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The Bamboo Master - a short fiction story about sorcery and witchcraft
- The Crocodile Prize | National literary awards of Papua New Guinea
The Crocodile Prize was established in 2010 by Phil Fitzpatrick and Keith Jackson, both of whom had worked for many years in Papua New Guinea; Fitzpatrick as a patrol officer, Jackson as a broadcaster and journalist.
The Bamboo Master
“I can feel it.” Kon seemed to squeal and hiss at the same time. “Em stap klostu stret.” He said, breathing heavily as the bamboo in his hand shook and seemed to miraculously turn toward the East. “We shall find it soon”, he continued as he started walking. Behind him a group of heavily armed men followed closely.
Thirty young warriors stood behind Kon, slowly digesting every vile word vomited his mouth. They had marked themselves for battle with paint, armed themselves with machetes and axes, and looked furious and fearless like their ancestors who had fought off enemies to protect their family and lands. But this time they were hunting for a predator far more dangerous – they were battling an unseen enemy.
“It’s close!” he hissed through his teeth as he started to up his pace. He started running and the bamboo compass he had in his possession started to shake violently. The warriors kept his pace, eager to do battle and vanquish this evil that had somehow come upon them.
It had started a month ago. The illness, the deaths and all the suffering seemed to sprout out of the ground. First, old Doe Ti fell ill and died. Then his daughters – all three of them and finally his wife succumbed to the same illness. They died a week apart from each other. However, it did not stop there.
A fortnight after Doe’s wife met the Grim Ripper, their neighbor Hap Sens fell ill. Somehow death was not satisfied and wanted more. Fear started to grow in the small village of Krankitingting.
The people, being a superstitious lot started blaming evil spirits and a curse. As a measure to appease the people and end the fears, the village chief, Idi Ot, decided to hire Kon Mantu, a local witch hunter. This would eventually lead to where they were now.
Kon ran across the small creek and headed right up the hill. “It’s up here!” he shouted, beckoning the warriors to follow. They all rushed up the hill and surrounded the hamlet. Inside smoke was coming out and they could hear singing. “It’s inside,” he said as he moved aside, making way for them to do their business.
He turned and walked away from the hamlet. He would let the warriors come to do what they had to do. He had done his part. He walked toward the chief who was standing behind the army of men. “I have done my part, now it’s your turn.”
“Are you sure?” The chief asked hesitantly.
“Yes!” Kon retorted. “I’m absolutely sure. The bamboo never lies.”
“Okay then, we must get rid this evil before it consumes us all,” the chief said and motioned the men to take up positions.
Kon turned away from the chief and started walking toward his house. Behind him he could hear the men slowly surrounding the hamlet in strategic locations. He knew what would happen – he chuckled under his breath – and an evil smirk formed on his lips.
He had everything he wanted. Power, prestige and now he would own the land of the poor old Vikki Tim who lived on the hill. It would be part his payment for the service he provided.
He smiled, thinking how easy it was to convince the people that she had been the cause of their suffering. They were like puppets attached to his magical bamboo and no one dared to question the ‘bamboo master’, the master magician – the master of illusion.
Suddenly, he heard a female voice screaming and begging for mercy. Then, everything went silent, and soon thick smoke rose from the hill behind him.
He started whistling and continued his way home.
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