Her memory recounts the last few moments again, replaying the conversation at high speed. Gunmen with AK-47s and technicals have been spotted on the border. Before her, the messenger has set down examples of the weapons. They’re asking what to do. As if I am god, she thinks. But she has worked so very hard to be one. She can hardly fault this man for her success.
Beside her, Ali is raising his iPhone and snapping a picture of the guns. Faduma buys herself time by turning and looking at him expectantly. A few moments later, he receives a text - an answer to his query. “MAZ. Sudanese.”
Those damn smugglers, still trying to get their property back. “Tell our people to pull back from the borders for now. My sons will go out on patrol,” announces Faduma. This pleases the messengers, who take off at a run.
Sitting on the ground beside Faduma’s seat is her youngest son. He’s playing Angry Birds. She leans down, touches him lightly on the shoulder. “Go get your brothers. Hurry now,” she whispers, and the boy gets up and runs off, laughing.
Ali is still waiting. “My lady, it’s time.” He has never liked this part. Ah, but it is necessary. Faduma leads the way outside, where people are already starting to form a crowd. The poorest of the poor, the malnourished, the sick, the dying. They’re gathering around a set of cook pots. Serving girls are readying metal cups and plates, preparing meals.
While the hungry sate themselves, the sickest of the supplicants come before her, one by one. It is her blood they have come for, and her flesh which literally sustains the hungry. That she heals back from every injury does nothing to dim her primal terror every time the knife comes, which is why she now insists on doing the task herself. Even Ali must not be allowed to see her fear.
She treats the worst cases, opening their skin with sharpened teeth and opening a gash on her tongue to transfuse her blood into their systems. What did that Jewish carpenter say? Take it, this is my body. Faduma has watched “Dracula” and has no interest in aping Transylvanian traditions. She is a savior and protector, not a monster. Every one that survives long enough for the blood to take hold will become stronger, faster, more powerful. None come to Faduma twice for such treatment; all who receive it owe her their lives, a debt none can pay twice. From their gratitude she has carved out her own bloody niche in a country wracked with warfare. From this she will make deserts bloom and bring peace to her people.
The sun is hot, and Faduma eventually tires. She has been drained almost dry. Ali tells the rest of the supplicants that they must return tomorrow. I have given life to all those for whom tomorrow would be too late. Tonight, her sons will hunt the smugglers who nosed around her borders. Tonight, there will be more blood.