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.”
“Chicken blood should do the trick.”
I look bewildered.
“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.
Paul 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.