Bajans nowadays all for Celtic New Year *aka* Hallowe’en: New Feature – Copyrighted Short Story from NIFCA 2004
In the late 70’s or early 80’s if you said “All Hallows Eve,” Barbadians young or old would look at you weird and wanna know what on earth are you going on about, it was only understood if a few Brit or Yank expats were in earshot… Now? You are not saying a pang if you ain’t bashment for Samhain – the Celtic New Year!
Meanwhile, I have been known to enter now and again for short stories – last year I sent in a tale based on a dream I had… It’s a bit like a mix of Reign Of Fire and Blade, I recall how it was so very vivid to me at the time. I looked at it again and realise how appropriate this item is for Hallowe’en! Also tossed in are posters of some Samhain events this weekend… So here goes, be gentle with me folks – Cheese On Bread? The urge to display my tale is inspired by you, y’hear?
When he got into the back seat of the old hybrid hydro-ethanol SUV, he reeked of stale cigarettes, rancid garlic and sour mangoes ? instead of offering thanks; he just slipped his shades down a faint notch and told the driver to move now?
?You?re welcome!? the old man grated.
Suddenly from inside his once-navy careworn overcoat the hiker whips out a sawn-off 12-gauge, turns around and proceeds to smash out the rear window of the 2009 Hyundai Groundbreaker so as to get a clear bead on the huge brindle-furred loup-garou baying behind the van. The senior citizen then mashes his foot flat against the accelerator?
All of this in eight seconds, it was punctuated by the almost bomb-like blast of the shotgun (meaning the calibre was jacked up considerably), which was followed by the strangled cry of the man-wolf creature known in the Caribbean as a loup-garou ? a weird hybrid of a man screaming and a wolf?s night-song to the moon. The once-human creature dissolves in a cascade of glowing ash as the coated figure shucks the spent shells for two new cartridges.
?Holy Shite, silver buckshot is only way to kill dem! Wait, you he?? the once smartly attired senior citizen (his three-piece suit looks slept and soiled in) was stealing glimpses in his mirror and then focussed on his passenger as he gasped as they raced along the once pristine flyover.
?Guyanese silver buckshot, with St. Lucian rock-salt for them succouyants, plus garlic and mango juice ? all blessed by a priest of Papa Bois, since all?a them creatures don?t recognise Christianity but know the elements of this region? But tell me? What ya mean if I am he?? the coated man smirked still not taking his shades off even though it?s twilight. His teeth were the colour of old ivory from all of the cigarettes he went through.
?Listen, mon! Don?t give me no cunt-talk! Are you Jim Bellot? The night-slayer?? The old man almost shrieked.
?So folk call me? I didn?t ask for the title, much the same way no one ask the old greedy senators to unearth the treasure from beneath our statue in the capital and thus let out the succouyants and their familiars that I now am hunting down piece by piece. Maybe when they?re all gone we can get tourism near to what it used to be, eh??
?Wherever you come trouble does follow! We get by ? travel in day and stay home at night?? The old man grunted, then he choopsed.
?We have devolved into an island lifestyle that foreigners only thought the whole region was like, and now, is for real!? Bellot hissed, ?Most folk are on foot or by mule, forced to grow their own food, even I grow my own smokes ? are you happy this way? How many working phones or mobiles are they here now? When was the last time a cruise ship or plane jet by here, unless it?s the High Commission to send arms, supplies or petrol??
A contemptuous sneer marred the tall hunter?s once youthfully handsome features now aged by unearthly stress and he shook his head in disgust ? making his twisties bob like angry worms, he paused to light up a hand-rolled cigarette despite the disdain from the senior citizen, but he didn?t care, Bellot was seething and vented it on his erstwhile benefactor?
?Admit it! Greed from those senators in 2011 let loose on not just this island, but the whole Caribbean (and almost the rest of the world if they didn?t quarantine here) a menace thought to be legendary, but very real, and kept at bay with some simple yet effective Old World charms at the base of a statue? Remember, Vaughan Albert ? oh, Mr Premier??
?I know it was wrong now, but at the time the country had debts to repay and it seemed the quickest way,? the old timer whined.
A long, slow choopse spat from the lips of the younger man in the backseat as he slid the 12-gauge back under his overcoat. ?That is all you can say, Albert? Did we really need to disturb the statue for its money? If we push for the cruise tax instead of your regime back-pedalling with the US Virgin Islands and Antigua??
?Look, you save me and I grateful, but I en?t here to be lectured on socio-economic polemics, eh? Where ya headin???
?I curious though? What ya doing out this side, Albert, and why drive ya self?? Bellot snorted.
?You getting above yourself now, and I am still the last duly appointed leader by vote in this here territory! What I do and where or why I drive is none of ya damn beeswax, huh!?
The night-slayer raised his eyebrows above his shades and he pulled down his shades revealing the right iris and pupil was cloudy like a cataract ? but it a translucent vermilion, not milky-white as usually seen in such instances, and his right eyebrow had a thick ropy scar in the middle of it. Obviously, during the time he?s been fighting these creatures, one nearly got the better of him.
But the reason he cocked a brow and pulled his protective glasses down was because he suddenly realised he hit some kind of a nerve with the old man, and now he felt if he learned why then he may finally get a big break in sending these creatures back to La Diablesse?s hometown. His hunches were seldom wrong?
?I say: What?cha doing out these parts, old man??
The former leader just stole a glance into the rear view mirror, and Bellot was intrigued ? the fear he saw in the old man?s eyes did not seem totally directed at himself, after a perfunctory glance where the back-glass once was to see no creatures were there, he looked again at the backwards version of Vaughan Albert in the mirror?
?What you doing here yerself, eh?? the premier retorted.
?I am the Night-Slayer,? Bellot laughed, ?What else I do since your greed unleash the evil that tek mi family an? friends? I was tracking a pack of lagaroo (loup-garou), and they nearly got the better of me if not for your driving through?? and Bellot choopse again.
?So greedy ol? men does have a use after all, no?? Albert sneered, ?You really feel that you can outdo succouyants, douen, lagaroos and them other t?ing with bare brute force and no cunning nor wiles??
?Oh my Christmas,? Bellot intoned as realisation crept up like a sunrise, ?You trying to deal with them creature? You is a sick-arse? Ya try to deal with the devil and expect to keep ya soul? Ya foo-kin? eed-yat!? yellow balls of phlegm started to grow at the corners of his mouth as he roared, ?En?t ya know is how me get me eye? I tried to save my wife from them t?ing and this is how they reward me, as they still changed her into one a?dem!?
Bellot kicked at the wall of the back seat behind Albert, whether for anger at his theory or memory of his then na?vet? was impossible to say.
?Mind yaself! We still ?pon de road and night falling fast, this September and days getting shorter again? How many a?dem t?ings you kill? Forty? Sixty? A hunnerd? Ya feel is really make so a difference??
?586,? the night-slayer grated in an offhand manner as he grinned much like the creatures he hunts, ?There are 80 more to go.?
?Is how ya know?? The old man puckered his brow when he asked.
Bellot pulled at his shades again, his right eye now starting to glow in the semi-darkness, ?It be the number of the Beast, bwoy! Tell me though, what ya could possibly offer the few that left in return fa safe passage??
Albert pulled his hand-brake and screeched to a halt, as noises like whistling started to shrill the air? ?You!? He screamed.
Bellot felt to kill the old leader, but he was just as angry at himself for not seeing the trap as easily as he could figure knowing why the old man was out this side ? but right now he knew what that series of whistles meant, and sure enough, they were followed by the equally familiar hissing like dousing a piece of metal then the stench of charred flesh?
Succouyants making landfall, flying through the night sky in the form of a whistling ball of fire, some folk when the unearthing first happened discovered too late they were not meteors, feeling the scorch of their grip just before the bite that changed them too ? innocents like his wife? He shoved the thought aside to concentrate on building his tally.
As he leapt out of the SUV, Bellot whipped out two objects from under his coat, with one he handcuffed Albert to the steering wheel; the other was a pistol and he shot out both tyres on the driver?s side, of course, the old man screamed?
?Relax, doo-doo,? Bellot cooed nastily, ?Ya en?t mek a deal?? then cackled psychotically. Bellot stalked off as the old man implored for him to release him ? but the night-slayer was already focussing on how to tackle the last eighty?
His coat hid an arsenal that the fictitious Bruce Wayne would have envied, albeit leave him wondering how Bellot moved swiftly or comfortably?
Bellot had apart from the pistol and sawn-off ? a Collins with a blade made of silver; he had hypodermic throwing darts with silver nitrate, garlic and mango distillate in the syringes; anti-succouyant mini-grenades loaded with rock-salt; a souped up tranquilliser dart gun that looks like a cousin to a Kalashnikov rifle ? he was expert in using them all, and fought as he never had, his preternatural eye allowing him to see better than a fly and saving his life more than once.
Finally, all the lagaroo and douen (these were the easiest to kill as they can?t move fast for their backwards feet) were gone, but there was one succouyant alive and when he realised which one, his eyes misted as he hoped she was one of the first to go?
The once human female looked at him and smiled with a set of smoking, blackened stumps that were fangs and before that, teeth ? ?Johnny,? she spoke in a surprisingly normal contralto, ?Wanna out my fire??
Bellot?s eyes were streaming now, ?Don?t,? he whimpered.
?Why not? Or do you mean why not save me? You tried, remember? AND YOU FAILED!? With this her mouth shot open far wider than any human and a long blistered tentacle that was her tongue shot at him ? but Bellot fought them for too long and as much as he loved her?
She did not know he had a last magazine of darts for the converted trank gun, and she was changing back to her dead human form before she hit the ground.
For the first time since the whole sorry set of evil doings unfolded he wept, and bawled as if he were birthed as an adult into pain. Then rage took over Bellot as head for the SUV, when he reached it, he was shocked?
The steering wheel was bitten through, and Vaughan Albert was gone ? it seems in the course of the fighting a lagaroo bit him and instead of fighting, the former leader slinked off, as the curse would be over now?
?I am gonna have so much fun, re-arming and hunting this mo?fo down?? Bellot snickered as he slung his rifles on each shoulder and started to walk down the flyover again, secure in the knowledge that just maybe the Caribbean will be normal again?
Off to his right, not too far off, a wail between a man?s yelling and a coyote keening pierced the Caribbean night sky ? as if it knew its end was nipping at its heels?