**Part two of six in The Babushka Society story line. For all the stories together, click here**
“You were right. Yep, you were right,” N says.
We both turn back. The door is gone. We slowly look back onto the room. A gilded hall that ends in a stage. Tables near-by are layered in Turkish cakes and steaming kettles. The quarry of a few hundred Babushkas all turn at once.
“Fuck,” I whisper.
“Yes, fuck,” N agrees.
The Babushkas nearest to where we stand start toward us. I’ve only ever seen them move so fast in the Metro.
“Totally fuck,” N says, then adds, “can I say that? Totally fuck?”
“In this situation, sure.” We back slowly away.
It’s no use. Two Babushkas roll forward, one granite, one marble. The granite one has a crusty teabag replacing one of her foggy diamond eyes. The marble one wears a musty green bonnet.
The one in the musty green bonnet begins speaking in Russian. It’s the first time I’ve heard a babushka speak. The words come in a rough melody.
N listens to her speak without nodding. When she finishes, N turns to me.
“Don’t fight,” he says, simply.
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
The babushkas move in. They take N and I under the arms and lead us from the hall.
The cell they toss us in is pleasantly lit, but secure. Bars line the small cube in a row of identical cubes.
“What is going on?” I say to N.
N shrugs as he tugs on a couple of the bars. He looks around. He peers at something lumpy and light blue in a cell down the way.
“What is that do you think?”
I look at the soft blue lump. It moves a little.
“I think it’s a person.”
N starts calling out to them in Russian. The light blue lump turns slowly. A beautiful maiden. She sits up. An exquisite length of hair slides down over her shoulders. I suddenly feel self-conscious.
N continues calling things over to her in Russian. He asks her name. I understand that but not much more. The Maiden responds in a soft lyrical tone made for her lips.
N and her exchange more words while I attempt to blindly fix my hair. Finally, N thanks her and turns around.
“This is no good.”
“What’s her name?” I ask.
N raises an eyebrow at me.
“Vasilisa the beautiful.”
“She sure is,” I say.
“No, that is her name.”
“Her last name is the beautiful?”
“Right. Did she tell you anything else?”
“She’s sixteen.” He pauses.
N smirks at me.
“She said she was walking through the woods looking for something for her stepmother and then she came upon a house on hen’s legs. Then, a man made of metal took her.”
“So she is bat-shit. Great.” I sigh and sit down on the cold floor.
N looks thoughtful. “Maybe. It sounds familiar for some reason.”
While he ferrets around in his own mind I sit back and shut my eyes. The girl down the way begins to sing. It is slow and lovely. I don’t understand a word of it.
I’ve never been in a cell before. I always thought I’d be terrified. Maybe I’m more afraid of uniforms than bars.
N starts muttering to himself. I open one eye. Then two. He is pacing, his muttering is speeding up. His eyes are growing.
“What’s wrong?” I ask. Vassilissa the beautiful continues to sing in the background.
“Listen,” N says. I listen but anyways. I manage to translate a few words.
“eat…leg…teeth…run…” then a word, over and over “Babayaga…babayaga…babayaga…”
I frown up at N.
“What is a babayaga?”
N looks at me, honest fear in him.
“Not a what.”
To be continued…
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