10. Ghosts between the flames

The sunlight weakens. Slowly the day fades away. The evening is welcomed by Gaméla and Sisoi with some additional wood on the fire. As they put dry leaves between the tree trunks, the flames rise up high for a moment. The hut becomes lighter and gradually it gets a little warmer.

It is their duty to keep the fire burning. Sisoi loves this job. If it’s well lit, his sister often tells a story. Just like tonight.

Gaméla is sitting on a bed of moss and stares into the fire. Between the flames the shadows are dancing. She follows the darkness of the shadows and tells her brother: “I see a few dots, lightning up … they are growing … they look like eyes that are opening wider and wider. And a mouth that gradually opens… it is still a shadow, but a shadow of what … ”

Are there ghosts between the flames? “No”, Gaméla whispers, “it is not a human being, it seems to be a sea lion. Now there seem to be more of them … 2, 4, 6, … no doubt there are 12. Do you hear that Sisoi? They make a lot of noise. They sound scared. They seem to be calling me.”

Sisoi looks at his sister. She looks different, as if she is no longer here. Yes, she is sitting next to him, but her thoughts seem to be far away, completely swallowed by the shadows of the fire.

Gaméla’s voice comes from far away and she whispers: “I understand, something is going on. I hear them calling from the distance, like through a thick fog. G … Ga … Ga … Gaméla … Gaméla … please help us … Gaméla …”

Gaméla gets carried away. She sees almost nothing, hears squeaks and a kind of barking. It is all very exciting, since in her mind everything is almost real. Look! It looks like a broken piece of ice. Gaméla is frightened by what she sees: a small sea lion with a lot of blood on its flippers.

Gaméla jumps up to her feet, grabs Sisoi by the hand and pulls him outside. Sisoi doesn’t understand what she is up to, but he runs together with her from the camp side to the narrow beach. At the coastline she stops and peers over the sea. The moonlight is reflected on an ice floe and they see a badly wounded sea lion lying on it …

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