The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)


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The car flies off the bridge exactly where I planned it to. Everything goes slow. And then I think about everything my kids will go on to do. I smile and look back to see the sky one last time. My fascination, however, is more of a medical one. Using dead organs and muscle and tissue built around a skeleton to create life? Seemed impossible, but I always kept an open mind. My colleagues would never agree to work with me on this conceptually flawed experiment, but Peter Goldstein had the funds to let me work toward my dream. He gave me the money when I asked, and I did all the work: finding fresh bodies, harvesting the organs and muscle and tissue and bones, assembling the pieces, finding the chemical mixture to bring the dead tissue back to life once more.

Years of work to find the perfect ingredients. I need to get them from a living specimen. I plunged a hidden syringe in his neck and sedated him. The body would not last much longer. I needed the parts now. I laid him down on my operating table and began to work. I completed the work on the creature and began pumping the chemicals into its body. If my calculations are correct, it is mere minutes away from being a living being.

The sedative must be wearing off from Peter; he is beginning to stir. I hope he is as excited as I am about this momentous occasion. The ten ton weight pushed me off my feet and slammed me into the library wall. I felt something leaking inside as I scrabbled for purchase on the hot metal. The smell of burning rubber and the crunch of bone washed over me as more cars spun off the road, and I prayed for survival.

It all came back at once. I opened my eyes and gazed at the dead and dying. Men, woman, children, all wrapped around the wreckage of the bus and half a dozen other cars it smashed along the way. Rivers of blood and broken bits splashed down the streets and pooled in the potholes and ran through the grates. Some of them still lived, writhing, sobbing, clawing at the wreckage of the world around them. I sprawled over the hood of the bus and felt my life drain out. She was a beautiful 14 year old girl with blonde, curly hair and big blue eyes. She had many friends for she was one of the most popular girls in school.

Her greatest pleasure was fashion. She was always dressed in the newest, fanciest most expensive clothes. Just this week her father bought her a ridiculously expensive green Italian leather jacket which she wore always, everywhere. Her second greatest pleasure were horses. Just last month her father bought her a ridiculously expensive, imported german dressage horse, which she bragged about to anyone who would listen. Just yesterday, Linda was out riding said horse, galloping across acres and acres of farmland.

She was hit by surprise. Never had something so unpleasant happened to her and she wondered when someone would arrive to comfort her. Surely someone must have seen her fall, everybody always looked at her! But not today. No one saw her vanish into those tall crops on the field. She called out, but no one answered. She lay there for what seemed like hours between tall, green crops. And when she heard the sound of farming machines approaching, she grew to hate that damn, grass green jacket. We put our daughter to bed upstairs in her room every night, and yet we found her on the couch in the living room every morning.

At first we thought she was sleep walking, but she never was afraid when she woke up, thrown off by the unexpected nocturnal change of location. We tried asking her about it, but she never gave us straight answers. My wife grew tired of it. Every morning we found her on the couch, sleeping soundly. Then my wife decided to stay up and wait for her to come down from her room. We put her to bed, closed the door, and I got into bed like normal while my wife stayed watching the living room through the glass doors of the hall.

No more than five minutes after we had left, our daughter came down to the couch. I knew because I heard the living room door open and my wife started talking softly. After a few minutes, their voices started rising. I got up and went to see what was wrong. I walked in, and my wife was standing at the bottom of the stairs, while our daughter cried and begged her not to go up them. I picked her up and held her, trying to calm her down, and my wife went up. She started crying even more then. I set our daughter down and walked to the stairs.

I walked up slowly to the top, and turned to her room. I opened the door, and the light was off. I stepped in the room to flip the light switch, but nothing happened. Then the bulb in the hallway started to flicker. I turned around as it went out. All I saw was a blur of black that even dimmed the darkness around me. The door slammed shut, and the wails of our daughter reached up through the floorboards as the overture to my final moments. All there was at the end was darkness, screaming, and teeth. I awake with a jolt. Gasping for air, I inhale deeply.

Dank, moldy air fills my lungs. Lying there, I try to move my arms. Slowly, I lift them from my sides, only to hit something just a few inches above them.

Making a fist, I rotate my hand and knock on the object in front of me. And it sounds solid. The air is thick and putrid. I sputter and wheeze, trying to expel years of dust. My whole body moves, and my knees hit a bit too hard on the wood above me. Trapped, like a nut inside a shell. Methodically, I maneuver my arm to reach the metal broach pinned on my jacket.

I scrape and chisel into the wood. Hours go by. The stagnant air ripe with sweat and tainted body odor. I can feel wood shavings on my wrist and arm. The oxygen in this wooden box is dangerously low. The heat and rancid air burns my lungs. The wood above my hand starts to buckle and I can feel dirt and debris pelting my hand. Mustering every last ounce of strength, I force both my hand up and the wood gives way. Dirt and rocks flood in, and adrenaline kicks into high gear. Clawing, and climbing, I make my way forward through the loose soil. My hand suddenly pops through. Pushing myself out of the dirt and into the daylight, I survey the area.

I can hear scratching and digging around me. I can see other holes where others had already made their way out. I shamble over to the water fountain in the middle of the graveyard. Still missing the top of my head and jaw where I used the shotgun…. Over a third of the population was believed to be infected, they said, and I alone breathed a sigh of relief. It started with anger, I know that much, a burning, churning rage that clawed through my belly and set my nerves on fire. I think I hurt someone. I think I might have hurt a lot of someones, actually.

Very badly. No more disgusting images, no more monstrous desires, no more sick thoughts every hour of every day. He pricks her thumb, hums as the machine processes the sample, and then frowns. I step up to the desk, grinning widely even though the horrible, whining voice of the parasite is telling me to smash his stupid face into the desk right there, in front of everyone.

Not long now, you horrible little bastard. I present my thumb proudly. The sting of the needle feels like victory, and I inhale deeply as the machine whirs. Whenever I need to use the bathroom at night, I am always filled with a sense of terror. As soon as I flush the toilet and switch off the lights, I run as fast as I could, feeling that someone or something is chasing me until I reach the safety of my own bedroom; closing the door behind me and hiding under the protection of my soft blanket.

Last night, as I flushed the toilet, washed my hands and switched the lights off, I was greeted by the same darkness that usually made me cower and anxious. A thought came to me, that maybe I could get over this feeling of dread if I faced my own nightmares. I stopped myself from running and walked at a normal pace, trying to block horrific images inside my head by counting my steps.

I reached my bedroom safely. I smiled at my achievement and gave a sigh of relief. Just then, my bedroom door closed behind me. I turned around and I saw it; the one that caused me fear every time I used the toilet at night. Reverend Pip Popoff pressed his hand down on the forehead of the elderly woman before pushing her back, causing her to briefly trip over herself. The audience cheered, eagerly eating up the bullshit laid in front of them. I sighed, trapped in line along with the rest of the idiots. Popoff adjusted his microphone before heaving me onto the stage with a heavy grunt.

He was an old man, wearing a tight tweedy suit and speaking with a fake southern accent. In his eyes were pupils of an almost solid blackness. The audience laughed. With this righteous hand, demons, I cast thee out! It was like a dream, I was floating above the scene, having a clear view of Popoff and… myself. My body turned towards me, its eyes now bearing the same darken pupils. It gave a sly wink before walking off stage and joining my mother. As much as I hate to do it, I roll up my sleeve and stick my hand down the disposal.

At these times I always second guess the wiring. Matted up chunks of black hair are all intwined in the mechanics of the disposal. I turn my head and push deeper into the disposal until I notice a smiling 2 foot figure sitting on the counter. Why is it up there? I turn to look at the drain once more. I hear the sound of rustling cloth and quick, light footsteps. I turn my head again expecting to see my daughter, but instead the doll was standing by the light switches. I can now see the patch of black hair missing from the back of its head.

I look down towards the drain with the sudden realization that I needed to pull my hand out, now. The mission was simple. Travel to Keplerf and populate it. Easy, right? I mean, a small base camp had already been set up by probes and robots sent years ago on previous missions, all with success. The camp was pretty basic, but contained the bare essentials needed to sustain the first landing party and the planet supported life. This planet was to be renamed upon the success of mankind first setting foot upon its soil.

The technological culmination in what the human spirit can achieve when threatened with extinction. This ship was to be the first of several to arrive. Its builders and designers would never know of its outcome. They would be long dead. All told, five vessels were launched. Each with a particular mission, with the ultimate goal to colonize Keplerf.

Our vessel was launched a year before the others. Our mission: ensure the arrival of the other ships went smoothly. Build wooden shelters, start crops, secure the camp from predatory animals with a fence and of course, catalog everything. Like the twelve Olympians, there were twelve of us on board; 6 men and 6 women, in stasis. No one could survive the light-year journey alert and awake. Scientists and programmers are both intellectual types; logical and analytically thinking.

A mission this critical, to save the human race, brought together the best scientists, mathmeticians, engineers and programmers the world has ever known. Computer programmers and engineers building precise machinery and software. The existence of humanity required nothing but the best of the best.

We arrived at Keplerf, precisely on schedule. The ship was pre-programmed to land without any human intervention. Funny, after light years without a single problem, that the scientists would calculate the landing procedure in meters, and the programmers would code the sequence in feet…. Was it something you ate? Something you came in contact with? You always do. But it will heat your body up, make it inhospitable for this god damn virus. You grin to yourself, thinking about the hypothetical choice your body has given this infestation: Stop attacking, or leave, or die. In any case, you win and they lose.

If only these germs could grasp how puny and insignificant they really are; how could they not realize your body would fight back and that, inevitably, would win? With that thought, you are willing to wait years, decades, hundreds of laps around the sun if you must, content in the knowledge that no plague can destroy you. And then. No more itching.

No more queasiness. The germs are eradicated; a result of their own actions, nonetheless. You relax back into your natural orbit, beauty and well-being restored. You are eternal, indomitable. As you stare out into the far-off reaches of space in every direction, you wonder if they were ever so naive as to call your body their home.

The waitress placed a plate of steaming enchiladas, smothered in cheese and onions, with a side of guacamole salad in front of Brian.

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A sweet tea was just out of reach of his left hand. It was an old bedroom game. The scene played out in his head as a figure began to emerge in the sunset. Brian was half way through the plate; the waitress had refilled his glass of tea three times, when a patron deposited an absent minded quarter into the juke box. It was Robert Earl Keen, one of her favorites. Brian shook his head. Keen had no idea how right he was.

He glanced out the window, studying the approaching figure. It was closer now. Brian could almost make out its features. By the time he unlocked the door to his old pick-up truck, he could clearly make out the details of the figure he had been watching. The fetid corpse trudged closer and closer to the diner. Rotted flesh dangled from crackling bones, and the white gown it once wore was now a filthy rag.

Brian slid into his truck and closed the door. I was a doctoral research student and had received a small bursary to attend, but due to my teaching duties that week, I found myself driving up alone fairly late on the Thursday evening. At the time I was driving my beloved old Mini and had a bit of an embarrassing affectation for all things retro. I was therefore carrying a ridiculously old Nokia mobile with the battery life of a Spinal Tap drummer and absolutely no internet capability.

I had pulled over into one of the parking areas of the national park at Aviemore, where I specifically chose one of the smaller car parks that acted as an access point for hill climbers — these areas permit overnight parking, are generally off the main road and are unlit, which I thought would best facilitate a quiet rest before I started driving again. What with it being Scotland, it was raining lightly and the air was chill.

I lowered my seat and pulled my coat over me, drifting off fairly quickly as the rain drummed pleasantly on the roof of the car. I woke with a start some time later. I was in darkness, slightly disorientated and vaguely aware that I had heard a thump somewhere on the bodywork of the car. I was by no means panicking, sure that it had just been the metal chassis settling as the engine cooled, and I picked up my mobile to check the time. I was cursing slightly under my breath about the fact my battery had died when I heard a distinct tap-tap-tap on the lower side of the passenger door.

I was unnerved, and I reached across the seat to check the door was locked. I certainly do, and I was quietly chiding myself for being a baby when the tap-tap-tap sounded from the rear passenger panel. I immediately shut up and stared at the back window. No movement, no shadows. A bit exasperated with myself, I switched on the engine, turning the hot air on to clear the windows. It took an age for the windows to clear always did with my old Mini, thanks to a bust fan on the passenger side , and I sat for a couple of minutes before I began to see more clearly through the steam.

My heart about plummeted to the floor when a brief movement in the wing mirror caught my eye. Something was lurking around the back of my car. I immediately switched on my headlamps, and the car park ahead of me was flooded with light. There were no other cars, which I found comforting, assured that it must therefore be an animal I had seen in the mirror. I was restoring my seat to its normal position when something clattered deafeningly against the window by my face.

I screamed pure instinct and immediately pealed out of the car park, a thick fog still obscuring the majority of my rear windows. My heart stopped hammering about ten miles down the road when I realised that no-one was following me. By the time I reached my hotel in Ullapool just over two hours later, I had decided I had most likely been hit by a bird, or possibly a bat, and had laughed at my skittishness. I got out the car and stretched my legs in the bright car park of the hotel, enjoying the cool air after being cooped up for so long in a confined space.

When I went to collect my bag from the back seat, I noticed an envelope tucked underneath and opened it with curiosity. You should be more careful about where you park at night. I sat in the passenger seat for almost ten minutes and wrote this while you slept. Your passenger window can be eased down by hand. I drove home from the festival early on the Sunday afternoon, determined to make the journey in one daylight trip. I had my window checked at a garage back in Glasgow and sure enough, the locking mechanism was broken. Chills overcome my body as I hear the soft thuds of his steel-toed boots approaching.

I was walking home from school, as usual. Every day or something to that effect he comes here, wherever that is. He strides, seemingly in slow motion, over to the chair he tied me to. And as always, he unsheathes that damned blade. And as always, he draws the knife, over and over, upon my exposed skin, which has long since acquired an odd pallor. Where there used to be bare arms and legs, there are now jagged, dark red lines.

He is silent, as he always is during this ritual, only allowing himself a small chuckle when his knife finds a particularly painful scar. If this were a movie, I would have overpowered him, taken his knife, and escaped. I used to imagine myself leaving this place and running away, far, far, away, and never having to look back. All I imagine now is the only possible future left for me: my corpse, lain across the floor, more crimson than pale, and drained of blood. I have long since realized that these thoughts are the only ones that hold any truth to them, and this was confirmed when, upon finishing, he whispered into my ear,.

I have accepted the fact that I will die here. Any fantasies I had of salvation were just that: fantasies. And now, they are shattered, permanently. My boyfriend is such a lovely man. He does the sweetest things like leave me little pieces of jewelry on my pillow or brings me my favorite flowers and a new dress. One day I get back to the house to find that dress and all of the jewelry he has given me were lying on the stairs with a note. I smile as wide as possible. I quickly go into the bathroom and change into the dress which is a flowing cream colored gown that looks like a toga and the bangles made of bone with feathers on them.

All lovely gifts that he had given me over the months we had been together. The last thing to go on was this beautiful gold necklace that had amethysts and jade at intervals throughout the piece. I walk up the stairs to see rose petals scattered across it and open the door to our room. Every available surface of our room is filled with candles and it is the most romantic thing I have ever seen. I step inside and see the rose petals leading to our bed. It is only after I hear the turning of the lock and see the demonic circle painted onto our sheets that I realize that there is a fine line between romantic gestures, and preparing a sacrifice.

For years, children would remember past events that could not be explained. Or dying in a car accident. Or falling off a mountain. Mind, these were things these kids had no way of knowing about. The freaky memories would be long forgotten by the time they reached school age. The claustrophobics would panic at even the hint of a too tight space, feeling the smothering agony of oxygen leaving them without actually experiencing it.

Acrophobics would choke up just looking at a tall building, their hearts beating fast at the terror of being at the top and slipping…. No one made the connection between the past life talk of all these children and the phobias they later exhibited until scientists studying epigenetics, past memories and other things passed down through DNA, became all the rage.

The truly irrational phobias. They struggled to understand it, to scientifically explain it. One day, a geneticist who I bet had been toking one too many joints, had an idea. He designed a machine that measured the energy of a dead body in a whole new way, and was disturbed to find that energy only left the body when it had completely decayed or burned or whatever. A portion of that energy traveled right on into the next body, the most viable fetus it could find, and that is how scientists discovered reincarnation and death memories.

Which leads me to my biggest fear. Many claim trypophobia is not a true phobia. What makes this fear so strong in some and non-existent in others? Imagine what happens to the carcass decaying underground in a box, the maggots and worms making food of it. Imagine a sort of lingering consciousness as your body is consumed around you and you are unable to move in your death. Your death memory transfers into a new body. The thing is though, you may have forgotten all about your former death, but the phobia still lingers. It started simple with army grunts like me. Each time one of those monsters would pop-up we would send jets and tanks and try to hurt them the best we could.

Still most of the time a couple of town would get flatten before they went back to the sea. Despite our best efforts we were considered supremely incompetent and not enough to prevent the possible extinction of mankind. We needed better weapon, our first really big success was with the robot suit. I can remember being so happy the first time I saw one those damn critter beaten to a pulp.

I think that was 30 years ago. But of course we are not fighting mere animals here, they adapted to the big guys and eventually we had to find something new once again. The first thing the eggheads did was to create some Frankenstein like creature. I think they piece the thing together from all the remains they had gathered over the years or mashing DNA together. Worked really well at killing them, at least until the beats decided to stay hidden for a while and the thing went berserk from the lact on action and tuned on us.

Before too long we had to turn half of south America in a nuclear wasteland in order to transform the damn creature in a pile of ashes. It just needed something with a better brain, a human brain to be more precise. The brain was the only human part they needed, the rest could be altered. They started to ask for volonteers. I remember the first time I saw one, I wondered which monsters I had to shoot. The Irony is that back in those days they actually had a human shape.

They were not so bad, but in order to keep winning, they had to become more brutal, stronger and more savage. Nowaday, they easily do more damage than the monsters they are supposed to fight. The worst thing is that they truly are our only good line of defence, but we always need more of them. One day the brass will probably start to just snatch us up in our sleep. The fields have been barren dust for nearly a year now. And they fed us for weeks. But the meat eventually ran out, as it always did. And once again, our stomachs clawed away at themselves, with nothing to eat for days, days that were churning into weeks.

The children cried as I butchered the poor creature, but their tears dried as our small house finally smelled like cooking meat again. She was weak, getting weaker. And my son was stronger—he just needed some food. My husband was long gone at that point. No guidance. No help. No forgiveness. I begged God to answer me, to tell me what to do. He was silent as the night sky, silent as the slowly dying world around us. I pulled out the large cooking pot.

And the cleaver. There was no use in delaying the inevitable, stretching her timeline out, letting her suffer, needlessly collecting the dead until everything was dust. I had decided to use the threadbare pillow on her. To walk into their small room in the dark of the night, as they tried to sleep off the pain of their empty stomachs, and put it over her face, pushing down, guiding her to some kind of final sleep.

Lead her to the endless dark where there was no pain. My hands shook, one on the knob of the door to their room, the other clutching the pillow. I whispered a plea—. I opened the door to find the job had been done for me. My child. My eyes welled as I looked upon the horror of my bloodied daughter. There is something out there- the most atavistic of human fears. Some people say that this fear of the unknown is something that is relevant for evolution.

Fear of the dark kept the early man from stepping out in the night, saving him from the big cats lurking in the shadows. The night time jungle used to cast shadows into the hearts of the bravest men. Many who foolishly stepped out, never returned or lived to tell. Most people today think that the fear of the dark is an absurd idea, and feel brave and invincible in their cozy urban electrified homes. I should know better. You see, I am old, quite old. I commanded the beasts back in the time when it mattered.

This task had been entrusted to me, and for millennia, I ensured that a fear of the dark stayed in humans, using my pets for the purpose. I did not enjoy this, but I feared that if humans strayed out too far in the dark, something much sinister would get them. I continued instilling fear in their hearts, for their own good.

My days are coming to an end now, and I can no longer strike fear in you. I feel sad for all of you, for what I was saving you from is sinister and dark beyond your imagination. I had never been sure what to expect when my wife cooked. She was always on blogs finding recipes that, in all honesty, were above her skill level. Not trying to be rude, but there we are. How extravagant! Mind you, Mrs. Darville and I had been seeing each other secretly for months. I had been wondering if she knew about us. Darville would have to run out the back door half dressed.

She had even gone as far as to get a tattoo of a bear on that little behind after the nickname she gave me. It always gave me a smile. As I went to wash she opened the oven and I smelled an aroma so sweet, so succulent it was as if it snared me by the nose and pulled me back to the kitchen. The kind of spark that Mrs. Darville had used to lure me into her bed with ease. I meant to say whore. Mid sentence she took a still bloody steak off the serving platter and slapped it onto the bare, wooden table. On the backside of the steak, there was a small patch of skin left on the cut of meat.

I could just make out the picture of a bear on the seared flesh. When you are admitted to a hospital, they place on your wrist a white wristband with your name on it. But there are other different colored wristbands which symbolize other things. The red wristbands are placed on dead people. There was one surgeon who worked on night shift in a school hospital. He had just finished an operation and was on his way down to the basement.

He entered the elevator and there was just one other person there. He casually chatted with the woman while the elevator descended. When the elevator door opened, another woman was about to enter when the doctor slammed the close button and punched the button to the highest floor. Surprised, the woman reprimanded the doctor for being rude and asked why he did not let the other woman in.

She died while I was doing the operation. My brother moved out of the house back in once he got his job as a Computer technician, and he recently went missing. When I went to his house, it was locked, with 3 sheets of printer paper taped to the front door. I got out of my car to examine it more carefully. The LCD definitely showed signs of user related damage, as there was a large hole on the left side of the screen that fit a standard Phillips Head screwdriver perfectly.

There was a webcam above the display as well, and it was also destroyed with the same screwdriver. Other than those, however, everything else on the computer showed minor signs of wear, like almost all of the keyboards keys were faded, but nothing to the extent that it could be considered unusable. How long could this laptop have possibly run without a charging port to recharge the battery? Why did it exactly have a web cam, though? Curious as to what exactly is on the laptop, I ran inside to my basement where my old desktop was currently being stored.

The only reason it was down there was because I forgot to bring that behemoth to the local SarCan to recycle it. I went to push the power button when…. I rummaged around the basement to find my battery voltage tester and immediately withdrew the battery from the laptop and checked the voltage. Low and behold, it had no charge. With that, I unplugged the display from the laptop, put it back into the desktop and simply left everything downstairs.

After leaving the basement I went to go watch TV for about 3 hours or so before going to bed. I was suddenly awakened from my deep slumber by the sound of the Windows start up jingle and fell out of my bed. It was so deafeningly loud I swore someone was holding a pair of speakers right next to my ears. After I fell out of the bed, I stood up in a groggy daze, and for a minute or so trying to figure out what that sound was.

The desktop! I must have accidentally hit the power switch while trying to switch monitors! I simply walked to the basement, but froze in the middle of the steps. I just remembered there was no way my computer could have started up, because I have Windows 95 installed on my desktop. I had to make sure of it though.

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I checked behind the desktop and everything else was plugged in except for the tower. I removed the battery from the laptop again and re-checked the voltage. I re-inserted the battery pressed the power button on the laptop. I connected the CRT monitor back into the laptop. And what I saw…. The task bar was empty, and there was no Start menu button. The wallpaper was black. Why would anyone do this to their desktop? Anyone could remove all the icons, but they must be pretty skilled hackers to remove the Start Menu button.

Maybe this was a kids laptop. Clicking on the Games folder confirmed my suspicions; it was a little girl who must have owned this laptop. I felt some remorse for the poor girl because there was only 1 game in the folder, and I have no idea what the hell it was. I clicked on it just to see what the game was like. A fully animated title screen came up, with various generic fairytale princesses twirling across the screen and the logo flew down with a bunch of sparkly doves holding it.

I wanted to see what the girl looked like, so I clicked on the 2nd option. She had to have been no more than 5, and on top of that she looked very cute. She was of either Mexican or Spanish origin. She wore a somewhat tattered white dress with small red frills around the sleeves and collar. It had small roses on it. I smiled, as she looked like she had a lot of fun putting a virtual tiara on her head. However, browsing through the photos, about halfway through, there are pictures of a room with nothing else but a bed inside. I decided to go into the Command Prompt and see if I could locate any other files on the hard drive.

Ok, this is really strange, I thought. So I guess the last thing to look at is the videos. As I double clicked the folder…. It was the girl again. This time, she was smiling, bouncing slightly in excitement. Her happiness made my heart feel warm. At first she was simply moving her finger across the track pad, clicking, then giggling excitedly for a bit. After about 2 minutes or so the screen would cut to black for a fraction of a second and it would return to the girl playing the game.

I guess the game would simply record her every time she started it, without her knowing.

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That made me sort of uneasy, I mean, why would anyone program a game to do that? I reached over and pressed the power button, and…. The video continued to play, and I saw the girl this time was wearing an orange tank top with nothing on it. She was smiling and giggling as usual, so I thought maybe I can turn off the computer after the video is done. The video seemed to drag on, with more cuts of her playing the game in a different outfit, and I started to doze off.

However, the next cut in the video…. The girl was just staring at the camera with an expressionless look on her face. Wondering what the hell is going on, I become interested in the video again. It made me extremely uneasy, watching her without her usual smiley face put on. It was dark in the room, and there was 1 desk light on at the side. She was in some sort of night wear.

What is she going to do? I started to get really tense, as if something awful was about to happen. She bent over and picked up a hand saw from the left side of where she was sitting. She held it in front of her, showing it to the camera. Then, she placed the jagged blade on the side of her cheek. I cringed at what I was seeing. What the fuck is going on?

Slowly, she began slicing into her right cheek. Blood drizzled down her neck as she did it. Slowly, the side of her teeth began to show after about 10 seconds, as the saw went lower down her face more of her teeth began to show on the side. Blood almost covered everything on the right side of her face. She eventually got to the bottom of her jaw bone, and sawed a tiny piece off of it too. Her cheek fell to the ground with a small thud, and she put the saw in her lap and continued to stare at the camera, emotionless. Then, the next cut began.

The girl screamed in extreme pain. I almost fell out of my seat it was so loud. She screamed and put her hands over her now absent cheek. She continued to scream in agony for about 10 seconds, then a knocking was heard from the side. She was pounding the door, but not opening it. The girl must have locked it.

I tried to unplug the monitor from the laptop but it was stuck in. The screaming continued and the yelling continued up until the next cut. She was back into her emotionless state again, but her cheek was still missing. The woman was pounding at the door and yelling still. That woman must be her mother. The girl then raised the saw up to her right shoulder, and began cutting just as slowly as last time. I gagged at the sight of this. It was a holocaust of wrong. The blood began to stream out in all directions. The yelling behind the door fell silent. When she hit the bone, an awful grinding noise could be heard.

I covered my ears, but I could still hear it vividly through my hands. I noticed that a piece of her muscle got stuck on one of the steel teeth of the saw. This cut ended a lot faster than before, and the next cut was the same thing. Except the color from her face began to drain, and her pain ridden screams became quickly weaker.

Her clothing was completely red with blood on the right side. Then, she became emotionless again. Oh god, what is she going to cut off next? The mother returned back with what seemed to be 2 other people, and they were all yelling in the same language as before. She raised the saw, and began cutting the right side of her head off.

Loud thuds appeared in beat at the door. They were trying to knock it down. She slowly worked her way down, with blood going in all sorts of directions. The thuds still repeated themselves on the door. I was mostly confused as to how she keeps going even after she went through her brain with the saw.

Her right eye rolled into the back of her head. Blood began leaking out of it. She eventually made it to the top of her mouth, where she hacked her way through bones and teeth. It was the single worst sound I have ever heard in my entire life. I still hear it in the back of my head some days. She finally made it through, and with that, the right side of her head fell to the side of her neck, held on only by a piece of skin on her neck. I remember the chilling sound of her jaw being unhinged from her head when it was tugged violently by the force of her half head.

She put the saw down to her side. The cut ended, and the next cut, she simply fell face down onto the desk. Blood pooled on the desk. The people trying to break down the door finally made it in, and they almost blacked out from what they saw. Their daughter was in pieces. The mother vomited and ran out of the room. The father ran to her daughter, put her head back together and cried, holding her head at the side of his.

The horrifying self mutilation finished with that cut, and the screen cut to the empty room with the bed. With a sigh of relief that it was over, I just sat there, breathing heavily and sweating. I have so many questions to ask. How was it possible? It frightened me, and I spent a good 30 minutes sitting in the chair, and finally, I got the courage to get up out of the seat. I looked at the laptop for what I hoped was the last time. The room with the bed glared on the screen. Then, it cut to something else unexpectedly.

One school day, a boy named Tom was sitting in class and doing math. It was six more minutes until after school. As he was doing his homework, something caught his eye. His desk was next to the window, and he turned and looked to the grass outside. It looked like a picture. When school was over, he ran to the spot where he saw it. He ran fast so that no one else could grab it. He picked it up and smiled. It had a picture of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

She had a dress with tights on and red shoes, and her hand was formed into a peace sign. She was so beautiful he wanted to meet her, so he ran all over the school and asked everyone if they knew her or have ever seen her before. In the middle of the night Tom was awakened by a tap on his window. It was like a nail tapping. He got scared. After the tapping he heard a giggle. He pounces upon poor Tortoise and places him in the fork of a tree where he is left to struggle.

Tortoise hollers out in fear until Leopard comes along and gently lifts him down. As a reward, Tortoise promises to make Leopard beautiful. Several Tortoise stories appear in Where the Leopard Passes. A third volume which includes a tortoise story is Olode the Hunter The authors indicate that Ijapa, the tortoise, is similar in Yoruba lore to the roles played by Anansi, the spider, among the Ashanti and the hare in other regions of West Africa. Ijapa, the tortoise, is shrewd and conniving, wise, greedy, aggressive, and even stupid.

At times he is bad, but his tricks are ingeiiious. Ijapa dies many deaths and has been symbolized as a pro- jection of some of the evil forces and bad behaviors of mankind. Ijapa becomes Brother Terrapin in the folklore of the United States Negro and is also mentioned in songs, sayings, and proverbs. Hummerbird, Pigeon, and Dog love to admire their reflections, and Tor- toise is so proud of his polished back that he talks about it several times daily. Tortoise, however, wants to fly more than anything else in the world. Tor- toise wants to join the birds more than anything else in the world, but he cannot fly.

Finally, Snake suggests that Tortoise stick on feathers from all the birds and fly off to Chicken Hawk's party even though he isn't invited. At the party, greedy Tortoise gobbles up the food first. Chicken Hawk becomes so enraged over the uninvited guest and his behavior that he pushes Tortoise from the peak. Tortoise falls down to earth; his shell be- comes cracked; and he bears the marks and scratches forever.

In the story Tortoise does not know how to farm, so he works out a clever ruse. He climbs into a palm tree in the market place and commences to sing his magic song which causes the palm tree to dance and frighten everyone away from the market place.

Why Anansi has eight thin legs - African Folk Tales for Kids - Educational Videos by Mocomi

Then Tortoise gathers up the corn, yams, cassava, palm oil, and other goods left by the villagers. This trickery goes on through several epi- sodes until the king calls the wisest man amongst his magicians to devise-a plan. This wise man creates a Sigidi or seated image of a man which is fash- ioned from clay with amo, a sticky substance, smeared on it. Tortoise is sur- prised to see the figure and slaps it on the cheek. His hands stick fast to the creature. Then other parts of his body get stuck also and he is caught by the wise old man.

Turtle is also a favorite animal character appearing in various countries with usually the same traits as the African tortoise. Toozc retells Three Tales of Turtle The author states that she has heard similar versions of the tale told in Vietnam, Cambodia, Java, India, and Ceylon and that each time Turtle suffers as he falls to earth from a stick held by two storks or two other strong birds. In this story Turtle manages to outwit the mighty lion king by having two turtles stationed at opposite sides of ae river, each with a flower in his mouth and saying "Kurmarsha.

Rabbit and Tiger are great friends even though they frequently chase each other. He appears Mfeless, and then Tiger promises to pick him up on another trip. Then Rabbit runs ahead and plays dead again. Many other tricks are amusingly told in this book. Dorson 24 has collected over a thousand Negro folktales in the United States and classified them under various headings. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Rees selected three of his favorite Brer Rabbit stories and recreated them in rhyming verse. Brer Rabbit, the trickster, appears in tales from Asia, Africa, and America.

He can be similar to Anansi the Spider, Coyote, Raven, or other tricksters. One scholar has catalogued over versions of the tar baby story. Teachers and parents can interest most young pupils in animal charac- icrs with human characteristics, like those which appear in various worid- wide folktales. Adolescent pupils can do folklore research and collect oral versions of tales about such characters as Brer Rabbit, Tortoise, Turtle, Coyote, or others.

Younger pupils may wish to reenact tales in either shadowgraph figures, with papier-mach6, or with paper bag masks. Nu- merous ideas for using masks, puppets, and marionettes appear in Litera- ture for Children: Enrichment Ideas 12 , A fourth use of the folktale toward worid understanding is an aesthetic one— an appreciation for music, art, literature, and dance. As pupils study beautiful illustrations accompanying many recent collections of folktales, their appreciation for beauty can be greatly enhanced.

In The Miller, the Boy, and the Donkey, Wildsmith 69 makes the tale come alive with bold splashes of color reenforcing the simple fable by LaFontaine. In Chanticleer and the Fox 29 one sees beautiful, colorful illus- trations and precise patterns. Proud Chanticleer stretches his neck and sings loudly in his pictures. The Story on the Willow Plate 60 has precise, patterned pictures; the child studying the details in each of the pictures can gain a rich background of appreciation for the willow pattern.

In Chinese Fairy Tales 14 the stories are printed on yellow paper with striking red and black pictures in brilliant contrast. Here again in "The Tortoise Talked" is a familiar 12 The Worid Folktale Aesthetic Tales narrative concerning the vanity of Tortoise who flies to the heavens on a stick held by two herons. Sayings of Confucius appear with some of these stories.

Hoffmann is an internationally recognized Swiss artist who is known for his graphic work in such tales as The Seven Ravetts and The Sleeping Beauty, The mood or tone of The Golden Crane 72 is reenforced by illustrations by Yamaguchi. Tikki Tikki Tembo 47 is a slight little story, but the beautiful harmony of line and wash illustrations is quite spectacular.

The Monkey and the Crocodile 28 is retold and illustrated by Galdone. Children will love to see the huge, two-spread picture of a monkey leaping on the top of a crocodile's head and the crocodile with its teeth stuck out waiting for the tricky mon- key. A Caldecott award book, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship 52 , captures some of the folktale quality of a Russian peasant talc and enables children to identify imaginatively with that wonderful flying ship which goes over the palace of the czar and casts anchor in the court yard.

Strong, vibrant pictures illustrate a recent collection of Siberian folktales entitled The Master of the Winds and Other Tales from Siberia 30 , In recent years many books which were originally issued in other countries are being republished in the United States with illustrations by authors living and working in foreign countries. Children and adults can appreciate beautiful illustrations by worldwide artists and can discuss differences in styles of arts and contributions of the artist to the imagina- tive flow of a tale.

After pupils have studied various illustrations, they can listen to a tale which is not illustrated too imaginatively and then can paint suggested illustrations with water colors or tempera. A few children may wish to try collages and other techniques. Here are many illustrations of different styles of art by children from around the world.

Informative Tales Folktales teach children much about other nations. African Village Folk- tales 43 offers much supplementary material to accompany each folktale. The author informs the reader that Kalulu, the hare, is an inven- tion of the Bantu people living below and a bit above the equator. Kalulu, like Ananse, is a "big know-it-all. Boys of seven learn to herd sheep and goats. Early folktales are different from more recent ones, but kings and peasants, lovely maidens, and stalwart heroes endure.

In these tales Timok, a young shepherd, gains the power to understand the language of birds; and Rovina, a beautiful, wise daughter of Milosh, enchants the tsar with her cleverness. Tashjian 59 has written Once There Was and Was Not, Here in pic- tures and script one can learn about ancient Armenia and the peasants who worked desperately. In "Shrovetide," a story about merrymaking car- nival days before Lent, one listens to a numbskull-type story in which the wife meets a man and thinking he is Mr.

Shrovetide gives him mea- sures of rice and 50 measures of butter Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Greece 35 has some tales including ceiiaia Greek cultural customs and names: for examples, Christmas is St. Winter'Telling Stories 46 comes from the Kiowa Indians whose Saynday is responsible for the origin of many things in the world.

Each child can select the country, do research on its geographical location and cultural customs, and then read a collection of tales. Symbols depicting each folktale read and its place of origin can be displayed on a world map. A sixth contribution of folktales to world knowledge is the offering of a better understanding of the dialects and languages of various countries. Many recent collections of tales offer guides in the pronunciation of words. The first volume includes an adapted chant, "The Time of Deep Darkness," which is the story of creation.

A glossary in the back of the book offers the pronunciation of many Hawaiian words with the explanation that every vowel is sounded in the language and that every syllable ends with a vowel. The second volume also gives some simple pronunciation rules along with the explanation that all Hawaiian sounds can be uttered with the use of twelve English letters — five vowels and seven consonants.

Some books of Negro folktales from Africa give help in the pronunciation of certain di- alectic terms. Empathic Tales A seventh contribution to world understanding is an imaginative identi- fication of the reader with people in another time and place — far removed from the current commonplace life in the ghettos or in middle class homes.

For instance, an unusual locale is de- scribed in Suho and he White Horse Here in the ancient land of Mongolia with its steppes and grasslands one meets the shepherd folk and persons vn'ho play the horse-head fiddle. This is the story of Suho, a poor shepherd boy, and his devotion to his white horse. When a brewer sends his servants to a cellar for malt, they are seared by the dragon s fire. A brave young man meets the dragon and shows him a mirror.

When the dragon beholds his own image, he writhes in pain and h burned to ashes. Green imaginatively depicts the Irish leprechauns and little fairy folk in Leprechaun Tales In "The Leprechaun and the Wheelbarrow" Lupreau has fairy gold in his wheelbarrow, but it is different from other gold as it is gathered from moth wings and sunsets.

Great is the leprechaun's dismay when he looks at his gold and finds it has melted and is as runny as butter. Scottish Legendary Tales 55 contains Scottish tales about fairy hil- locks, fairy workmen, the piper of Scotland legend, a kelpie, a witch, a wizard, some brownies, giants, and even the devil. Reading and listening to such imaginative tales as these not only provide a child a rich back- ground but also prepare him for modern fantasy and imaginative thinking.

Teachers can read several imaginative fairy tales to pupils and ask them to depict their ideas of leprechauns, goblins, wizards, witches, brownies, fairies, or other magical creatures in concrete forms — through the use of egg cartons and other scrap materials. Children can do creative playmaking and imaginatively reenact certain stories of this type. Chambers 13 suggei'ts storytelling and playacting techniques in Literature for Children: Storytelling and Creative Drama.

Heroic Tales One form of folklore is the legend which usually enlarges a religious fig- ure, a royal ruler, or a military person into someone of heroic stature. Heroes are made by conditions of the times. Some heroes are traditional, such as King Arthur and Ulysses; others are new-born heroes attacking momentous barricades to the progress of mankind. Some of the traditional heroic figures appear in recent books or from retellings of older tales. A famous scene is the one at Christmas lime in Camelot when a huge warrior clad in bright green armor comes riding a huge green horse into the castle.

The Sword of King Arthur 70 tells other brave deeds wrought by squires and knights in the halls of King Arthur. Here in the days of chivalry, knights learned the code that no knights should make war on the weak and helpless and all should grant mercy to those who begged for it.

The heroic tale of Roland is told again in The Horn of Roland 71 in which older students can read about the famous friendship of Oliver and Roland and the pass of Roncesvalles, where the Saracens hurled their huge forces against the Franks while Roland refused to blow his horn to sum- mon the emperor until it was too late. In Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest 48 , one hears how the bravest and strongest men of England join Robin Hood's band of outlaws to ob- tain justice for the yeomen and poor folk of Nottingham.

The Sheriff of Nottingham bears the brunt of much of the trickery of the outlaw band. Pupils can listen to parts of operas. Also, there are Hags of the Long Teeth, Fira the sea dragon, and a fawn with silver horns which cast their spells. These are folktales which highly capture the imaginative wonder of more mature readers. Pupils can make charts of these famous heroes and note positive and negative characteristics of them, their char- acter attributes, and their similarities to heroes in different books of legends.

Pupils can write paragraphs on heroes appearing in literature.

The list « A year of reading the world

Raven, the trickster figure, having sympathy for man who lies huddled in darkness, seizes the twinkling stars, the silver moon, and the golden sun from the great spirit above so that mankind can be bathed in light, not darkness. Coyote in the California folktale cooperates with other animals of the land who also bring light and fire to suffering men and animals lying helpless in a darkened world.

In the Eskimo Legend, The White Archer 59 , one meets the heroic figure of Kungo, the Eskimo, who learns much kindness and wisdom from Ittock and his wife but also has to understand that vengeance is bitter and debilitating. One of the earliest stories written is the legend of Gilgamesh, recorded in the wedge-shaped symbols of cuneiform. As time passed, peoples of the world learned the myth of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

This myth has been rewritten and illustrated by Bryson in Gilgamesh, Man's First Story 10 , a dramatic story of the creation and of heroic Gilgamesh who has seen most of the known world and knows everything, as two-thirds of him is god and one-third of him is man.

He is glorious among heroes with Enkidu as his companion.

Short Stories for Kids – English Short Stories for Children – Moral

But Gilgamesh learns shame and compassion when he turns to Nergal, the gatekeeper, to beg him to release Enkidu from the earth and underworld. It is hoped that all children will intuitively grasp the better qualities of the human spirit and that through the use of imaginative literature man's reach can exceed his grasp. References and Notes 1. Alegria, Ricardo E. The Three Wishes. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Anderson, Hans Christian.

Adapted by Naomi Lewis and illustrated by Toma Bogdanovic. New York: Scroll Press, Appiah, Peggy. Ananse the Spider: Tales from an Ashanti Village. Pic- tures by Peggy Wilson. Asbjornsen, Peter Christen, and Jorgen M0e. Norwegian Folk Tales. Il- lustrated by Erik Werenskiold and Theodore Kittlesen. New York: Viking Press, Asbjornsen, Peter Christen, and Jorgen M0e told by.

Selected and transJated with an introduction by Joan Roll-Hansen. Illustrated by Kai Ovre. Belting, Natalia. Illus- trated by Esta Nesbitt. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York: Holt. Rinehart and Winston, Calendar Moon, Illustrated by Bernarda Bryson. New York: Hoh. American Negro Folklore. Illustrated by Richard Lowe. Chicago: Quadrangle Books.

Bernarda rewritten and illustrated by. Rinehart and Winston. Bulla, Clyde Robert. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, Carlson, Ruth Kearney. Dewey W. Literature for Children: Storytelling and Creative Drama. Iowa: William C. Brown, Chang, Isabelle C. New York: Shocken Books, Cianciolo, Patricia. Clarke, Kenneth and Mary. Introducing Folklore, New York: Holt. Rine- hart and Winston. Colum, Padraic. New York: Macmillan, New York: Macmillan. Crow- ell. Harold, and Albert Kofi Prempeh Compilers.

New York: Harcourt, Brace, Courlander, Harold, and Ezckiel Eshugbayi Compilers. De Leeuw, Adele. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons. Dorson, Richard M. Elliot, Geraldine. New York: Schocken Books, Illustrated by Sheila Hawkins. New York: Schocken Books. Feagles, Anita retold by. New York: Young Scotts Books, Galdone, Paul retold and illustrated by.

New York: Seabury Press, Geoffrey Chaucer. Illustrated by Barbara Cooncy. Crow- ell, Ginsburg, Mirra Editor and Translator. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. New York: Crown Publishers, Green, Kathleen. Leprechaun Tales. Illustrated by Victoria dc Larree. Philadelphia: J. Lippincott, Grimm Brothers.

The Four Clever Brother. Pictures by Felix Hoffmann. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Introduction by Frances Clarke Saycrs. Paintings in full by children of 15 nations. Chicago: Follett, The Valiant Little Tailor. Illustrated by Anne Marie Jauss. Haviland, Virginia retold by. Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Greece. Il- lustrated by Nonny Hogrogian. Boston: Little, Brown, Hictt, Constance retold by. Crowcll, Hill, W. Tales of Maui.

Illustrated by Jacques Boullairc. New York: Dodd, Mead, , Hosford, Dorothy. Thunder of the Gods. Illustrated by Claire and George Loudin. New York: Holt, Rinchart and Winston, Houston, James written and illustrated by. Jablow, Alta, and Carl Withers collected by. Illustrated by Peggy Wilson. Jacobs, Joseph. The Buried Moon. Pictures by Susan Jcffcrs. Johnson, A. Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales. Illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. New York: Dodd, Mead, Kaula, Edna Mason. African Village Folktales. Kimishma, Hisako retold by. Pictures by Sumiko Mizushi. Leach, Maria Compiler. Marriott, Alice Compiler.

Crowell, , Mosel, Arlene retold by. Tikki, Tikki Tenibo. New York: Holt, Rine- hart and Winston, McGovcrn, Ann. Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. Illustrated by Arnold Spilka. Nielsen, Jon and Kay. Otsuka, Yuzo. Translated by Yesuko Hirawa. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs Merrill, Otsuka, Yuzo retold by. Pictures by Hisakatsu Hijikat. Ransome, Arthur retold by. Pictures by Uri Shulevitz. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Rees, Ennis. Brer Rabbit and His Tricks. Drawings by Edward Corey. New York: Young Scott Books, Robertson, Dorothy Lewis retold by. Fairy Tales from Viet Nam.

Illus- trated by W. Sheppard-Jones, Elisabeth. Scottish Legendary Talcs. Illustrated by Paul Hogarth. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons, , Sherlock, Philip K. Ammsi, the Spider Man. Illustrated by Marcia Brown. Sherlock, Sir Philip. Illustrated by Gioia Fiamnenghi. Spice r, Dorothy Gladys. Long Ago in Siberia. Illustrated by Linda Omin- sky. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, Tashjian, Virginia A. Illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian. Thomas, Leslie. Illustrated by author. New York: Schocken Books, , Thompson, Stith.

The Folktale. New York: Dryden Press, Thompson, Vivian L. Hawaiian Myths of Earth and Sky. Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. New York: Holiday House, Hawaiian Legends of Tricksters and Riddlers. Il- lustrated by Sylvie Seiig.


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Tolstoy, Leo. Selected and translated by Miriam Morton. Illustrated by Eros Keith. New York: Simon and Schuster, Tooze, Ruth. Illustrated by Rosalie Petrash Schmidt. New York: John Day, Walker, Barbara Compiler. Woodcuts by Helen Siegl. New York: Parents Magazine Press, The World Folktale 1 White, Anne Terry. Odysseus Comes Home from the Sea. Illustrated by Arthur Shilstone. Wildsmith, Brian. The Miller, the Boy and the Donkey. New York- Frank- lin Watts. Williams, Jay. The Sword of King Arthur. Illustrated by Louise Glanzman. The Horn of Roland. Illustrated by Sean Morrison.

Golden Crane: A Japanese Folktale. Illustrations by Marianne Yamaguchi. But before seriously considering the topic of folklon:, let me offer some advice to you who plan a Latin American journey, especially one which features the rural areas with a predominately large Indian population. These are miscellaneous travel hints which your busy tour agent may have over- looked. In Mexico, analyze your dreams carefully. They are omens of the fu- ture. To dream of happy, laughing people is a sign of good things to come; but to dream of weeping people signifies impending danger.

An earthquake in Panama is no reason for alarm. Be as calm as the Cuna Indians who know the cause of the tremor: The earth always shakes when a disobedient giant, imprisoned underground, is turning over or walking around on all fours, searching for a means of escape. When you are in the Andean region of Bolivia and Peru, you may wonder why a young child's hair has never been cut or washed. The reason is simple — to prevent bad luck befalling the little one. On reaching the age of two, he will be honored at a haircutting fiesta.

As the godmother 32 25 cuts the locks, she counts them. Then, according to her financial ability, she gives gifts, one for each lock, to her godchild. Other guests provide presents, too, and thus the child seems to celebrate his birthday, saint's day, Christmas, and Epiphany — all in one.

The hairwashing ceremony takes place the following day with only the family looking on. If you travel with a trustworthy amulet like a rabbit's foot or a four-leaf clover, you should realize that neither has any value in Argentina. About the only efficacious talisman is an owPs feather and, unfortunately, its value is limited to certain parts of the country. It is considered wise, how- ever, to secure a feather and keep it with one day and night. Furthermore, it's hinted that an owl's feather, carried in a man's vest pocket, has on countless occasions brought good luck in love.

The brightly colored hummingbirds one admires in Argentina may seem to be sipping nectar from flowers, but such is not always the case. The Guarani Indians of this area know that from the beginning of the world these small winged creatures have had a sacred mission. When death comes, man leaves his body on earth; but his soul hides within the petals of a flower. There it awaits a hummingbird whose duty it is to carry souls to the heavenly realms.

And what about those noisy footsteps you may hear at night when so- journing at a woodland hotel near the Andes? Do not be alarmed! They are only the tiger's footsteps. Every night the tiger borrows the feet of the tapir, that noisy cloven-hoofed animal, and returns them in the mom- ing. This arrangement has been going on for cons, and both animals are happy with it.

Lastly, a warning: Unless you arc brave, do not venture forth after nightfall in eastern Paraguay and Brazil. This is the time when the curu- pira is prowling about in search of humans, especially women and chil- dren. The curupira, a creation of Ana, the Evil One, is easily recognizable.

He is a dwarf, brown and robust, with feet turned backwards and a body without joints. His counterpart, under different names, still roams through- out Latin America, but none is as cannibalistically inclined as the curupira. In the opinion of folklorists, most of these superstitions are remnants of ancient myths, fables, legends, religious beliefs, or rites that have been handed down from generation to generation.

For the Indian of today these superstitions serve three important func- tions: to keep alive ancient events and traditions; to rationalize and sanc- tion conduct; and to amuse. Often these functions overlap, but all of them in their various forms reveal much of the character, beliefs, and customs of the early dwellers in this part of the Americas.

Some 30, years ago, according to anthropologists, the region we now call Latin America first felt the iread of human feet and heard the voices of men. The discoverers of the New World were Asiatic hunters who left their homeland in search of food. From Siberia, they crossed the ice- sheathed Bering Strait and reached what is now called Alaska. Then, most of them journeyed south or east, following game such as giant ground sloths, camels, mammoths, primitive horses, and smaller creatures now extinct.

As this migration continued, the Americas were populated with various groups of divergent physical types, each of whom spoke a different language or dialect. Mankind's discursive march from the Bering Strait to Tierra del Fuego may have required about 25, years. Like other world cultures, those of Latin America have their explana- tions for the universe and all within it. In Latin American mythology, how- ever, there are comparatively few accounts of the world's creution. Even when the notion of a supreme being is clearly conceived, the task of creating and caring for man and animals is assumed by one of the deities within the vast hierarchy of gods and goddesses.

One creation tale about the rainbow originated among the Quechua people of the Peruvian Andes. It tells how the sun god, Inti, wanted to bring beauty to the sky after the rain, so he chose his happy young son to be a rainbow. South American myths about the origin of man follow two patterns. In one case, man like his Mayan counterpart was created out of clay; in the second, man migrated from the underworld or, in a few instances, from the sky. The creation of man is expressed by the ancient Mayas of Mexico and Central America in these terms: "At first there was only calm water, the placid sea, alone and tranquil.

Nothing existed. Then, That One made a human form of damp clay and green hay. In time, it was hardened by the sun god and became flesh and bones. Now with body, sou! But his life was lonely until on a certain day. It is interesting to note that in this Mayan myth there is a pa;'jllel to the Old Testament: the creation of woman and the indirect way of referring to God as Thai One. A somewhat different creation myth of a much later date comes from the Caribbean area.

It records that "After men were created, they soon lost their repose. Then the creator gave them tobacco. They chewed it and regained their repose, but only for a brief period. At this juncture, the creator gave ihem women which made them happy, at least for a while" 6. Giants are seldom mentioned in Latin American lore, as is common in that of Europe and Asia.

However, in the absence of a mighty Atlas to support the heavens on his shoulders, the Mayas tell of four powerful giants whose tas. H to hold up the sky with their strong arms. It is he who brings rain and lights the flame of love in the hearts of the young. The second giant, yellow in color, in- stills peace and love in men and causes them to pray to Thai One. The third giant, pale of face, inspires warriors who defend their homeland.

The fourth giant, with dark skin, casts shadows and delivers ill omens" The Aztecs of Mexico furnish us with one of the few myths about the sun and moon. According to these people, there was a time when the world was in darkness. Finally, the Aztec gods living in the Valley of Mexico, came together to consider how the sky could be bright and warm during the day and silvery and light at night.

After long deliberation the gods decided to sacrifice two of their number on a great pyramid of fire The god TecuiziztecatI was selected because he was rich and powerful; the god Nanoatzin was picked because of his noble character. When the moment came for the rich god to jump into the flames, he drew back, shaking with fear. However, the poor god took his place and leaped into the fire with a great shout of joy. At once the sun appeared in the Valley of Mexico. Then TecuiziztecatI, not wishing to be outdone, ran into the flames and immediately the moon burst into the heavens, shining as brightly as the sun.

The impact of the rabbit dulled the brightness of that celestial body and left an imprint which can be seen to 'he present day. However, this tale which comes from the Abipon Indians of South America differs in several respects, especially in the number of days of the flood and in the surprise ending. One day while two brothers were cutting wood on the hillside, the rain god let loose a terrible downpour which lasted five days and five nights. The brothers, who had taken refuge in a mountain-top cave, were the only survivors in their great valley.

Everything and everyone had been swept away. After the waters receded, the brothers went forth to search for nourishment, but without success. On returning to the cave they found that food was awaiting them; also, a cheery fire was burning in one cor- ner of the cave. The brothers were sure that a long-departed ancestor was responsible for this good deed. Hoping to discover their benefactor, one brother hid near the cave while the other went forth on the pretense of gathering more wood.

Soon two parrots with human faces appeared and prepared more food for the brothers.

Reward Yourself

Quickly the youth came out of hiding and captured both parrots who, to his amazement, turned into beautiful Indian maidens. It seems that a god had transformed them into birds as a punishment for their selfishness. Only by performing unselfish deeds could the spell be broken. Needless to say, the brothers married the maidens and the two couples became the ancestors of the Abipon tribe.

Remembering their origin, these Indians still revere the parrot. Similarities and Coincidences Folklore abounds in similarities and coincidences in countries widely separated both geographically and culturally. Perhaps one of the greatest was in the similarities of certain religious practices of the Spaniards and the Indians: confession, fasting, penitence.

Further- more, the Incas told of a flood with elements similar to those of the Bible. What shocked and disappointed the Spaniards, however, was the fact thai these Indians believed in reincarnation. It is surprising to learn that both Latin American Indians and Spanish conquerors shared some of the same superstitions: dislike of toads and frogs, creatures which they thought to be the work of the devil or witches; belief that the hooting of the owl signified misfortune; and belief that a humming of the ears presaged bad news. Latin American tjdes and those of Asia are often quite similar.

The Tehuelche Indians residing in southern Argentina have stories of a terrible giant, Goschque, whom they worship. In Peru and Bolivia, the shepherds play mournful music on the quena, a reed flute whose origin is lost in the shadows of antiquity. Again we consider the words of Morales, as we recall the fact that a musical instru- ment, also called quena, was used by the ancient Romans. Both the emperor and the Guarani chieftain leave for war. Both promise the gods that, if victorious, they will sacrifice the first person whom they meet when they return from battle.

It is their daughters who come to meet them and must be sacrificed. Amazingly, these legends coincide with the Old Testament tale of Jephthah and his daughter. The idea of metamorphosis, common to classic myths and to legends of the Middle Ages, is found in Indian tales throughout North and South America, especially among the tribes who peopled Paraguay and Argen- tina.

Usually the human was transformed into a bird, an animal, or an insect because of cruel, selfish ways. In fact, most of the Argentine birds, according to folklore, were once humans who, due to their sins, were condemned by the gods to be flying creatures. By today's standards, flight would be rewarding; however, in ancient times the bird was the target of the deadly arrow. Contrary to most tales, the following one from eastern Argentina tells how the bird-form became a reward.

Young Jacbe is eager to pass the three difficult physical tests so that he may join his elders on the tribal council. First, he must run with the speed of a deer; next, he is required to swim against the current of a treacherous stream; and finally, he had to fast nine days while wrapped so tightly in animal skins that movement is impossible. Although many participated in these tests, only Jaebe was victorious in all three. In announcing the winner, the chieftain spoke to the tribe, saying, "By will of the gods, Jaebe wiJl receive two additional awards — he will marry my beautiful daughter on the morrow, and upon my death he will be your chieftain.

In desperation, the youth knelt on the ground and begged the supreme god, Tupa, for help. His plea was promptly answered. To the amazement of the tribe, Jaebe and his love were transformed into horneros or oven-birds. The sweet song and human traits of all oven-birds have endeared them to Indians as well as to those of other races. In fact, the Argentine people claim the hornero as their national bird. What can happen when the gods mete out punishment is illustrated in 30 Folktales of the Western Hemisphere Metamorphosis a legend from northern Argentina, a region once governed by the great Inca empire.

Although her distressed subjects prayed, begging the gods to soften their ruler's heart, the prayers seemed in vain. Then, one day, in answer to an aged, starving woman's appeal for help, Kapuy answered with vicious words and threats. While the kind-hearted subjects looked and listened helplessly, the gods answered their prayers in an unexpected manner. Suddenly, the berated woman was transformed into a beautiful goddess who said to Kapuy, 'The good gods have sent me to tell you that from this moment on you will lose your human form and become a humble spider, condemned to spin throughout your life.

Latin America is no exception. For example, in Argentina, an aged Indian who saves the lives of the moon and cloud goddesses is given a shrub whose leaves provide yerba mate, a nourishing tea popular in Argentina and other South American countries; and a noble Indian who sacrifices his life for his family and friends is rewarded with the gift of maize or corn.

Bolivia's contribution to our food supply is explained in this legend which i ntedates the Christian era. The hero, Choque, is a lad of 15 years. He succeeds his dead father as leader of the Sapallas, when invaders settle in their valley and enslave the natives. Only Choque believes that the gods have not forsaken his tribe. His faith is rewarded when the god of earth, disguised as a condor, visits him on the mountain top where Choque has gone to pray.

Let the invaders eat these. You Sapallas are to eat what grows be- neath the ground. The result is that most of them die of poison. The few who survive are driven out of the valley by the Sapallas. And what about that part of the vine which grew beneath the ground? That edible part was the potato. Some of the most entertaining narratives of the Indian period are about animals. The rabbit, known to be a trick- ster in parts of the United States and in Mexico, longs to become king of the animals.

However, to qualify for that role, he knows that he must be much larger, preferably the size of a puma. He hops up to the sky, there- fore, and asks the god of the animals to make him much larger. Thinking that he is assigning the small creature an impossible task, the god replies, "ril grant your request when you bring mc the skins of three animals — a tiger, an alligator, and a monkey. Early the next morning, dragging the skins behind him, the rabbit hops to the sky to claim his reward.

In that way, you can hear better and thus protect yourself from danger " So, the god holds the rabbit by his ears which begin to stretch and stretch. When they reach the right length, the god sends the rabbit back to earth where he and his dcscendents have lived to this day quite reconciled with their size. And now the cuckoo: On a bright spring morning Chaac, god of fields and crops, calls all the birds to a meeting in the woods.

He asks for their help in gathering seeds, especially those of corn, before he burns the fields on the following day. All the birds, except the cuckoo, offer to aid the god. Being afraid of fire, she plans to fly far away from the scene as she has done in former years. Several birds, aware of her fear, taunt her.

They accuse her of cowardice. The next morning before sunrise, the evil and spiteful fire god sets the fields ablaze, hoping to burn all the seeds destined for the spring planting. When Chaac and the birds arrive at the fields some moments later, they are surprised to see a lone bird with gray plumage winging its way through the flames and rescuing seeds. It is the cuckoo whom ihcy fail to recognize.

The smoke has turned her feathers, once as bright as those of a parrot, to a dull gray and her once-yellow eyes are red, the color of flames. As a reward for her courage, the birds grant her the eternal privilege of laying her eggs in another bird's nest with the assurance that the owner will care for the young cuckoos. For the Mayan Indians the cuckoo has always been a favorite bird. It was she who saved the seeds of corn so that they might have food through- out the centuries.

The North American Indians have various tales which extol the courage of the mole. It falls to the natives of Peru, however, to have a different account of this little creature. After the condor has tied a rope to the tip of this heavenly body, the fox followed by the mole starts their upward journey, climbing slowly, paw over paw.

Unfortunately, the mole speaks insultingly to a gayly colored parrot who happened to be flying near the rope. The parrot retaliates, not with words, but action. He cuts the rope with his sharp beak and the mole falls earthward. The condor, flying below, catches him on his back and transports him home. When the animals hear how foolish the mole has been, they begin to taunt him and all his relatives.

To avoid hearing these unkind remarks, all the moles leave their dwellings in caves and rocks and make homes for themselves underground where they continue to live. The fox reache. Another one of the early astronauts is the toad who negotiates a heavenly journey in the period of one day. This tale, told in Brazil and Argentina, contains elements of the Indian and post-Columbian periods. It is only in part autochthonous, as. They point out the stupidity of an earthbound creature like the turtle that wishes to see the heavenly height. A tricky bird offers to gratify the animal's wish, but with sadistic pleasure causes the creature's injury or death" 4.

Since both Indians and Spaniards disliked the toad, one wonders if some prankster of the post-Columbian era revised this old tale and gave the toad the status of a hero. But now, the story: All the birds are invited to a flesta in the sky. Most are asked to par- ticipate in a musical program, but not the crow. He is unable to sing, and he plays his guitar with more enthusiasm than talent. However, the vain bird decides to carry his guitar with him, hoping for an opportunity to perform.

On the morning of the fiesta the toad begs the crow to take him to the event, but the request is scorned. Then, when the crow is not looking, the toad hops into the guitar and is not seen again until he appears among the dancers at the ball. Here he is a tremendous success. With ex- ceeding grace he negotiates intricate dance steps, while singing hasso pro- fundo. Nevertheless, his joy of the moment is mingled with fear about the journey back to earth. And, in truth, his fears are justified. On the return trip the crow, now aware that he is carrying an uninvited passenger, turns the guitar in such a way that the toad goes tumbling earthward.

As a result of his fall, the victim's soft, smooth skin is covered with deep bruises which, with the passing of time, turn into dark, ugly scars. And ever since that time all toads have pfoudly worn these scars in memory of the heroic exploit of their illustrious ancestor. A coin is named for him and his likeness appears on the national coat of arms. According to the legend, when young Quetzal becomes chieftain on the death of his father, the soothsayer gives a message which he has received from the gods: "Quetzal will live forever.

Then the uncle re- members the lad's sacred talisman which guards him from all danger. One night the uncle steals the sacred talisman and the following day kills Quet- zal with an arrow. At once, by will of the gods, a beautiful bird with brightly-colored plumage comes forth from the youth's body.

It is the quet- zal, the sacred bird of Guatemala. Here it is loved and protected so that it may never die out. It is at a later date, about , that a youth named Copil arrives in what is now Mexico City. He comes from the north with his followers in hopes of imprisoning his cruel, bloodthirsty uncle, the war god of the Az- tecs. Through spies the uncle learns of his nephew's presence and purpose. He orders his priests, therefore, to go by night to the forest where Copil sleeps.

The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)
The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)
The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)
The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)
The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)
The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3) The Missing Mouth and Other Ananse Stories (African Fireside Classics Book 3)

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