“The Tale of the Soucouyants” by Crystal Medina
Akashic Books is proud to introduce a new flash fiction series, Duppy Thursday. Though we’re based in Brooklyn, our location envy of the Caribbean is evident throughout our catalog. One aspect of Caribbean literature that appeals to us is the integration of folklore into contemporary stories—a perfect example being Jamaican author Marlon James’s debut novel John Crow’s Devil, which we published to great critical acclaim in 2005. Whether it be the spider Anansi, the devil woman La Diablesse, the Soucouyant, Mama Dlo, or Papa Bois, these mythical beings have injected life (and death) into the literature of the region. As with our other flash fiction series, we challenge you to tell your story in 750 words or less.
This week, Crystal Medina reveals a shocking secret.
It was almost dawn when a loud shriek of anguish and pain could be heard at the end of Guayaguayare village. “But what is dis! Skin yah nah know me! Skin yah nah know me!” The screams could be heard from Granny Laalee’s house. Granny Laalee was the sweetest old lady you could ever know—kind, thoughtful, and giving, especially to the children of the village. No one knew her real age, but everyone guessed she was eighty years old. She lived all alone at the very edge of the village; looking out from her little hut, you could catch a glimpse of Galeota Point.
Chris, an obeah man from La Lune, was entrusted to bring an end to the soucouyant plague that had been terrifying Guayaguayare for over a year. He was a well-known obeah man in the south of Trinidad, known to practice a powerful form of Amerindian and African magic that destroyed almost all forms of evil. Chris burst down Granny Laalee’s old wood door just in time to see her mahogany-brown skin fall to the floor as she screamed, “Skin how you nah know me! Skin yah nah know me!”
The villagers gathered around her old hut in shock. How could the culprit be this kind old lady, a woman who did no harm to others by day and was always pleasant and willing to help her neighbors? But now all the villagers could hear and see that Granny Laalee was truly de wicked soucouyant that was ruining the village. Her thirst for blood and mischief knew no bounds as countless cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and even dogs were often found dead with every ounce of their blood drained from their bodies. Even pregnant women and young children were constantly attacked at night, especially around a full moon. Granny Laalee had almost killed one-month-old twin girls, Chantal and Isabelle, children of the village magistrate; she barely left the girls alive. And the body of a five month-old baby boy was found in the forest right outside the village. The boy’s body was twisted; it looked like mummified remains, as all the blood was sucked out of it.
Chris quickly grabbed her falling skin and put it into a crocus bag full of sea salt and an ancient secret mixture that subdued any humans who had made pacts with the devil. A soucouyant could not live without her skin. The villagers started humming the ancient Amerindian protection spell to ward off evil. They broke every window in Granny Laalee’s house, letting the magnificent heat of the early morning sun slowly crawl into the house, devouring Granny Laalee bit by bit till her demon flames slowly extinguished her life force. An eerie smile was seen on her lips as she turned into a mound of ash. All the villagers gasped at the sight but then cheered Chris for his victory. He gathered all her ashes and put them in a separate bag mixed with sea salt and one hundred pounds of rice, grains, and sage—just in case her ashes would once again form the flames of hell and bone.
Granny Laalee Badoo’s story is a truly sad one. She was not evil by nature; she was kind, loving and generous. Her great-great-grandmother made a pact with the devil for every female soul in the Badoo family. It began on the night of her eighteenth birthday. As the full moon shone on her, she felt an itch like no other. Her skin felt like it was on fire, as if flames were eating her flesh. She scratched at her arms. The skin bubbled, gurgled, and started to fall off her bones. Shocked, she dropped her skin in a large mortar she kept in her room. She flew out the closed window in confusion, and shattered it into tiny pieces.
Flying felt natural somehow, and as she did, a sound caught her attention—beating, like one thousand drums, slow, steady, and rhythmic. She followed it. Granny Laalee flew in the open kitchen window. Papa Folks’ blood was calling to her, and as he was sound asleep, snoring, Granny Laalee crept up and bit Papa Folks on his neck, slowly making sure he did not wake. The taste was exquisite; she could not stop herself. That night she sucked him dry, leaving not an ounce of blood. That taste, the sound, the feeling . . .
CRYSTAL MEDINA is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and is currently living in the United States. Raised by grandparents who were teachers, reading and creative writing were an integral part of her education and self-expression. Currently studying at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Crystal loves any medium to express her creative side.
Posted: Nov 6, 2015
Category: Duppy Thursday | Tags: Trinidad, Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago, flash fiction, short story, Caribbean Literature, short fiction, Duppy Thursday, soucouyant, Crystal Medina, The Tale of the Soucouyants, Guayaguayare, Galeota Point
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