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Das Musick (Part 1)
Marta was singing softly, remembering an old German hymn that her mother had sung to her when she was no older than the baby in her arms. Even through her childhood, her mother had sung the tune daily, until her own daughter could sing it in her sleep.
“Mother, why do you keep humming that old song?” Her mother had fingered the crucifix around her neck before answering.
“Music has a power, daughter, and this music has a special power; it is Gottes Musick, and you must never forget it. We’ll need it someday.”
“How do you know?” the child had asked.
“Hush, daughter, sometimes you simply know things.”
The woman had insisted on this strange tradition for the rest of her days. On her deathbed, when she held her first grandchild for the last time, her croaking voice had hummed out the tune. As the music went on, Marta could have sworn that the old lady’s voice had regained its youthful sound.
So now she fulfilled her mother’s strange, dying wish and hummed the tune. “Someday I’ll explain, son. I hope you won’t think I’m crazy when you’re older.” Little Chad didn’t answer, but simply nestled closer to her bosom as he fell asleep to the old melody.
Das Musick (Part 1)
Rain had fallen for three straight days before it finally slowed. Flooding was intense, and the state governor had initiated a state of emergency. Early in the morning of day three, the federal government had placed the state in a federal level state of emergency. National guardsmen and volunteers patrolled the former roads of the city in pontoon boats, delivering food and water, medicine, and assistance to the flooded citizens.
Thankfully, there were few fatalities. There had been plenty of advance warning about the storm. Evacuation of low lying areas had been smooth, relatively speaking – even the homeless had been shuttled to a safe location. Now that the water had been draining for thirty six hours, there were plans of ending the state of emergency within the week.
The Pierces had been surviving off canned food and bottled water, waiting out the storm in their little house on the hill. Thankfully, the flooding was unable to reach them, but they were cut off from roadways by the surging waters. They would have to ration their miserable diet of slimy ravioli and chicken noodle soup until the rain stopped completely and the draining had cleared the roads to the city.
Leroy, the family dog, was the main problem. He was afraid of the storm, so he wanted to stay inside. But he had to relieve himself, and his family was not about to let him do so indoors.
On this particular day, it had taken Chad (the master of the house) fifteen minutes to wrestle the big dog to the door and out to the patio. He jerked the leash as he led the fearful animal down the hill and into the trees. The woods offered some protection from the slow rain, and he pulled the dog under the boughs. Beyond this little depression, up the opposite rise, lay the old community cemetery.
Though he used to enjoy the beautiful place, often jogging through it, he now felt a strange aversion to it. He’d been having dreams lately – terrible nightmares. Death, fear, and flight. They had started as occasional incidents, but now every night was an ordeal. Sometimes he tried not to sleep because of the dreams. He had managed to stay awake the past few nights, taking short naps in the afternoon. Today, however, the boys had been driving their mother crazy, so he had been busy distracting them. Now, he was exhausted and irritable.
Even so, it felt like an invasion of privacy to be standing right next to the dog while he did his business. Such a stupid quirk, but what are you going to do? His mother had always been horribly old fashioned, and had passed along some of her reserves to her son – German heritage at work, he supposed.
Chad turned toward the cemetery. Even now, except for the occasional roll of distant thunder, there was no sound to disturb the silence.
At first he thought he had turned into some moss. The strands in his face were coarse and smelled like mildew. He jerked back in disgust, stepping on Leroy’s paw. He didn’t hear the dog’s yelp – not because of the sudden lightning, but because of what that lightning revealed.
In the boughs of the tree was a wooden box, deposited by the earlier floods. The lid of the box lay on the ground at his feet – but he didn’t see it, for his attention was held by the strange, dark moss that hung from the branch. Or, rather, the hair that hung from the limp head of a woman who had slid partway from her coffin.