Halloween is nearly here. I love this time of year, because creepy tales, fear, and things belonging to the outré are accepted with open arms.
Today’s post is inspired by my dark side. The part of me that screeches, howls, and prowls the night with devilish delight. Let me share a tale with you. You can decide what you think of it, of its implications, or if it is outlandish. But hear me when I tell you it is real.
This tale of mine took place while I lived in Brazil. Brazil is a fantastic country that is home to some of the most beautiful things in the world – natural resources, the people, culture, and the appropriately famed Brazilian women. But know this my friend, there is a dark side as well. It is a side that plays a part in my story. Sit back, put down your Ouija board, and listen.
My buddy and I had visited some areas of our state known for their connection to the supernatural, including a little town called São Thomé das Letras. It honestly felt like our trip to these areas had opened our minds to the possibility of the unseen, of the otherworldly, and of the supernatural.
We traveled north from São Thomé das Letras and found an apartment we could rent for a few months before we headed back home to the capital. This was supposed to give us time to relax, to prepare for work, and let our minds return to the pragmatism and the concrete terms of our normal lives. It didn’t work.
During the middle of our second night there, I was shaken from my sleep by drums that immediately had me thinking “voodoo”. The sound of the drums was primal. I vividly remember my heart pounding at almost the same rate as that of the drums, filling me with dread and exciting me all at once. I have always been fascinated by spooky stuff, so this sound had me feeling spellbound. This primal part of me begged me to open the window and take a look. But, something in my heart distinctly whispered that this was profane and forbidden.
I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, walked to the window, and paused as my hands reached for the latch on the window. It seemed to me that I was standing on the precipice of a choice with consequences I couldn’t yet grasp. Imagining that I looked like a kid that didn’t want to check his closet in the middle of the night, I threw the window open. Damn the consequences.
The sound of the drums was suddenly amplified, which in turn amplified the chills that coursed down my spine. Now that the window was open, I was able to pick up on something else – something that had until now remained unnoticed beneath the power of the drums. Chanting, yelling and other noises that seemed more animalistic were woven underneath the steady beat of the drums like a macabre tapestry.
This went on for more than an hour. I kept thinking I had better pull myself away from the window and get some sleep, but I found myself drawn to the hidden show. When I tried to concentrate on just the drums, something felt out of balance. When I tried to pay more attention to the other noises, I became too uneasy and felt weighed down. But, when I let everything mix and let myself go, it was enthralling, and touched me with the distinct feeling of playing with the unseen.
Eventually it stopped, and it took me a few hours to get back to sleep. I asked my friend about it in the morning. His bedroom was on the other side of the apartment. He heard the drums, but did his best to ignore them and the “creepy feeling” they gave him. That evening we went to a local bar for some cachaça and a snack. We started talking about what happened the previous night when a slightly older woman approached our table and sat down.
“We don’t talk about Macumba like this,” she said. My buddy and I were intrigued, so we started asking her questions. She was surprisingly open about the subject after having just told us that the subject wasn’t talked about.
She told us that the noise we heard was made by Macumbeiros, who used the building across the street to practice their religion and their craft of Macumba. The woman’s husband had been a Macumbeiro, and she spoke in cold tones about the dark spirits she had seen in her house, the ritual sacrifice at altars, and the power that followed those who dabbled with the “mesa preta”, or black table.
For nearly an hour we talked with her about how this part of the country was full of Macumba, Candomblé, and Quimbanda. She said these were all similar forms of black magic, and in slurred English she repeated the words “witchcraft, sacrifice, possession.” We told her that we had listened to the drums and chanting across the street, and that it was very interesting to us.
The woman grabbed my hand, squeezing it tightly, and looked into my eyes with a frantic gaze that almost made her look sober. “Don’t be interested. The dark things of the night, the demons and bad spirits, they listen. If you show interest in them, then they will show interest in you!” She released my hand and sat back in her chair. I must have had a grin on my face because she shrugged off her concern like an old coat. Her eyes looked a little hurt, but she imparted one last piece of advice before she stood up from our table.
“We have a saying here in Brazil. Fala do diabo, e ele mostra seu rabo.” The woman repeated this two more times and then left. The saying is quite simple; speak of the devil, and he will show you his tail. Those were wise words. Like many young men, we ignored the voice of experience and left the bar with darkness on our tongues.
The drums didn’t play that night, so we sat around the kitchen drinking chimarrão, munching on some bread, and talking with brazen openness about everything we had experienced and heard. The feeling in the kitchen was similar to the hair-raising, gut-clenching emotions created by a good horror movie.
There was excited fear in the air. We were on the verge of something unspeakable, something that felt almost unclean. Growing up in a conservative environment created a wall of skepticism and an air of superiority that restrained our understanding of existence to the sensible limits of comfortable denial.
But at that point, on that night down in Brazil all of those years ago, we allowed ourselves to look beyond our walls of understanding. I felt like a young boy that had found his first nude picture, and was giddy with excitement at the possibilities that played on the fringes of my recently opened mind. My friend and I talked, speculated, guessed, and found ourselves wishing aloud that we could see something. Those wishes forever changed the course of our friendship.
I had heard of people hearing an inner voice like some kind of guiding consciousness. Until that night, I wasn’t sure if I had ever experienced that. One minute we were just talking, feeling the euphoria of discovery, but the next minute my heartbeat increased dramatically, I began to sweat, and I heard something so clearly that I nearly turned around to see who spoke to me.
“Stop talking about it.”
João, or “João Grandão” (big John) as he was called, must have seen the look on my face. He stopped immediately and asked me what was wrong. I felt myself standing at a pivotal moment, but I chose to ignore what I heard and felt. João was a big guy, 6’10’’ and was as tough as nails. He wasn’t exactly the kind of guy that you wanted to admit, “I’m scared shitless.” So I played it cool. “Nothing’s wrong.”
We kept talking, although I grew increasingly uneasy about the subject. I felt or heard the same voice once more. It was more severe and adamant the second time. “Stop. This is your last chance.” João may have heard something similar, because he started to look scared and nervous too. There weren’t any positive feelings in the kitchen. The room felt like a pressurized chamber that weighed down on me. Despite our better judgment, we continued our conversation.
João and I were standing about 15 feet apart because I had walked over to the stove to pick up the pot of hot water for the chimarrão. My feelings of anxiety quickly began to be replaced by an excitement that almost felt perverse. I distinctly remember putting my hand on the pot’s handle, and turning towards João. I was going to take the pot of boiling water over to the table, fill the gourd that held the tea, and we were going to keep talking about the darkness. That was when it happened. For a brief period of time, I was not aware of anything.
The first thing I remember seeing, and I will never forget this visual, was João cowering against the cabinets, cringing and pale. I tried to speak, but it felt like my vocal chords were sore. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had been laughing. I felt myself grinning. My smile slowly faded as I regained more and more control over myself. It took a few more seconds before I could speak. When my voice came, it felt dry and weak. “What’s wrong?”
João’s eyes, which had been focused intently on my face, lifted up just slightly and focused on a spot just over my shoulder. As his eyes moved, I remember feeling something lift from me, like a cloud, and the room suddenly became brighter as if the lights had been on a dimmer. João was staring at something over my shoulder. I turned, slowly, afraid of what I would see.
There something there. It looked like a shadow, but it wasn’t on the wall or on the floor, and it definitely had depth. It stood in the middle of the room. The thing was darker than a shadow, almost entirely black, and was human in shape. The presence moved backwards, not walking, not even floating, but moving sedately until it stood near the wall, and then it simply vanished. It was gone. João and I were the only beings in the kitchen.
I glanced down at the floor and realized that I had moved quite a bit from where I last remembered standing. The pot I was going to pick up was lying upside down on the floor, the spilled water already cool. I looked down at my hands and noticed that I was holding the knife we had been using to cut the bread. Dropping the knife, I turned around and faced João again. His face was aghast. His eyes were wide with terror, and he stood up slowly as he looked at me. I told him that the last thing I remembered was standing at the stove, getting ready to bring the water to the table. It took nearly 10 minutes of begging to finally get him to calm down enough to talk about what had happened. This is what he told me.
“You were standing at the stove, and you started to pick up the pot. I told you that maybe we better stop talking about all of this. That was when you stopped. You were holding the pot when you changed. Everything around you went dark. It was like your aura turned black. Even your eyes changed. You looked at me and said “no.” You dropped the pot. Boiling water went all over the kitchen and all over your legs, but you didn’t even flinch.”
João stopped, lowered his head, and then looked at me again as he continued, his voice growing stronger. “You started to laugh. It wasn’t your laugh, though, it was different. You kept laughing, and then you started to walk towards me. You picked up that knife and started walking towards me! Your eyes were dark, I didn’t see any color in them, and there was hate in them. Does that make sense? I told you to stop, but you wouldn’t. Whatever the hell was inside of you was scaring me. You backed me up against the counter and started to laugh louder and louder. I was sure you were going to cut me up.”
João stepped away from the counter, went over to the pot on the floor, and threw the pot into the sink. He looked at me, anger in his eyes for the first time. “I told you to stop, but you didn’t listen. We shouldn’t have been talking like that.” I remember feeling so tired and exhausted. João walked around to the other side of the table, shaking with emotion, and pointed a finger at me.
“You were possessed!”
We didn’t talk to each other the next day, and it took almost a week before we acted almost normal again. But things had changed. There wasn’t a normal anymore. We didn’t talk about the stuff we saw, about what I did, or about anything that happened to us. João left Brazil two weeks later.
To this day, I don’t talk about these experiences much, especially after dark. That might sound silly, or even trivial, but I know what I know. I know what I saw, and it was as real as the computer I’m writing this with. The thing that scares me about the situation is I don’t know who or what I had been. For a brief moment I was not myself – I had been taken over. Darkness entered me because I invited it in.
So if you ever meet me, you can ask me about this in person. I will swear on my life it is true. Just don’t ask me after dark.
That is my story. Think of it what you will. But I WOULD like to hear something from you. Share something that is appropriate for this wickedly dark time of year. It can be real, or you can make something up.
Scare me with a tale of darkness……