Another extract from my unpublished kids book The Accursed - the final showdown begins!
‘I’d rather hoped we might have avoided bloodshed,’ murmured Professor Gothick mildly.
But Mephisto Carnacki wasn’t listening. He flung his arms wide, scything the air with his staff, and he bellowed out one word, the dread name of: ‘KALI!’
‘Kali!’ immediately responded the Thugee, hemming in the Professor and me on the deck of The Medusa. They took up the name in a chant – ‘Kali, Kali, Kali’ – over and over, increasing in both fervour and volume as my father continued to bellow: ‘Kali! Most exalted Goddess of Death. The Most Cruel and the Just. Kali, the Destroyer! I summon thee now. I summon thee to accept the gift that was pledged.’
The little High Priest, who still stood apart, raised aloft the Moonstone and it burst into light, sending crackling waves of energy around the deck and the rigging of the ship. My father stood aside, revealing behind him the doorway which led down to the hold of the Medusa.
‘Kali! Kali, I offer thee sacrifice,’ cried my father and the dark doorway became illuminated, glowing like the Moonstone, as spiders of light crackled around it.
‘Kali... Kali... Kali...’ chanted the Thugee. Professor Gothick placed his hand upon my shoulder and whispered into my ear: ‘Be brave, my boy. Have courage – trust in me!’
Abruptly he was grabbed by two Thugs, who yanked him away, and then another grabbed me, forcing my hands behind my back, clamping my arms in a fierce grip.
‘Professor!’ I cried, but Professor Gothick shook his head and turned his eyes back to the doorway, his face set in a grim mask. The eyes of his captors, too, were fixed on the door, as were the eyes of every other Thug on the ship. So, I turned back and faced it myself. The opening now pulsated with light, throbbing hypnotically, in time to the ceaseless chants of the Thugee. Seemingly from nowhere great clouds of incense blew up, the colour of storm clouds and thick with a sweet but nauseating aroma. So thick was it that I could taste it, bitter on my tongue. And in that instant, the light went out – and the chants of the Thugee ceased.
All was still and silent. Expectant. I peered through the blue cloud of incense and into the depths of the now darkened hold. Back out of the darkness gleamed two red eyes. Then a hand appeared. It reached out and gripped the door frame. Long, black fingernails dug into the wood. Then another hand emerged and clutched the door frame opposite. And then another hand appeared. And then another.
I felt a thrill of horror and shot a frightened glance at Professor Gothick. He was glaring at Mephisto Carnacki with an expression of disgust.
‘I thought as much!’ he spat.
And then It came out of the hold. It was like a human spider. Eight arms it had, wreathing around it like snakes, and it was covered all over in a thick grey hide like an elephant’s. It’s body was that of a woman, but it had the face of a demon. A huge, crimson tongue protruded from between its blackened lips and elongated, bloodshot eyes flicked around the deck, at Professor Gothick, at my father and at each of the Thugee. Then they focussed on me.
The obscene tongue undulated, as if it was tasting the air, and the creature grinned at me, its red eyes boring into mine. From out of the tight-fitting, blood-stained sari it wore, one of its claw-like hands drew out a white silk scarf and another of the seven caught its other end and snapped it tight. Then the creature began to advance across the deck, its two feet shuffling in a sinister, dancing motion, its eyes full of murderous intent.
The Thugee immediately set up again their chant of ‘Kali! Kali! Kali!’ and my own captor began to tremble with a feverish ecstasy as he gripped me even tighter. I felt powerless, hypnotised by the eyes of Kali, as a bird is said to be hypnotised by the eyes of a snake before it is devoured.
I could not move.