Okay, here goes! A short story divided into three pieces. It’s based on Belizean Beliefs. Enjoy!
DAY 1: October 30th
Shadows piercing through the veil of light that now surrounded her. This wasn’t right, she told herself over and over again. The echoes now dissipated with the glimmer of the distant light fixtures, faces that cannot be erased by the mask of reality; the gentle façade of a gentle river. A free flowing dream of a reality that now seems ever so distant. A giant mirror in the sky now exposed from the shadowy curtains that once covered it. Could a nightmare turn into reality? Could it pierce the distant boarders of life and death, seeping into the night? Machinations running inside her head, what follows is beyond comprehension just as the sway of destiny is.
El Cadejo, that’s what they called it. A ghastly being that runs the night, a guardian of the drunken souls that run high on ethanol and low of common sense. Had he become a rouge spirit? It wasn’t very likely, although, his white counterpart was well-known for tormenting souls on a whim. A big black dog, the embodiment of shadows and fear, was it really that spirit or was it something else? Caressing her soft cheeks, she grabbed her bangs and tied them around the back of her head. There was nothing more for her to investigate; she had to start working on this.
She was born in this town, her family was fairly religious but there was a spiritual aspect to everything; something that went beyond the boundaries of faith and God. She’d love to consider herself a Bruja but that was a title her grandmother could show off with pride.
A Bruja is not a being that rides a broom, has a black cat and used magic to injure people. We are different because we live in a different society as such, a different way of life
Grandma’s voice still reverberates deep within the recesses of her mind. Being a medium between the real world and the realm of shadows and fear, that was what being a Bruja was about. Magic was beyond her. It was that aspect of her heritage she was unable to master. If her mother could see her now, she’d skin her alive. Magia was the Spanish counterpart to the traditional and ever popular Obeah used by the rest of the country’s population. False witches that depend on paper written spells or fast incantations previously stored inside bottles and objects.
Magia went beyond that. It was using El Aura to control the elements and bring forth a creation filled with purity of design and essence. Obeah was used strictly to curse the existence of a being. She scoffed at the thought of it.
“So, where were you again mija?” Her mother stood on the doorway, sandals in hand and little Hector still asleep in her arms.
“I just went to the dance, that’s all.” She replied; looking away, intimidated by her mother’s gaze.
“I don’t know how you can lie to me like that, Carlota!” She tapped the wooden floor of their home with her bare heel. “The dance was over at around twelve! It’s two in the morning!”
“I’m sorry, I got distracted.”
“I hope for your sake that this distraction was not a boy.”
“Go to sleep, you have to go to the university tomorrow!”
Progress was hindered by her mother’s constant observation and criticism. She knew very well that Carlota was out, strolling the town at night, seeking spirits to purify and return to the gates of heaven. Magia is about balance, Obeah is about chaos. The differences were vast, like the Caribbean Sea, but just as easily misunderstood. Benque Viejo was in deep trouble if she didn’t find the culprit soon. Obeah had something to do with it, she was sure of it!
DAY 2: October 31st
Swaying to and fro from a vibrantly colored Hammock, Carlota’s little sister lay asleep. Her tiny smile was more than enough to provide her with the determination needed to find the culprit. Little children are going missing around her town; it’s not normal nor is it safe for her little sister to wander off at night. All Hollow’s Eve was today, things would turn for the worse if it ever got to El Dia de los Muertos; that as in less than twenty-four hours! There was only one person that could help me with this predicament. She grabbed her tennis shoes and ran out the front door, much to the dismay of her mother.
Mrs. Pinto was an old lady that lived just around St. Joseph Street. Many called her a Bruja, but she knew that Mrs. Pinto was special. Just around the corner of the large stone church built for the Virgen Del Carmen, she found Mrs. Pinto cutting some flowers off from the other side of the fence. Her short stubby legs could hardly carry her body; a long cane provided her weight with the much needed support. The cane was made of Mahogany, a tree of political significance within the country; carved with the design of various Mayan Hieroglyphics.
“Mrs. Pinto! Buenos dias! How are you doing today?” Carlota fixed her bangs.
“Oh, mija. I’m okay; the good lord had provided me with yet another day of life and sustenance. What do you need this time?” The old lady’s eyes shone with such joy as she flicked her long gray hair from her face. “Have you finished off all the Marijuana I gave you? What about the Tabaco and the Uña de Gato?”
“No Mrs. Pinto. I didn’t come for a refill. There is something I need your help with.” She rubbed off a couple of mosquitos flying around her thin light mocha legs. “I need your expertise and knowledge.”
“I see. Well, come along mija… We haven’t got all day.”
“Mrs. Pinto, you make it sound as though I’m smoking that stuff… It’s for the Talismans…”
Sifting through piles of books adorned with cobwebs and dust bunnies, she found it. An ancient tome used by our ancestors: El Libro de la Gallina. If anybody could answer her questions, that would be Mrs. Pinto. Her tiny house was on the verge of collapse, well, it gave that impression anyway. A tiny makeshift fireplace or a Comal as we call it, for making tortillas, tamales, bollos, etc; she was a bearer of culture and the occult. Her thick glasses searched through spells, curses, incantations, and anything that could give her a clue of the being that has been attacking people.
“Mija, I have lived in Benque Viejo del Carmen for fifty years, after I moved from San Jose Succotz at the age of thirty, and I have never heard of a large black dog with three heads and a tail akin to a serpent.” She fixed her glasses on her old, tired face. “Doesn’t sound like El Cadejo or anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Yes, I know.” She sipped some coffee from an old cracked mug. “But, if it’s not Magia then could it be Obeah or Voodoo? Maybe Goozoo?”
“I’m not sure Mija. El Libro de la Gallina was handed down to me by my grandmother, and even then, she knew very little of the realm of spirits… But there is one that can help you, though for someone as cute as you, it could be dangerous.”
“You mean, El Duende?”
“Yes, that little man with the big hat, backward feet and a deep desire for young women as cute as you. He is no spirit but a fallen angel.”
“I know about that. I’ll still risk it; my sister’s wellbeing comes before mine.”
“He won’t help you just like that… Be prepared… Carry a guitar, a mirror, a comb, some tobacco and a bottle of rum.”
She giggled. “He likes cute women, not the likes of me but I’ll be careful!”
“Go on mija, these days attract people and spirits of ill nature. Carry a small cross and a rosary with you. May the Virgin Mary protect you!”
The day was still young. Carlota decided to visit Mr. Punjabi at his store in San Ignacio town. It was a fifteen minute drive but he may have some answers. Being Hindu, he believed in gods and beings, a belief that peeked Carlota’s interest. If the large dog was indeed the work of Obeah or Goozoo, then she might need help from beings that transcend the spiritual realm.
Downtown San Ignacio was brimming with activity; after all, it was a Saturday. Tourists looking at handcrafted souvenirs and carefully sculptured wooden ornaments; locals shopping for fresh produce at the market as well as people hanging out at the mall, eating some Mennonite ice-cream. Stepping inside Mr. Punjabi’s store was tedious. The sheer number of customers shopping for apparel, electronics and footwear was overwhelming! The scent of incense overlapped the sweaty presence of afternoon shoppers.
“Mr. Punjabi! Mr. Punjabi!” She waved at him, standing on the tip of her toes. “Mr. Punjabi!”
“Hey! Carlota! What are you doing here? Are you going to buy something?” His smile was so contagious.
“No sir, I came to ask for a little advice.”
“You’re the biggest provider of Eastern magic and medicine around these parts. I was wondering if you had something for a big exorcism.”
“Ahhhh, I have something you might need.” He ran to a room at the back of the shop.
A small picture of Vishnu decorated with tiny jewels, a glass of milk and several glass elephants sat near the entrance. It was so easy to become amazed at their vast spiritual knowledge, way beyond the boundaries of good and evil. The realm of the gods was a place normal spiritualists could never tread upon. Her Christian faith would provide her with holy artifacts for such events but the priest had been very uncooperative ever since the La Llorona event.
Several persons had seen a young woman, dressed in white, walking around town in the middle of the night, crying and begging to find her children. La Llorona was your typical everyday spirit that had risen to a higher plane of existence due to her vast reverence as an ‘evil’ spirit. The more you believe in something, the stronger it becomes. The priest had provided Carlota with several holy water-tipped arrows and pages of an old bible; weapons fashioned for exterminating evil. After encountering her, face to face, she realized that there was nothing evil about La Llorona. There was just sadness and despair… it was a sad existence fuelled by belief. The church turned their back on Carlota, leaving her to fend with local magic and tradition.
“Here you go.” Mr. Punjabi appeared from behind some old ragged curtains. “This should suffice.” It was a coin with a white sphere in the middle. The coin had an inscription:
अमलकमलवर्णं प्रज्ज्वलत्पावकाक्षं सरसिजनिभवक्त्रं सर्वदा सुप्रसन्नम् |
पटुतरघनगात्रं कुण्डलालङ्कृताङ्गं रणजयकरवालं वानरेशं नमामि ||
यत्र यत्र रघुनाथकीर्तनं तत्र तत्र कृतमस्तकाञ्जलिम् ।
बाष्पवारिपरिपूर्णलोचनं मारुतिं नमत राक्षसान्तकम् ॥
“Mr. Punjabi, just out of curiosity, what does it say?” Carlota asked. He fingers tracing along the jagged edge of the coin.
“It says: Bow down to Hanumān, who is the slayer of demons, and who is present with head bowed and eyes full of flowing tears wherever the fame of Rāma is sung.”
“I see. Is that the monkey god?”
“Yes. His name is Hanumān. The sphere in the middle is filled with holy cow’s milk. It was an extra item that came in with the other blessed artifacts.”
“Thank you Mr. Punjabi, how much is it?”
“It’s free. A free sample for testing as long as you report the results of the exorcism; it might not be as efficient as a cross sword or a holy water-tipped arrow, but it will be enough.”
Tonight she was going to be busy. If the coin didn’t work on El Duende then the other items should work, if local lore was spot on.