A village superstition of a beast with a peculiar danger.
| Dr. Peirce sat in his wicker hut in the hot jungle terrain. He had been studying the indigenous practices and beliefs of a tribe deep in Western part of Africa. He recorded and studied the tribe through an interpreter. He had studied many facets of the people such as marrying rituals, rights of living in the tribe, leadership rules, and tribe hierarchy. What fascinated him most was there superstition. According to their lore there lived a beast that had the power to turn a person into a gerbil from its bite. They called it a Pocachah which means “rodent fangs” in their language. It was described as part leopard for its legs, its thighs and rump like a bull’s and had a torso like a crocodile with the neck of snake. Finally its head was that of a horned eagle’s head that had its beak lines with sharp jaws. It was said to lurk in the southern caves and came out at night to feed on fresh gerbil. One night, Dr. Peirce asked for help from the tribe’s people to aid him in searching out the beast to see if it was real or not. He sat next to the interpreter and presented his plan that then relayed it to the people. Dr. Peirce could see their answer by the fear on their faces.
“I’m sorry, there is too much fear of the creature for any to accept the task, including me,” the interpreter said with ardency.
“Tell them that I would be willing to pay them a good sum of gold to anyone willing to go with me.”
Unfortunately all were still too frightened to go and look for the Pocachah. Then the interrupter asked a question of intrigue. “How much gold will you offer to the one who will travel on your hunt?”
Dr. Peirce saw his peak of interest. “Ten pieces.”
The interrupter weighed the danger against the prospect of gaining a fair amount money. He thought of the apple orchard that he loved so much and what it would be like if it were his. “Twenty pieces of silver,” he said.
Dr. Pierce gave his final offer. “Fifteen and no higher Waikiki.”
With the interpreters accepted offer they prepared the items for the hunt. The doctor had brought two shotguns from the US and also a tranquilizer riffle. They also brought flashlights. The two hunters set out at once for the caves. The ground was full of grass that came up to the waist and the nocturnal animals had come out. They saw the glowing eyes of a few hyenas and the hoot of owls in the trees. A large tarantula stuck to the side of a tree trunk. As they neared the area of the caves, the ground started to become stony with a patch of grass here and there. Finally they arrived at a cave mouth that led downwards.
“Stay aware,” said Waikiki his interrupter.
As the two entered the cave the first thing they saw were bats hanging from the roof. The further they came in the colder it got. Then they heard a bloodcurdling cry that sounded like a screeching crow with the deep roar a lion.
Waikiki froze with widened eyes and breathed heavily. “We should return. Fifteen gold pieces isn’t worth my life.” He turned around retreat but Dr. Pierce grabbed his arm and looked him straight in the eyes.
“Calm yourself! No creature can stand up to two firearms. Our weapons are strong enough to blow up a tree stump from ten yards away. And remember it is two against one.”
Waikiki slowly regained his composure and took a deep breath. “Okay, I suppose we should keep going.”
Then that horrid, ear piercing cry reverberated against the wall of the caves.
“It’s louder, we must be getting closer. Get ready,” said the doctor
They carried deeper into the depths of the cave. Suddenly, something quite large darted past their flashlights. Both of the flinched.
“That must have been the size of an ox! It’s a good thing we brought such strong shotguns,” said the Doctor.
The two men waited for a few minutes and the sound of a horse with claws started to near them from their left. They spun to the side with flash lights and there coming at then was the abomination with yellow green eyes.
Waikiki shot in reflex wounding the Pocachah in its front right leg that caused it to topple over onto its side with blood spilling onto ground. It writhed about a few moments and then stumbled to its feet. It lunged forward towards him and Waikiki shot one more. The beast dodged to the shot and leapt angrily at its dark skinned foe. Dr. Pierce turned around and shot it in its leathery chest three times. It flipped over to the right onto its back shrieking like deep voiced banshee; then it was still. He shined his flashlight onto the ground and was horrified at what he saw. Waikiki’s clothes were laying by themselves with a small bleeding rodent crawling from under the clothing. Within minutes it was dead. The doctor picked up the clothing along with the dead gerbil and returned to go the village and then stopped.
“How can I tell them? What will they think? There is nothing I can do but leave. But how can I? I’ll have to get another interrupter and explain. At least the menace is dead.” With those last words to himself he walked to the main road where his jeep was parked and drove off to the nearest city.
“I’ll make sure you have not