Extract from TOM O’KELL & THE PAPANUK

Ash grey spectres poured menacingly from the rocky wall, surrounding them in a gigantic game of ring a-ring o’ roses. The innocent rhyme relating to the bubonic plague that meant certain death. A very apt analogy because these ghouls certainly didn’t anticipate anyone leaving this game alive. The sinister fiends held hands and twirled in a macabre dance of black magic and devilment spinning round the three horror stricken comrades rapidly going dizzy at the crazy manic faces whizzing around them, howling threats and spitting curses of a gruesome death.

‘Be brave, my boy,’ Myayakula’s voice tremored. He held Tom tightly by his side, shielding Tom’s eyes from the nightmare whirling around them. Suddenly the hellish spectres ceased their dance. They stilled their screaming ululations. They glowered menacingly at Mayakula and the Mountain Lion, but their look of hatred was fixed mainly on Tom. It was Tom they were after. Mayakula and Kamushka were just the supporting acts. They moved slowly, creeping nearer and nearer, ghostly grey arms outstretched, clasping, clawing, clutching. Creep – creep – creep. Silently, menacingly. Cackling wickedly now that Tom was in touching distance. Theirs for the taking. Theirs for their Lord and Master – Satan Himself. Their insane laughter and sickening curses rang through Tom’s mind, filling this thoughts with scenes from Hell and eternal punishment. Tom screamed and wept and if this was to be his last day in whatever reality he was in, he was determined he would end his life thinking about his Dad and his Mum and the love they shared, and the more he thought of his parents and the love they gave him, the less he heard the deranged demons’ crazy laughter or their terrifying threats and insults. The longer he held the image of his parents in his mind, the lighter the atmosphere became. Tom’s pounding heart eased, his breathing calmed.

‘Well done, my child,’ Mayakula spoke softly, ‘You have strong medicine within your soul.’

Tom dared to open his clenched eyes. The whirling ghosts had departed, the last shadowy shapes slinking back into the dark rock wall. Tom heaved a deep sigh and stroked Kamushka’s large furry head for comfort.

‘Phew!’ Tom wheezed and looked up into Mayakula’s kind weary eyes.

Mayakula blew hard and smiled, the strain showing on his lips, ‘It is time to leave this World. We need to return home. The Dark Powers will try again if we linger…Come.’

They turned in the direction of the tunnel they had travelled through only this time something was blocking their entrance to the tunnel.