his grip on me, teetering as is buffeted by hurricane winds, I swayed on unsteady feet, I raised my hand in front of my face , my skin a sallow gray under the layer of blood.

The VooDoo Queen glided back to the table with the body of the woman on it, turned, and drawing herself up to stand with regal terror looked at me.

"Come to me." She commanded, her voice filled with power.

"NO! NEVER!" I screamed and raged in my head, "I HATE YOU!"

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMTEKTEKTEKTEK!

I went to her.

THE END

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