"It was a dark and stormy night......"

On a full moon night I was walking down the lane to
my house when I heard some noises. The dark trees
looked ghastly in the midnight black, the place was
deserted, and the night was eerie, the
sky was an endless expanse of black dotted here &
there with stars and a pale ceramic like moon. The
cold bit into my skin & I pulled my overcoat closer,
the wind rustled up the trees. The swaying of the
trees and the sound of the wind seemed like the
calling of a ghost stretching out his arms to me.
I felt the chill rise up my spine, my throat
tightened, and my hair stood on end. It was there I
heard the noises, at first it seemed that the wind
was still playing around with me, teasing me,
frightening me, but then they became louder, clearer
and ............ mysterious.

     I could hear a low and continuous rumbling, I
looked up and saw the sky was clear, no sign of
clouds, no sign of thunder, then it increased slowly
and slowly , increasing in pace, and increasing in
volume, faster and faster, louder and louder. My heart
was in my mouth, but wait! I had seen a flash of
white, followed by another and another and another and
another. Was I hallucinating? Was I being paranoid?
But no! I could have sworn I had seen a man, I had had
a glimpse of his face, dark and hidden. I was sure I
had seen him take of his mask, wipe his brow and put
it back on and he had done with human hands, he was
not a ghost. So if he was not a ghost then neither
were the others, but what were they doing dressed up
like that? At night? And here all of places, near the
cemetery. Why? I ran to the first tree I saw and hid
behind it. I could see nothing save a blur of white,
so I ran further to a group of trees, which hid me but
enabled me to see them. Being small of size, I had no
problem, I could see them but they weren't even aware
of me.
 They were dancing it seemed, around a fire, I counted
twenty of them in all. There was some sort of leader
there, he too was dressed like the rest of them with a
white flowing garment, a black belt like a priest's
with tassels at the end, a white hood which covered
his hair & nearly all of his face, he was the one who
was wearing the mask, it had a white background and
green and red and blue stripes all over it, it was
hideous. All the others were dressed like him except
for the mask. All of them were barefoot. Now they had
stopped, all of them in a circle facing the fire, the
leader got up on a rock in the middle near the fire,
and raised his face and his hands to the sky, he
started chanting something, slowly and almost
inaudible at first, then slowly rising in pitch and
speed. The others in the meanwhile were silent and
looked up to the sky with their hands raised to the
sky. Initially they did nothing except raise their
hands, but when the leader started increasing the
pitch while he was chanting they started moving,
slowly and then a little faster and then faster and
faster, then they started their weird dance all over
again. They looked up and down and clapped their hands
and then turned, chanting, chanting all the time,
while the leader kept looking at the sky his hands
raised. It was nerve racking, the people, their
costumes, this strange environment, this weird time.
Finally, the leader removed his mask and stepped down
from the rock.

 I thought it was finally over and I turned to go, but
I was wrong. all of them including the leader lit
torches from the fire, then they did
Their dance over again, this time holding their
torches in their hands, they
did the same sequence except without the clapping but
the chanting
increased rapidly, they added a new sequence now, they
threw up their torches and caught them again and this
continued on for some time. I was held
Spellbound by this, I was frightened & fascinated at
the same time but I wasn't leaving until  the end.

 Suddenly one of the people dropped one of his torches
and the person in front of him caught fire. I
screamed, and then twenty pairs of eyes turned to the
trees behind which I was hiding. I heard one of them
say, "I can see her, I can see her, she is behind
those trees" and the leader shouted, "three of you
stay here with the Monk, the rest catch her".

      I was horrified; I ran for my life, I didn't
know were I was going, but I still kept running. I
could hear the twigs breaking behind me, the leaves
rustling, the screaming, and the cursing. Never once
did I look back. I was small and I easily tired, I
could feel the strength slipping away from
Me. I saw a large, solitary tree ahead of me. God be
praised! They hadn't caught up with me yet, so I
climbed up the tree in the twinkling of an eye. I was
safe here, high up in the branches. I saw them stop
under the tree and one of them said, "she must have
climbed up this tree." 

 I went cold with horror, when another said, "don't be
silly, she is a little girl, little girls don't climb
trees." "Well then, where is she?"
"I don't know." "Let's go back and tell the boss we
lost her." "I'm warning you , he is going to be
furious." " I know, but we can't help it." I heaved a
sign of relief. I waited for them to go back, every
single one of them. In the distance, I heard cars
start; I waited for a few more minutes before I jumped
down from the tree. I ran all the way to the main road
and did not stop till I had reached my home. I closed
and bolted my door, I was thankful to be alive
................ and I hadn't left till the end, the
very end.



Tangela--AGE  15

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