Adja witnesses a murder. The deceased turns to speak, telling him that in the world of Voodoo life is unceasing. After passing out, he wakes in a dilapidated house. An old Creole woman teaches him the ways of Voodoo in order to do battle against Snake, a being at war with Bear. Adja quickly adapts to his new environment, as he’d always been a bit of ne’er-do-well with no real direction in life. Through hexes, spells, and meditation he comes to learn that the man whose murder he saw, was the grandson of the Creole woman, and to avenge the man’s death, he fights Snake. Upon the completion of his first task, Bear, his animal guide, bestows a special power onto him, and he becomes a true Shadowman. Subsequently, he is called by Bear on multiple occasions to handle situations both in the normal, human world, and the otherside, the world of spirits. Along the way, Adja meets a handful of other Shadowmen, and together they face off against unbelievable odds.
As she was finishing her sentence, I had a feeling that either she or I was being rocketed away at a phenomenal speed. I was asleep but still very aware of myself. I knew I was in a sitting position, but everything was black. I could not remember where I was, how I got there, or what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn’t move. So, I sat there. The smell of acacia wafted in from somewhere.
As I peered into the darkness, I began to see shades of colors—the kind you see when you press on your eyes too hard. Only these didn’t dissipate. The colors became brighter. They felt alive. They were alive and watching me, sizing me up. I marveled at how they moved, swirling around each other, swirling into themselves.
I felt like they were communicating. The colors arranged themselves in patterns. Some of the patterns were familiar, although I could not explain how or why. Eventually, the patterns fell apart, becoming a swirling chaos once again. The colors evaporated. I was in the dark and felt aware of myself. I was awake in the same sitting position when everything came back to me. Rat’s food-smeared smile was in my face.
I blinked and slightly flinched back in surprise or disgust as he laughed his fat, stilted laugh. I laughed, too. I felt pretty good.
“Is it over? Can I get up?” I asked groggily.
“Can ya? You been there a long time. Better ease it up, boyo,” he advised.
I stuck my lips out and nodded in agreement. I carefully let go of my calves and slowly extended my legs. I wasn’t too stiff. I slowly came to my feet and rubbed my lower back. I looked over myself and realized I was still covered in the oil. I thought about showering.
“Hey, Rat? What do you know about divination spells?” I asked.
“Not much. I done a few in my time, but I don’t need ‘em anymore,” he replied nonchalantly.
He was licking his fingers as he spoke to me.
“Can I shower, or is that a no-no?” I wanted to know.
“Nah, you don’t wanna disrupt the oil,” he replied.
“What does the oil do? I didn’t have the opportunity to ask anyone earlier,” I said.
“Two things: lubricates and helps keep the meat moist,” he said between laughs.
He thought he was being funny. Maybe he was, I sighed.
“Okay, okay. It creates a barrier. The oil allows spirits to see ya but stops ‘em from being able to penetrate ya. Without the oil, they probably wouldn’t notice ya. Well, not notice a regular man. If they did notice ya and ya had no oil, they’d make direct contact with ya energy and kill ya,” he said truthfully.
“Those colors were the spirits?” I was taken aback.
“Ya,” he shrugged when he answered.
“Was I supposed to talk to them?” I asked.
“Doubtful. Normally, we gotta make contact a few times so they can acclimate to our presence, like feeding a stray animal,” he said to me.
I understood fully what he was saying. Whatever was making the colors was a spirit, or multiple spirits. The colors and patterns were how they communicated with each other, as well as their method of notifying me that they were aware of my presence. Rat went to the back room, and I soon went to sleep. I didn’t hear anything else from him until later that night when the ritual came to its climax.
By that point, I really wanted to eat. I had to keep my belly filled with water, which caused me to pee too much. I also wanted to leave the house. Because I had spent most of my time either sleeping or meditating, I had not gone outdoors in over forty-eight hours.
I was getting ready to leave when the door opened. The old woman walked in with a few bags. I smelled fresh fruit. I eyed the bags like a vulture, and the old woman overly emphasized keeping the bags away from me. We both laughed.
“So, the last part is tonight, right?” I asked.
“That’s right,” she replied.
“What do I need to do?” I wanted to know.
“Nothing, for now. Go and relax. You will have plenty food after the last portion of the ritual,” she told me.
I inhaled deeply and nodded. I went to the altar room where I piddled around for a little while. Besides the usual array of herbs and bones, there really wasn’t anything else that piqued my interest. I wanted to talk more and find out what we were doing. I wanted to know what we would do after the ritual, but no one was willing to talk.
I walked back to the living room and plopped down into the wicker chair. I leaned my head back and stared at the ceiling. For the first time, I noticed a large and intricate symbol painted on the ceiling.
The design was a dried-brown color depicting a strange looking eye. There were several symbols around the exterior of the design I had never seen. I wondered what it meant. Jackal walked by and stood in front of me. Her body commanded my attention.
I realized many things that day. I realized I had not had pleasure in a while and that Jackal possessed certain, special qualities. She must have gone home, changed her clothing, and showered. She wore a simple, light-green sun dress that brought out her eyes and hair color. Even in the dimly lit room, she was a stunning sight. I raised an eyebrow. Her hand was on her hip.
“Bet you’re ready to end all this,” she said.
“Yeah. I’ve just about had my fill with this ritual,” I complained.
“Are you clear on the instructions?” she asked.
“No one gave me any instructions,” I told her.
“It’s very simple really. We hand you the dandelion root, and you chew it,” she said.
I sat there waiting for the next step. She didn’t say anything.
“Then?” I asked with a shrug.
“Nothing. You chew the root,” she said with a nod.
“That’s it? That’s the big last step?” I asked surprised.
She smiled and nodded some more.
“What about the devil’s pod?” I asked her.
She pointed to the ceiling.
“It’s there to protect you. So long as you don’t get out of this chair, you’ll be fine…probably,” she said.
Her body language did not bring me comfort.
Copyright© Aaron Dennis. All rights reserved.