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.

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.

Sunday Walk

Ahhh yes, the sun is beating down on the earth, that tropical breeze is whistling through the trees, powder puff clouds floating across the sky, its nice and quiet. Hmmm, I think its a great time to take a walk. Through the flower garden, in between the bougainvillea plants, past the hibiscus trees. Yes man, when the scent of one blossom fades, it is replaced by another. Walk through the knee high grass, through the mass of butterflies fluttering around, past the plum trees, past the mango tree, under the bird’s nest hanging from the branch of the soursop tree. Now I can hear the ocean, the flock of seagulls diving for their food. Down to the edge of the cliff, find my favorite to sit on. Ahhh yes, that cool sea breeze tickles my skin. So I will sit here, feeling the heat of the sun, then the relief of the cool breeze and watch the emerald ocean, the white clouds performing a theatrical masterpiece against the blue skies. Small boats lazily gliding by, flying fish popping out of the ocean. Yes, its Sunday, peace day on the island.

Sunday Ritual of Peace

Ohhh yes, its one of those Sundays, when you was to go sit on the hill top overlooking the emerald ocean, watch the sailboat glide into the beach, its white sails flapping gently in the wind. Marvel at the green trees with sprinkles of red flowers on them. Watch the shadows of seaweeds float back and forth in the ever moving surf.  Smile as boys and girls compete to see who had the best run up and dive into the warm waters. See the house that are built into the forestry, yes man, look at the cluster of buildings in the small city, it was that very place last Sunday when you sat and watched the fish swim in the habour. Squint your eyes as the sun bounced off the colourful roofs, inhale the fresh sea air, shift a little making yourself comfortable on the soft grass you sat on. Take a sip from the cold refreshing Mango juice you brought with you. Ahhh yes brother, another peaceful Sunday on the island.

27th Installment of Obeah

CHAPTER 12

Henry and Adofo were trekking through the thick underbrush of the jungle. A flock of dragonflies glided over the stream they were wading through. Monkeys swung from tree branch to tree branch barking ferociously. They swung their bodies, and then float through the air grabbing hold of the branch on another tree. Henry was blinded by the sunlight that seeped through the moving branches, so he looked down. Humming birds hovered over wild flowers some stuck their beaks into the blossoms. The jungle was alive with vibrant colours. Some of the green leaves sparkled as dew dripped off of them, turning the red mud into a maroon hue. There was a rustling in the bushes and Adofo stopped, a wild hog jumped out of the bushes. The animal stopped and looked at the boys. Henry raised his spear but the animal turned and disappeared into the bushes.

They walked for hours in the stifling heat, even in the shade of the trees. Small bugs swarmed around making it hard to take a breath. They got to the top of a hill that overlooked a field of green grass and wild flowers. It was a kaleidoscope of colours that shimmered in the sun. They stood, spears in hand, machetes dangling from homemade belts. They walked down into the pasture and into a sparkling stream. As they walked, butterflies floated off the leaves of the flowers and fluttered around them. A heard of wolves ran past them, but they paid no attention to the two warriors. Adofo stopped puzzled that the animals did not attack them.

“This is like the Garden of Eden out here,” Henry said as he stopped behind Adofo.

“Keep your eyes open” Adofo said as more animals ran past them and disappeared into the jungle. Adofo still did not move as if hesitant to go forward. Fish swam up the stream tickling their feet. Henry jumped splashing water on Adofo leg. He turned around and looked at Henry,

“Lets go, but be on guard,” he said and slowly walked in the direction the animals went.

It was a perfect tropical day. Blue skies, white clouds that looked like the puff his mother used to put powder on her face. Adofo pressed on cautiously. He thought of taking a different route, but this was the fastest way to the Bokor’s village. They stepped out of the creek and got to the edge of the jungle. Adofo stopped still hesitant to go any further. Henry stood alongside him peering into the jungle. Sweat rolled down his forehead, and got into his eyes. He wiped the sweat from his eyes with the back of his hand and blinked as the salty liquid burned them. More animals went past them, Adofo turned to Henry.

Lets go,” he said tightening the grip on his spear. They walked into the dense leaves pushing branches out of the way.

They entered an area where the trees were as tall as twenty feet. Their branches did not start until about ten feet up the trunks. Henry stood and looked up at the trees, and then he walked over to one and hugged it. Its trunk was so big he could not wrap his arms all the way around it. Adofo walked up behind him.

“Lets go,” he said looking around, then walked away. Henry followed him spinning around still amazed at the size of the trees. They walked among the big trees for about fifteen minutes when Adofo stopped and sniffed the air.

“Smells like the flower garden my mother grew back on the plantation. She said we may be in captivity, but nothing should stop us from making the New World smell like home.” He said, Henry sniffed and smiled.

“Yes it reminds me of my mother’s rose garden.” He responded. They stood and looked around for a second; Adofo shrugged his shoulder and started walking. Henry walked backwards looking at a large cougar that appeared behind them. The animal looked at them, its yellow eyes piercing, its tongue hung out of its mouth. Adofo stopped suddenly and Henry bumped into him. Henry turned to see why Adofo had stopped, in front of them stood a clump of rose bushes.

“What is this?” Henry asked as he looked up at the rose bushes. They stood about seven feet tall and their stems were about five feet in diameter. The scent of the rose blossoms permeated the air choking them a little. They were not the only flower that bloomed in the giant flower garden. Hibiscus bushes as tall as the roses stood up, their orange and red blossoms shimmered in the limited sunlight. All kinds of animals mulled around as if hypnotized by the beauty and aroma. Henry reached up and touched one of the rose petals. Drips of water rolled of the pink petal and onto the palm of his hand. He turned to Adofo,

“This is crazy, maybe the evil spirits are playing tricks on us,” he said and looked around confused. Henry left the rose bush and walked ahead turning around as he did,

“Still this is beautiful,” he said, as he closed his eyes and sniffed.

“This seems peaceful let us relax a minute and have lunch,” Adofo said as he looked around cautiously. Cougars, mongooses, predator and prey moved around aimlessly. Henry heard a rustle next to him and he opened his eyes. The cougar he saw earlier stood looking at him.

“On second thought let’s keep moving,” Adofo said and Henry followed him.

They got to an area where the giant flowers changed species. One had bright red petals that glistened as if it had just rained. It was not tall, but its leaves and its core spread out on the ground in a circle about five feet in diameter. The cougar had followed them and had stepped on the plant. Suddenly the granular hairs on the petals wrapped around the animal. It growled and struggled, but the hairs tightened even more. Its head disappeared into the plant’s leaves then reappeared; its eyes were bulging as the killer plant squeezed its torso. The other animals began to stampede as the cougar roared and fought. Henry stood frozen with fear as the animals began to bump into him.

“Come on run!” Adofo shouted and moved towards Henry. A herd of wild hogs ran by ramming into Adofo. He stumbled backwards and yelled. Henry turned towards where Adofo had fallen. The stampede of animals ran into the jungle, and after the rush, Henry saw that Adofo had gotten to his feet but was leaned up against a tree struggling.

“Let go, Adofo screamed. He was entrapped in a plant, his eyes bulging as he struggled. It was bright red and sparkled a little in the light. A small hood like spoon dangled at the tip of its leaves. Adofo was stuck in a funnel like zone of the gigantic leaf.

“Damn possessed bush!” Adofo screamed. The hairs on the leaf were pointed downwards making it hard for him to get his footing. The lower half of the funnel was large enough to swallow Adofo into the plant. Henry leaped into action and used his machete to cut at the plant’s roots.

“Hang On!” Henry shouted. Adofo gasped for breath as he slipped further down into the funnel. Henry desperately swung the machete.

Snack Time

After that lunch, well a red blooded tropical boy needs a snack, so I make me way to the back yard. Man all them choices, plumbs, red and China, golden apples, paw paw, chenttes, oh lord, how to make up me mind. Then I turned to the mango trees, them things were ripe for so. Ok mangos it is, time to climb that tree and do some serious picking. Yes boy this going be some juicey eating.

In the Rainforest

In the rainforest, where the clouds hang over the trees, green and white creating a floating silver lining just above the tree tops.  Green leaves sparkle as the grey light bounce off their dew sprinkled surface, monkeys sing in response to the chatter of the parrots. In some parts of the forest, the leaves are green cold, as mother’s eye attempt to escape the clouds. The scent of the soil fills the air, nature on simmer. Straying flower petals glides through the underbrush using natures transportation, settles in the yards, on the dirt roads and on the galvanized roofs.