Dec 23, 2019 News
By Michael Jordan
When Laura Jones was five years old, she had gone to the vat at the back of the house in Bartica to draw water for Mother. She was just about to switch on the tap when she heard a high-pitched, chirping sound. Her first thought was that one of the baby house-wrens had tumbled from the nest the mother bird had made in the roof. Excited, she put down Mother’s galvanized bucket and hurried to the clump of tall grass from which the sound was coming.
She had almost reached the spot when she saw the snake. It was about three feet long; thin and grey, with black stripes. To her childhood eyes it had seemed enormous. It looked like the type of snake that Brother Rudy called a horsewhip. He said that they weren’t poisonous, but that they could give you a stinging lash that made you sick for days.
And now she saw what was making the bird-like cries.
The snake had a small frog in its mouth; not the entire frog, just one of its back legs. The frog’s eyes were big with fright. It was trying to jump. Its mouth was wide open and from it came the birdlike sound
She had always feared snakes, and now she could feel her stomach churning as she stared at the horsewhip, its tail seeming to twitch with pleasure as it sucked on the frog. She held the bucket, caught between her fear of the snake and a need to save the poor frog. And she might have remained there all day if Mother hadn’t called out to ask her what was taking her so long.
She’d filled the bucked and hurried upstairs, the desperate, Peep! Peep! Peep! ringing in her ears.
Afterwards, she had sneaked back outside, but the snake and the frog had vanished. Guilt had wracked her the entire day at her failure to rescue the frog, and she kept imagining she was hearing those desperate shrieks…
Laura Jones had not heard that sound in over thirty years. But that was the sound that had woken her from a strange, mixed-up dream, and the sound was in her house. Now that she was fully awake, however, she realised that it wasn’t exactly the same sound. This was the sound of someone whimpering. It wasn’t her husband. He was in deep sleep. The whimpering was coming from Michael’s room.
She slipped out of bed, then headed for her son’s room. She stood outside, hearing him whimpering, hearing the frantic creak of bedsprings. As she stood by the door, she was suddenly gripped by an irrational fear; partly for her son, partly for herself.
She took a deep breath and pushed the door.
Michael lay on his back, stripped to his briefs, the sheet tossed aside. He was twisting on the bed, his hips arching and undulating in a disturbingly sexual way that she did not associate with her son. His hands flailed as he made that weak, whimpering sound. An image flashed briefly, intensely in her head—so intensely that she gave a cry of terror—of something straddling Michael; something with long, thick, tangled hair; something with sickly pale skin like a lizard’s soft belly; something that was now aware of her presence and was demanding that she be gone.
But then her maternal instinct took over and she switched on the light.
Even as light flooded the room, came an image in her head of something flitting from beneath the mosquito net, to the furthest corner of the room.
She glanced in the corner—was there a hint of shadow there? —then hurried over to her son, who was now slumped on the bed, still making that weak, whimpering sound.
She reached under the net, shook him.
He scrambled awake with a stifled shriek, hands upraised in defence, eyes wide.
“Michael,” she said.
Recognition came gradually into his eyes, though the hint of terror was still there. There was the heavy scent of sweat and now she became aware of the unmistakable rank of semen.
“Michael, what happen to you?”
His eyes shifted away, then back to hers. “Nuh…thing,” he said.
“You were groaning in your sleep.”
The dread she’d seen was back in his eyes. He averted his gaze.
“Nothing…” he mumbled. “Jus’ a dream,”
Again, she was struck at how thin he’d become. Was it her imagination, or did he look thinner than the day before?
She shook the thought away. “You woke me up, boy,” she said. “You feeling okay?”
“Yes,” he said, but even as he spoke, he was glancing across the room, glancing towards the corner where she thought she had seen a shadow-shape shift from his bed.
Her eyes followed his gaze, but there was nothing there, or course…
“I’m okay,” he said again, and now he was slyly pulling the sheet to cover himself.
No, you’re not okay. Something is bothering you. Something is making you ill. Something is very, very wrong.
“Michael, you mind if I put something under your pillow?”
Without waiting for him to answer, she returned to her room. Turing on the light, she opened her small vanity drawer. She removed a Bible. She stole a glance at her husband, but he was still asleep. He would be so mad at her…
But it was her son, too, and she knew what she had felt and sensed.
She opened the old book to The Twenty-Third Psalm, and returned to Michael’s room. He was still awake. She put the open Bible under his pillow. She remained until he eventually lapsed into sleep, then, leaving the light on, reluctantly left the room to return to her still-snoring, tired husband.
(Taken from the supernatural novel Kamarang by Michael Jordan. Book design and illustrations by Harold Bascom.) .
Limited copies of the illustrated edition of Kamarang are on sale at Austin’s Book Services. The author can also be contacted for autographed copies on +592 645 2447 or by email: [email protected]
KAMARNG (kindle version) is also available on AMAZON)
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