Genre : Fantasy / Horror

She didn’t heed the warnings and offended the Tokoloshe.

It was now up to the village elders to decide what to do.

The Tokoloshe is a hairy, water sprite. It’s spiteful and nasty. Its best not to anger it. Sarafina didn’t heed the warnings. Sarafina is beautiful and has all the village men falling at her feet, even the married ones. They just want to gaze at her velvety dark skin and lose themselves in the golden pools of her eyes. Her breasts are firm and large and attract lots of attention even though they are hidden behind bright cloth. Her hips hold the promise of many healthy babies. They sway when she walks entrancing the village men.

We cannot say “she” or “he” when talking about the Tokoloshe. It is genderless, ageless and without a tribe. Tokoloshe had lived long and peacefully with Sarafina’s tribe. They respected it, often leaving gifts and letting it be. Tokoloshe had its own pond in the river, the best pond. It was warm and fresh water flowed in at the top in a lightly gushing waterfall. In the afternoon, the branches of the giant Acacia tree on the shore, gave it shade. There was a natural stone seat on the side and it was inviting in the fierce heat.

The village maidens often wandered down to the river once their homes were spotless, for some relief from the heat. None of them ever dared go to the Tokoloshe’s pool although they longed to, they passed it on the way to the big pond. Sarafina asked “Why do we not bathe here today?” the maidens stared at her in shock.

“No, we can never dare disturb the Tokoloshe!” one of them exclaimed her eyes wild. “No, no” the others agreed shaking their heads. Sarafina looked around for the Tokoloshe and saw nothing. There was no sign of anything or anyone, other than the maidens.

“Do you see it? Where is this Tokoloshe? It doesn’t exist! It’s a make-believe story to stop us from being naughty and to stop us swimming in this lovely pond. Come.” Sarafina jumped into the delicious, cool water and swam to the other side.

“Oh come on you chickens” she laughed, kicking water at them. The maidens just stood there in shock. They couldn’t believe she would risk upsetting the Tokoloshe. “Please Sarafina get out of the water” they begged her. But she ignored them thoroughly enjoying her swim and the fear they showed, it made her laugh out loud. Finally she had had enough and climbed out of the pool.

Suddenly a scream went out from the maidens facing the pool. Sarafina turned. At first she didn’t see it, it blended into the rock. The little grey beast sat dead still in the shade of a rock on the far side of the pool. It was tiny and full of black hair. It just stared solemnly at the maidens. Sarafina was frozen in terror. Suddenly all the maidens ran towards the village screaming and crying. Sarafina couldn’t move, even when the Tokoloshe moved towards her. She wet herself and tried to tell her feet to move, they wouldn’t. He got to her and she realized that he was only as tall as her knees. Grabbing hold of her dress he climbed up her until he was face to face. Now shivering in terror, she tried to say sorry, but he shushed her.

Slowly he leaned forward and kissed her, his lips were icy cold on hers. His black eyes were huge and showed no emotion. Pointed yellow teeth were exposed when he snarled and Sarafina heard a soft growling coming from the back of his throat. Climbing down he disappeared into the pond, leaving her confused and grateful that she wasn’t dead or dying. The village warriors ran up looking terrified and angry.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry” she screamed as they beat her with their whips.

“You bring this trouble to us?” her mother shrieked joining the warriors. Sarafina ran back to her hut screaming as they continued to beat her. Lying down she tried to nurse her wounds which burnt like fire. Eventually she fell asleep, hungry, scared and sore. That night she woke up thirsty and drank the warm water next to her bed- it soothed her dry mouth. She slept.

The next morning she got up and knelt next to her mother in the dim light of their hut, begging her forgiveness. Her mother put out her hand to her daughter. She explained that the village elders would decide what to do with her. She had done a terrible thing, she knew not to disrespect the Tokoloshe. Sarafina was thirsty again but the water was finished, she took the container outside to fill it up and drank again. And again. She couldn’t slake her thirst.

Turning she saw the village elders having a discussion, she knew they were talking about her. Head down, looking as sorry as she could, she got on her knees and crawled to them. Mandla was the head of the village, he looked terrifying in his traditional dress and commanded respect.

“Sarafina what have you done?” he asked.   She tried to explain but he shouted over her, she lifted her head to beg him with her eyes. A cry went out and the warriors stepped back appalled. “What is it? What’s wrong” Sarafina asked in terror still kneeling.

“Go and look at yourself” Mandla ordered. “There is no need for further punishment.” The warriors turned away looking disgusted and Sarafina ran to the water to see her reflection. Sarafina’s eyes could not believe what she was seeing, she fainted and fell.

Sarafina awoke with her sobbing mother, wiping her brow. She was so thirsty again and drank deep to slake her thirst. “What’s wrong mother” she asked before remembering. Her mother passed her a pot with a reflective surface on the bottom. Sarafina’s soft, clear skin was turning grey as if the life was being sucked out of it. Her lips had changed to a pale brown and lost all of their lustre. Long creases were forming in her skin like an old woman’s. Her breasts were drooping and sucked dry like old flaps of leather. Her once magnificent legs were pockmarked and grey/white making her look dead.

“Oh mother” she cried reaching for her, but her mother stepped back unable to allow this hideous creature to touch her. Sarafina’s heart was broken and she could do nothing about it. Her and her mother sobbed themselves to sleep that night.

Sarafina grew worse and worse. She drank all the time but couldn’t stop her thirst. Her skin was as dry as the winter grass and she continued to fade.

Finally Sarafina realised she would have to beg the Tokoloshe’s forgiveness. She ambled to the pond, stopping several times along the way to drink. On her knees next to the water she begged the Tokoloshe’s forgiveness. Her tears fell onto her bended knees and were sucked up by her skin. She begged the whole night on her knees in tremendous pain but she wouldn’t give up.

As the sun rose she heard a soft growl. It had come. Her heart beat out of her chest and she forgot about the pain she was in. Tears continued to stream down her cheeks and she begged it again. Dark eyes stared into hers – she was petrified. After what seemed like hours it motioned to her. Shaking she moved forward a bit, it gestured again. Moving forward again she realised it wanted her to get into the pond. She slipped into the cool water feeling relieved as her parched skin drank in the water. She took a few gulps and looking down realised in shock that her body was the way it had been. Strong, beautiful and vibrant.

Feeling better she pulled herself up onto a rock and immediately started to turn grey and dry again. She slipped quickly back into the water. Her body recovered. She stuck her hand out and watched her skin go grey. Turning to the Tokoloshe she shakily asked, “Do I have to live in the water?” Tokoloshe nodded.

Jumping into the water he took her hand and pulled her under, she screamed but he kept going. Pulling her under she realised a few things at once. That she could breathe. That she belonged to the Tokoloshe forever. And that her life depended on her living under the water.

Tokoloshe leaned forward and kissed her again, no-one could hear her screams.

 

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Writer, Mother, Grandmother and Wife.

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