I was caught in a trap, mesmerised by the dance. My mind told me that this was all nonsense, but my soul could sense the drawing power. The hairs on my arms stood up, and I could barely breathe as I watched the jerky movements of the dancers. They mimicked the flames of the bonfires that lit up the beach.
Hair knotted and braided with feathers and beads, bells chiming as they jerked about, the dancers followed the rhythm of the drums; the crash of the waves.
Dressed in rags, castoffs, things that only a madman would wear, the dancers drew forth the power of the elements around them and filled the dance with the chaos of nature.
The wind off the coast responded, picking up pace and blowing inland with a gusto. Sparks flew from the fires and whirled through the air like madness. The steady crash of the waves grew louder, until each beat could be felt in the pit of my stomach.
When I thought the pressure could not build anymore, the medicine man appeared in a puff of smoke, and thunder rumbled overhead, as if on cue.
Strapped firmly to the stake, my struggles were futile as I watched the old man creep closer.
Lightning crackled, momentarily blinding me. When the stars left my eyes, I noticed the silver blade, an extension of the shaman’s hand.
Terror filled me as he pressed it to my flesh.
A sharp pain filled my belly, and I watched in horror as blood poured down my leg.
The crazy old man reaches inside me, his hands dirty with grime and charcoal. I felt an intense twist of pain and before I knew it, the medicine man had pulled his hand free.
Blood coated his long fingers, talon-like nails, even up as far as his wrist. Within his grasp I saw some bloody flesh; my flesh, still warm with my body heat.
This, he cast into the nearest fire. Flamed leapt skyward and the thing was consumed.
Light-headed, I passed out.
When I awoke, the shaman was standing over me, reading from a chart. Now, however, he was clean and dressed in a white gown. Still bleary, I watched as he placed a stethoscope against my chest.
“He seems to be recovering well,” he assured. “We managed to remove his appendix before they burst.”
My mother’s voice could be heard, as if far away, “He still looks pale, Doctor.”
“He reacted badly to the anaesthetic, but I’m sure he felt nothing.”
“The nurse said that he screamed and struggled …” protested my mother.
The shaman frowned briefly, possibly cursing the nurse to unknown evil for her slack tongue, before smiling his assurance. “That’s quite normal, Mrs Brown, I assure you. In a day or two, he’ll be right as rain.”