lunes, 11 de abril de 2011

Obediah and the Old Hag

Obediah and the Old Hag

Obediah was about to become a man, he was almost fifteen. Later that day there would be a celebration in his village. His tribe leader would make a huge fire and the witch doctor would bless his coming of age. I he was lucky he would even be able to find himself a wife. But that would only happen if he proved himself worthy. He was planning to, he had a plan. He would steal a Soucouyant’s skin. The old hag wouldn’t have a chance. Obediah sat around the fireplace, his whole family watched as the dancers moved their bodies to the rhythm of the drums. Obediah felt the beat in his skin and felt the crackling fire warm his skin. He felt invincible, indestructible and he the unlucky Soucouyant would regret ever sucking one drop of blood.
Obediah danced and laughed, he stumbled after drinking the ceremonial rum, and sang the traditional songs. The whole village rejoiced and felt happy for Obediah but as midnight grew closer so did the calmness and stillness of what was to come. The village witch doctor sat in the log of wood facing the bonfire. He looked expectantly at Obediah, signaling him to come forward. Everyone remained silent. Obediah stood up with his back straight and his stride true. He sat in front of the witch doctor and he asked in a very serious tone, “What task have you chosen Obediah? Remember to choose wisely, do not go to far but do not disrespect your own strength.” Obediah looked at the night sky, he could almost hear in his mind the terrible screech of the old hag, it was a distant memory but the sound was very vivid to him. He sat in silence for a moment and answered in an equally grave voice “I will hunt a Soucouyant, I will find her skin, I will salt it and I shall burn her.”
Everyone remained in stunned silence. His mother gasped as she heard his words, but even worse, his unyielding determination. She knew she would not be able to convince him otherwise. Obediah was brave and true, but he was also very hot tempered and obstinate. That very night the witch doctor warned him unnecessarily about the risks, Obediah knew them already. He would have to go to the forest, and it would have to be immediately, that was the tribal way. Obediah didn’t waste any time, he had everything prepared in a sack. He ran toward his house and put the sack across his shoulders. He asked for his mother’s blessing and that she gave, but she didn’t allow herself to cry.
He walked with the tribe members all the way to the edge of the forest, they could not go any further from then on he would be alone. He knew this but he was ready. He had prepared himself for this day since he was small. Always thinking of how he could be able to accomplish such a task, but he had an iron determination nothing would deter it. He walked for several hours, until he was very deep in the forest yet only the moon was lighting his way between the rainforest trees. The sounds of the rainforest reverberated in his mind, and he started to feel scared.
He was looking for a ball of fire, just after the last hour before dawn. He strained his ears to pick up the terrible screech of the hag but the forest remained silent in that aspect. He kept walking in the near total darkness and a faint mist started to cloud his already bad view. The mist gave the forest an eerie feeling of restlessness. He searched hard, he couldn’t give up. Minutes passed and he stayed silent, he didn’t want to betray his presence in the ancestral forest. Suddenly in between two large trees appeared a shadow. The shadow came closer to him, it wasn’t an animal he was sure. It had a human figure but he couldn’t tell for sure. The shadow grew closer and he stopped breathing. Something was terribly wrong. The figure had a woman’s dress and a large brimmed hat. But even if he could tell the color of the skirts the thing was wearing a shadow remained around her face. He squinted his eyes but the shadow was like a piece of night, impenetrable.
The woman or thing came ever so close; Obediah could hear her ragged breathing, and the foul smell of her breath. The woman was standing in front of him but he was paralyzed, he couldn’t move, he was terrified. The woman looked at him without eyes and he felt that she was looking at him with some sort of power. He started to tremble and the thing made a horrible sound that would have passed for a sneer. Then he made up his mind, hi threw the sack at the things face and before he could have time to feel scared he started to run. He ran for his life, he ran and ran until his legs were filled with lactic acid, he ran until his legs burned. He wasn’t breathing anymore, he was hyperventilating. His lungs were on fire, but when he looked behind him he couldn’t see the woman.
A wave of relief washed over him as he realized he may have escaped. But he still had something to do, he couldn’t return home until he found the Soucouyant so now he had a brand new determination. He needed to get out of there and the only way was by killing that thing, that creature that had taken away his little brother and uncle in the night the monster that plagued his nightmares, the ball of fire straight from hell, the bloodsucking devil. He would find her and kill her, he would not fail.
There was a little shack beyond a little river. He crossed it without much problem and carefully got close to the shack. It looked abandoned and shabby. It was dirty and a section of it had collapsed. He walked silently; there was a rustling sound inside. He wanted to see what it was. He drew nearer and nearer to a little window. He could see a small light flicker in the only room. He got closer and raised himself to see. There was another rustle but now he could see it was only a rat meddling with a piece of clothe in front of a candle. He looked closer at the clothing, it was a strange shade of brown, it almost looked like skin. He was baffled at his own imagination. Something moved behind him, but it was only the wind whispering with the trees secrets he couldn’t understand. He looked inside the shack again but the longer he stared at the clothing the more it looked like skin. He decided to enter the little building. It was dirty and smelled horrible. It was the nauseating smell of rotting flesh, of fish and trash. It was the smell of sickness and death. He gagged with disgust but walked on, getting closer to the clothing.
He took the candle and put it close to the thing in the floor. It had a strange texture, like brown leather but ragged and old. He looked closer and he could see the fat layers, it was definitely skin, but was it the Soucouyant’s? He didn’t wait to find out, he no longer had the sack but he did have salt in his pockets. He took a handful and dropped it on the skin. It sizzled and crackled as if it were roasting, he the lit it on fire with the candle. It made an awful smell of burning flesh. Then the most heart stopping sound broke the almost complete silence. It was a scream he would never forget.
A ball of fire appeared in the doorway and he could see it had a face, and enormous eyes filled with hate.  The Soucouyant smiled a wicked smile at Obediah then jumped at him. He could feel his skin burning as the Soucouyant touched and scratched him. She was like an animal. But he took her by fire covered arms and threw her at the floor. The Soucouyant leaped and went for his throat but he was ready for her. He pushed her with all his might to the wall and she crashed against it. He took her skin and ran for it. He held it close and saw in between glances how the shack fell to pieces on top of the Soucouyant. She no longer had skin to return to so it would take her some time to recover from that blow. With a shudder the whole shack collapsed and it started to burn. He didn’t have the chance to see anything else before he was to far away and the mist covered everything. He didn’t care either. This had been the most terrifying experience he had had. But he wasn’t scared, he was eager. He could see the bonfire not many miles away. He kept running toward his house but not before he heard a hiss, like a warning and it said “This isn’t over yet, I will find you and you will regret it…” He shuddered as he heard this but quickly told himself this was just an illusion. So he was greeted by his family and an even bigger party was thrown in his honor but this time because he had proved himself a man.

The end…or is it?

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