I’ve reached the village of Harbabureşti, one of those place names with Romanian diacritics that don’t line up nicely with the neighboring Roman letters unless you take the time to adjust the script to accommodate them. There’s an infestation of ghouls here causing all sorts of trouble, the type you can’t accommodate no matter how much you might try. The residents seem to be tolerating things well enough, given the situation. I hear the sounds of music coming out of many of the houses, ranging from lively classical to synth-heavy techno. It’s a relaxing counterpoint to the otherworldly ghouls digging up their backyards with uprooted street signs.
Some of the less complacent and/or more irritable villagers have taken up arms and are stationed around the town’s entrances. They’ve barricaded the place just like the Marya have done with al-Merayah. There’s a decidedly different climate here, though – for one, it’s cold and damp. Also, there’s a pallor in the air that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not like the creeping fog of Maine, but more like a constant tingling sensation that is most noticeable around my neck and collarbone. Perhaps I should get myself a cross to wear as Carmen Preda does; if these icons go beyond mere symbolism and are actually effective in warding off vampire hickeys, I just might have to add one to the collection of protective talismans I’ve acquired.
I’ve had just enough of the adult world to know that as much as I might like to return to the simplicity and freedom of childhood, those days are long behind me. I will forever remain someone’s daughter; however, I’ve graduated from domestic in-fighting and moved on to internecine occult conflicts, regional factionalism, deific rivalries, and universe-sized egos.
One part of childhood I don’t miss is the parental squabbling. When I was very young and my parents got to fighting, I had nowhere to go. I’d slink down in my chair in the kitchen and suck on my bubble tea through my favorite transparent plastic straw and try to pretend that father didn’t just flip over a table with dinner and dishes on it and mother wasn’t screaming at him about spending too much money.
Such histrionics were all part of the show. If you really wanted to get anything done, though, you had to go nuclear. Father wasn’t willing to do this for whatever reason – I think most of his energy in that direction was saved for assisting his brothers who were fully invested into business on the darker side of things. Mother, however, was perfectly willing to disconnect the internet, hide laptops, or break an entire pack of cigarettes in half to display her unhappiness and encourage change. This usually just resulted in father going away for a while. When I got older, I did the same. The few times that my non-Chinese friends bore witness to these passionate displays of emotion, they were absolutely mortified with the exception of an Italian exchange student named Nico. He told me it looked like a warm-up for the real thing.
Well, it’s the real thing in Harbabureşti and leaving isn’t an option for the people who remain. Their families and livelihoods are here. I can see why. The young man and woman guarding the south end of the village are rather attractive. I wouldn’t mind going out on the town with either of them – a town minus the ghouls, that is.