The Wrath of Parauma
Date: 12th December, 1967
Location: The island of New Britain, off the Bismark Archipelago.
Status: It is day four, as the Eldridge expedition continues its trek
into the Nakanai Mountains.
The way ahead became noticeably harder. The team were trekking up hill
now, higher into the Nakanai ranges. Seth Lincoln led the way, with a
machete in one hand slashing away at the branches and vines that
blocked the path. It seemed to him that he had only been along this
path a month ago and had cut back much of the undergrowth then, but it
had grown back with a vengeance. Even then, the city slickers, Nick
Eldridge and Ursula Squire struggled to keep up with the pace that
The jungle, by midday was like a Turkish steambath. It wasn't just the
heat but the infernal humidity. Ursula and Eldridge's clothes were
saturated with sweat, and clung to their bodies making free movement
awkward. Then there were the plants. Not just the vines and the
underbrush, but there were palm fronds that could cut through material
and human flesh like razor blades. Both of them had a series of
scratches and cuts across their legs and arms. The trek into the
depths of New Guinea was unlike anything they had encountered before.
The trees and the undergrowth seemed to be closing in on the party,
consuming the oxygen. The atmosphere was tense and filled with
electricity. Lincoln stopped dead in his tracks. The porters could
feel that something was wrong. They dropped their boxes and bundles
and stared forward with unbridled terror in their eyes. Eldridge was
confused. What was the problem? He stepped to the front of the column
to see what the commotion was all about. A stone covered in vines
blocked their path. He walked up to it and pulled back the vines,
revealing a carved stone head with a horrific expression carved onto
its face. The porters all jumped back.
Eldridge stared at the stone head in awe. It was about a foot wide by
about eight inches deep and mounted on top of a stone plinth. The
carved face was truly frightening, with what looked like sunken cats
eyes, and its mouth was frowning with its teeth bared. The final eerie
effect was created by some cleverly concealed, ancient engineering. A
channelling system had been set up in the branches of the tree above,
and all the moisture would slew down a cleverly disguised gutter and
run down over the head of the statue. The running water effect kept
the face glimmering and through a trick of the light, the features
would appear to move; almost pulsing, as if the weathered stone was
living and breathing skin. The effect was horrific.
The native porters were clearly effected by its appearance.
“We're going to lose them soon,” Lincoln said in an undertone.
Eldridge turned and looked at the porters. The were talking animatedly
amongst themselves. Eldridge couldn't understand a word, but didn't
need subtitles to work out what they were saying. The stone head meant
something to them. Something evil and they were not prepared to press
“Wamira,” Eldridge called. Wamira, the head porter walked over and
stood before Eldridge. “What is this?” he queried.
“Parauma!” Wamira said in a state of severe agitation.
“Parauma?” Eldridge repeated.
“Parauma. Pure evil. We cannot go on.”
“It's one of their superstitions,” Lincoln interjected. Then turning
to Wamira he said with his finger wagging, “Wamira, you and your men
have been paid good money to come along on this trip. You can't just
hop off when you think things are getting tough. This stone head is
nothing. It's just an old sculpture designed to scare people away. It
has no power.”
“That is where you are wrong, Mr. Lincoln,” Wamira said. “This land is
full of ancient evil. You may just see a stone head. But to us, it is
a warning. The stone is here for a reason. We will go no further.”
Before the conversation could go any further, Ursula screamed.
Eldridge rushed to her side.
“What is it?” he exclaimed.
“There,” she said pointing into the jungle. “A face. A strange
horrible face, staring at me.”
Eldridge turned and looked in the direction she was pointing and then
he saw it. A native, with grey clay caked over his face. It looked as
if the face was made of stone. The native stood dead still as if he
was a statue with a spear by his side. The porters began to wail.
Eldridge turned again, and saw that the native was not alone. Four
other natives, all adorned with the sinister grey death masks had
circled the expedition. The porters, enveloped in a collective
hysteria, ran off into the jungle. The grim-faced natives made no
effort to chase them. Wamira still stood beside Lincoln.
“I told you,” Wamira said. “This is a place of great evil.” However
Lincoln was not listening as he unshouldered his rifle and took aim at
the nearest native. Without a second thought, he squeezed the trigger.
The native dropped dead, the clay mask shattering as the bullet caught
him in the forehead.
In retaliation a spear was thrown. Lincoln ducked, but Wamira was not
so fast. The spear pierced through his chest. Wamira's jaw dropped as
he staggered forward, swaying, before dropping to his knees. He
slumped forward, but the shaft of the spear stopped him from falling.
Dead, Wamira sat there kneeling with his head lolling forward.
Ursula screamed again. Eldridge grabbed her around the waist and
dragged her to the ground as a spear whistled over their heads.
Lincoln spun and took aim at the native who had thrown it and fired
again. The bullet hit the native in the shoulder, tearing away a large
chunk of flesh. The native did not flinch as if he was oblivious to
the pain. The native then retrieved a knife from a belt fashioned from
twine around his waist and advanced on Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Eldridge had shunted Ursula to the cover of a tree. He
unholstered his pistol and started firing at the natives who were
circling their position. Eldridge shot one of the natives, felling him
before he could throw his spear.
“Your gun!” Eldridge yelled. Ursula looked confused. “Use it!” he
added. Ursula unholstered the pistol from her hip and shakily she took
aim. Another spear flew overhead as she squeezed the trigger. The
bullet grazed the natives forehead, leaving a large red gouge, but the
shot did not stop him from advancing on their position. Eldridge
hurriedly fired another shot at the native, hitting their attacker in
the arm. However it did not stop him from moving forward. This wasn't
right. The natives didn't feel pain.
Lincoln leaped up from his position and swinging his rifle like a
club, bludgeoned the advancing native. The native's head spun from the
force, but it didn't stop him advancing. Lincoln, dropping his rifle,
grabbed at the native's knife hand and twisted it towards the man's
stomach. Then spinning, and with an elbow to the native's neck, he
forced the man's head and chest down towards the knife. Lincoln then
kicked free, only to see the native turn and face him, with the knife
still embedded in his chest.
Lincoln scooted across to his rifle once again and picked it up as the
native advanced on him once more. Lincoln lifted his gun and at point
blank range fired at the native, right between the eyes. The native's
head exploded, and the body fell motionless at his feet.
Then he felt pain across his should blades. Only a glancing blow, but
it was enough to make him drop his rifle. Another native had crept up
and thrown his spear. The throw was wide, a glancing blow, but
none-the-less still gouged a tear across his back.
Eldridge was still engaged in his own battle. Despite the bullet
wounds, the native produced a knife and advanced towards Eldridge and
Ursula. Eldridge stood and rushed at the native, throwing a wild right
at the man's head. Normally a right, thrown with that much force at an
opponent's head would have been brutally effective, however, maybe
because of the clay mask or the man's lack of sensation, the punch did
little to slow the advance. The native brought the knife around in
front of his body and lunged at Eldridge. Eldridge threw himself to
the right and rolled out of harms way, scrambling to his feet as the
native turned and moved towards him again.
Eldridge was ready. He had noticed that the native did not move
quickly. It was the man's singularity of purpose and ignorance of pain
that made him a threat. Eldridge feinted a left hand jab, and as the
native shuffled to the side, Eldridge stepped back and kicked the
knife from the man's hands. Moving quickly, Eldridge threw another
punch, his fist landing on the native's bunched shoulder, before being
gripped in a vice-like hand and twisted. Only a quick jab with his
free hand to the man's abdomen saved Eldridge's arm from being
wrenched from its socket. Eldridge jumped clear.
Another native moved out of the dense undergrowth and moved towards
Eldridge from behind with his knife at the ready. Ursula watched him
advancing and from her position, crouched beneath a tree, aimed her
pistol. Her hand was shaking, but she had to fire. She squeezed the
trigger, the bullet flew low and obliterated the man's knee. He
toppled to the ground, but still using his arms to drag him forward,
continued to move towards Eldridge. Ursula stood and ran towards the
man, pulling the trigger. One shot. Two shot. Three shot. Then click.
Her pistol was empty. Thankfully the first shot had hit the native in
the head and he was now dead. She stood over his dead body shaking
Eldridge was still engaged in his own struggle. He found it hard to
believe that a man who was so severely wounded still had so much fight
in him. A quick pace backwards had Eldridge off balance and a heave of
the native's arms had him off the ground. The native twisted and
threw, and Eldridge's spread-eagled body sailed through the air. He
landed with a heavy thud, the air forced from his lungs.
Lincoln had picked up his rifle and picked off the second last of the
attacking natives. He rushed to Ursula's side and pulled her away from
the conflict. Then he took aim, but Eldridge and the native were
moving too quickly for him to get an accurate sight. He may just as
well hit Eldridge as he would the native. It was up to Eldridge's wile
and cunning to take care of the final assailant.
Eldridge scrambled to his feet, and in a blinkered rage charged at the
native, his shoulder forcing the native back into a tangle of vines.
The native flailed wildly trying to break free. Eldridge grabbed a
vine and twisted it around the man's neck. Then he began to pull. The
native's arms began to thrash as his body fought for oxygen. Ursula
looked away in disgust. She couldn't watch. Eldridge kept heaving on
the vine. The man's eyes began to bulge, and his tongue protruded from
his mouth. Slowly the native stopped struggling. The flailing stopped.
His limbs went limp, his knees giving way, and he hung there,
entangled in the vines like a morbid Christmas decoration. Eldridge
stepped away and then dropped to his knees exhausted. He gulped in
“They weren't human,” he panted.
* * * * *
David Foster likes spy stories and has been known to talk about them
at length on his blog : Permissiontokill.com