He was asleep just a short time when he was woken up by Ampah. He got up and followed the boy outside. Several of the villagers carried torches and were screaming a name. Henry walked over to Ampah. He stood next to some of the boys giving them instructions.
“Whats going on?” Henry asked and Ampah turned to him.
“Adwoa is missing,” Ampah said.
“Grab a touch, we are going to look for her,” Ampah said. Henry walked over to one of the huts and got one of the torches that sat in front of it. He walked back to Ampah and lit it with the one that Ampah held.
“Adwao!” they shouted. The jungle was dark except for the torches that seemed to float through the air between the bushes. Rodents rustled in the underbrush, owls hooted in the trees, bats screeched and flew off into the night. They searched for hours, combing the underbrush until someone shouted,
“Over here!” footsteps sped up as they rushed to the voice. Henry got to where the voice came from and looked down into a grove of small trees. The little girl lay under a hibiscus tree motionless. Akosua was on her knees next to her.
“She is gone,” she said as she caressed the child’s face. The jungle was silent except for the cracking of the fire from the torches. They stood, their faces illuminated by with shadows. Akosua picked up the girls lifeless body and carried her back to one of the huts next to her own.
The Villagers stood, some cried, while the older ones tried to console them. Henry and Ampah stood there for a while then walked back to Henry’s hut.
“She looked like all the blood was drawn from her body,” Ampah said, his face a mere shadow in the pale yellow light.
“I did not hear the Ligaroos attack,” Henry said.
“There must be one among us,” Ampah said and they sat in the chairs outside Henry’s hut for a second listening to the jungle.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a Ligaroo,” Henry said. Ampah was silent for a moment looking into the dark jungle.
“So do I, I will spill blood for every person who died at their hands,” he said. The sound of frogs croaking filled the silence, crying could be heard in the hut next door.
“I knew something was up, the other night, while I slept, I felt someone next to me, their breath was awful, but when I woke up, there was no one there,” Ampah said.
“The same thing happened to me,” Henry said. Ampah looked over at him and said nonchalantly.
“You should sleep with one eye open, and your machete near my friend,” and got up and walked away. Henry got up and walked into his hut. He stopped at the doorway and held the torch out in front of him. When he was satisfied that no one else was in there he walked in. He took the unlit torch from its holder and placed the lit one in it. He walked over to the chair where the machete lay, picked it up and went to his bed. A dog howled and he lifted his head and looked around. Whenever the wind blew shadows rushed at him, then retreated when the wind dissipated He rested his head back down and closed his eye. The image of the Adwao imprinted in his mind. He felt himself falling asleep and jerked awake, then felt around in the bed next to him for the machete. He hugged the weapon and soon fell asleep.
Adwoa was buried next to the pond the following day. The drummers played, a slow deliberate beat, as they carried her body from the centre of the village to where she was buried. The village was Salome for a couple of days. Some of the villagers looked at each other suspiciously. No one accused anyone, but it was obvious what they were thinking. Henry had not seen Akosua; she had walked into the jungle after the child was buried.
Akosua sat on a bamboo chair looking out at the pond. There was an empty chair next to her with a calabash bowl of food on it. The scent of the roasted chicken filled the air attracting bugs. They settled on the rice in clusters, buzzing as they fed, Akosua had not touched the food. Frogs jumped in and out of the murky pond, ducks and swans glided across the surface. Akosua was in deep thought when a thick fog appeared over the pond. At first, she ignored the change, but then a figure walked towards her. She sat up and looked. It was a woman. She was light skinned and beautiful, and she glided across the pond like a princess gliding down the aisle on her wedding day. The woman stepped onto the ground. The fog dissipated, and Akosua saw the face of Yemaya. The girl smiled as the Loa walked up the bank of the pond and stopped in front of her.
“Hello my child,” Yemaya said. Akosua reached out her hand and Yemaya took it. Akosua thought the palm of her hand was unusually coarse, after all, Yemaya was a gentile. Akosua picked up the calabash bowl of food and Yemaya sat down next to her. Her white dress brushed the top of the blades of grass as she sat gracefully. She looked at Akosua.
“I see that you have had a hard time lately. How have you been doing?” she asked Akosua fought back tears.
“Its o k dear go ahead and let it out,” Yemaya said. Akosua rested her head on Yemaya’s head and sobbed.
“This is hard, I don’t know if I am the one to do this.” Akosua said between tears. Yemaya ran her fingers through Akosua’s hair.
“Maybe you are not my dear,” she said. Akosua lifted her head and looked at the Loa. Yemaya looked into her eyes,
“Maybe you are not the chosen one,” she insisted. Akosua wiped the tears.
“But you said….,” Akosua began to say.
“Never mind what I said child, even us Loas can be wrong.” Yemaya said, Akosua stood up and looked down at the woman.
“I am sorry, but maybe you are too weak to lead your village into a battle with the Ligaroo King.” Akosua walked to the edge of the pond, the fog partially engulfed her. Akosua looked back at Yemaya, she sat stoic, no expression on her face. Maybe she was right; maybe she was not strong enough to take on the responsibility of leading her people to freedom. Out of the fog, a swan floated towards her on the water. Akosua turned to Yemaya.
“If not me then who?” She asked, The Loa smiled at her.
“Don’t worry us good spirits will find someone else. We have the power to choose,” Yemaya said. Akosua looked down at the woman; the Loa was looking at the ground. Akosua looked at the Loas fingers, the three wedding bands that she usually wore were missing. Akosua sat down.
“It is good to have you help me work through these hard times.” She said. Yemaya smiled. Akosua looked around, and then looked down at the calabash of food she had laid down on the grass. She reached down and picked it up.
“You look hungry here have a bite to eat.” She said. Yemaya looked at the food and seemed like she was going to throw up. She took the calabash bowl and set it on her lap, picked up a piece of chicken, and raised it to her mouth. She looked at the food like it was laced with poison, then looked up at Akosua without moving her head, the blacks of her eyes pointed straight up. Suddenly she growled and grinded her teeth. She looked up to the sky and screamed.
“You know I can’t eat food that the cooks have touched.” She screamed and threw the calabash bowl to the ground. Slowly her physical features changed as she screamed and growled. The frogs jumped into the pond, the ducks and swans flapped their wings, as they retreated into the fog that suddenly thickened. The woman looked up at Akosua. Half of her body was Marinette-Bwa-Check, the other half Yemaya. Her eyes were ablaze with anger, her face twisted with contempt and hate. She got up and rushed at Akosua, the girl backed up until she stood at the edge of the pond, her heels touching the water.
“You little witch, I will cut you up and cook you into a stew and have you for dinner.” She screamed. Saliva shot out of her mouth and landed in the pond. The water bubbled, and steam rose with every drop of saliva. Dead frogs floated to the surface. Akosua stepped to her and reached her hand out. The Loa had completely transformed into Marrinette-Bwa-Check, she jerked away from Akosua, as if afraid to be touched.
“Fire go burn you,” she screamed, Akosua tried to touch her again,
“You don’t have to be evil. You can be the way you used to be in our homeland.” Akosua said. Marrinette-Bwa-Check threw her head back and screamed a loud scream that turned into a laugh, a laugh that turned into a growl. The Loa disappeared across the pond. Birds flew out of the trees and retreated into the jungle. Akosua stood; her hand was still outstretched, her eyes closed.
“You, a mere girl you think you can change me. I have ripped men’s hearts out and fed them to the animals. What do you think I will do to you child?” she screamed. Akosua opened her eyes and looked at the Evil Loa. Marrinette_Bwa_Check trembled then backed away from Akosua.
“You will be destroyed, you will be destroyed!” she screamed, as she ran to the pond and disappeared into the fog leaving ripples on the water. The jungle was silent, as if every animal was hiding from the wrath of the evil Loa. Slowly, the fog went away. The dragon flies came back and buzzed around the pond, frogs croaked and hopped from Lilly to Lilly. The bodies of the dead frogs had disappeared with the evil Loa, and the pond was back to its serene peace. Akosua turned away from the pond and slowly walked back to the village.