Hallowhat?

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I wasn’t thinking of Halloween or planning on posting anything at all creepy until I almost stood on this guy today. Still got the willies – not keen on leaving my feet on the floor, and got me thinking about another thing that had me tucking feet under bum for weeks.

Scorpion 1

South Africa doesn’t really celebrate Halloween much. I’ve heard that it is growing in popularity a bit, but apart from those wonderful guys who will take any excuse for a party, I’m not sure that it would be a very good idea to go around knocking on doors around here dressed up as ghouls and such. Small scary creatures knocking on doors at night in South Africa are highly unlikely to get any sweets – probably only the visions of the backs of people running away smartly and screaming hysterically. Chatting to author friend Charles Yallowitz on his blog the other day, where he was discussing the sizes of various monsters reminded me about a little tokoloshe incident of my own.

I’ve been doing a little interior design work on the especially unpleasant hell that is home to the Nefandus – the demonic beings in Shadow People. I have a very vivid imagination, so I know that they don’t like it there at all, and are quite keen to leave. Their appearance of course, and their very specific methods of—. Well no – never mind that now. I will only say that they’re very, very, very, tall. All cultures on this world of ours have legends of demonic entities. They’re mostly quite similar in looks, which really should give us pause for thought. Black skin. Red eyes. Long pointy fingernails. They loom over beds, oozing icy malevolence, instilling immobilising terror, and often buggering about with the duvet, while giving their victims a nasty scratch or two. They throw things at walls. Occasionally these things are their victims.

So the whole demon thing is pretty disagreeable in general. Unless you’re another way inclined I suppose, then they’d just be invited guests at your party. Well. You enjoy whatever rocks your boat, is all I can say about that. I’ll be washing my hair on that night. Here in Africa we have quite a few gods and demons. Mermaids that are not gorgeous, blonde, and large breasted, but rather menacing and vicious whirling dervishes, that suck you down into rivers and drown you. Then there’s Nyaminyami – the god of the river. He’s a biggy. When the hydro-electric dam was built in the Zambezi valley in the 1950’s, the BaTonga tribe were forced off the lands that had been rightfully theirs from time immemorial into new settlements on higher ground. Angrily they vowed that Nyaminyami would destroy it, and to be truthful, over the years there have been quite a few large, unexpected, not easily explained, disasters and deaths there. So never be too hasty to disbelieve in legends.

We also have the tokoloshe. They are not so tall. In fact they’re about the height of a two year old child. But don’t let their short stature fool you – these are very frightening and powerful ooh-nasties. The method of choice to stop the evil little sods from hopping onto you as you dream, is to place lots of bricks under the legs of your bed. If you believe in them, this would be a wise thing to do, considering a particular one of their forms of attack. Not a cool way to awaken, I reckon. There are no character saving Leprechaunish pots of gold here. They’re murderous, terrifying entities if the thousands of stories are to be believed. I certainly wouldn’t like to meet up with one at all. Although once I thought I had.

Many moons ago, I was staying at the lake resort of Kariba in Zimbabwe – legendary home of the Nyaminyami by the way. I was sleeping off an overdose of one-armed bandit gambling, and various other youthful excesses, when I was rudely awakened by something tugging on my ankle. On opening a heavy lid, I locked eyeballs with two nasty little shiny black points of light surrounded by a swirling mass of hair. Lots of hair. Emanating from this horrible sight were some pretty odd noises too. I yelled at the top of my lungs and then did the cowering against the wall thing for a while. Apart from soft noises of movement coming from the adjoining hotel rooms, caused by my own screams of terror no doubt, I heard sharp nails scrabbling on the floor. Then a big bang as whatever it was squeezed out of the window in the bathroom before heading for the hills.

Needless to say I hightailed it out of there straight away to another hotel – with first floor rooms. The bleary eyed hotel staff had differing opinions as they poured several very large shots of medicinal brandy. The most sensible theory was that it had been a thieving monkey. Still – I didn’t like to think that a wild monkey had been yanking on my leg. And why would a monkey be doing that sort of thing anyway? It certainly hadn’t sounded like any monkey I’d ever heard either. More like that awful head spinning little girl in the Exorcist. Do they have scrabbling nails? My ankle was fairly badly scratched. I really don’t know. Even though they’re so clever, I’ve never been partial to them. My mother had an incredibly mean pet monkey once called Darwin, who she never believed used to bite me when she wasn’t around, and coo lovingly, and try and stroke my cheek when she was. Until someone left a window open my eight year old self was fairly traumatised. Not me, in case that’s what you were thinking – I wouldn’t want to harm them. I just don’t want them in my personal space, let alone yanking any of my limbs.

The other opinion was that it had been a tokoloshe, sent by the witchdoctor that had created it from the dead, to steal from guests. When I said that nothing had been stolen, it was suggested that it must have been planning something else altogether to begin it’s spree with, and I’d clearly had a very lucky escape. Indeed! The hotel manager helped polish off the bottle of medicinal, and was quite adamant that it had been the tokoloshe that had been swiping wallets, jewellery, and cameras off dressing tables for weeks. He further deprived me of sleep that night by insisting that now that it knew I had seen it, it would traverse the globe to hunt me down and kill me. That weekend was cut short for me right then. I spent the next few nights elsewhere, with wide open eyes, and fantastic and caring friends taking turns to hide under my bed at night and grab my ankles. Then I gratefully flew off to spend a few peaceful months in mercifully wild monkey free England. I haven’t seen anything remotely like that since. Maybe he’s still there, following my trail through dusty castles, and quite a few pubs as I recall, stuck forever in that lovely Kingdom, just waiting for me to return. Anyone heard of night-prowling monkeys in London I wonder? I do hope that my continued existence proves that it was just a monkey after all – it probably was – but then again, you never know.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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36 thoughts on “Hallowhat?

    T Ibara Photo said:
    October 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    What a story! And, is that a scorpion in the photo?
    We also don’t celebrate Halloween in Japan…although I notice in recent years, younger people seem to enjoy dressing up in costume – at least in Tokyo. But same here: random people knocking on doors for candy/treats would be a strange sight indeed… Wishing you a happy weekend 🙂

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      It is a scorpion Takami – a big fellow he was too! I was looking up at some birds too – not sure why I looked down today, but I’m very glad I did. If anyone came looking for treats here today, I think the best I could do would be a tomato. 😀 I went to the post office by the way – the whole parcel section is locked behind a gate, so my plan of finding everything myself didn’t work. The lady there assured me though that everyone will definitely be back at work on Monday, and that no parcels had been returned – so I’ll be VERY happy to get my cards next week after their epic journey. 🙂

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        T Ibara Photo said:
        October 31, 2014 at 3:26 pm

        Yikes! I would be terrified if a scorpion was near my feet. I admire how you kept your cool and shot a photo 🙂 I’m glad to know you’ll be able to receive your mail soon!!

        Liked by 1 person

          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 31, 2014 at 3:29 pm

          It was funny that the first thing I thought to do was to run and fetch my camera. 😀

          Like

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    October 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I can guarantee it was NOT one of my Naughty Chimps – they’re more likely to sit and jabber at you until you fed them (or sent me an article if they were on assignment) – either way, they wouldn’t harm you, just be pains in whatever part you are prone to get pains in LOL.
    😀 😀 😀

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      LOLOL! I reckon if your little cuties saw that other little fellow they would EEK, SCREECH, RUN AWAY! too. 😀 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    Bruce Thiesen said:
    October 31, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Spooky, spooky.

    Like

    cindy knoke said:
    October 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    That is scary enough for several Halloweens! 👿

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      😀 There definitely are some strange things around and about. I’ll be well tucked in today after that little memory. 🙂

      Like

    andrewdavid1668 said:
    October 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I have heard about the tokoloshe many years ago when I worked with a few very nice people who was from Africa, they said it was a bit scary, but i had no idea how scary lol.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      LOL! I heard of one man who was riding down a deserted road on his bike one night. He heard a crying baby and found it abandoned on the verge, so he picked it up and strapped it to his back. When it seemed to get heavier and heavier he pulled over to find that whatever it was had merged with him, and he had a hunchback until a witchdoctor removed it. 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    Rajiv said:
    October 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    You have some interesting Gods and Demons. I did not realise that Hallowe’en is not popular in South Africa. I thought it was a completely Western thing. It is, of course, not big at all here in India

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I think that South Africa has a culture all of it’s own, although a lot of Western ways are entrenched now, I can’t see Halloween being as hugely popular here as it is elsewhere – we’re a superstitious bunch. 🙂

      Like

    Charles Yallowitz said:
    October 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    It’s interesting how every region and culture has their own ‘themes’ in folklore monsters. That Tokoloshe reminds me of gremlins only hairy instead of scaly. The mermaids also make me think of sirens, so it’s funny how there are even some ‘matching’ monsters in various cultures. For us in the United States, I think we have a big ghost focus or issue. Demons turn up from time to time, but they always seem to be similar to ghosts or be the demon of someone who died. Not sure why we have this obsession with monsters that come from the afterlife especially since so many people are interested in going there.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 31, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      It’s always fascinated me how similar these critters are. I’ve thought of the tokoloshe as similar to gremlins and the more scary leprechaun legends. They’re all such old stories though, that whoever told them would never have know of the others from different continents. I really hope they’re not all hanging around to greet us on the other side! 😀

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        Charles Yallowitz said:
        October 31, 2014 at 3:38 pm

        Maybe it speaks to fears that all humans have. The small creatures getting at our ankles can stem from a fear of the unknown combined with knowledge that an injured leg means we’re easy prey.

        Like

          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

          True! It’s also hard to fight a small attacker whose movements are hard to see. Speed also – small things seem to be a lot faster than big things.

          Like

            Charles Yallowitz said:
            October 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm

            Ever notice how most monsters that we really fear are either small, invisible, create illusions, or are humanoid? We’re not really terrified of giants or dragons these days. Even the Loch Ness Monster is more curiosity than fear.

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              jorobinson176 responded:
              October 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm

              Invisible is REALLY not cool. I was watching an episode of a ghosthunting series which hadn’t scared me overly much till then, and they captured footage of a little something bouncing up and down on the side of a woman’s bed – last episode watched.

              Like

    Sherri said:
    October 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Yikes Jo, this is the scariest Halloween story I’ve ever heard in my life…true one I mean. And you tell a fantastic tale but how awful. You must have been absolutely terrified, I don’t know how you coped with that. Monkey or not…. Mind you, that scorpion would terrify me too…my son wanted one as a pet once and I was adamant about that..the snake, well, you know about that, but a scorpion? I don’t think so. You know, I must read your books. I’m getting myself more organised with my reading now that I have a Kindle so I will definitely be getting to yours. I just love the way you write. Hope you have a nice, trouble-free evening and a Happy Halloween to you my lovely friend… Big love and hugs… ❤ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 😀

    Like

    Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life. said:
    October 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Thank you Jo, you have just removed any chance of sleep tonight. I remember stories of the Tokoloshe being told to me when I was a child, terrifying entity that makes witches and bats look like angels of mercy. You have taken Hallowe’en to a whole new level…be afraid, very afraid…

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    Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life. said:
    October 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Great story and will be giving our normally friendly little bats in the garden a wide berth tonight in case they are intent on playing trick or treat….

    Like

    John W. Howell said:
    October 31, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    For not thinking of Halloween, you conjured up some really good tales. We used to have scorpions when we lived in San Antonio. One fell out of the air conditioning vent on my daughter’s chest as she lay in bed. I wish I had recorded her scream for a Halloween playback. After that, I had to put gauze in all the vents to prevent another incident.

    Like

    Mira Prabhu said:
    October 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Great spooky post inspired by All Hallows Eve…I too grew up hearing terrifying “true” ghost stories from members of my own blood family…which is one reason that Krishna’s Counsel, my second novel (soon to be published) falls squarely in the realm of supernatural/metaphysical crime fiction. Thank you for this, Jo Robinson, and may the tokoloshe suffer from blinding amnesia and forget it ever yanked your ankle…

    Like

    olganm said:
    October 31, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Fantastic post Jo! You’re right about how similar the creatures are but it’s the little details that make them so fascinating…I’m pleased you survived your encounter…

    Like

    Let's CUT the Crap! said:
    November 1, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Eek. I’m afraid my hair might have turned white and I might have killed the intruder through mere reflex. 😀 😀 Yes, I agree. Good idea to high tail it outta there. Spooky.

    Like

    john flanagan said:
    November 1, 2014 at 2:54 am

    This was a great read, Jo, thoroughly enjoyable. Once in Kuwait i found a scorpion under my mattress..frightened the bejaysus out of me so i sympathise with you.
    Take the best care
    john

    Like

    collinaclarke said:
    November 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

    This one makes me shiver!

    Like

    Kev said:
    November 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Scary. I once found a teeny weeny transparent one on my watch at work in my Arizona days. Talk about getting the willies!

    Like

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