The native crouched over the dying fire pit, he was making circle with the skulls. The smell of the jungle was overpowering, and he could he the distinct yipping of Jackals in the distance. The painted tribesman muttered unintelligible words in an unknown tongue hovering over the circle in the flickering firelight. His eyes snapped up from the fire and looked straight into Charlie’s, he bore a hole through him as his muttering picked up tempo and volume. Tribal drums wormed their way into the sultry night although no drummers were in sight. The drums and the tribesman’s chants reached a fever pitch, and he made one single word “Mokembu”. Charlie awoke violently covered in sweat. It had been two weeks wince he was in the jungles of Botswana, but the nightmares were getting more intense each time he closed his eyes.
“Come on man, snap out of it,” he rubbed the balls of his hands into his eyes. He’s bedroom smelled of fever sweat, was there something else in the air? Was there something musky? No definitely not.
He looked over at his desk and saw the mask; it still looked like it was staring at him. His mind had been a mess since he found the cursed thing, and had only become worse since returning to the States. Now nothing seemed normal, everything had acquired a sinister tinge to it. The corners in his apartment seemed darker and deeper. Every time he opened a door he was positive it would open to some room he’d never seen or some entirely different place, or time.
Charlie peeled the now cold damp sheets from his body and crawled out of bed. His throat was parched all of a sudden; he must’ve sweat out half his bodily fluids out during the dream. The wind picked up outside and brushed the low branches against the windows down the narrow hallway. The dead leafless branches gave the eerie dry rasp of ancient bone. As he made his into the hallway he swore again that he smelled a wet musty stink, like dead or dying vegetation. About half way down the hallway he realized how hot he was. Was it a fever or was the apartment just hot? The thermostat read 67 degrees; he must be coming down with some flu bug.
The faucet poured a cold stream in his stout rocks glass and he downed it quickly. Instead of clean ice cold water it tasted warm and filthy; he could actually feel dirt in his mouth grinding between his teeth and into his gums. He vomited into the sink and looked at his glass. The glass contained an inch of thick dirty water, like water from a stagnant pool. Like the pool in the tomb of Mokembu? The thought made him wretch again, this time he seemed to vomit up a gallon of dank, foul water filled with sediment. His sink was littered with the grainy residue of soaked earth and pungent water. His eyes watered from pain and fear, and then he heard the noises outside the walls.
It sounded like dogs, lots of dogs running below the window. Sniffing, growling and scratching at the exterior, looking for a way in. He staggered back away from the porcelain countertop, the heat was now almost unbearable and he was now positive the reek of rotting plants was overpowering. The damnable thermostat still read a comfortable 67, mocking him. Charlie was sweating heavily now, the light cotton of his pajama pants clinging to his legs like wet cheesecloth. The dogs continued their search for a breach into the house, and one let out a distinctly non canine howl. Charlie had heard this call before, those were not dogs. They were jackals. Now rhythmic drums began a low murmur from so where near the back of the house. The drums were pounding almost exactly in time with his heart beat, and speeding up. He could now almost smell the witchdoctor from his nocturnal haunts in his apartment, stinking of blood and misery. The jackals started yipping outside, banging and clawing on the door. He heard the nails of their wretched paws clicking and clacking off the window panes.
Charlie’s head spun and he sank to a half crouch; he stumbled into his bedroom barely noticing those rumbling tribal drums getting louder as he made his way in. Fear had taken over now and he hardly seemed affected by the sodden dirt clotting in his mouth and covering the front of his clothing. He madly whirled around at he sound of breaking glass, he tripped over the phone cord and fell to floor in a sodden heap. The receiver fell a foot from his head and in place of a dial tone he only heard the maddening drums louder and faster emanating from the ear piece. He pushed himself up agonizingly slowly, leaving a stain of sweat and dirt on the carpet. He lurched across the room and grasped the mask that surely brought this absurd false reality into his mind. The claws of the mongrel assassins clacked against the tile of kitchen and the house filled with the scent of a fire that has burned down to the last glowing embers and hot blood. Charlie’s head swam with the fever of panic and he fell to the ground clutching the mask, his vision blacked out.
He heard small cautious steps of the jackals and the low murmur of voices all chanting in some darkened tones. He could only make out on single word over and over into oblivion….Mokembu…..Mokembu……….Mokembu.
Credit To: Hagbard23