Short Stories | Blood-thirsty Femme Fatales on a Warpath by Sebastian Zumvu


TNT | SHORT STORIES | Aug 12, 2018:

By Sebastian Zumvu 

The evening sun was sinking low on the western horizon and I knew that before the sun went down completely there would be bloodshed.

My fears were confirmed when from afar I saw a horde of warriors fully geared for battle having a pow-wow under shady trees. Could it be that Chiefs of various clans have come together to take on me like the Sioux Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull of old did, to take on General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn? Could this evening be my Little Bighorn? After all, they were many, and I had but a few…

I wasn't comforted when I informed that in their tribe only the female species went to battle for blood, for I know very well that the female is much more fierce and determined when decided on something. Also, isn't it said that Hell hath no fury like a woman…?

I shrank back in utter dismay remembering stories of the embarrassment caused to the trained and experienced Generals of the British and their French allies by a teenager fondly remembered by posterity as Joan of Arc, who, condemned as a witch and burned at stake in the 15th century, was canonized as a saint in the early part of the 20th century; the widowed and heirless Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi who, realising that her kingdom was to be taken over by the Crown through Lord Dalhousie's infamous policy of Doctrine of Lapse, changed from protecting and harbouring family members of British officers killed by mutineers, to leading several thousands of these mutineers against the colonial powers that be!

I was not consoled by these thoughts, and my fears turned to sheer nightmare when the last rays of the setting sun reflected on the armors of these screaming-for-blood banshees and invoked in my mind the shining breast plates of the Spaniards as they engulfed the South Americas several centuries back. I, like the natives who faced the might of the Spaniards then, could very well be written off the pages of History, I lamented and almost broke into poems like the Biblical Jeremiah singing dirges bewailing desertion of the Almighty when I needed most Divine intervention! But I consoled myself quoting the Psalms chanting, "Even as I walk through the shadow of the valley of death…"

I must confess here truthfully lest I hazard being taken for a charlatan that in spite of the chants and quotations from the Holy Book, I couldn't control the shivers racing down my spine as the evening sun sank down lower and lower down the horizon and the war drums rolled louder than thunder. The war dances became more frantic, I noticed from a distance, and the goose pimples on my skin became worse than the worst of clusters of prickly heat on a soft and sweaty skin during the fierce summer heat!

My doom is nigh, I grieved and thought of writing myself a condolence message to be published in the local papers the next day! After all, going by the trend in our society, almost every demise must be published in local newspapers, for we seem to believe the departed soul would drift around in purgatory for eternity if his/her demise is not publicized prominently suffixing the regret paragraph with a lengthy list of VIPs and organizations to thank and appreciate. I sometimes wonder why the family members do not mention the number of vehicles which escorted the hearse to the resting place of the departed, or mention in the obits how many people, prominent people at that, attended the funeral service, to understandably impress  Good Ol' St Pete enough to open up Pearly Gates for the dearly beloved soul!

Anyway, obit or no obit, I have to come up with something real fast if I were to save my skin, for I know my enemies would like to pierce mine full of holes and make a sieve out of it. Famed as the deadliest killers on the planet, these femme fatales have been reported to have killed more people than anybody else; and that if they were to have notches on the butt of their guns theirs would resemble the serrated edges of hacksaw blades!

Adding to my dismay, they were armed to the teeth, so to speak, and I had but my brain to fight them with. Legend has it that they kill by biting: They "French-kiss" their victims, and once their "tongues" penetrate the unfortunate preys, the sheath pulls back to exposed six sharp needles. Two of these needles have serrated points which "saw" into the muscles without the victim feeling it, while two other needles hold the muscles apart to let one "straw" drill for oil, well, liquid of life, and the other needle spewing viruses deadlier than venom into the muscles!

Forget about the arsenal available with James Bond – even the gods mentioned in the Mahabharat did not have such equipment to create mass disaster! Saddam Hussein, too, would have avoided the rat-hole capture just as Kim Jung Un did if he, Hussein, was not sitting on oil to save the reserves of America!

Be that as it may, and despite my ramblings, I prepared for the mother of all battles: I told myself that if these femme fatales want battle, I'd give them war; if they want blood, I shall give them gore; if they are after destruction, I shall exterminate them; and if they want catastrophe, why, I shall gladly dole out apocalypse for them! I was so fuming mad that my very good friend Phukan, formerly Kohima-based reporter for the Press Trust of India – and who happens to be a chain smoker – could have lighted his cigarette by merely touching me with the tip of his ciggie!

They need water for survival and procreation like all creatures on Terra Firma, I asked myself? Why, I shall not release even a litre of Cauvery waters to them, and shall raise Faraka Dam several metres higher; I shall empty all the oases in the Thar desert, visit all the tinajasin the Mojave to drain the waters collected in rock basins; visit each and every household in the entire Northeast to ensure not even a bottle-cap contained stagnant water…

I had worked myself to such a fury that I started panting and blowing smoke out of my ears as I went on to build a fire, add combustibles and then green vegetation to the fire to make a huge smoking bonfire in my compound!

Soon, a cloud of smoke darkened the evening skies and the smell of burning grass brought to mind memories of how my parents used to leave the fields in the evenings ensuring a healthy dose of smoke emanated from the fireplace to prevent stinging insects which cause numerous diseases to humankind like the dreaded Malaria, Dengue fever, Zika, Chikungunya, and what have you.

After all, femme fatales or not, mosquitoes never can stand smoke…

(Zumvu is a Nagaland-based writer, a poet and and analyst) 


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