An old man gets a knock on his door late one night. It's a caller petitioning his services. He's got a sick cow. The only cow the poor family can afford to keep. No one knows what's wrong with him, but he won't eat, he's stopped producing milk, and now the farmer thinks he may have no choice but to shoot him.
The old man sees the worry scrawled on the farmer's face, the tight lines around his eyes and mouth. Without the cow, they are destitute. The family most move. The wife, more than likely, will leave the farmer who's made her life so miserable since moving away from the city.
The old man, fingers bent from arthritis and years of plowing away at a cold hard ground, reluctantlly grabs his floppy leather hat, pushes it down on his head and asks the farmer to follow him to the barn.
But there's a secret neither man knows a thing about. A beautiful child, with sloping brown eyes, had decided earlier in the day to hide and play with her pet mouse in the sweet smelling hay on the open air loft. She rolls over when she hears the doors open and gazes in silence, but with her heart in her throat, when she watches the men enter with a cow in tow.
The old man, her father, grabs his brown satchel from the peg on the wall. She bites her lips. She's not supposed to see this. Her father always warned her to stay away, to never ever look when he did his work. But if she stops them, if she reveals herself, she'll be whipped for hiding in the barn. So she bites her tongue and what she sees will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Her father opens the bag and pulls out a plant and a tiny glass vial. He sets them aside, rolls up the sleeves of his dirt encrusted shirt and starts a fire in the center of the dirt floor. The flames build slow at first, growing and growing, until they resembled an inferno pitch in the eyes of the five year old. Her father picks up the plant and lights it on fire, but instead of it burning, it smokes. Dark and black, fills the space up with the rich musk. Her heart beats faster and faster. The wind rips through the barn, shaking the walls, lifting up pieces of hay. They dance around her head like tiny yellow fingers. Tears squeeze from the corners of her eyes.
The cow moves, starts to buck and grunt. Her father shouts at the farmer. "Keep him calm! Don't let him move."
Then it's all quiet. Still. So very, very still. The mouse she'd been holding wiggles from between her fingers and runs away, a shrieking squeak following in its wake. Her father glances up. She hides herself deeper in the hay, in the shadow. He narrows his eyes.
"What do you want, Arquimedes?" A disembodied voice echoes everywhere and nowhere. In her head, in the room, it travels through her blood and makes her choke on a scream.
Her father turns and gazes into the fire. He opens the glass vial and sprinkles the dust within onto the flames. The flames snap with threads of silver and blue. "The cow is sick."
The demonic voice does not answer again, but her father nods. "Yes, I will pay the price."
Her lip quivers. What price? What is her father saying? Her nails claw at the wood she's laying on, she feels the splinters slip under her nail beds, but she doesn't care. She knows, in her soul she knows, the price is too steep.
Do not make the deal, Papa! But the words never leave her head, she's too scared to talk. To do more than tremble and pray. Pray that God will hear her. Save her from the darkness slithering like a snake in the barn below.
Then the fire is wrapping around the cow. It's screaming. The whites of its eyes overtaking the black and the farmer is screaming, "Is she okay? Is she okay, Arquimedes?"
Her father holds out his hand, as it to say: wait a moment more.
The child can do nothing. She's frozen in her terror.
Fire dies. The wind is calm. The air is still and then she sees what's made the cow so sick. It's body is covered in worms. It's crawling out it's skin, from it's nose, slinking out it's eyes. It goes on and on for ten minutes, until finally the last worm drops to the ground.
Her father takes a torch and lights the worms on fire. They pop and hiss, and after a few moments all the remains is fine layer of black ash.
The farmer pays the old man and walks out of their lives forever. The cow is never seen again...
So...fact or fiction? Bet you wanna say fiction huh? Seems to incredible to be believed, right?
Well, it's true. My mother was hiding in her father's loft one night in Panama. He was the town witch doctor. The village was too poor to take sick animals to vets, in fact..a vet was a luxury few in the country of Panama could afford in that day.
My mother told me that story when I turned eight. So if you've ever wondered why I write paranormals, it definitely stems from stories like this one.
And on that note...