From the rainforests of tropical Australia to the cane fields and communities of the North Queensland coastal strip, a horror is unleashed by those foolishly playing with unknown forces…
A fairy story to amuse small children leads four bored teenagers and a young university student in a North Queensland town to becoming interested in an ancient Tibetan technique for creating a life form. When their seemingly harmless experiment sets free terror and death, the teenagers are soon fighting to contain a menace that reproduces exponentially.
The police are helpless to end the horror. Aided by two old game hunters, a student of the paranormal and a few small children, the teenagers must find a way of destroying what they unintentionally released. But how can they stop beings that can escape into an alternate reality when threatened?
Genre: Paranormal Mystery ISBN: 978-1-925191-36-3 ASIN: B0157Q1KRI Word Count: 138, 663
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Uttarakhand, Northern India, 1967
One never expects to see a demon, and cannot rightly prepare for the sight. There is little that mortal man can do to defend oneself from these beings, so one can only hope to survive the encounter.
The walking trails in the forest-clothed hills around Nainital in the Kumaon foothills of the Himalayas abound with wildlife. Two young men walking in those hills and known affectionately to each other as ‘Boy’ and ‘Pop’, though only three years separated their ages, came across something one day in 1967 that would continue to haunt their lives half a century later.
They were armed only with binoculars and notebooks, relaxing after a few weeks spent hunting down a man-eating tiger, and were now engaged in their favourite hobby, that of birding. Boy and Pop were fit young men and thought nothing of treks of many kilometres in their pursuit of birds and had moved up through stands of rhododendron, deodar, oak, spruce and fir, where they had seen the rufous-bellied woodpecker, khaliji pheasant, spotted forktail and, through breaks in the forest canopy, caught glimpses of which might have been a lammergeyer circling far above. Notes were made in their notebooks of these sightings and many others as they made their way slowly along the trails. The two men stopped for a sandwich and a drink of water mid-morning, sitting on a fallen log and looking out over blue-misted swathes of forest where a break in the woodland showed them the valleys that lay beneath. After a few minutes, Pop started along the track once more, but Boy called him back, pointing up the slope.
“It’ll be faster if we cut through the bamboo forest.”
“Are we in a hurry then?” Pop asked.
“No, but I’d like to visit the Shiva temple at Pangot and that’s a bit of a hike.”
Pop shrugged and scrambled up the slope with Boy, the forest giving way to stands of bamboo. Walking through bamboo forest is quite different, the thick woody stems rising like leaning pillars all around, the myriad of feathery leaves blocking the sunlight to create a dim green ambience similar to walking through an underwater cathedral. The ground was covered in fallen leaves, dry and curled and the sound of their footsteps was muffled, a whisper making their passage.
“Bloody quiet, isn’t it?” Pop remarked.
“Not so many birds,” Boy agreed. “But there’ll be plenty when we get out the other side.”
Pop stopped to tie his shoelace, and Boy continued on his way, moving slowly and enjoying the strangeness of the forest of clustered stems. A slight breeze moved the tops and the stems swayed, clacking together in a random staccato rhythm that drowned out his soft footfalls. He heard a slight sucking sound through the clacking and he turned to look to his right.
Boy stared and the blood drained from his face. He felt a prickle at the back of his neck and on his forearms where his hairs were standing on end. Not fifty metres away, at the base of a clump of bamboo, something black crouched. For a moment, the only thought that went through his mind was that it was a chimpanzee–human-like but not human.
There are no damn chimps in India, he thought. What the hell is it?
As if it had heard his thought, the thing looked up and stared back at him, red eyes glowing in a coal-black face. Holding Boy’s gaze, the thing unfolded itself from its crouching position and stood. Its face split open, revealing long yellowed teeth. It lifted something that it held in its hands–looks like a small deer–and bit into the carcass, ripping off a chunk and swallowing it. Blood smeared its face as it tore the body in half, spilling entrails onto the leaves carpeting the ground.
“P…P…Pop!” he called in a voice hoarse with fright. Behind him, Boy could hear footsteps approaching and hoped like hell it was his friend and not another of these creatures.
“What’s up?” Pop asked cheerfully, and then, “Bugger me!”
“Y…you see it?”
“What the hell is it?”
The creature spoke, a single phrase, but not in any language Pop and Boy knew. It dropped the eviscerated corpse of the deer and turned away, moving soundlessly across the litter of the bamboo forest. It walked into a tiny sun-dappled glade and as it reached the shadow on the far side, winked out of existence.
Boy and Pop continued to stare, not daring to move, for several minutes.
“Has it gone?”
“I…I don’t see it.”
“Where did it go?”
“Back to hell,” Boy muttered.
The forest seemed somehow brighter after the disappearance of the creature, and after a few more minutes the two young men continued on their way to the Shiva temple at Pangot, though they gave the sun-dappled glade and the shadows on its far side a wide berth.
The priest at the small temple listened with interest to their tale and nodded solemnly. “It was a Raksha,” he said, and when they looked blank, added, “a demon”.
“What should we do?” Boy asked.
“Nothing,” said the priest. “Leave it to the gods…or other Rakshas.”
“Go home and try to forget you ever saw it.”
The priest told them a few other things, but nothing that gave them any peace of mind. For nearly half a century, Boy and Pop succeeded in pushing the memory of the demon in the bamboo forest to the back of their minds, but evil things have a habit of returning.
Excerpt from an article by Adrian Weston in the Upper Burdekin Saturday Gazette on April 20, 2013
Australia is known throughout the world as a land of strange animals. We have mammals that hop on their back legs and can leap distances of ten metres and bound over two metre high fences; we have mammals that lay eggs; giant fluorescent pink slugs; huge crocodiles; deadly snakes, spiders, octopi and jellyfish; baby animals carried around in pouches and a frog that raises its young in its stomach. If these existing animal oddities weren’t enough, we have a whole raft of extinct animals from monitor lizards that dwarfed the Komodo dragon, an enormous python, rhinoceros-sized wombats, marsupial lions, and Tasmanian tigers. Some people claim to have seen these creatures in modern times, so perhaps they are not all extinct. They also claim to have seen the Yowie, which is the Australian equivalent of Bigfoot, and a favourite of mine, the Alien Big Cat…
It was late on a Thursday afternoon when Matt Cochrane claimed he saw the little person. He did not really see one, but it amused him to say he had, and his lie had lasting consequences.
Matt was bored–he was sixteen, his mobile phone was being recharged, and it was late in the summer holidays. The little town of Five Mile Creek, removed from the Bruce Highway by a scant ten kilometres of badly sealed road, nestled at the foot of the Paluma Range in North Queensland in tropical Australia. It was never a hive of activity, even during the cane harvesting days, but now, in the summer heat, it dripped with sweat and lassitude.
He would like to have been with his mates, sitting in an air-conditioned house, his thumbs working overtime on his phone, texting friends across the room or further afield, but instead, he had to babysit. The very idea made him want to puke, but sometimes these things just had to be endured. His little sister Mia was six today–Matt liked to refer to Mia as his parents’ little mistake (though never in his parents’ hearing), coming as she did later in life–and had invited a gaggle of her friends over to share sugary confections and party games.
The party was now over and everyone had gone home except for two close friends of Mia–Emily and Lily. The three girls had taken armfuls of new plastic toys down to the end of their block. That in itself would have been no problem, but through the end of the long property ran the stream for which Five Mile Creek was named–a shallow reed-filled brook bordered by marshy ground in this section of its slow meander to the Coral Sea. Mia knew she was not allowed there unsupervised, but this was a special occasion. Her mother was too busy clearing up the debris of the party to watch her, so Matt was deputised–unwillingly and complaining loudly–and told to keep an eye on the little girls.
So here he was, sitting with his back to a gum tree on the edge of the boggy ground, picking idly at a pimple on his chin, and watching three little girls playing with Barbie dolls and other unrealistic plastic creations. One of Mia’s other presents, a gangling puppy of indeterminate breed was alternately being cuddled or reprimanded for wandering off. Matt encouraged this latter habit, tossing bits of twig for the puppy, grinning as its coat became grimed with mud. He yawned, suddenly bored with the whole affair.
“Hey, Mia, haven’t you had enough yet? Why don’t you go up to the house and watch a movie?”
Mia shook her head. “Don’ wanna.”
Matt looked back to where the puppy had wandered into the brook and stood belly-deep in the sluggish current, yapping at a dragonfly sunning itself on a rock a bare half metre away. The puppy advanced a step and yelped, falling backward and then scrambling ashore, trembling and shaking itself dry. Matt laughed, certain that a crayfish had nipped it.
Mia had looked up when the puppy yelped and now ran to it, pressing its wet and muddy body to her party dress. She alternately petted it and scolded it for wandering away, and a spirit of mischief infected Matt.
“Did you see that? It was amazing.”
“What was? Bad doggy.”
“On that dragonfly. It was a fairy.”
Mia looked at her brother, then at the creek where the dragonfly was flying back and forth over the water, and frowned. “Don’ b’lieve in fairies.”
“What about you, Lily? Emily? You saw it didn’t you?”
Lily seemed unsure and kept silent, but Emily nodded. “Fink so.”
“It was a little man dressed in green…with a hat,” Matt said. “It jumped off when the dragonfly landed in the rushes.”
“Fairies got wings,” Mia said. “They don’ need dragginflies.”
“Only girl fairies have wings,” Matt said, “So boy fairies have to ride insects. That’s so, isn’t it, Emily?”
Emily nodded. “An…an’ they dance in the light of the moon.” She looked at Mia and said defensively, “I seen it inna book.”
Mia did not look convinced. “I can’t see it.”
“Course you can,” Matt replied. “You just don’t know what you’re seeing.” He looked around and spotted two little yellow butterflies tumbling along the edge of the woods. “See those butterflies? They look like butterflies, but if you look close, you’ll see they’re really girl fairies.”
Mia’s eyes grew wide. “Honest?”
“Honest. You saw them, didn’t you, Emily?”
Emily nodded again. “Fink so.” She cocked her head on one side and watched the butterflies out of sight. “One of them had a purple dress on, like the one me mum saw inna shop winda in town.”
“You did see it!” Matt cried. Suddenly, he tired of the idea and got to his feet, brushing dirt from the seat of his trousers. “Time to go, Mia.”
“But we’re playin’.”
“An’ there’s fairies,” Lily added.
“You shouldn’t stay once the fairies know you’ve seen them. They get angry.” Matt picked up a handful of dolls and toys, and led the girls and wet puppy back to the house amid complaints from Mia. He left them inside with a DVD and went up to his room, where he found his phone had charged. He texted his friend Josh.
‘WRUD’ (what are you doing?)
There was a short pause, but he knew Josh always had his phone handy.
‘NMU’ (not much, you?)
Matt shrugged, a remnant gesture from actual face-to-face conversation.
‘NMJC’ (not much just chillin’)
‘CMO’ (come over)
Matt ducked out before his mother could find something else for him to do, and wandered down the road to the Peterson’s house. He knocked on the back door and went in, where he found Josh’s mother in the kitchen. She looked up from her cooking.
“Hello Matthew, are you looking for Joshua?”
“G’day, Mrs P. In his room?”
“Yes, go on up. Jack and Daniel are with him.”
Matt climbed the stairs to the landing and pushed open Josh’s bedroom door. Joshua Peterson was the same age as Matt, and similar enough in build and complexion to be taken for a brother. He sat cross-legged on his messed up bed, his thumbs working furiously. He looked up as Matt came in and nodded without speaking.
Two of his other mates, Jack and Daniel, lounged on the carpeted floor, flicking through magazines. Matt spotted at least one mildly pornographic one amidst the heap of others on electronics and cars. He greeted his friends casually and wandered over to Josh’s computer desk in the corner. Matt waited, flicking through a pile of CDs on the desk until Josh had hit the ‘Send’ button. “So,” he said. “What’s up?”
“They are too real,” Mia Cochrane insisted.
“They aren’t,” Charlie Ashwood said. “My daddy told me. He says fairies and Father Christmas an’…an’ things are just made up by grown-ups.”
“Well, I seen them.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Mia shrugged. “Emily saw them too, didn’t you?”
Emily Turnbull nodded.
Todd Hanson looked doubtful. “When did you see them?”
“Yesterday. At my birfday party.”
“I di’n’t see them.”
“After you left.”
“Where?” Charlie demanded.
“Down at the creek at the bottom of my garden.”
“Huh. What’d they look like?”
Mia considered. She had thought about the fairies ever since her birthday party and the half-seen, half-imagined visions had solidified in her mind until they became indistinguishable from real memories. “Like butterflies, but with little girl bodies.”
“They prob’ly were butt’flies,” Charlie said.
Todd nodded his head too.
Mia shook her head. “No. We seen real butterflies too, but one…or two was fairies. Wasn’t they, Emily?”
“Yes, and one was a boy fairy wiv green clothes an’ a hat, an’ he was ridin’ a dragginfly. He jumped off and hid in the reeds.” Emily had also thought about the sighting a lot. “One of the butterfly fairies wore a purple dress and had…and had pearls ’round her neck. I saw it.”
Charlie looked doubtful, but in the face of Mia’s and Emily’s certainty, was starting to feel unsure. He thought about what his father had told him and suddenly realised that if his father had fibbed about Father Christmas when he was younger, then maybe he was fibbing about fairies now. “Show me.”
“I kin show you where they was,” Mia said, “But if fairies don’t want to be seen, they don’t let you.”
“Yes,” Emily agreed, “They get angry and might hurt you.”
Charlie thought about this. “But they let you see them, so it must be all right.”
Mia looked at Emily. “Okay.”
Mia led Emily, Todd and Charlie, together with a few silent littlies, none of them over five years old, back to her house. Rather than pass through the house attracting the attention of her mother, she took them round the side and down to the bottom of the garden where the ground grew swampy and rushes bordered the brook.
Charlie looked around, at the sweep of lawn running down to the paperbark trees, the overgrown stream, and the long grass on the far side that bordered the forest-covered hillside. “Where are they?” he asked.
“Shh!” Mia admonished. “They don’t like noise. We gotta keep still and wait.”
They waited and presently a pair of small yellow butterflies tumbled past. The children stared at them and after they had passed, turned to look at Mia.
“Were they fairies? They looked like butterflies.”
Mia wanted to claim them, but even she admitted they looked like the common yellows that frequented the long grass near the forest. “No, I don’t think so.”
“P’raps they’re not coming today,” Emily said.
“P’raps they ain’t real,” Charlie ventured.
“This is where we saw them,” Mia said obstinately. “They showed themselves to us, which means they want us to see them. We gotta wait.”
“There’s ‘nother,” Emily said after a few minutes. A lemon migrant flew out of the forest, along the border and then angled out over the long grass toward the stream and the waiting children.
“Is that one?” Charlie asked. “It’s coming toward us.”
The butterfly circled the children and headed back to the forest edge, disappearing back into the foliage.
“It was a fairy,” Mia said. “It flew around us. That’s how I know.”
“It looked like a butt’fly,” Charlie said.
“Of course it did, silly. That’s how they deguise themselves.”
“I saw its dress,” Emily claimed. “It was yellow an’…an’ she had a dimon’ thing on her head…you know, like princesses wear.”
“A tara,” whispered one of the littlies. “A dimon’ tara.”
“I t’ink I seen it too,” Todd whispered.
“You see?” Mia said triumphantly. “We all saw it, Charlie Ashwood, so don’t you say we didn’t.”
Charlie made a face. “Okay, so it was a fairy. But I wanna see one up close. I didn’t get a good look at her dress an’ things.”
“We gotta bring them something they want.”
“What sorta somethink?”
“I dunno,” Mia said. “I’ll find out.”