He emerged from the woods like a hungry cat targeting its prey. Slowly and steadily, he moved, eyes piercing every corner of the forest in search of an unlucky fellow.
The forest stood still for him. Even the crying insects wiped their tears and consoled their children. He looked tensed, and anger filled his eyes. They could be scorching if they were the sun. Peaceful lightening came down from the sky at intervals and flashed as though it was invited. The situation was ideal.
He watched the blade of his machete amidst the darkness and lightening as though he was not sure of its efficacy. He had sharpened it to ‘stupor’ and applied the herbs from the shrine.
This night, he has to use it; he must surrender two skulls to the Girinya shrine. This is the custom of the dancers. A dance is never complete until a machete has cut off the head of a rival; and in case of death of a dancer, the number of heads he had cut off while alive was to be buried alongside his corpse in that exactness.
This was a must and failure dawned consequences on the dancers still living or the person who failed to do the needful, whether he was a member or not.
So, Genyi had killed just two people all his life. How lazy. Such a lazy kid, he thought. At his young age he had already thrown 8 heads and still counting. He touched the red scarf which hung just above his eyes. The scarf, they said, pushed the dancer towards a victim or lured such a victim towards his angry friend. He tightened his grip on the machete as he heard a sound ahead. The semi crossed grass blades in his mouth remained intact. His black coloured face looked more terrible now, with the white chalk circling his eyes; he was overtaken by the spirit of the dance.
Agber was ready to strike or maybe he had no choice. If one strike did not cut off the head, then he was to be taken himself. His head would be cut and surrendered. He proceeded as the sound neared. Inches away he raised his machete at shoulder height and stayed calm. Time to devour such a lucky man; “meeeeee”, came the sound. It was a straying lamb. He was angered. Maybe, either for the reason why a lamb will be in the bush at such hour, or why it had come this far. But in any case, what else was the fate of a man in search of an unknown enemy? He still had two heads to fish!
…To be continued.