Sabha, Sarwak, Ramly, Indra and Chin

By Chekukong

Free first story – just email me at [email protected]  and get a free copy of the e-story by return email.

My modest attempt at short story writing. Due to financial constraints, and the haughty attitude of local publishers, I decided to sell this e-book online. Some of the stories were written with my tears.

Sabha, Sarwak, Ramly, Indra and Chin

“But what are we to do?” asked Pak Din in a desperate voice.

“Yes indeed, it is a difficult situation” said Mani, his head bowed, staring emptily at the ground.

“Not to worry, we put our heads together, and we will definitely come up with a way to solve this crisis”, commented Ah Lim, trying hard to sound optimistic, “we have always solved our village problems. Let’s go have a teh tarik, and brainstorm and for sure we’ll come up with something”.

But in their hearts, though they believed they would somehow solve the problem, they knew it was going to be tough. And they haven’t got much time either. The village cattle were dying one by one. And there were not many places they could hide them.

Slowly they turned around to face the other villagers crowding the field, and who were looking at them with expectations, and hope. Pak Din, Mani and Ah Lim were the people the villagers entrusted to solve their problems.

“Well?” asked one of the villagers, “have you decided what to do? Do you have a plan?”

The rest of the crowd murmured in unison, muttering and mumbling incoherently, moving uneasily among themselves. They were very worried. After all the cattle are gone, would it be the children next?

“Listen everyone,” called out Pak Din, “this is indeed a very difficult matter. We have not yet come to a course of action. We are going to brainstorm now. Meanwhile, let’s all go and have teh tarik first, then we’ll see”.

“What?” exclaimed a villager, “such a serious and dangerous situation that warrants immediate and urgent action, and you say go for teh tarik first? Never seen you people behave like this before.”

“Are you guys serious ah?” queried another.

The crowd shook their heads disapprovingly. You could almost hear them gnashing their teeth. Everyone started voicing out their disapproval.

“Go for teh tarik? You guys giving a treat ah?, “asked one sarcastically.

“No lah,” answered Pak Din, “too many of you. We will go bankrupt”.

“Hold it friends,” called out another villager sensing the situation was getting too hot, “since this matter is of such serious gravity and a correct and accurate course of action is necessary, I think it does require some serious thought to find the solution. Let’s give our leaders some time to think about it. I am sure they will do their best in the shortest possible time.”

There was not universal approval, but in the end everyone nodded in agreement.

“Thank you everyone,” said Pak Din.

“For tonight, keep your cattle, goats and sheep in their sties, and hang lighted lamps around the sties. The brightness should help.” suggested Ah Lim.

“And you might like to carry out periodic checks throughout the night. Remember to call out and make lots of noise if you see anything wrong, and we will all come out to help” said Mani, “and keep some something ready, be it a parang, an axe, a hoe or a changkul. And don’t let your children out at night”.

“Oh yes we certainly will”, replied the villagers empathically, “if we catch it, it will surely be shorter by a head!”

And everyone dispersed, seeming to be giving their views to each other. Pak Din, Mani and Ah Lim heaved a sigh of relief and make their way to Maidin’s teh tarik stall down the road.

“I think we need to get some outside help,” suggested Mani, “it may be too big for us”.

“Yes, perhaps so,” agreed Pak Din, “what do you think Ah Lim?”

“I can agree to that suggestion by Mani, but why don’t we see one more night? Maybe it might not happen again”.

“All right then,” agreed Pak Din and Mani together, “we’ll discuss this again tomorrow morning.”

After some drinks and light bantering, the trio then left to go do whatever chores they had.

Unnoticed, three strapping young lads were closely observing the proceedings. After everyone had left, they made their way to the football field at the fringe of the nearby forest, and sat under the large flame of the forest tree. This was their favourite meeting place for the three best friends. Ramly, Indra and Chin were soon engaged in a very animated discussion.

At the first peep of the morning sun through the trees, with the village still heavily engulfed with the darkness and stillness of early morn, an ear piercing scream suddenly ripped through the village waking up everyone, except the heavy snorers, and had them rushing out of their houses. Most were in their sleeping garments but all were holding some weapon including bread knives expecting that the worst, whatever it was, had happened. It sounded like the scream came from Aru who lives at the far end of the village.

They all ran towards Aru’s house where they found him in a state of fear. He was shivering, hardly able to speak. He pointed to his cows’ sty a short distance away. The group made their way to the sty. The door was unlocked and opened. The same ghastly sight greeted them, a sight they have seen for the past weeks. Aru had five cows and they were his pride and joy. They were his wealth, his security. And he was breeding and selling the calves, and also one of the main suppliers of fresh milk in the village. And he hopes to save enough to send his son and daughter to the university when they finished their schooling. The children had so much wanted to become doctors so that they can help the poor people.

Now all his five cows were lying on the ground, dead as stones. It was not the animals’ death that was ghastly, but the manner by which they died. There was blood all over the ground, with pieces of intestines, brains, gouged eyes, and other internal body parts strewn all over. It was cruel and brutal killing of the animals, with no care for the suffering inflicted. But the strange thing was that what
were left were basically just the bones wrapped by the skin. Outwardly everything was intact. The dead animals looked like deflated balloons. Whatever killed them did not devour everything. It appeared that only their innards were the meal.

“Looks like all the insides of the cows, the organs, were sucked out leaving only the skin and bones” observed Mani.

“Must have been something huge and powerful” enjoined Ah Lim.

“And has a humongous appetite too. Just imagine, five grown cows!” exclaimed Pak Din.

A huge crowd had gathered by then.

“I have never seen anything like this before”, said one.

“See lah how serious this is,” said another sorely, “and you go drinking teh tarik some more lah”.

“When, whatever this is, runs out of cattle and sheep, will it go for our children?” said a really worried mother, “First it was one cow belonging to Samad, then three goats belong to Ali, now FIVE cows! I am really worried for our children”.

Everyone concurred without hesitation.

“What are we going to do,” wailed another mother.

“Maybe we should pray and perform some exorcism rites,” suggested someone, “maybe that will chase it away”.

“No it won’t, it will only be a waste of time,” opined another, “what we need is some concrete action”.

As if on cue, a young voice spoke out.

“Dear brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, we, I, Indra and Chin have been thinking deeply about this situation and seek to find a solution”, said Ramly, “we would like to suggest a method whereby, hopefully, we can solve the problem”.

“First of all, we cannot catch something if we don’t know what it is. So we must find out what it is, and then try to trap or destroy it.” added Indra.

Everyone listened with rapt attention.

“True, true,’ they murmured.

“Let’s listen to them some more,” said somebody.

“Okay, we want to set conditions which will draw out this thing into the open, then we can see what it really is.” said Indra.

“But we will need some help from a cattle owner. Here’s our plan,” said Ramly, “we need to borrow a cow and we are going to tie it in the centre of our football field. This will be the bait to lure this thing out.”

“Aha! Right, then we will be able to see what it is, and do whatever is necessary to disable it. Good idea,” said Ah Lim.

“Really good thinking,” agreed Pak Din.

“Of course we will do our utmost to ensure the safety of the cow. But please be realistic. This thing is dangerous. We may lose the cow,” warned Indra.

“In which case, we the villagers will all chip in to repay the owner of the cow,” said Pak Din earnestly.

“Darn good idea, if I ever heard one,” Mani joined in.

“All right I will contribute a cow,” volunteered Pak Mustafa standing nearby.

“That’s decided then. We’ll come and fetch your cow before nightfall,” said Ramly.

“Also, nobody should be coming anywhere close to the designated area,” added Chin, “Firstly it’s dangerous, and secondly lots of human presence might frighten the thing away.”

“Wish us luck,” said Indra.

“Yes, good luck to you three young brave men. Everything depends on you. We sure hope you succeed,” chorused the crowd so pleased that at last something was being done to stop the disasters befalling the village.

At dusk, Ramly, Indra and Chin went to Pak Mustafa’s house and found him waiting for them.

“There he is,’ said Pak Mustafa on seeing the youths, pointing to a cow tied to a tree, “He has just eaten, so there won’t be a problem feeding him. He also takes well to strangers and will follow you”.

“Thank you, Pak Mustafa,” said Chin, “we will take good care of him and return him tomorrow morning depending on what happens. Please don’t worry.”

The trio untied the cow and led it to the middle of the football field where they had earlier on driven a stake into the earth, then proceeded to tie the cow to it. Nearby was a large pile of grass which they had earlier collected, which they fed to the cow.

“Good thing we have no football match tomorrow morning otherwise we could not use the field,” said Ramly as they made their way to the edge of the field where there was a large depression on the ground.

This was where they planned to sit in and hide from view. And they really made sure they were well fortified with food and drinks in case they got hungry in the night. They had packed three flasks of hot drinks, biscuits, desserts and their dinners. For good measure, they brought two baseball bats, three parangs and a length of rope.

“It’s going to be a long night,” said Indra, sitting down on the mat laid across the depression.

“When it gets late, we’ll take turns to keep watch through the night,” Ramly said, adjusting his thick pullover.

Then they quickly absorbed themselves with discussing football, their favourite sport. As the night ground on, their conversations grew less and less.

“It’s 11 o’clock. Since I am not so sleepy yet, I will take the first watch. Chin will take the second and Ramly will take the next,” said Indra and added, “by then it should be close to morning.”

“What time is it?” asked Chin, rubbing his eyes, “anything yet?”

“It’s 2. No, nothing yet,” answered Indra.

“Okay, I’ll take over now,” Chin replied.

“Sure,” Indra replied, “wait a sec, I think I hear something. Listen.”

Chin cocked his ears. Yes indeed, there seems to be an unusual sound above the stillness of the night.

Sensing like something was going to happen, Chin gently shook Ramly to wake him.

“Uuuh…is there something up?” asked Ramly waking up.

“Maybe so, listen to that sound,” said Chin.

Ramly listened hard then got up and peered towards the far end of the field which was uncleared jungle, largely unexplored because it was reputed to be a dangerous area. It fact, the football field was built at the outskirts of the village, fringing the jungle.

“It sounds like something heavy and walking laboriously,” Indra said.

“There seems also to be a low squealing sound which does not disturb the tranquillity of the night,” said Ramly.

The trio strained their eyes the hardest they could to try to see what it was at the end of the field. There was pale moon hiding behind the clouds the light of which hardly cast any shadows. It was still dark, so dark you couldn’t see an elephant easing itself.

“There it is, there it is,” exclaimed Chin quietly, “it’s there at the side, not at the end of the field.”

“Yes, I see it too,” said Ramly excitedly.

“Let’s keep quiet lest we frighten it away,” cautioned Indra.

As it moved ponderously out of the jungle, the trio were beginning to be able to make out its shape. It appeared to be a four-legged animal the height of a grown horse, about 2 meters tall. It had some stripes on the lower part of it body. The front part of it, where its head was, appeared to be very animated and un-symmetrical.

Slowly but surely it was making its way towards the tied cow in the middle of the field. The trio could barely hide their excitement.

“Should we make our move now?” asked Indra in a whisper.

“No, not yet, Let it get closer to the cow first,” said Ramly, also in a whisper.

“I’m so darn excited I might just not be able to control nature’s call right now,” said Chin, grinning.

“Just a little more…it’s good that the creature moves so slowly, “ said Ramly, “okay, let’s grab a parang each. Looks like we will be needing them.”

The creature stopped about three meters from the cow, and looked around. It took a tentative step forward, then it stopped again. It appeared to be suspicious of the “offering”. Then it seemed to cast all caution aside and advanced to the cow, clearly to make the cow its meal.

“NOW!” yelled Ramly, and together with Indra and Chin, climbed out of their hiding place and raced towards the creature, waving the parangs and yelling at the top of their voices.

Just in time too, for the creature had reached the cow and was just about to devour it.

The clouds had thinned some, and a pale moonlight bathed the sports field giving some improved visibility. When the trio got closer to the creature, they were so shocked to find that it looked like a giant mosquito, big as a horse but had four heads! There was a big head, a small head beside it, and two little heads on the other side.

The four headed monster looked surprised for a moment, then turn to face the trio. Moving aggressively towards them, its eyes turned red almost like balls of fire, all eight of them. You could almost feel heat emanating from them.

Ramly, Indra and Chin raised their parangs, ready. They knew this would be fight to the death. Such a creature would give no quarters. They would be fighting for their lives.

Suddenly, the big head spat out something at Indra, who nimbly jumped out of the way. They had the shock of their lives at what actually came out of the mouth of the big head. It looked like a sword, which darted out with every intention to stab and went back into the mouth again.

“It’s a proboscis,” yelled Chin, “keep out of its way, it can stab you dead.”

“Yes, so that’s what it does. It uses the proboscis to stab into an animal’s body and suck out all the insides of the animal” observed Indra.

“This looks like a monster mosquito, and a highly dangerous one. It will suck out the life of anything that it can lay its proboscis on. We must try to destroy it,” resolved Ramly.

“Yikes! He almost got me,” said an angry Chin, as the small head attempted to stab him with its sabre-like proboscis, “I’m going to get you, I tell you!”

Chin attempted to rush and plunge his parang into the small head, but the small head continued to flick out its proboscis, keeping Chin away.

The big head had an even bigger proboscis and Ramly was having a hard time trying to effectively attack it.

Indra tried to attack the two little heads, but to no avail. The little heads had smaller proboscises but they attacked and defended in cooperation with each other.

The courageous trio continued jousting with the creature but could make little headway. Those proboscises were far too dangerous to take unnecessary risks. They could not even get close to the heads to be able to do any real damage. And any slip on their part, or just a bit too slow to get out of the way would be disastrous, they could get seriously injured.

“Since we cannot get the heads, let’s try to attack its body,” yelled Indra.

Except for Ramly who had the hardest task keeping the most dangerous head occupied, Chin and Indra took turns slipping to the side and behind the creature to attack its body with their parangs.

“The body is hard, it’s so difficult to penetrate it with our parangs,” said a disappointed Indra.

“Keep on trying in any way we can,” said Chin, gritting his teeth as he continued to flail away at the creature.

“I think it’s too tall, that’s very disadvantages for us,” said Ramly, still avoiding the periodic and sudden stabs of the big head’s proboscis, “we need to bring it down to our level somehow.”

“But how?” queried Indra, “every time we try to get near enough to it, it gets too dangerous.”

It is some two hours of virtually non-stop battling. The trio was getting tired, while the creature seemed fresh as a daisy. Worse, because of their tiredness, they were having trouble moving fast enough to get out of the way of the proboscises. They were getting slight stabs and cuts here and there, some of which were bleeding and would eventually lead to a loss of strength. Though desperate, the trio never entertained the thought of giving up.

“It’s for the people we are doing this,” encouraged Ramly, “we must fight this evil to the end!”

“Yes, to the end,” said Indra with great determination, “however difficult it is to win.”

“WE SHALL OVERCOME!” the trio chorus together signifying the strongest bond between themselves and their confidence to attain victory.

As they encouraged themselves and fought on, they began to feel their youthful strength slowly drain away. Would they soon fall they wondered quietly, but immediately banished the thought from their mind. The creature seemed to be getting stronger and stronger with each passing moment.

“WE WILL HELP YOU!!!” thundered a voice from the end of the field behind them.

The courageous trio turned around, taking care to take two steps back first to be out of range of those slashing proboscises.

They saw two figures in unfamiliar garb. As they came nearer, they saw that the duo each wore headgear, but different from each other. One of the headgears looked like a hornbill head, while the other was shaped like a rhino’s head. In each of their hands they held a spear and a shield, and around their waists hung a sheathed parang.

Wow, some warriors! There was hope of victory at last thought Ramly, Indra and Chin.

“My name is Sawak,” the hornbill introduced himself.

“And I’m Sabha,” the rhino said in introduction.

“Our problem is how to reach those heads,” said Chin to the duo, “they can reach us easily enough, but we cannot get to their heads. Their bodies are very hard and only concentrated hitting can break it. It seems the only way we can defeat it is to attack and kill the heads.”

“I can see the problem, “said Sawak, “here is what we must do. We must cut off its legs. That will lower it by about one meter. That will bring its heads well with range for out attacks.”

“Sawak and I will engage the big and small heads while Chin and Indra will attack the little heads,” suggested Sabha, “in the meantime Ramly will slip in and out under the creature and cut off the legs.”

“Let’s do it now!”, shouted Ramly.

They five of them approached the creature and quickly took up their positions.

Sabha and Sawak, with their shields to afford them protection and their long spears to keep the slashing proboscises at bay, were more than a match for the creature.

Chin and Indra had an easy time with the little heads. It was easier now, one to one.

Suddenly the creature let out a loud squeal and seemed to collapse before recovering to stand upright.

“Just chopped off one of its hind legs,” shouted Ramly triumphantly from the rear of the creature, “now for the next one.”

The creature seemed to panic. Its red eyes were now blinking instead of staring like before. It was now appearing to want to escape rather than fight some more.

“There goes another one,” shouted Ramly as the hind end of the creature totally collapsed. Another hind leg had been cut off.

The creature was now standing only on its front legs and had much trouble moving and turning.

But as soon as Ramly started chopping at a front leg, his parang broke at the handle.

“Here take mine,” yelled Sawak as he unsheathed his parang and tossed it to Ramly, all the while dexterously keeping the big head busy.

Sawak’s parang was long and sharp and made Ramly’s work easy. In a short time the front leg gave way. The creature was only balancing on one leg. But before long, the efficient Ramly chopped off the final leg and the creature collapsed totally to the ground with a loud sickening thud.

“Now we are equal,” said Sabha sneering at the creature.

Indeed, the heads’ proboscises were not as effective as before and could be easily avoided.

Sabha and Sawak skilfully maneuvered themselves around the big head and small head and on finding an opening, plunged their spears into the mouths of the creature causing it to squeal devilishly.

Meanwhile, Chin and Indra had managed to cut off the proboscises of the little heads and were busy trying to cut off its head.

Ramly proceeded to cut off the big head and it was hard, like armour.

Still it would not die.

Surely they would need more people to finish the job quicker.

The fighting five had not noticed that it was already dawn. And they also didn’t notice that a large crowd of villagers had gathered at the edge of the field watching all that was going on with much fear and trepidation. Now, sensing that the five heroes needed some help, suddenly all the women ran forward screaming and shrieking as women do when they are rushing to some fire sale, armed with knives, sticks, hoes, rocks, stones and whatever they could get their hands on, and casting all fears aside. Upon reaching the creature, they duly proceeded to beat, pummel, chop and stone the hapless creature over and over again until, at last, the creature died.

The five heroes quietly moved to the edge of the field, and sat down to a much needed rest, leaving the villagers to decide what they want to do with the carcass of the evil creature.

“I say we burn this evil creature to ashes,” proclaimed a villager.

“Hear, hear ,” said another.

“Yes, destroy it forever so that it may never walk on the face of Earth ever again,” another villager said, holding up his fist.

With that the village men ran into the forest and collected a huge pile of dried branches and whatever wood they could find. Then they hoisted the dead creature up onto the pyre.

A villager ran up breathlessly and said, “Here, I got the kerosene and matches.” He had actually run back to his house nearby and got two gallon containers filled with kerosene.

The villagers poured the kerosene on the carcass and the pile of wood and set it on fire. In a short while the fire raged as though it was also doing its part to destroy the evil creature forever while the villagers milled around, some dancing happily.

“And hey Pak Mustafa, here’s your cow, quite unharmed!” someone shouted to him.

Everybody clapped. Pak Mustafa was so relieved. He ran over and hugged his cow.

Over at the edge of the field, the five heroes quietly observed the proceedings.

“You guys came just at the right time. We really needed help then,” said Ramly to Sawak and Sabha.

“Yup, we may have been goners if you didn’t decide to help,” said Indra.

“Oh, we definitely will help. We were only worried that we might not be on time,” said Sabha.

“Although we live under other skies, our fate is the same,” Sawak said philosophically, “we the victims must always be united and help one another from evil creatures that would suck our blood dry.”

“I’m so happy today. Come, let’s go and have a hearty breakfast, on me,” offered Chin.

“We definitely will never refuse such a good offer,” chorused the others laughingly.

And arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, they made their way to Mak Inah’s nasi lemak stall.

Copyright ©

teh tarik – aerated tea with milk
nasi lemak – light meal of rice with chilly sauce



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