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.

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.

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.

42nd Installment of Obeah

He woke up with a start and looked around. It was even darker; he thought he was still in his dreamless sleep. He thought he saw a white flash, but dismissed it as his mind playing tricks on him. He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but he had this sick feeling that someone or something was moving around in the dark. He opened his eyes and lay there staring up into the dark afraid to move. Suddenly, a female voice whispered into his ear sending chills down his spine. He sat up and looked around. In the dark, he saw the shadows of the Bokor and the boy and girl lying next to him. He tried to peer in the direction of Akosua, but could not see anything. He looked around for a second then smiled to himself; his imagination had to be playing tricks on him.

“Coward,” he muttered,

He lay back down and closed his eyes, but he heard feet shuffle and lifted his head and looked around. The moon must have come out from behind a cloud, because some florescent light seeped through the thick leafy branches of the willow trees. He sat up and scanned the area around him. Small spotlights of silver escaped through the grove of trees. He saw a shadow walk away from where the Bokors had settled down. He waited until the shadow disappeared beyond the beams of silver lights, then got up and followed. He looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, but nobody else moved. He picked up his machete and followed the Bokor. For a second, he thought he should tell Akosua and Adofo what was going on, but he thought if he figured out what was going on, he would be accepted and trusted by the whole group. He tried to be quiet and watch where he was going, but the moonlight did not shine where he was, and he stomped his right foot on a rock. It hurt, and he placed his hand over his mouth. The Bokor materialized into a spot where the moonlight shined through. He walked as if in a trance, his head still, and his steps short and deliberate. He stopped and raised his hand as if reaching out to someone. He started walking again and disappeared beyond the moonlight. Henry tightened his grip on his machete and followed.

He followed the Bokor for about ten minutes going in and out of the moonbeams. Henry walked out of the cluster of willow trees and into the opening next to a stream. The moonlight shined silver on the running water, the sparkle almost hypnotized him. The Bokor stopped just in front of him, so Henry retreated under one of the trees and watched. The man stood looking into the bushes on the other side of the creek. Henry kept looking, wondering what he was up to. A mosquito bit into Henry’s arm and he almost slapped it, but stopped himself and just grinded the insect onto his skin. Suddenly from the bushes, a portion of white material appeared. Henry parted the willow branches and peeped out at the man. Slowly, a woman walked out of the bushes and looked over at the Bokor. He did not move, as the woman walked towards him. Her eyes looked like burning coals; she wore a beautiful wide brimmed hat and a white veil over her face. She was dressed exquisitely, her white blouse had puffy sleeves, and she wore a long white petti coat skirt. She walked with a slight limp, but yet her movements were graceful.

She stopped in front of the Bokor and for a second they looked at each other like long lost lovers reunited. Slowly she stretched her right hand out and the Bokor took it. She pulled him towards her and they began to dance. Her white blouse shimmered silver in the moonlight. Henry was reminded of the dances he saw the colonists do at parties on the plantation. They stopped dancing and began to kiss, then they let go and looked into each other eyes. The orange glows that were her eyes flickered red while she kissed him. She turned away from him and started walking towards the jungle. The Bokor stood for a second, as if making up his mind on wither to follow her. His body swayed forward, then backward. She stopped and looked back at him. He took a tentative step towards her. She stretched her arm out and like a Jumbie he moved towards her.

Henry stepped out from under the willow tree. He tried to scream, he heard the words in his head, but no sound came out of his mouth. He tried to walk towards them, but after he took one step he could not move. Cold chills ran through his body, then his skin tingled and he was hot. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw another woman walking towards him. He tried to run, and at first he thought he was moving, but suddenly she was in front of him. A sudden weakness took over his body and the machete fell from his fingers. A wolf howled in the jungle, and for a second Henry felt normal again. The stream sparkled as it trickled around rocks; a bird flew over his head squawking. He bent down to pick up his machete, but the woman lifted her petti coat skirt and kicked him with a hoofed leg. The moon grew smaller as he fell backwards. The stars twinkled, even on the jungle floor. The woman turned and ran for the jungle as several shadowy figures ran after her. Henry slipped into unconsciousness.

41st Installment of Obeah

                                           CHAPTER 18

It was early evening when they stood looking down on the Valley of the Weeping Willow Trees. Henry heard the sound of running water somewhere in the trees. That sound always made him calm; it reminded him of the fountain in the courtyard of their house in the Old Country. His mother loved that fountain and sat next to it for hours at a time. They stood for a few seconds and pondered on whether to enter the darkness. Without the usual signs, it began to rain. The raindrops were so big they hurt a little when they bounced off of him. Within seconds they were soaked, making their gear heavy on their shoulders. Mist rose above the willow trees and hovered. Grey clouds floated overhead and lightening flashed across the sky. Henry used his hand to brush water from his face. It was hard to breathe, as the rain ran down his forehead and sucked into his nose when he inhaled. He looked at the others as if he wanted to know what they intended to do. Before he could say anything Donkor spoke,

“O K lets go,” He said and started walking down the grassy decline. The group followed him, the Bokors more reluctant then Akosua and her warriors. They stopped just before they entered the forbidding darkness. Akosua looked around, as if summing up the courage to go in. Then with marked determination she started walking.

The early evening light immediately disappeared when they walked into the cover of the trees. Henry stood for a second waiting for his eyes to adjust to the sudden change of light. Wings flapped, crickets chirped and an owl hooted. When he got used to the lack of light, he realized there was just enough light seeping through the branches for him to see. Raindrops fell off the branches making it seem like the trees were crying. Donkor walked ahead, but stopped, then turned to the others.

“See that rock over there,” he said as he pointed to the right. The group turned to the direction his hand pointed. There was a bolder about four feet tall that sat just outside the sagging branch of one of the trees. It stood taller than Henry, and curved at the top creating a natural roof.

“I ran for that spot because that was the best sport to bed down for the night.” He said, and Kwao started walking towards the rock. Donkor put his arm out stopping him,

“Oh no you don’t sonny, Akosua gets that spot,” he said and motioned for Akosua to walk past him. She brushed past Kwao smiling.

“Your Mother slept right here,” he said looking down at the dry spot under the roof of the rock. “Now it’s your spot.”

“Thank you,” she said, Kwao looked at her and shook his head, and there was a small smile of admiration on his face. She walked over to the rock and sat her wet knapsack on the ground. She sat down, removed her machete from its belt, and rested it against the rock. She looked at the others, they stood looking at her.

“Well make yourselves comfortable, the trees will make good cover from the rain” she said as she unfolded her mat and spread it out on the ground. The others went around in search of the best spots to settle into. Kwao mumbled his disapproval, and found a spot not too far from where the Bokors had settled down. Adofo and Donkor sat next to the rock and were having a conversation with Akosua. Henry found a spot under a tree where the branches did not hang all the way to the ground. He figured this would give him some protection if the rain persisted. A boy and a girl sat next to him. They were younger, and seemed to have taken a liking to him.

“Mind if we shared this spot?” The girl said, she was about thirteen years old, and the weapons and gear she carried seemed much bigger than she was. Her dreadlocks stopped just below her ears, and moved from side to side when she spoke. The boy smiled and reached out his hand, Henry remembered him from the day he first practiced throwing his spear, he was one of the kids who laughed the hardest. Henry shook his hand; the boy was so skinny Henry felt the bones in his fingers.

“This is exciting,” the boy said, his eyes bright with excitement. Henry smiled and nodded. The Bokor he had saved form the Assassin Vines came over and dropped his gear in front of them.

“Nice spot, room for more?” He asked a big smile on his face.

“Sure the more the merrier,” Henry said, the Bokor plopped down in front of them. The other Bokors looked over at them as if disapproving of their companion’s friendliness.

“The more the safer you mean,” he said and giggled, the rain had washed away most of the mud from his face. The group of kids laughed, and Kwao looked over at them then stood up and shouted,

“Hey some of us want peace and quiet!” Henry and his companions laughed, and that sent Kwao into a rage.

“You think I am a clown Kindoki?’ He screamed, and started walking towards them.

“The only Kindoki here is you,” Henry responded, Kwao stopped, as if Henry’s words were like a wall he had bumped into,

“You will get the worst trashing of your life!” He screamed and started walking again. Donkor stood up,

“Hey no arguing here be quiet,” he said Kwao stopped and turned to Donkor

“Watch who you talking to Bokor!” he shouted, but turned and walked back to his tree. Henry and his companion looked at Kwao until they were sure he had calmed down. The angry warrior sat glaring at them while he sharpened his machete.

“What’s eating him?’ The Bokor asked. Henry lay back using his right elbow to prop himself up,

“He is always mad when Adofo and Akosua are together. Actually he is always mad about something.” Henry said, the boy and the girl giggled and looked at Kwao, he growled at them, then spat on the edge of his machete and kept on sharpening it.

Donkor called over to one of the Bokors they spoke and the man went off in search of firewood. He came back in a few seconds empty handed, the torrential downpour had soaked the jungle, and there were no dry branches to be found. They tried to light the torches, but even they were too wet to light. They eat fruit and began to settle in for the night.

The rain had stopped, but water still dripped onto the ground. Wind whistled through the willow trees, causing a chill to run through Henry. He lay and listened to the drops of water hit the ground around him. A lone firefly flew into the tree above him. In the jungle, beyond the willow trees, monkeys barked, maybe it was a mating call, or it could be they were wet and cold. Wild dogs howled a haunting chorus that made Henry’s heart race. Frogs croaked in the stream not too far from where Henry and his companions lay. It was dark, so dark Henry could not see his hand when he held it up in front of him. He laid, his eyes opened wide as he tried to hear if there were any movements. He began to fall asleep, but woke himself up, afraid that something or someone would sneak up on him. But he was tired, and could not stop his body from shutting down, and he fell asleep to Akosua and Adofo’s whispering.