Suddenly I hear a baby cry next door. Didn’t I hear it earlier in the day? Just a normal human baby crying for food, right? Of course it isn’t a ghost.

This is the final installment of a six-part ghost story by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, excerpted exclusively from the author’s new book, Dead but Still Kicking.

***

Rustammy brings Dewi out of the trance, and this time it seems like Farida has genuinely left.

“So, you saw a pontianak,” Rustammy says to me.

“But she didn’t come when I called her myself,” I say.

“But that’s exactly what did happen. You called her,” Rustammy says, “and she came to you, through Dewi. You saw Farida. She’ll be with you tonight.”

I think about that for a moment and say, “Never mind, that’s okay. I got what I came for.”

Rustammy gets really pissed off

“But you called her. She came. You made a deal with her.”

Now my monkey mind recalls the story “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” Faust and all that. I don’t have a valid contract with a pontianak. Or do I?

Of course I don’t believe all this stuff. But I also don’t want to insult my hosts by appearing to not take it seriously. “What can we do?”

Rustammy obviously is disappointed in my lack of commitment. 

 “You’re not convinced, I can see that. But still, you called her, and she came.”

 “And so?”

 “Chicken blood should do the trick.”

 I look bewildered.

 Rustammy explains.

 “She wants your blood. But she’ll settle for chicken blood.”

It is about midnight on a Sunday night. We are in a middle class, residential neighborhood of Pontianak. You can’t just go into the backyard and grab a chicken. And the live chicken market is surely closed.

But this is Indonesia, and everything is possible. I dig into my wallet and hand a few bills to a young man. Forty-five minutes later he comes back with an unhappy looking red chicken strapped to his motorcycle handlebars.

“Do I need to kill it myself?” I ask.

“No, since you’re not a true believer we can do it. You can go home.”

I don’t like the religious connotation of whether I am a “believer” but perhaps I am overreacting.

To be certain I ask one last time. “So this will satisfy Farida and keep her happy?”

“It should be okay. She probably won’t bother you tonight,” Rustammy says. “But you never know.”

* * *

I return to my comfortable hotel around one in the morning, have a shower and hop into bed. I have no fear that a pontianak has followed me home. I don’t believe in such stuff. I turn the air-con up and snuggle in for a good rest.

Just as I am hitting that never-never land between consciousness and sleep I hear a faint sound that jars me awake. I listen more carefully. It is the cry of a baby. Unmistakable. Coming from the next room. Damn, that meddling pontianak Farida did follow me home.

And then I remember. Earlier in the day I had heard a baby crying in the adjoining room. Parents travelling with a young child; so common in Indonesia as not to be worth a second thought. Surely that is the baby’s cry that I hear. Of course it isn’t a pontianak. Surely not. Just a normal human baby crying for a feed. Isn’t it?

*** The End ***

Check out the other chapters in Paul Spencer Sochaczewski’s six-part story.

Part I: The Geneva-based author takes us to Indonesia to meet the sultan of a city built on a ghost story.

Part II: We meet an expert on spirits and a grandmother who is spat on by an angry ghost — and who spits back.

Part III: We learn to recognize a pontianak — the ghost that kills by digging sharp fingernails into its victims’ stomachs and devouring their organs.

Part IV: The narrator attends a séance to summon a pontianak despite the misgivings of the owner of a music café.

Part V: A possessed housewife lets out a shriek, then collapses.


ghostPaul Spencer Sochaczewski is a Geneva-based writer who has lived and worked in more than 80 countries, including long stints in Southeast Asia. He has written 14 books; the latest, Dead but Still Kicking: Encounters with Mediums, Shamans, and Spirits, was published by Explorer’s Eye Press in May 2019. He can be contacted at www.sochaczewski.com.

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