50th Installment of Obeah

“Bloody dry air,” Guede said then coughed. The cave shook some more and larger chunks of salt fell from the ceiling and the walls. Henry and the others scrambled to their feet and backed up against the wall of the cave as rocks fell around them. Akosua steadied herself as the floor cracked under her feet. Guede laughed, but this time it sounded like the boom of a violent thunder storm. The cave rattled, the floor opened up, and Akosua plunged the bluish white water.

“Akosua!” Adofo screamed as he stood helplessly. A couple of minutes went by and the rumbling finally stopped. Adofo lay down on the edge of the salt hole and stretched his arm into the water.

“You can’t save her now boy,” Guede said, Adofo picked up a piece of salt and threw it at Guede. The Evil Loa caught the salt rock, stopped smiling, and looked at the boy.

“Look at you. You are a disgrace to your kind. Your father would be ashamed of you. He is strong and you, well look at you, a weak pathetic Akan lover, strengthen up boy, become the apple that did not fall away from the tree.” Guede said smiled then winked at Adofo. The boy looked away from the evil Loa and Henry thought he saw a flash of guilt in Adofo’s eyes. Adofo growled at Guede and turned back to the sunken floor. Akosua’s head suddenly popped up and she grabbed a slab of salt that floated near her. Guede leaned forward,

“Hey Obeah girl, your boyfriend is too weak to help you,” he smiled a triumphant smile. Akosua clung to the salt slab and looked around, but she slipped off and disappeared into the white salty water. Henry, Donkor and the others rushed to the edge of the sink hole. Two minutes went by, five minutes went by, and still Akosua did not resurface

“Your little leader may have decided that death is better than fighting me, now she will be mining forever,” Guede said as he rubbed his hands together with glee.

Akosua sank, her eyes closed. She did not try to swim to the surface; she sank passing pieces of salt as she went. The salty water hugged her, it was warm, but got colder the further she sank. She began to lose consciousness and opened her eyes. Her mother floated out of the misty water and up to her. She was wearing a colourfull outfit from their tribe back in their homeland. There were bracelets with precious gems all up her arms, and a gold necklace lined with emeralds dangled from her neck. Akosua was taken aback at how vibrant the colours were despite the white murky water. The woman floated up to her, she was smiling, and her hazel eyes looked at Akosua lovingly,

“Fight baby fight,” she said then reached out and touched Akosua’s face. Akosua felt like a bolt of lightning went through her. She kicked her legs and shot to the surface. When she broke through she inhaled, her lungs felt like they were going to explode. She swam to the other side of the sinkhole and tried to pull herself up. The salty floor crumbled under her weight and she sank for a second. She kicked her legs and resurfaced. This time Obatala stood over her, his arm stretched down. She reached up and grabbed it and he pulled her out of the water. She was on solid ground on her hands and knees gasping for breath. Guede had climbed down from the headstone and was stomping and screaming like an angry baby.

“Damn you Obatala, Damn you!” He screamed. “You will pay for this interruption!” He kicked one of the smaller headstones and it shattered sending chunks of salt against the cave’s walls. Obatala took Akosua’s arm,

“Wisdom is on your side, let it be your guide,” he said, Akosua looked up to where the spear was hidden. The salt had fallen off around it, and she saw the stoned rock. Guede threw his glasses at them and cursed,

“You will pay you pretend Loa!” he screamed then turned and looked at Henry. His eyes were ablaze with hatred, and his face began to turn a bright red. Henry grabbed his stomach and fell to his knees. He began to throw up, and then fell to the ground shaking like he was having an epileptic fit. Guede stood, his arm stretched out to Henry moving his fingers like he was squeezing an orange. Obatala walked across the pond, his feet never touched water. He got to Henry and knelt down next to him then touched his forehead. Henry stopped trashing around and lay still, his breathing slowly becoming normal. Guede screamed, his voice echoing through the cave, then he turned and ran towards the walls behind the tombstones and vanished into it, his black top hat fell off and rolled into the pond. Donkor went over to Henry and helped him to his feet. Henry looked at him and smiled a weak smile,

“Thank you,” he said and Obatala smiled back at him.

“You are one of us once again, An Akan. Our Gods will protect you.”

Obatala turned and floated back across the pond to Akosua. When he stood next to her, Akosau climbed up to the spear’s hiding place, using the salt rocks as steps. She rolled a small boulder away from the hiding place reached in and pulled out the spear. It was wrapped in a red cloth and was about five feet long. She unwrapped the cloth, and held in in her hand. It was pure white, and despite the dim lights, its tip sparkled a little. She touched it, and a surge of warmth went through her body. She felt dizzy for a second as images of her homeland’s history rushed through her head. Then she was hot, it was a soothing feeling that ran under her skin, and she shook once then relaxed. Suddenly, she glowed white, as light settled under her skin, covering her whole body. The cave shook, and the salt walls began to crumble all around her. Big chunks of salt fell from the caves roof splashing into the pond. Akosua looked over at her friends,

“Henry, go get Kwao and some of the others and gather some of this salt, it will come in handy when we battle the Ligaroos!” She shouted over the roar of the crumbling cave. Henry turned and stumbled his way back up the tunnel to the top. Akosua stood among the falling salt rocks. She was calm, the spear glowing in her hand. In her mind Akosua saw her mother smiling. She looked around at the cave, but instead she saw the jungles of her homeland. She was surrounded by elephants, and tigers, and lions, and gorillas. She saw the warriors going off to battle, the hunters coming back to the village with the days catch, the big feasts whenever they had a victory. But most of all, she saw the freedom that her people once had. They danced in the middle of the village. There was laughter and singing, and drumbeats echoed into the dense jungle, across the fields, up and over the mountains, to every village. She looked down at the spear, soon they will have that same freedom on this island.

49th Installment of Obeah

The Jab Jabs came in waves, their voices suddenly echoing through the valley, trees shook and swayed, leaves curled as if hiding with fear.

“This way!” Donkor shouted as he pushed around Akosua. Akosua and the others followed fighting off Jab Jabs as they went. The jab Jabs disappeared every time they were struck, but more of them appeared out of thin air. They ran until they were at the edge of the jungle looking down to the middle of the mountain top. It was like looking down on a snow covered field. The Jab Jabs were fast approaching and they turned around to confront the wave of demons. Akosua swung her Machete and two Jab Jabs disappeared, she coughed as the air around her became a mist of ashes. Their red tongues stretched out, their red eyes blazing but somehow seemed lifeless. Akosua jumped down onto the white ground and Henry and the warriors followed her.

The mountaintop echoed with crunches as they landed on the white earth. Kwao hesitated, his back to the Jab Jabs. One of them hurled his body at Kwao and disappeared into him. The boy stumbled forward onto the white ground. He turned and looked at Akosua and stretched his arm out. At first he looked like he was pleading for help, but instead, his expression changed into a menacing stare. Without saying a word he raised his machete and charged at her. Donkor raised his machete just as Kwao brought his down. The sound of metal against metal echoed loudly. Kwao raised his machete again and Donkor stepped back and blocked Kwao’s swing with his machete. Donkor stumbled back leaving Akosua exposed to Kwao’s attack. The boy lunged at Akosua, ash exploded from his mouth. Akosua looked into his eyes it was turning red. His tongue was stretched out; it was slowly changing from pink to red. The change started from the tip of his tongue, and soon his whole mouth was red. Slowly, he began to turn an ashy colour, the change going up his arm to his body. Akosua prepared herself for his charge, but before he got to her Adofo had wrapped his arm around Kwao from behind. Kwao struggled, his eyes completely red, his tongue had turned into blood red and the upper half of his body was ash coloured. He continued to struggled and almost escaped Adofo’s hold, but Donkor had rushed over and grabbed him. Suddenly his whole body jerked and he leaned forward and threw up violently. Grey bile spilled out of his mouth, and the white ground melted as the grey liquid landed on it. Kwao staggered and stumbled backwards as Adofo and Donkor struggled to hold him up. Akosua walked up to him, the bile bubbled on the white ground fizzed, then disappeared. Akosua touched his face and he opened his eyes. She reached into her sack and pulled her Aron. She shook it over Kwao’s head, its sound echoed with the sound of the wind in the trees. Slowly, Kwao began to look like himself again. The red in his eyes dissolved, as puffs of ash floated out of them. His tongue returned to a healthy pink hue as he coughed out ash. The skin on his arm moved as if the ash was rolling around right under it. It trailed down his arm then escaped through the tips of his fingers in small puffs of ash.. He straightened up and looked around.

“What happened?” he asked, Akosua put her Aron back in the sack.

“You were possessed by the Jab Jab,” she said. She turned and looked at the others; they were all facing the Jab Jabs anticipating an attack. The demons stood, as if stopped by an invincible wall, their red eyes wild, and their tongues hanging out of their mouths. Akosua smiled,

“They can’t come over here,” the Jab Jabs stood for a second an indecisive expression on their faces. Suddenly some of them jumped at them, but they exploded in a mist of white. Ash floated to the ground covering the white surface; it fizzed as a thick layer of ashes landed on it. The rest of them turned and walked back into the jungle, exploding into ashes, turning the green leaves to grey. Akosua turned back to the white field. She stooped down and touched the ground. It looked like white stone and she placed a piece of it on her tongue. Her face twisted as she tasted it,

“It’s salt. Was this here when you and my mother came to hide the spear?” She asked, turning to Donkor. The man looked puzzled as he shook his head.

“No, this was all trees and bushes,” he said then looked around.

“There was a passageway to go underground in the middle of the field.” He said and started walking to the middle. A chorus of crunches echoed across the mountain top as they followed him. Donkor stopped, then took a step and suddenly fell feet first into a hole. Adofo tried to grab him, but he too fell into the hole.

“Are you all O K?” Akosua screamed. At first there was no response, and then Donkor spoke.

“This is the place, you will have to slide down the salt tunnel to get here,” he said. Akosua looked around.

“You come with me, the rest of you stand guard up here.” She said, pointing for Henry, the boy and two of the Bokors to follow her.

Akosua twisted and turned as she slid down on the salt. She came to a stop looking up at Adofo and Donkor. They took her arms and pulled her up. Henry and the others slid down after her, stood up and looked around. The ceiling of the cave was about twenty feet high. The roof of it was a layer of salt and the sun shined through it, creating a rainbow of colours on the white walls. The cave was salt, just like the white field they had just walked on. On the far side, large rocks of salt stood like steps that went about fifteen feet up. At the top, above the last steps of salt was the only natural rock visible.

“Right there,” Donkor said. Akosua looked up at the rock, its beige colour pronounced against the rocks of salt that surrounded it. She lay her gear down and was about to walk over to the steps when laughter filled the cave. Some of the salt rocks cracked and pieces fell, bounced off the salt floor, rolled towards Henry and stopped at his feet.

“Welcome girl witch,” the voice boomed. It echoed through the cave and Akosua looked around to see where it had come from. A man stepped out from behind a salt rock that was shaped like a headstone. It was six feet tall, and as Akosua and her friends watched, a black cross appeared on the front of it. Above the cross were the letters R.I.P, underneath was Akosua’s mother’s name written in red. There were smaller salt rocks surrounding it, they too were shaped like tombstones with the names of each child’s parent on it.

The man wore a black suit, and a black top hat, and dark sunglasses with the right lens knocked out of it. His exposed red eye rolled as he spoke. He used the smaller tombstones as steps to climb onto the bigger one and sat on top of it like a king on his throne.

“This is the perfect spot to sit and watch this momentous occasion. Little witch retrieves Spear of Salt so that she can save her people,” Guede said then threw his head back and laughed. Akosua stood calm and smiled, her eyes never moving away from the evil Loa,

“You don’t intimidate me, you are just a Lackey for Baron Samedi,” she responded. Guede’s laughter disappeared immediately. He puffed on his cigar then leaned forward.

“Go ahead little lady, go get your spear,” he said, and smiled a devilish smile. Akosua looked back at her friends. Adofo stepped forward.

“I will go with you,” he said, but Akosua waived him off.

“I have to do this alone,” She said and took a step.

“Ohhh brave little Obeah Woman,” Guede said and laughed. The salt crunched as Akosua stepped on it, it was the loudest sound she had ever heard, it echoed in her head as she took another step. She stepped lightly, but her left foot sank to her ankle in the salt and was slowly sinking more.

“Watch it now; you already stuck your foot in your mouth by challenging me. Be careful you don’t step into a salty grave.” Guede said and roared with laughter. She struggled to free her foot. Adofo started walking towards her, but once again she raised her hand and he stopped. She was finally able to pull her foot out, small chunks of wet salt rolled off her feet as she shook them one at a time. She steadied herself and took a step. Guede’s smile disappeared again; he had an impatient expression on his face. He looked over at Adofo and the others and then back to Akosua.

“You think you can save lives by getting this spear? Don’t you know that life and death is the biggest joke played on man. That’s why I can use the dead to do my evil works, and I can use the living to do my bidding also.” He boasted then laughed as Amelia took another tentative step. Guede continued talking,

“Ask yourself, are the Jab Jabs dead, or are you and your friends the dead ones. Did I order them to attack you, or is this all one big illusion, and you are actually in the afterlife, and I am in control, and you are doing exactly what I want you to do. Is there a spear over there, or is this just one of my games that I so love to play?” Akosua stopped and looked at him.

“As sure as I am standing here that spear exists, Yemaya says so,” she said and Guede rolled his exposed eye.

“Yemaya, Yemaya. She is no real Loa. She is loose and she is a trickster. Why would you believe her?” He asked staring at Akosua. She took another step then looked over at Guede,

“My mother brought it here Donkor can attest to that.” She said and took another step. Guede looked over at Donkor.

“Who him, the Bokor,” Guede clapped his hand and laughed, a red teardrop rolled out of his eyes,

“Hi old friend, been to any sacrifices lately. What, are you all of a sudden a good little Hougan. I seem to remember wanting my help. Remember the services, the food, and the human offerings. Thank you I was hungry for food, or hungry for souls, and you were quite willing to satisfy me.” he winked at Donkor, the man shifted from one leg to the next nervously.

“Look how nervous he is, do you think you can trust him?” Guede said,. Akosua looked over at Donkor and gave him a reassuring smile. She took another step, her legs shook a little. Guede sucked his teeth, shook his head, and then sneezed. The ground moved violently and Henry and his friends fell. Akosua braced herself, her hand stretched out at her sides for balance. The salt floor began to crack as the cave rumbled.

48th Installment of Obeah

                                        CHAPTER 21

They walked until they looked down on the clouds. There were no birds or animals; in fact they had not seen any other life forms for a while.

“Stop, stop, can’t breath,” Henry said bending over.

“O K we can stop for a second,”

“Breathe slowly,” Donkor said and he helped Henry lean against a rock.. The wind whistled through the trees that grew out of the side of the mountain. After Henry caught his breath, they started walking. The loudest noise was the crunch of their feet along the path, or the occasional sound of a rock rolling off the side of the mountain. Akosua stopped and the group came to a halt.

“Where was it that you and my mother camped the night before you reached the top of the mountain?” She asked Donkor walked up alongside her.

“Just a little ways up,” he said. They walked among the grey clouds sometimes not able to see where they were going. It was colder and the wind bit into their skin. Akosua looked out at the scene, and beyond the clouds, she still saw the ocean in the distance. The blue skies were littered with white clouds that floated among the grey clouds. The ocean seemed so much smaller from where she stood looking over the side of the mountain. In her head, she heard the sound of seagulls, the ocean rolling onto the sand, the laughter of the kids as they played. She wanted to be back in the village relaxing under a mango tree, listening to the drummers playing. She was jolted back to reality when Donkor spoke.

Its just ahead,”

“About time,” Kwao said as he struggled to breathe.

They walked until they came to a place where the mountain flattened out, and the rocks had small trees with leaves that grew out of cracks. It was a mirror image of the places they had stopped to set up camp on the journey up. The only difference was the cold, and the wind that felt like cold raindrops when it hit their skin. Akosua walked to the back of the flattened out area and dropped down next to wall of rocks that looked like organ pipes. Shrubbery grew out of the cracks in the rocks, but they were all brown. She called to the boy and instructed him to light a fire.

They eat supper; no one really talked as they eat and looked out at the sky. They were close to their destination, and all their thoughts were on the task that was before them. Akosua stayed up late looking at the moon. It was so big she felt like she could hang a rope around it and swing over the jungle, across the ocean, and to where the Ligaroo King held her people captive. She heard some rocks tumble off the side of the mountain and looked around. She knew that out there, someone lurked waiting for the right time to strike. She could not think of them now, she was too close to the top and the spear, she would have to keep a close eye out for any attack. She fell into an uneasy sleep waking up periodically. Donkor sat, looking out at the darkness. He turned and waived at her. She fell asleep, his silhouette fading into the darkness.

As usual, they rose early the next morning. It was cold and the rocks dripped with morning dew. The sun looked small as it rose over the ocean in the distance. Akosua slowly got her gear together. The silence from the night before continued as they got prepared to make their final climb to the top. When they were ready, Akosua stood on a rock,

“This is it, be vigilant. We don’t know what the evil Loas have in store for us. Remember, retrieving the spear is the only way we can defeat the Ligaroo King. Look out for each other and be strong.” She said then jumped off the rock, walked over to Adofo and hugged him. She then walked from one person to the next and hugged them. She had a quiet determined confidence that Henry had not seen before.

“Let’s go,” she said. Adofo took the lead and they began to walk.

They walked for hours, up the winding path and onto what seemed to be a plain. There were no trees, no plants, just rocks with holes in them that looked like the openings to caves. Akosua stopped behind Donkor as he stood looking around.

“There,” he said as he pointed to one of the openings in the rock formation. They walked over to the opening and walked in. It was dark, and the decline was steep, and they struggled to keep their footing as they went down. Fifteen minutes later, the passageway flattened out, and they stepped onto mud. The sun was bright, and it was hard to see after they had walked down the dark tunnel. Akosua stopped and looked around. They were in what looked like a wide valley surrounded by a rock wall as far as the eyes could see. The grass was brown, the trees had no leaves, and the flowers had died the blossoms moldy. They stepped on the dead grass and began walking towards the dead forest. They had not gone twenty feet when there was a thud and a loud scream. Akosua turned around and realized that the girl was missing. She listened, the girl’s voice sounded like she was entrapped in a small cave. Akosua walked towards her voice and almost fell into the whole that the girl had tumbled into. She looked down into a freshly dug grave. Akosua leaned in; the girl was scrambling to get out, her fingers clawing at the mud. Akosua lay down on her stomach reached out, grabbed the girls arm and pulled her out. The girl was covered with black hairy spiders. The child slapped at them, her eyes wide open with fear. Akosua helped her and soon all the spiders were off of her. Akosua stood and looked around. At first glance she did not see the graves, but with closer scrutiny she saw the long rectangular indentations on the surface of the ground. All around them were freshly dug graves. Suddenly, there was ear splitting laughter. Bark fell off the dead trees; the rotted blossoms fell to the ground.

“It’s Guede; he loves death and uses the dead for his evil purposes.” Akosua said, and the group drew their weapons and looked around.

“Keep an eye out, there is no telling what he will send to try and stop us from getting the spear.” She said. They walked on, being careful of the open graves. They walked out of the dead forest and into lush green jungle right before they got to the middle of the valley. Still there were no animals, just beautiful wild flowers and lush green bushes. The grass was soft underfoot, and the air was filled with the scent of blooming flowers. Akosua stopped and listened, there was total silence. Suddenly a figure appeared in front of them and stood before them. Without saying a word he charged at them followed by several more figures that appeared out of thin air. They were all the colour of ash, their eyes and tongue were red, and there were two small horns protruding from their foreheads. Their mouths were open screaming, but no sound came out at first.

Akosua did not react immediately, but as they drew closer she sprang into action.

“Jab Jabs!” she shouted, as she moved out of the way of one of the devils. The Jab Jabs all had clubs that they swung as they charged. Henry swung his machete at one of the Jab Jabs; the demon looked at him in disbelief, and then looked at his own body. There was a long cut that went from his chest to his waist. Ashes spilled out of him cascading down his legs and onto the ground creating a small mound of ashes at his feet. He looked back up at Henry, then vanished leaving a cloud of ash floating in the air. Out of the corner of her eyes, Akosua saw a Jab Jab coming towards her, his club held over his head. She waited until he was close, sidestepped, and pushed him into a tree. The Jab Jab melted into the tree trunk and an ear splitting crack filled the rock valley as the tree exploded. It hit the ground and the valley shook.

47th Installment of Obeah

They climbed for a couple of days, and the higher they got the harder it was to breathe. The closer they got to the top of the mountain, the quieter Akosua became. She was trying to convince herself that she was the one. She looked at her friends. They were depending on her to save them from the Ligaroos. She was just a girl, what if she was not able to do what they expected of her. Sometimes having all these people depend on her was hard to deal with. She often wondered where her childhood had gone. One day she lived on a plantation being the server girl for her master’s daughter, and then suddenly here she was, leading a village.

Being the server girl was not the best existence, but she was still able to find time to be a little girl. She would sometimes play with the plantation owner’s children. Her mother was a house slave, and that gave her a little more privilege than the kids whose parents were field slaves. She did not know why the plantation owner decided to sell her and her mother, but she remembered his wife insisting that they be sold. Her dreams started when she was about six years old, at first, she thought they were nightmares and she was afraid, but one day her mother sat her down and explained to her what her destiny was.

She stood wiping the sweat from her forehead just as the group walked by her, their bodies glistened with sweat, their faces contorted with exhaustion. Henry smiled at her as he walked by. She looked at them, eight men and ten young warriors. She wondered how they could ever defeat the Ligaroo King. Adofo walked by and touched her shoulder, she loved him and when he smiled she felt warm inside. He was strong and loyal and was a good leader. Donkor, she was not sure she quite trusted him, he did join the Bokors and participated in their worship of the evil Loas, but right now she needed his help. Kwao, he was always angry, and she was worried his crush on her would cloud his judgment. She looked at Henry, the kids walked behind him. He seemed to have assimilated quite well, but the truth is he was not a warrior. She started walking back to the front of the group, rocks rolled off the side of the mountain with every step she took. She walked for a couple of minutes until they turned a corner and the sun shined directly into her eyes.

Suddenly she heard a scream at the back of the group. She turned and ran towards the sound, her feet sliding on loose rocks. She finally got to the rear of the group and saw Henry leaned over the side on his stomach. One of the Bokors held his feet, but, was slipping to the edge. Donkor got to them before she did and grabbed one of Henry’s legs. Akosua dropped down on her stomach next to Henry. She looked over the edge and saw Kwao hanging his feet dangling. He did not look afraid, just a resolve of his pending death. Henry held him up by one arm, his face contorted with pain. She looked down, but could not see the jungle. The wind bounced off her face causing her dreadlocks to whip around. Trees grew out of the mountainside, rocks stuck out, but neither was close enough for Kwao to put his feet on. Birds flew out of a hole in the mountain, swarming around him. His screams echoed down the mountain.

“Hold on!” Henry screamed, but slowly he was losing his grip on Kwao’s arm.

“Grab my hand!” Akosua shouted, leaning down, stretching her hand down to Kwao. He struggled to bring his other hand up. For a second, Akosua had hold of it, but they were both sweating and she lost her grip. Henry grunted as all of Kwao weight pulled on his shoulder, almost ripping it out of its socket. Donkor and the Bokor warrior slipped closer to the edge, unable to get traction on the loose rocks.. Some of them hit Kwao and he began to bleed form the head. Akosua stretched her arm down again.

“Try again!” she shouted. Henry slide towards the edge and Akosua leaned down more; the other Bokors and the warriors grabbed hold of her legs. Kwao grunted loudly and swung his arm up and grabbed hold of Akosua’s arm. Together they pulled until Kwao was safely on the path. They all lay looking up at the blue sky, trying to catch their breaths.

About five minutes passed before anyone spoke,

“That was close,” Donkor said as he sat up. Akosua smiled and turned to him.

“Now that was good team work,” she said. Kwao sat up and looked over the edge.

“I stopped to take a drink and someone pushed me. Luckily a tree branch stopped me, or I would have been done for.” He said a nervous smile on his face.

“Did you see who it was?” Akosua asked and Kwao looked at her.

“No it happened so fast, one minute I had my head back drinking, and the next I was floating in the air,” he said and laughed nervously. Henry sat up flexing his arm, Kwao avoided looking at him.

“Thank you,” he said as his eyes searched the ground. Henry did not respond, he just shook his head,

“There has been someone following us since we left the Valley of the Weeping Willow trees.” Akosua said and Donkor looked over at her.

“I have had the same feeling too,” he said and they were silent for a second.

“Lets go,” Akosua said suddenly, with renewed determination. They got up gathered their scattered gear and slowly began to walk up the path.

46th Installment of Obeah

                                          CHAPTER 20

They were packed up and ready to go early the next morning. The sun was a dull yellow as it hung over the jungle; the sky was grey just above the trees, blue closer to the sun. Baby birds chirped as they were feed, pup wolves barked, the wind whistled through the rocks. Akosua looked like a warrior that Henry saw in paintings that his father brought back from trips to the Dark Continent. Her spear lay on a rock next to her. In her belt, next to her machete, was one of the biggest knifes Henry ever saw.. Adofo looked at Henry and smiled, it was a strange smile, just a show of teeth. Henry smiled back, but there was an uneasy moment between them. Kwao stood on the rock that Henry and the boy had sat on. He stood like a king on his throne surveying his kingdom. Donkor stood away from the group, looking out at the jungle, Henry wondered what he was thinking. Everyone was silent except for the girl who hummed a tune nervously.

After they were done packing they began to walk up the side of the mountain with Donkor in the lead, Kwoa once again took the rear, and by the look on his face it was evident he was not pleased about it. They walked for about two hours. At first the path they took was grassy, but the higher they got the path turned into rocks and pebbles. They slipped and slide, sending rocks and stones rolling down the side of the hill. Henry looked down, they were high over the jungle and he felt a little dizzy looking down on the tree tops and he stumbled.

“Woo there, don’t look down,” Donkor said. The blue sky went for miles, grey clouds hung over the tree tops in the distance, large flocks of birds flew around diving into the jungle, the sound of their wings bounced off the rocks.

“Damn I wish I had wings,” he said and looked at Akosua and smiled, “

“Sometimes the body needs to go through tribulation to cleanse itself,” she said and kept walking.

The group walked for another hour and came upon a part of the mountain where the path turned onto a flat area. Henry walked onto it and looked around. Rocks went high up, a natural cathedral, bushes stuck out of cracks. Henry dropped his gear on the ground. He looked out over the jungle and saw the ocean in the distance.

“We can rest here,” Akosua said. The rest of the group dropped their gear and sat down. Henry continued to look out at the view. Wild goats scampered on the rocks on the side of the mountain. He looked over at Akosua, then got up and went over and sat next to her, she looked at him.

“How are you doing?” She asked, Henry sat for a second, still a little out of breath,

“Am doing fine,” he said between breaths. He lifted his pouch and took a drink. He looked at Akosua. She looked at him and smiled.

“We will stay the night here,” she said looked at Henry then Donkor. Henry leaned back so she could see the Bokor. Donkor turned to the Bokors and told them to set up the campsite. They got up and with the help of the boys and girls began to unpack the gear.

Late that night Henry woke up and saw Akosua walking down the mountain. He got up and followed her. She stopped, and looked back at him, put her index finger to her lips, and pointed down the path. Henry caught up with her and under the light from the stars; they walked a short distance down the path. Akosua stopped abruptly, and Henry almost bumped into her. She listened for a second, and when she seemed satisfied she turned to him.

“Someone has been following us,” she said, Henry looked into the dark but saw no one. Akosua took one last look then turned and walked past him.

“Whoever it is have been following us since we left the Valley of the Weeping Willows.” She said, Henry followed her, looking back, making sure no one was coming after them.

“Do you think its evil spirits or the La Diablesse? Henry asked. Akosua was walking fast, so Henry had to run to catch up with her.

“No it’s definitely a human,” she said, as Henry walked alongside her.

“Who do you think it is?’ He asked, she stopped and looked out into the dark sky. It was quiet, the jungle too far down to hear the animals.

“Don’t know, but we must be vigilant, keep our eyes open so we are not taken by surprise.” She said and started walking.

“Get some rest; we still have a lot of climbing to do.” She said and went back to her mat. Adofo up when Henry walked by. He watched them exchange a brief embrace before he returned to his mat. The boy was on a mat next to Henry’s and raised his head up,

“Whats going on?” he asked, rubbing his eyes with his fingers,

“Nothing go back to sleep,” Henry said as he lay down looking up at the sky. There were not as many stars as the night they had spent at the base of the mountain. Henry lay there listening for any movement, but all he heard was the sound of the fire cracking. Any noise he heard, other than the fire, he sat up and looked around making sure no one was creeping into the camp. He finally dosed off listening to crickets and other bugs serenading the night.

44th Installment of Obeah

                                     CHAPTER 19

They sat at the base of the mountain where they had set up camp. It was late afternoon, and the jungle was beginning to get silent as the animals settled in for the night. They had gone hunting and had caught a couple of wild pigs. Akosua and the girls had forged through the jungle and had found some vegetables and roots to cook. For the first time on the trip, the group seemed relaxed. The rains had stopped, and the sun shined down on the green grass. The bushes were still a little wet and they sparkled in the sunlight.

“I wish that hog would hurry up and cook, I can eat that whole thing myself,” he complained.

“Patience my friend, don’t rush the cook,” the boy said poking the hog with a stick.

Akosua, Adofo and Donkor sat on a rock discussing the climb.

.”We should start climbing early in the morning so we can reach the irst campsite before dark. Donkor said.

“How long will it take us to get to the top?” Akosua asked,

“If we have no problems a few days,” he replied.

Henry looked away from them and out at the jungle. Large birds flew over the tree tops, he did not know what kind of birds they were, but they were big and soared gracefully. Monkeys barked as they moved around in the trees. Bugs floated around the fire entranced by the flame. He thought about his sister, he wondered if she had survived the enslavement by the Ligaroos. His sister was a typical dainty teenager, her pale skin that turned bright red in the sun, her giggles when she was happy. She groomed herself constantly, even while she sat at the dinner table. How was she coping with the harsh conditions of the islands? Henry had seen grown men die from the heat. He wondered if climbing the mountain was all in vain, she may already be dead. He looked over at Akosua, she sat next to Adofo. She was strong and showed no fear. He hoped that his sister was being as strong as Akosua. The boy and the girl were tending to the food. Henry watched as the boy turned the pig so that all of it would be cooked. Smoke floated into the air, and Henry saw animals congregate just outside the jungle

“Look I am not the only one hungry,” he said and smiled.

“But they are always hungry. Don’t you wonder, is it the hog or you they are hungry for?” The boy said and laughed. The animals shifted, uneasy with the sudden noise.

Kwao sat off to himself. He was sharpening his machete, something he always seemed to be doing. Every once in a while, he would glance over at Adofo and Akosua, shook his head, then vigorously sharpened his machete. He pushed his dreadlocks from his face revealing his eyes that recently seemed to be permanently red. He looked over at Henry cross eyed and gritted his teeth menacingly. Henry looked away, not wanting a confrontation. He was so deep  in thought he was startled when the boy pounded on a metal can.

“Come get it!” he shouted and returned to the food.

After eating, Henry settled in for the night. Kwao and one of the Bokors were to take first watch; Henry and the boy were to take the second. He fell asleep the moment he lay down on the mat. Immediately, the dreams started. He was back in the Valley of the Weeping willow trees. He stood where there were no trees, the glow from the moon shined down on him. Silver light bounced of the creek in the distance. The La Diablesses were circling him, their white dresses misty in the light.

.”You are a fool; you should have come with us. A far worse fate awaits you on Jumbie Island.” They chanted. One of them came close and leaned in. Loose skin dangled of her face and brushed against his nose.

“You are no warrior, just the son of a slave driver. These people will turn on you and this time they will sacrifice you.“ She said, stood up strait, a dagger in her hand. In one sweeping motion, she brought it down. He felt his skin rip and blood meandered down the sides of his stomach. Henry tried to get up but she pushed him down. The others chanted, danced faster and faster, until they were a blur of white, then suddenly one of them was in front of him again. Those eyes like burning coals looked at him and suddenly he felt warm inside. She spoke, but all he heard was a humming noise. The La Disables’ threw her head back and laughed then floated away from Henry. Then she was right in front of him again, her corpse like face close to his, and she caressed his face with her rotted fingers. She grabbed the back of his head and kissed him. Henry pushed her away and she screamed.

“You can’t reject me!” lifted her dress and kicked him with her hoofed leg. Then she leaned down and licked the blood from his face. Henry tried to resist, but she was kissing him again. He pushed her away and she spat at him and piece of her tongue landed on his chest. He turned away from her, but looked back when she took her hands away. She was gone and replaced by the former Bokor leader. Henry looked around, he was tied to a pole and a fire blazed around his feet. The man’s face was painted red and blue, the hood on his robe covered his eyes.

“Am right behind you,” the man said. He sounded like they were both submerged in the ocean. The Bokor floated away and there was darkness for a second. He reappeared in the distance and floated towards Henry, a spear held over his head. He threw the spear and as if in slow motion it came at Henry. The tip of the spear sparkled in front of his face, and he shook violently,

43rd Installment of Obeah

He woke up to the pale light of the moon shining down on him. He tried to sit up, but his head felt like it was spinning around on his shoulder. Someone had the palm of their hands on his chest, pushing him back down. He panicked, and began to struggle. He felt dizzy, even with his eyes closed he seemed to be spinning out of control, and then he fell back into unconsciousness.

Henry woke up again and looked around. The wind rushed through the willow trees creating a chorus of whistles that echoed through the valley. In the darkness, he heard Akosua,

“Take it easy,” she said resting the palm of her hand on his forehead.

“Relax a little, we are preparing to leave,” she said, Henry lay back down and looked up at the hazy branches of the willow trees. Thin moonbeams escaped the tree branches, but were not enough to aluminate the area around him. He lay there listening to the footsteps of the others getting their gear together. Each time their feet hit the ground, it seemed to shake a little.

After about ten minutes Henry slowly sat up. Akosua leaned into him. Donkor barked orders,

“Watch the flank!” Henry sat up and saw a white flash ran through the trees.

“Whats going on?” He asked Akosua looked around her.

“We are under attack,” she said, Henry tried to stand up, but she stopped him,

“The others can handle this,” she said, Henry relaxed a little, but felt around on the ground next to him to find his machete, but did not find it. Akosua stood up just as a woman in white charged at her. She swung her club hitting the woman in the face. The woman stood and looked at her for a second, then turned and ran off into the darkness. Akosua turned back to Henry; he stood up and almost fell over. He shook his head and looked around; they were surrounded by the women. Dozens of white dresses flashed in and out of the dark. The phantom women screamed, as they herded Henry and his friends into a circle, their white dresses shimmered as they went in and out of the moonlight. Henry righted himself and stumbled over to where Adofo and Donkor were, and got down on his knees. Adofo handed him a machete.

“You O K? He asked

“I will be” Henry said, Akosua stooped down next to him the club still in her hand. Kwao and the others were in a half circle fighting off the advancing women in white.

“We need to go that way,” Donkor said as he pointed.

“We push our way through there, and please nobody look at them, keep your eyes towards where you are going, do not look directly into their eyes. Do not listen to what they are saying.” Henry nodded, Donkor stood up his machete held above his head.

“Charge! He screamed and they all followed him. Henry stumbled and Adofo grabbed his arm. They charged forward, some of them yelling as they went; their voices’ drowning out the women’s seductive singing. The women stopped circling them, and stood in front of them, arms outstretched, eyes blinking orange in the dark.

“You can come with us, live an enchanted life. Freedom can be yours.” They said, their voices becoming a confusion of words.

“Don’t look at them don’t listen to them,” Donkor screamed as he held his arm up for them to stop. One of the Bokors stumbled and fell, his gear spilled all over the damp ground. He tried to gather himself, but one of the women stepped in front of him. He looked up at her and immediately was entranced.

“Come with us and be a lost soul no more. There is paradise waiting for you.” She reached down and touched his face. He took her hand, and she floated into the jungle dragging him as she went.

The women stood in front of them, they did not move, nor did they look at the women.

“Keep going, slowly and keep looking to the ground,” Donkor said quietly as some of the women followed the one that had captured the Borkor. They walked up to the women who had formed a line in front of them. Donkor pushed past the women, still looking at the ground. The woman closest to Henry reached out and touched his face. A cold chill went through him, as he felt her dress brush against his legs. He felt a gentle burst of air against his ears.

“I can make you happy, lost in a world where you have no worries, where I can bring your family, and you can live happily forever,” She whispered into his ear. Henry almost stopped, but did not; he just kept walking and looking down to the ground. When the woman realized he would not respond she growled a little, and turned to one of the Bokors. The man hesitated as she whispered into his ear. Akosua pushed the man and he stumbled forward. After what seemed like an hour they broke through the line of women and began to run. The angry screams of the defeated phantoms echoed as they gave chase.

They ran until they did not hear the women anymore. They stopped, still in the Valley of the willow trees. The trees were even thicker here, blocking out the light from the moon completely. Henry heard the breathing of the others in the dark. Someone next to him coughed, but he could not tell who it was. They stood there composing themselves.

“Looks like we are O K,” Donkor said, his voice startled Henry, and his heart beat raced up even more. He felt light headed, and dropped to his knees.

“You O K son?” He asked.

“As soon as I can breathe again,” Henry replied.

“They got two of my people,” He said.

“I am sorry,” Akosua said, “Those devil women have a way of hypnotizing men,” They stood in silence, listening to each other breath in the dark. Henry caught his breath and spoke,

“Who were they anyway?” Henry heard someone’s feet drag before Dankor spoke,

“Those were the La Diablesse, women who died as virgins and comes back from the dead to kidnap men,” he said between breathes. He patted Henry on the shoulder.

“You are lucky my friend, if they had taken you, you would have never been the same again. I have known men they have kidnapped. One day, they were vibrant men but when they were found, they were just like the living dead.” He said, Adofo spoke,

“It is dark as death here how are we to know which direction to go?” he asked. Out of the darkness, Henry heard Akosua’s voice.

“I think I can fix that,” she said, as a firefly floated among them then suddenly disappeared in front of Akosua. Then Akosua’s face lit up, the firefly moved around in her mouth. The glow, and even Akosua’s eyes were bright yellow. Henry saw Adofo’s face, then Donkor’s, then Kwao’s. Slowly Akosua walked over to Kwao and took his arm, and blew. Hundreds of fireflies floated out of her mouth and covered his body from his head to his toe. When he was completely covered, he stepped away from Akosua. He glowed, lighting up the willow trees around him. Kwao turned to face them; the only part of his body visible was the big smile on his face. He walked away from them and the shadows followed him. Akosua took Henry’s arm and blew on it. He watched as the fireflies went up his arm, onto his face, and over the rest of his body. He felt warm, and the fireflies tickled as they moved. He spun around; it was a strange feeling to be the light that lit up the Valley of the Weeping Willows. Henry looked around, the hanging branches created shadows on the ground that looked like hundreds of fingers.

Akosua turned to Adofo and did the same to him, then she did it to one of the Bokors and soon they had enough light to see twenty feet around the trees. The women were back, but they floated around just outside the light. Henry lifted his machete ready for an attack. Some of the fireflies migrated up the machete lighting it up. One of the La Diablesse came close enough to the light and Henry saw her face. It was skeletal like, pieces of rotted flesh and skin hung off her cheek bone.

“Come on lets go,” Akosua said, “They will not come into the light.” They started walking, Henry and Adofo side by side at the front. Kwao and the Bokor side by side at the back, and one of the boys in the middle. They walked close together careful not to break ranks and wonder into the dark.

“Did the evil spirits send them?” Henry asked. Fireflies floated off his lips as he spoke. Akosua walked up next to him,

“Don’t know, but we need to keep moving,” she said.

They walked until they were out of the Valley of the Weeping Willow trees and into the jungle. Animals popped out of the dark staring at the walking lights. Snakes slithered along the path, their yellow or red eyes investigating the strange travelers. A large owl flew overhead just beyond the light, hooting loudly.

Slowly, daylight began to descend on the jungle, and the fireflies began to fade away. The La Diablesse had left, afraid to face the daylight. Henry still heard their voices in his head. They walked out onto an area where there were more rocks than trees. About half a mile ahead they saw the base of Nkyene Mountain. They stopped and looked up, the peak disappeared into the sky. Henry wiped sweat from his forehead as he looked up at the sun half way hidden behind the peak,

“Here we are, we should set up camp here before the climb. We will need all our strength to get to the top.” Donkor said.