Extract from TOM O’KELL & THE PAPANUK

Completing the smudging ritual, Mayakula next picked up a light tanned deerskin medicine bag, containing herbs, minerals and amulets to ward off evil Spirits, and placed the pouch around Tom’s neck by a thin leather strap.

‘That is all the protection I can give you but you carry the greatest protection here, within yourself,’ Mayakula tapped Tom’s chest.

‘W-what do you mean?’ Tom asked.

‘The love you carry for your Father deep in your heart. That is powerful medicine, very powerful.’

Tom sighed deeply and pushed against the emotions swirling in his mind, causing his blue eyes to sparkle with a thin veil of tears.

‘Now,’ Mayakula spoke sternly, picking up his drum and beater, ‘We go!’

Boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom

Misty shadows rose from the ground, encircling the inside walls of the tepee. Dark and light spectres swirled around the tepee, and around the bodies of Mayakula and Tom, stroking their faces, vying for their minds and souls. Mayakula bravely ignored their attentions, focusing instead on the loud steady drumbeat and the safety of his young companion.

Boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom – boom

Streams of sweat trickled down the faces of Mayakula and Tom, images of demons and devils and phantom warriors spun around their heads. A low undulating howl mixed with the pounding drumbeat, taunting their senses, confusing their reality and dreams. Slowly, very slowly, the walls of the tepee melted away, replaced by a consuming veil of darkness, pulsating to the light of a million tiny stars. Tom felt his body drifting through an infinite dreamworld where neither space nor time nor any of humankind’s worries existed. He saw a gigantic portrait of Mayakula gazing up above. With a wrinkled twisted forefinger, Mayakula silently beckoned Tom forward. Without thinking, Tom effortlessly glided over to the Shaman, although he didn’t appear to have a body with which to move in. Tom was just an existence of infinite consciousness and thoughts. Suddenly, Tom’s consciousness funnelled through the darkness at the speed of light and Tom found himself stood next to Mayakula in a dark rocky cavern, dimly lit with a yellow glow permeating along the cold rock wall from a procession of flaming torches hanging in hewn recesses. An expression of relief fell from Mayakula’s strained lips, ‘I thought I had lost you to the dark Spirits. They have much power.’

A low whistle blew from Tom’s lips. He breathed deeply, calming his jangling nerves, trying to quell the questions hurtling through his troubled mind. What evil lay in wait within this creepy chamber? What form would these dark powers take? Which tunnel, branching from this cavern would lead Tom to his Dad? Tom’s nerves didn’t get much rest. A low rumbling guttural growl echoed from one of the dark tunnels leading away from the rocky chamber.