The Watchers: Short Story, Part Four
Will dialed the number to the tribal offices, identified himself as a reporter from the TC Gazette and asked to speak to the chairman. At the beginning of their conversation, Will discussed in general terms, the planned development by the Resort Development Association of the Americas, and its proximity to Indian land which included several casinos.
The official position of the tribe was that they fully supported the planned development. Will asked if they had any reservations about the graves in the cemetery being opened and the remains moved to other county cemeteries.
“Why would the tribe have any concern about graves holding the bodies of white settlers?”
“I wouldn’t expect the tribe to have an opinion one way or the other if it was certain that the graves actually held the bodies of white settlers.”
“I see,” said the chairman. Silence followed, and Will wondered if the connection had been lost. Then the chairman continued. “I can arrange a meeting for tomorrow morning if that works for you?
“Tomorrow would be just fine. I’ll be bringing one other person with me. He has knowledge about the cemetery which I believe you will find interesting.” An appointment for so soon told Will that he had gotten the chairman’s attention.
Tribal Council Headquarters
The council chairman met Will and Val in the lobby of the tribal offices. He escorted them to a conference room where an elderly man occupied one of four chairs arranged facing each other.
“Will and Valentin, this is Little Feather, our senior elder,” said the council chairman. “He prefers to use his native name. My name is Joseph.”
“You are a shaman?” said Val to Little Feather.
“Your magic is strong. I can feel it.”
“It grows stronger with the passing of years.”
“How many years, I wonder?”
“I have buried the children of my grandchildren.”
“There must be more for you to do in this life since you have been allowed to remain for so long.”
“There may be something.”
“To what do you attribute your many years?
“To what do you attribute yours?”
The word sparring ended. Will watched the vampire and the shaman, curious about the brief conversation between two strangers. Joseph’s furrowed brow revealed the confusion in his mind.
“It is my understanding that you’ve come to discuss the moving of the old bluff cemetery by the development company,” said the chairman.
“It must not be moved.” Val’s eyes were still on Little Feather.
“Unearthing the graves would have serious consequences.” The old man held Val’s gaze.
“Do you both actually believe the old tales?” said Joseph.
“Believe them?” Little Feather smiled. “We know they are true.”
“I have always thought the stories were simply the lore of the old people, something that grew more horrible and mysterious with each passing generation.” Joseph was on his knees before the shaman. “How do you know they are true?”
“It was my magic that created the creatures that inhabit those graves, and it was this man’s cunning that persuaded me to bind them.”
“What are you saying?” Will was on his feet. “That you were there? Val, he is saying you were there as well. Is it true?”
Val ignored Will’s question. He was on the edge of his chair, speaking to Little Feather. “Who turned you?”
“The woman who joined you and the other watcher. She came to me and said I should have to live forever to see the impact of my magic.” Little Feather stood and walked to the middle of the room. He raised his arms above his head and chanted quietly. He turned his head and opened his mouth. The fangs of a vampire looked out of place framed by wrinkled skin and thin, grey hair.
Joseph remained on his knees, but his face was on the floor, hands over his head.
“You were one of the two vampires who stopped the hybrids.” Will stood in front of Val, challenging him to tell the truth.
“Yes, Bernard and me. Delia joined us soon after.”
“And she turned him?”
“Yes, apparently, she did.”
Will watched Little Feather take his seat once again. All signs of the transformation were gone. The others sat down as well. Joseph was pale and looked like he might be sick. He struggled to speak.
“The stories — the old tales about monsters in our forests that killed white people, about the monsters being buried alive. They are true?
“The stories of the old days, told around campfires at pow wow, are all essentially true.” The shaman wiped his brow with a handkerchief. “By the time this ordeal is over, you will have more than enough proof to believe.
Joseph met with the tribal council and was successful at gaining their support for insisting that the RDAA leave the cemetery in place. He was able to persuade them, not with the horrific facts, but by showing how the history of the settlement was about the relationship between Native Americans and and whites. The cemetery and the church were all that was left of that portion of their history.
The position of the council was that the RDAA should incorporate the cemetery into the Resort and emphasize how relations between Native Americans and whites had improved since those days. The council submitted a statement to the TC Gazette which ran as an op-ed. The idea caught on and a sizable group of Native American activists began distributing pamphlets encouraging the community at large to join the cause.
Resort Development Association of the Americas showed their true colors by countering with a commentary of their own which declared their right to do as they wanted with the property. In the letter, they complained that the protests had knocked them off their schedule and that there would be no more postponements. There was a community backlash to this heavy-handed approach causing even more people to side with the tribal council. The groundswell was beginning.
People wrote letters to the editor as well as to the RDAA insisting that the cemetery be left untouched save for a new fence, some flowers and resetting the gravestones. Joseph was tipped off by a sympathetic employee of RDAA that the moving of the cemetery would take place Tuesday of the following week beginning at midnight. They planned on sneaking the remains of the settlers out under the cloak of darkness.
Will, Val, Bernard and Delia sat at a table in a bar having drinks. The mood was somber, their faces showed the tension each harbored inside. Delia broke the silence.
“There might be a way to kill the hybrids, but we won’t know if it works until we try it.”
“Tell us your thoughts, Delia,” said Val.
“Decapitation. It might also work on the hybrids.”
“There are forty-two hybrids,” said Bernard. “We would need the entire local population of vampires, each armed with a broadsword, to give us the edge.”
“Wait,” said Will. “You said it might also work on the hybrids. Who else were you referring to? Not humans, that’s too obvious. You meant vampires, didn’t you?”
“Yes, and that is the only way we can be killed.” Val refilled his glass from a pitcher of beer.
“But I saw how those things kill" said Will. "Their signature method is decapitation by biting off the head of their prey, usually from behind.”
“True,” said Delia. “But we won’t be running from them. We are trained fighters, Will. Every vampire in the area will show up and each one will be a powerful opponent for the hybrids.”
The four stayed at the bar, drinking and making battle plans until closing time.