They sat at the base of the mountain where they had set up camp. It was late afternoon, and the jungle was beginning to get silent as the animals settled in for the night. They had gone hunting and had caught a couple of wild pigs. Akosua and the girls had forged through the jungle and had found some vegetables and roots to cook. For the first time on the trip, the group seemed relaxed. The rains had stopped, and the sun shined down on the green grass. The bushes were still a little wet and they sparkled in the sunlight.
“I wish that hog would hurry up and cook, I can eat that whole thing myself,” he complained.
“Patience my friend, don’t rush the cook,” the boy said poking the hog with a stick.
Akosua, Adofo and Donkor sat on a rock discussing the climb.
.”We should start climbing early in the morning so we can reach the irst campsite before dark. Donkor said.
“How long will it take us to get to the top?” Akosua asked,
“If we have no problems a few days,” he replied.
Henry looked away from them and out at the jungle. Large birds flew over the tree tops, he did not know what kind of birds they were, but they were big and soared gracefully. Monkeys barked as they moved around in the trees. Bugs floated around the fire entranced by the flame. He thought about his sister, he wondered if she had survived the enslavement by the Ligaroos. His sister was a typical dainty teenager, her pale skin that turned bright red in the sun, her giggles when she was happy. She groomed herself constantly, even while she sat at the dinner table. How was she coping with the harsh conditions of the islands? Henry had seen grown men die from the heat. He wondered if climbing the mountain was all in vain, she may already be dead. He looked over at Akosua, she sat next to Adofo. She was strong and showed no fear. He hoped that his sister was being as strong as Akosua. The boy and the girl were tending to the food. Henry watched as the boy turned the pig so that all of it would be cooked. Smoke floated into the air, and Henry saw animals congregate just outside the jungle
“Look I am not the only one hungry,” he said and smiled.
“But they are always hungry. Don’t you wonder, is it the hog or you they are hungry for?” The boy said and laughed. The animals shifted, uneasy with the sudden noise.
Kwao sat off to himself. He was sharpening his machete, something he always seemed to be doing. Every once in a while, he would glance over at Adofo and Akosua, shook his head, then vigorously sharpened his machete. He pushed his dreadlocks from his face revealing his eyes that recently seemed to be permanently red. He looked over at Henry cross eyed and gritted his teeth menacingly. Henry looked away, not wanting a confrontation. He was so deep in thought he was startled when the boy pounded on a metal can.
“Come get it!” he shouted and returned to the food.
After eating, Henry settled in for the night. Kwao and one of the Bokors were to take first watch; Henry and the boy were to take the second. He fell asleep the moment he lay down on the mat. Immediately, the dreams started. He was back in the Valley of the Weeping willow trees. He stood where there were no trees, the glow from the moon shined down on him. Silver light bounced of the creek in the distance. The La Diablesses were circling him, their white dresses misty in the light.
.”You are a fool; you should have come with us. A far worse fate awaits you on Jumbie Island.” They chanted. One of them came close and leaned in. Loose skin dangled of her face and brushed against his nose.
“You are no warrior, just the son of a slave driver. These people will turn on you and this time they will sacrifice you.“ She said, stood up strait, a dagger in her hand. In one sweeping motion, she brought it down. He felt his skin rip and blood meandered down the sides of his stomach. Henry tried to get up but she pushed him down. The others chanted, danced faster and faster, until they were a blur of white, then suddenly one of them was in front of him again. Those eyes like burning coals looked at him and suddenly he felt warm inside. She spoke, but all he heard was a humming noise. The La Disables’ threw her head back and laughed then floated away from Henry. Then she was right in front of him again, her corpse like face close to his, and she caressed his face with her rotted fingers. She grabbed the back of his head and kissed him. Henry pushed her away and she screamed.
“You can’t reject me!” lifted her dress and kicked him with her hoofed leg. Then she leaned down and licked the blood from his face. Henry tried to resist, but she was kissing him again. He pushed her away and she spat at him and piece of her tongue landed on his chest. He turned away from her, but looked back when she took her hands away. She was gone and replaced by the former Bokor leader. Henry looked around, he was tied to a pole and a fire blazed around his feet. The man’s face was painted red and blue, the hood on his robe covered his eyes.
“Am right behind you,” the man said. He sounded like they were both submerged in the ocean. The Bokor floated away and there was darkness for a second. He reappeared in the distance and floated towards Henry, a spear held over his head. He threw the spear and as if in slow motion it came at Henry. The tip of the spear sparkled in front of his face, and he shook violently,